SWAT premiere review: Is Shemar Moore’s CBS drama a winner?

SWAT premiereGoing into the SWAT premiere on CBS we knew that it would be intense — it’s a crime series on a network known for making really great ones! It also has one of the best in the business in Shawn Ryan (The Shield) as an executive producer and Criminal Minds alum Shemar Moore as the star.

What was a surprise was seeing the depth that SWAT had over the course of the first hour. This was a show that wasn’t afraid to get topical in focusing much of the story on the shooting of a young black man by an officer — someone who just so happened to be the boss of Moore’s Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson. Hondo found himself promoted to lead his team, and with that came the pressures of being hauled around and shown off by the LAPD as the face of the organization. In the midst of that, he had to get justice for what happened while also working to keep the peace in a community that was becoming all the more divided.

Hondo is fairly by the book insofar as his practices go. He likes to follow rules and lead his team with a degree of honor. You were informed of that courtesy of the arrival of Jim Street (Alex Russell), the newest member of the team and a guy willing to break almost all of the rules. The irony here is that Hondo wasn’t all that interested in obeying protocol when it came to his relationship with Jessica Cortez (Stephanie Sigman), as he hesitated to submit the proper paperwork.

As the episode progressed the primary focus remained on Hondo and the team trying to resolve an escalating situation that stemmed from the aforementioned shooting. A rally led to the shooting of two white individuals, and in turn there were fears of retaliation at a school … but from a black man issuing threats? This was one of Hondo’s big questions with this case — why would a black man threaten to shoot people of his own race over what happened to two white people?

What surprised us was seeing that there was a good bit of investigating in this episode to go along with some of the action. He got to the bottom of it with help from the team back at the station and learned that this was all a massive distraction. The threat was intended to divert police to the school so they weren’t watching the bank. The man making the threats was just a piece of a much larger puzzle.

In the end, Hondo did get the justice that he so sought, and in the process we got a ton of explosions. Hey, it’s SWAT — this is what you’re going to get.

CarterMatt Verdict

SWAT does still have some work to do in fleshing out its supporting cast beyond just Hondo and what we know about Jessica and Street. Still, it did a pretty good job of delivering the action and establishing its Los Angeles setting in a way few other shows do. There is potential for this to be one of the best new shows of the season.

What did you think about the SWAT premiere on CBS tonight?

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