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Cop Rock: The Complete Series

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    Ian Jane
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  • Cop Rock: The Complete Series



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: May 17th, 2016.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Ronny Cox, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Anne Bobby
    Year: 1990
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Created by Steven Bochco in 1990 after he was given the proposition of turning his popular series Hillstreet Blues into a stage musical, Cop Rock may have died an early death after airing only eleven episodes on ABC, but it remains a bit of a cult favorite. Thanks to the efforts of Shout! Factory, the series lives again on DVD.

    The series is set in Los Angeles and it revolves around a group of cops who all work together to keep the streets of the city of angels as safe as they can. Officer Vickie Quinn (Anne Bobby) is a new recruit to the force who, along with fellow officers Andy Campo (David Gianopoulos), Franklin Rose (James McDaniel), and detectives Bob McIntire (Paul McCrane), Joseph Gaines(Mick Murray) and Vincent LaRusso (Peter Onorati) report to Chief Roger Kendrick (Ronny Cox). He, in turn, answers to the very Thatcher-esque Mayor, Louise Plank (played by Bochco's wife, Barbara Bosson). In addition to the main characters, watch out for cameos from Sheryl Crow, Armin Shimerman (Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!) and a walk on from Jimmy Smits (in a court house scene clearly meant to indicate that Cop Rock took place in the same TV universe as L.A. Law!).

    The eleven episodes that make up the series are:

    Pilot / Ill-Gotten Gaines / Happy Mudder's Day / A Three- Corpse Meal / The Cocaine Mutiny / Oil Of Ol' Lay / Cop-A-Feeliac / Potts Don't Fail Me Now / Marital Blitz / No Noose Is Good Noose / Bang The Potts Slowly

    Dubbed by TV Guide "the single most bizarre TV musical of all time," it really is an odd duck. The show dealt with serious issues such as drug addiction, murder, abuse, corruption and, well, pretty much any other kind of cop-related issue you can think of, but it did so by having its characters break into song and dance routines a few times each episode. A perfect example of how this works for and against the show and why it absolutely caused a big disconnect with viewers of the day is the end of the first episode. Here a woman with a powerful drug addiction is so desperate for a fix that she literally sells her infant daughter to a man that is basically a slave trader for two hundred bucks. She's upset about this, she knows it's wrong… and as she waits for him to arrive she holds her child and sings a song called Sandman' Coming Soon to put the child she knows she's unfit to care for at ease, if only temporarily. It's a powerful moment played completely straight and not at all for laughs - but then, it's unexpected, viewers aren't used to seeing cop dramas play out this way.

    That one scene perfectly represents what was great about the show and what probably led to its demise all at the same time - the seriousness of its themes and issues collide with the campiness that is inherent in the musical format in completely bizarre ways. In an era where Glee has, for better or worse, made TV musicals accessible this probably doesn't seem like such a huge chasm to cross but in 1990? This show was like nothing viewers had ever seen. The series is also noteworthy for featuring a theme song (and some numbers in the pilot) written by Randy Newman.

    Other series highlights include a completely bizarre country and western number in which Ronny Cox rides a horse through the streets of Los Angeles like a cowboy, the series premiere's fairly infamous 'He's Guilty' song and dance routine complete with a the jury turning into a gospel choir, a great scene in the mayor's office where she accepts a glowing suitcase full of money, a weird bit where ladies dance together in the shower room, and, well, pretty much all of the music here is great in its own bizarre way. Even when it doesn't work it's fascinating to see the people behind the series giving it their all.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The 1.33.1 fullframe video is about as good as a 90s TV series is going to look without being really restored. The video quality is sometimes a bit soft and as such (these look like tape masters), the colors fade slightly here and there but overall the quality is certainly quite watchable. Skin tones look good, there aren't any problems with compression artifacts, and any problems noticeable appear to be related to the source material rather than the transfer.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack is on par with the video in terms of quality. Dialogue is clean, clear and well balanced and there are no problems with hiss or distortion to note. It's not all that exciting a mix but it certainly gets the job done. There are no subtitles of any kind provided.

    One the first disc we get an interesting 'text commentary' that appears as a subtitle track. It does a good job of filling in the backstory about how Cop Rock came to be, those who played a part in its genesis both on screen and off, its mixed reviews, the intricacies in some of its song and dance numbers and more. It also covers the use of music in the series, how the show played things pretty straight, how it wound up dying after only eleven episodes and how it fits in with some of Steven Bochco's other, better remembered shows.

    Additionally, we get a thirty-eight minute on camera interview with series' creator Bochco that is pretty illuminating. Here he talks about the origins of the series, the difficulties in getting in completed on time and on budget each weak and how he feels about the series as a whole. A second interview with actress Anne Bobby runs just over half an hour and sees her share some input as to what it was like to work on the show. She talks about some of the co-stars that she shared the screen with, what it was like on set, and some of the pressures that the cast and crew were under.

    Static menus are included for all three discs in the set that provide episode and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Cop Rock really is one of a kind, a completely bizarre series that tried, sometimes quite successfully, to balance its drama between absurdity and hard hitting realism in ways that had never been seen on television before. It doesn't always work (though sometimes it works amazingly!) but it's always a kick to watch it try. Shout! Factory have finally brought this cult oddity to DVD, and with some decent extra features too.































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