In May 1981, the Seven Network and Crawford Productions had announced plans to produce a new Sydney-based crime drama, The Squad, with a telemovie pilot soon to go into production. It was heralded as the first Sydney-based series from the Melbourne-based Crawford empire, which had several successful cop dramas under its belt by this stage.
Leading the cast of The Squad was John Gregg (Contrabandits, Delta, The Oracle), Frank Gallacher (Against The Wind, The Last Outlaw, Water Under The Bridge, Skyways), Ken Goodlet (The Long Arm, Bluey, Cop Shop, The Last Outlaw), Louise Howitt (Young Ramsay), Roger Ward (Number 96) and NIDA graduate Andrew Clarke.
It seems that Seven wasn’t all that impressed with the pilot, eventually re-named Homicide Squad, that resulted. ATN7 in Sydney waited to broadcast it after the end of the 1981 ratings season in November. HSV7 in Melbourne held on even longer, belatedly airing it during the May school holidays in 1982 — another non-ratings period at the time.
The Age‘s TV critic Brian Courtis was brutal in his review of Homicide Squad, stating that it “does for television drama what Sale Of The Century does for the arts”.
TV Week movie critic Ivan Hutchinson was a little more charitable, labelling it an “interesting thriller” and that “viewers should not necessarily be discouraged by the fact that the planned series failed to eventuate. Decisions about the future of series are not always made on the grounds of quality.” He still only scored it one-star out of a possible four.
The Melbourne broadcast of Homicide Squad is among the latest addition of Classic TV Guides:
- Wednesday 18 November 1959 — MELBOURNE Outpost
- Friday 12 April 1963 — TASMANIA Good Friday
- Saturday 13 April 1963 — MELBOURNE BP Super Show: Louis Armstrong
- Friday 17 June 1966 — VICTORIA Final Sunnyside Up
- Monday 27 April 1970 — SYDNEY The Long Arm
- Thursday 1 March 1973 — MELBOURNE Certain Women debuts
- Wednesday 25 May 1977 — MELBOURNE Mama’s Gone A-hunting, Roots
- Monday 4 June 1979 — SOUTH AUSTRALIA
- Saturday 3 April 1982 — VICTORIA Victorian State Election
- Tuesday 18 May 1982 — MELBOURNE Homicide Squad
- Thursday 7 July 1983 — VICTORIA Women Of The Sun re-run on ABC
- Sunday 17 April 1994 — MELBOURNE TV Week Logie Awards
- Monday 16 July 2001 — MELBOURNE Big Brother Finale, The Secret Life Of Us
- Saturday 24 August 2002 — MELBOURNE Perfect Match revived
Source: TV Week, 2 May 1981, 15 May 1982. The Age, 18 May 1982.
What about Derek Barnes
Deryck Barnes wasn’t listed in the original TV Week article, which only named some of the cast members signed. There is a more comprehensive cast list on IMDB.