Cop Rock (1990) Retro TV Series

By: Karl Stern (@wiwcool,

Remember that old Reese’s Peanut Butter cup commercial from back in the 1980s? “You got peanut butter in my chocolate! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!” Only for the two people in the commercial to figure out that chocolate and peanut butter is pretty delicious together? Well, Cop Rock is kind of like that only with mayonnaise and pizza. Not everything is meant to go together. In 1990 writer Stephen Bochco decided that a cop drama and a musical would be great together. It wasn’t.

This was such a great idea that it ultimately made number eight on TV Guide list of worst television shows of all time. Having now watched my first and only episode of Cop Rock (there were only a total of 11 ever made) I can honestly say that this might be one of the most awkward and ridiculous shows I have ever seen.

Let me make this clear, however, the cast is very talented. The singing was exceptional. Had any of these people cut an album it would probably be a pretty good one. However, breaking out in serious song in the midst of a search warrant, court trial, or shift briefing… not so much so.

The thing that makes this show so utterly ridiculous to me is the lack of irony and self awareness that the show seems to have. Had the show been tongue in cheek then maybe there could be some comedy there. But it isn’t. It’s played straight and that makes this one of the most awkward television shows I have ever tried to watch. One of the more well known songs from the show is the bizarre “Let’s Be Careful Out There” where the shift commander ends his otherwise serious briefing with this heartfelt, well performed, and completely out of place tune. There is virtually no way to watch that performance and not burst out into laughter and I do not think that was the intended response.

The cast of the show included:

Anne Bobby – Off. Vicki Quinn

Barbara Bosson – Mayor Louise Plank

Ronny Cox – Chief Roger Kendrick

Vondie Curtis-Hall – Cmdr. Warren Osborne

David Gianopoulos – Off. Andy Campo

Larry Joshua – Capt. John Hollander

Paul McCrane – Det. Bob McIntire

James McDaniel – Off. Franklin Rose

Ron McLarty – Ralph Ruskin

Mick Murray – Det. Joseph Gaines

Peter Onorati – Det. Vincent LaRusso

I should say that I’m not a big fan of musicals to begin with. Off the top of my head I can’t really think of one I really like unless you count O Brother Where Art Thou which had a few musical scenes in it. Still, I can’t imagine anyone thinking this show is good, musical fan or not. I, for one, was left totally bewildered at this. Head scratching. Bizarre. Just an odd concept for a television show.

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