Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.
Yeah, no, I’m sick of reviewing terrible failed television pilots, so let’s check out a FUCKING AWESOME failed television pilot. We haven’t done that since “Manimal” and “Manimal” kicked ass! To be fair, there are, like, a lot less good failed pilots than there are shitty ones, but hey, that doesn’t matter this week. This week, all that matters is the gloriousness that is “Cop Rock”.
“Cop Rock” was the first of its kind: an hour-long weekly police procedural musical. No, I didn’t mis-type any of those words. It’s like “Law & Order”, if the characters randomly burst into song. The show premiered on ABC on September 26th, 1990 and ran for eleven episodes before it was so cruelly canceled. The series was co-created by Steven Bochco, known best for NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, and Doogie Howser, M.D.
TV Guide ranked “Cop Rock” as the eighth worst television show of all time, which is bullshit for two reasons: 1. I’ve ALREADY seen more than eight worse shows than this, and I haven’t even been at this four months. and 2. “Cop Rock” actually has the honor of being the first EMMY AWARD WINNING SHOW I’ve reviewed here. That’s right, “Cop Rock” has an Emmy. TWO OF THEM. And it was nominated for three more. So suck on that, TV Guide. You are why print media is dying.
What they did wrong: Fuck you.
What they did right: Literally everything. Where do I even start with this literal masterpiece of televised amazingness? Do I start with the plot? Ok, let’s give that a shot. There are actually a couple in this episode. First we have Officer Loosecannon (what? I’m bad with names), a cop who doesn’t play by the rules.
Pictured: Officer Loosecannon not playing by the rules
Officer Loosecannon is on the trail of a cop killer who slipped out of police custody due to the overcrowded prison system. He tracks him down and, when improper police work means that they have to let him go, Loosecannon goes all “Last Stand of the Wreckers” and executes him before tampering with the evidence to make it look like self-defense. Even though, technically, the cop killer is unarmed. An unarmed black man, in fact. Um…
MOVING ON! Plot two follows a meth addict trying to raise her daughter on her own. After one of the cops gets her out of a prison sentence to give her another chance at life, she tries her best. Unfortunately, she winds up homeless when nobody can help her, and the episode ends with her selling her daughter to a better family for two hundred dollars. Literally, the last scene of this thing is her singing to her daughter as she is taken away. The scene is legitimately heartbreaking and hurt me to my core.
Damn, “Cop Rock”, I was NOT prepared for that.
Although, yeah, I might have felt more sympathetic for Meth-head mom of she hadn’t named her fucking child “Crystal”. The show actually does have its brutal moments. One of the earliest musical numbers is Ladycop’s husband singing about how much he loves her and how he doesn’t understand why she’s with him. This scene is made so affecting by the fact that we as an audience know that she is cheating on him with her partner.
His song might has well have been Jonathan Coulton’s “Betty and Me”. (Look it up, god, you have Google, you know.)
The last plotline is kind of tied in with the first. This one covers the mayor dealing with the faults in the prison system. And it has musical numbers in it!! I love this fucking show. In fact, the musical numbers literally make every single scene better by one hundred percent. Here is some sample dialogue from a scene of “Cop Rock”.
(the jury returns to the courtroom)
Judge: “Has the jury reached a verdict?”
Jury Foreman: “We have, Your honor.”
(The judge nods, before pointing to the stenographer)
Judge: “HIT IT!!”
(The stenographer flips open his desk to reveal, not a typewriter, but a keyboard, which he then starts to play. The jury has changed into a gospel choir. The entire courtroom breaks out into song)
ALL OF THAT IS A LITERAL FUCKING TRANSCRIPTION OF A SCENE OF “COP ROCK”!! HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU NOT WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW?? IT’S SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL I WANT TO CRY!!!
Also in this show is a scene in which the chief, who I will refer to as Chief Gravelvoice, reveals that he owns two things. He owns the actual guns used by Billy the Kid, and he owns A LIFE SIZE ROBOT BANDIT WHO HIDES IN HIS CLOSET AND DUELS WITH HIM!!!!!!
You thought I was motherfucking kidding, didn’t you?
Even better is that the show cuts directly from the above scene to..
A police officer’s funeral!!!!!!!
Yep, this show expects us to now be in serious drama mode as opposed to the “holy fuck was that a fucking cowboy robot?” mode I was still in. But again, I can’t fault this show for literally anything when it’s so much fun to watch. It does actually pull off some serious moments, the songs are catchy and fun to listen to, and the acting is so on-purpose cheesy that you can’t help but break a smile. Also, there is a song about governmental offices taking bribes from contracting companies in exchange for contracts to build public facilities and that is the greatest thing in the whole damn world.
This show is so far up my alley it set up a dive bar. I know some of you probably assumed I was being sarcastic or ironic when I called “Cop Rock” one of my favorite television shows of all time, but I really wasn’t. There are very few shows that give me as much pleasure as this one does. What can I say, it knows what I like.
That’s it for this week, next week we’ll get back to me watching shit that I hate. Oh, but don’t worry, we may not get back to it for a little while, but I am by no means done with “Cop Rock”. I’ve got bigger plans for this one…
Hey there! Wanna read my review of Cop Rock’s second episode? Click right here.