The Adam-12 Reunion That Wasn't: Nashville Beat

Monday, December 26, 2016

When NBC's popular cop series Adam-12 ended in 1975, the final episode left the fates of officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed dangling for its viewers; Reed was considering taking an investigator's exam which would have steered him away from the more dangerous patrol division and given him a desk job at his wife's urging. But then the series ended, and viewers never did learn what became of the the rookie and the more seasoned cop that over time became close friends.

Martin Milner (Malloy) and Kent McCord (Reed) also didn't share the screen again...until 1989, that is. That's the year they teamed up for a movie called Nashville Beat that was shown...where else? On the Nashville network. I've seen a lot of comments online from viewers saying that they consider the movie to be the closest thing to an Adam-12 reunion and they seem more than satisfied with the storyline and the setting.

But make no mistake; Nashville Beat is not an Adam-12 reunion. For starters, the two guys play completely new characters; McCord is Lieutenant Mike Delaney and Milner is Captain Brian O'Neal. And while the chemistry is still there between the two actors, this project was McCord's idea and his role is just a little more prominent and has more screen time. Even the photo from the IMDB page for the movie features only McCord. He co-wrote the story and from an older article I found online that was written as the movie was about to air, he was hoping this would get picked up as a regular series. It didn't, and in my opinion it's easy to see why: other than the fact that both guys play cops that started their career together with the LAPD and their characters get along, it doesn't really have the Adam-12 feel or structure to it at all. One of the things that made Adam-12 compelling to viewers was the fact that each episode was only a half hour long and portrayed the unpredictable nature of being a police officer on patrol. With each episode, you never knew what problems, crimes, or people the two guys would have to respond to and deal with.

With Nashville Beat....well, first of all, I mean no disrespect to the citizens of Tennessee's capital, but my one big glaring question about this movie is why Nashville? I don't know too much about McCord's personal life, but perhaps he lived in Nashville at some point or was enamored with the city. But it isn't like the film shows much of anything of the city's historical landmarks such as the Grand Old Opry or the Parthenon, except over the opening credits. Most of the action is regulated to a honky tonk (where Garth Brooks makes an appearance and wastes too much screen time singing), the police department, and an apartment. And one of the minor characters has the mandatory moniker Bubba for these such movies.

During the opening scene, Delaney -- who's a widower -- is flying to Nashville to meet up with O'Neal and in what seems like a precursor to flying in the year 2016, handcuffs a drunk, unruly passenger. He also gets hit on by a flight attendant with a bad perm (well, it was the year 1989 after all...and there's bad hair galore in this movie.) "Still too soon, huh?" asks O'Neal when the attendant comes by and comes on to him again, this time after they're off the plane. "I guess so" Delaney responds. He's got kids back home in California, and we don't find out how long ago his wife died or what she passed away from.

O'Neal's home life is happier; he lives on a sprawling horse ranch and is still enjoying a happy marriage which his long-time wife, who informs Delaney at one point that her husband wants to retire in a few years and she's scared that something could happen to him on the job when she learns he'll be assisting first-hand in thwarting a gang.

For my fellow red-blooded females that love Martin Milner, I guess it's worth pointing out that he's now a certified silver fox in this film, and his boyish trademark smirk is still in place, as evident by the screen shot above. His character is also a lot looser than it was on Adam-12; there's even a scene where he loses his cool and screams while interrogating a witness, something that we wouldn't have seen Pete Malloy doing. He later blames this on being behind a desk for so long. And McCord's character is a take-charge kind of guy; he's not the newbie he was on Adam-12.

As far as the rest of the plot -- well, there's not much to it. As I said, the boys get involved in an undercover sting to stop a local gang's crime spree. They enlist a cocky colleague with a little black book (what players used before smartphones) and a fondness for the Beatles to wear a wire and make a deal with the gang's leader. Oh, and romantic sparks fly between Delaney and the owner of the honky tonk he, O'Neal, and other department members frequent. She has REALLY big and long hair. By the end of the film, Delaney is considering bringing his kids on the next visit to Nashville to see if they would all consider relocating to the area.

I think McCord's heart was in the right place when he co-wrote this film, but there's no way this can be considered an Adam-12 reunion. It would have been far more interesting to see if bachelor Malloy had eventually married and perhaps became a father, and what became of Reed's career. Of course, Martin Milner passed away last year so that's just going to have to be left up to fans' imaginations.

Ironically, though, I think Adam-12 fans are the ones that would get the most enjoyment out of the movie and seeing Milner and McCord share the screen again (they would do so again in 1997 in an episode of Diagnosis Murder playing yet again LAPD cops.) Also, 1989 was the year that a newer but crappy version of Adam-12 started airing that only lasted one season. Milner and McCord never appeared on the new show.

The best scene in Nashville Beat in my opinion? It's when the guys sing backup on a Beatles tune, as seen below. It comes at the very end so if you don't want to waste your time watching this movie, you can cut to the chase and savor it below. (If you do want to watch the whole film, it's been uploaded to YouTube here.)


  1. Very interesting read, Pam--thanks for sharing, and for the links! As you know, I've been a huge fan of Adam-12 since way-back-when, so I need to check this out :) I was surprised to read about the Adam-12 "redo", that's a first for me--but these guys had a pretty special chemistry that isn't easily duplicated. Thanks again for the awesome backstory on this quirky movie.

    1. Quirky is a good word for it, Doug! I didn't want to be too harsh in my review because it is a made-for-cable/television movie after all, but for Adam-12 fans it's worth checking out to see these guys team up agin.

  2. My 1st love of 26yr Martin Milner was his Billy Earp, brother to Deforest Kelley +Burt Lancaster as Morgan +Wyatt Earp, in 1957's Gunfight At OK Corral. His ambush by Ike Clanton draws Kirk Douglas' Doc Holliday into that historical shootout w/the Earps & Clantons.

    1. I've only seen a couple of his early roles. I'll look this one up some time.

  3. to be edited: it's Jimmy[not Billy]

  4. I read somewhere that Kent McCord does the voice work on the Home Depot ads.

    1. I'll keep my ears open the next time a commercial comes on!

  5. It's not that hard to imagine Pete marrying the lady we saw in the final episode, played by Aneata Corsaut in two episodes of ADAM-12. And just as it was suggested that Reed might be going to detectives, it was suggested that Malloy might be getting promoted to sergeant.

    Once on the promotion track, it's not unusual for LAPD brass to lateral to other agencies.

    So Malloy could have gotten married, and taken a captain;s job in Nashville. Reed could have moved up the ranks of LAPD's Detective Bureau to lieutenant. And LAPD has a reputation of sending their guys all over the country if they think it's Los Angeles-connected.

    Obviously, O'Neill's not Malloy, and Delaney's not Reed. But that's more a question of copyright than anything. The characters they play in NASHVILLE BEAT are similar enough to their ADAM-12 characters to be familiar to audiences. And even if they had been playing Malloy and Reed, to expect them both to be beat cops so many years later, when it was clear even then that they were both on the promotion track, would not have been credible.


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