The Mod Squad

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Details At A Glance

Category Action?? Booklet
Theatrical Trailer
Year Released 1999
Running Time
90:38 minutes
(not 94 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (57:31)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Scott Silver
Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Claire Danes
Omar Epps
Giovanni Ribisi
Dennis Farina
Josh Brolin
Steve Harris
Michael Lerner
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music B C Smith

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    "As fun as it is cool!" said MTV News, at least according to the cover blurb here, which immediately begs the question as to whether they were actually talking about this film, and whether they were actually sober if they had watched this film. To save you a lot of time, let me assure you that I may have found a film that will knock Plan 9 From Outer Space off the perch as the worst film of all time. Okay, perhaps that is exaggerating just a little, but there is certainly not much here to commend this putrid effort as a film at all. Perhaps I am a traditionalist, but I believe films need to have certain elements to them in order to be successful: a good story is a great place to start, and that is precisely where this effort starts to seriously go downhill! There is no really discernible story here, and everything else just gets worse from there. Apparently based upon the late 1960s and early 1970s television series, it certainly exhibits no improvement over that series and in general demonstrates how much worse the series could well have been.

    If you need to really have a plot here, then I suppose it is loosely the tale of three troubled youths who face the prospect of jail time for various little crimes until given the chance by Captain Greer (Dennis Farina) to work undercover, doing tasks the normal police officer cannot do. What follows is a bunch of scenes featuring Julie Barnes (Claire Danes), Pete Cochrane (Giovanni Ribisi) and Lincoln Hayes (Omar Epps) doing their undercover stuff, trying to track down the bad guys with the drugs. Along the way, a few people die and amongst them are the audience who have to watch the film.

    Plot? Well, there really is nothing discernible here that would qualify as a plot. The whole film really is a bunch of disjointed little pieces that have been extracted from any number of sources you care to name that have been linked together in a such a way that is designed to provide the utmost confusion to the viewer. Characters? Yes, well, what characters? There is so little character development here that they were probably all premature births for all we know from the film. Dialogue? Oh lordy, this plumbs new depths of inanity that have never been seen before. The absolute depth? Pete griping "why does she always get to be the prostitute?". Somebody please pass me the bucket, I need to throw up! Acting? Pass. Production values? Pass. Cinematography? Pass. There is simply nothing here that is remotely worthwhile seeing and it ends up being an excruciatingly long 90 minutes of viewing.

   The only thing that saves this film at all is the presence of Claire Danes, and had they have simply had ninety minutes of her on screen, and dumped the appalling Giovanni Ribisi, things would have been significantly better in my view. However, if you are not a Claire Danes fan, then this is probably to be avoided at all costs.

Transfer Quality


    It is quite amazing how often Dean's theorem comes into play and this is another example of a shocker of a film being given a transfer that generally is far better than the film deserves.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. When one considers some of the films that MGM have released without 16x9 enhancement, it is a real puzzle as to why this one gets this essential treatment.

    In general, the transfer is quite sharp although a little variable in the area of detail. However, it does seem that the quality of the transfer suffers the further the film goes on (or is that a result of the fact that the film was putting me to sleep?). The main problem is that at times shadow detail descends into very poor levels that are not befitting such a recent film. Even shots taken at the beach in bright sunlight have a distinctly blacked-out look to the actors that is really unacceptable, although this is presumably what the director was trying to achieve. This is quite a clear transfer and there does not seem to be much of an issue with grain at all. There is no problem with low level noise in the transfer.

    The overall colour palette is generally a little restrained, and there is little in the way of bright colours here. The transfer is quite a vibrant effort nonetheless, and the depth of the tones is generally very consistent. Certainly there is no great issue here with oversaturation of colours, apart from one scene at the night club under intense red lighting, although on a couple of occasions I did wish for a little more saturation than was present - scenes around the airfield for instance are a little more muted than I would have expected. In general it would be fair to say the darker night scenes are better looking thanks to the depth of the blacks. There is no problem with colour bleed in the transfer.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is not much of a problem with film-to-video artefacts, with this being virtually devoid of aliasing issues. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer, with just the odd fleck of white present, which is to be expected in such a recent film.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 57:31. The placement is rather poor which compounds a rather poor change in comparison to most others I have seen recently. Given the quality of the film though, it is not really that disruptive.

    The subtitle options listed on the cover do not mention an English subtitle option which is present on the DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    If you believed the DVD cover, there is only the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. However, there are actually four other soundtracks on the DVD, all being Dolby Digital 5.1 efforts - in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Not wishing to prolong the agony any further than I had to, I stuck to listening to the English soundtrack only.

    The dialogue comes up reasonably well in the transfer, although just once or twice I had a little difficulty in following the appalling dialogue in the more dynamic portions of the transfer. There did not appear to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.

    The music comes from B C Smith and in keeping with the rest of the film is an utterly unmemorable effort. Even the choice of contemporary songs here was pretty shocking, so all-in-all there was no effort to raise any portion of this film out of the mire.

    About the only high point of the whole DVD is the rather dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It makes fine use of the surround channels, with plenty of rear channel action to keep the ambience level up high, particularly in the night club scenes. There seemed to be some good directional sound effects here, which is something that is not often achieved. The bass channel gets a really solid workout too, and thankfully does this without overpowering the rest of the soundtrack. The overall soundtrack is very well done, with a believable soundscape.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Another disappointing effort in a string of disappointing releases from MGM as far as extras go.


    Acceptably presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, they are all 16x9 enhanced but lack any form of enhancement otherwise. The language selection menu has a poorly distinguished highlight and I ended up listening to the Spanish soundtrack initially after thinking that I had selected English as the language.


    This is described in the special features box as an "exciting booklet containing cool inside info". I must have got another version of the booklet than that one. It barely qualifies as a booklet, being one folded sheet, and really by MGM standards is quite a poorish effort.

Theatrical Trailer (1:58)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. From a technical point of view there is nothing to complain about. That is all the good news, for the bad news is that it really does show how bad the film is and rather than encourage me to watch the film, it turns me right off. But then again, I doubt whether any publicist could have come up with anything remotely good enough to encourage people to see the film, short of paying them.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 release misses out on an additional Pan and Scan version of the film, on the second side of a dual sided DVD. Otherwise, the Region 4 and Region 1 releases are identical, even it seems down to the quality of the transfers. Accordingly, unless you are desperate enough to want a dire film in a bastardized version, this is a marginal winner in favour of Region 4.


    The Mod Squad is a bad film. That really is all you need to know. The DVD itself is decent enough and far better than the film deserves, whilst the extras package is nothing to write home about. I cannot conceive of anything that would induce me to watch the film again.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
23rd October 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL