English: Squad 51 from the Television Show Eme...

English: Squad 51 from the Television Show Emergency!, 1972 Dodge D-300 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emergency! was a 1970s TV series created by R.A. Cinder and Harold Jack Bloom, and produced by Jack Webb, who co-created Adam-12 with Cinder. The show followed Los Angeles firefighter paramedics Roy DeSoto (played by Kevin Tighe) and John Gage (played by Randolph Mantooth–what a name), their fellow firefighters at the then fictional Station 51, and the ER doctors of also fictional Rampart General Hospital, who were also the focus of the show. DeSoto and Gate would serve as paramedics (a relatively new idea at the time, which also played into some episodes) but would also fight fires, treating victims at the scene and if need be preparing them for an ambulance ride. Like Adam-12 and Webb’s own Dragnet details were followed to make it as close to the actual experience of firefighters, paramedics, and the ER. My dad, a former firefighter, can confirm the first one and some actual firefighters were among the cast.

Fred Calvert Productions, teaming with Mark VII Limited and Universal Television decided to give the show a spin-off on Saturday mornings with the goal of giving safety tips to kids as well as the fact that kids enjoyed the regular show. Enter Emergency +4, in which a quartet of kids would aid Squad 51 and learn those aforementioned tips. The only episode I can find online, however, is an average rescue episode from season 2, “S.O.S. Help Us!”. In the episode a wildfire causes trouble for our heroes. While Squad 51 has to rescue some of the chopper crew going to fight the fire, the +4 kids (minus one for some reason, as one of the kids is missing this episode) try to help a boy whose camper fell down a cliff trying to escape the fire with his father somehow ending up under it. Can our heroes save the day? Well duh, it’s a Saturday morning kids cartoon from the 70s. Let’s see how they do it though.

There are some inconsistencies with the cartoon from the show. Station 51 is closer to the road and the building is only one floor, so as cool and cliche as sliding down the pole is they never did it on the show. Also I’ve never seen John drive. It’s usually Roy. That’s nitpicking though, as the likenesses of Mantooth and Tighe are quite good, as is the truck used for Squad 51. Rampart is name dropped in this episode but based on what little research I could find on the cartoon none of the other cast members make an appearance.

The voice acting is inconsistent. Some of the actors sound bored (even Tighe and Mantooth as their live-action characters, at least in the first scene, although they get better), which isn’t good considering this was the second season. You’d think they’d have found their voices by now. The animation is fair for the time, but it wouldn’t hold up to today’s audiences, who seem to get upset if every show isn’t Don Bluth quality. Granted I’m talking about a bunch of 20 year old internet kids who didn’t grow up with Filmation and Hanna-Barbera and often mock their stunted animation and not kids who are too young to notice or care as long as the writing and action are good.

There was some controversy from parents who thought in other episodes the kids were putting themselves too close to the action, probably worried real kids would do the same, although in the episode above the +4 kids -1 actually avoid the wildfire and only get involved to help find a kid and his father they only picked up the call from by luck. (The kids also seemed to be jumping frequencies unless that’s supposed to be signal strength. I don’t know anything about the radio they were using.) However, fire companies were actually asking for prints to show at events because it showed kids how to handle dangerous situations as well as safety tips and fire prevention. In other words, the people whose job is to worry about civilians in dangerous areas were less worried this would sent little Timmy out to fight alongside Smokey The Bear than his mom was.

Emergency +4 had two seasons although thanks to reruns the show aired from 1973 (the year I was born) through 1976. I don’t remember seeing it or if I watched the show when I was younger but I did have a fireman’s hat with the Emergency! brand on it. The main show aired from 1972-1977, bookending the cartoon’s run on TV, and can still be seen on retro TV channel Cozi TV, as well as being available on home video and it’s still good and interesting here in 2017, where paramedics are now well-know. (Especially at my house for the past few years. You hate to call on them but you’re glad they’re there.)

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. Sean says:

    This is a very different cartoon from what I’m used to watching. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this one. Just like you, it came on the year I was born. At least a cartoon such as this might have been positive in that it could have influenced thousands of kids to become firefighters or paramedics. It does a good job depicting the types of situations that those professions can encounter while doing their duty.

    Like

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