COPS: the Central Organization of Police Specialists. Fighting crime in a future time.
COPS was an animated series produced by DiC for the purpose of selling a new Hasbro toyline. But hey, what cartoons in the 80â€™s and 90â€™s werenâ€™t made to sell toys? COPS was, in a way, Hasbroâ€™s successor to G.I. Joe (which was waning in popularity by the 90â€™s), featuring similar characters, trite public service announcements (â€œCOPS for Kidsâ€) and some recycled plots. Interestingly enough, the characters and their backgrounds were all created by Larry Hama, the same guy who created the characters for G.I. Joe (and wrote the Marvel Comic, too). Due to this, thereâ€™s the occasional homage to certain G.I. Joes in there, such as the obvious similarities between Mutt & Junkyard and Bowser & Blitz.
COPS isnâ€™t a terrible show, itâ€™s just utterly forgettable. The show is written with a blatant tongue-in-cheek approach. This stuff is definitely geared for kids who donâ€™t have the memory capacity of one week. As a result, there is little to no continuity between episodes. Even worse, thereâ€™s usually little to no *logic* between episodes. I mean, I can get by â€œcrime machinesâ€ and â€œbig bad boxoidsâ€, but what irked the crap out of me was that the villains were arrested at the end of every episode, yet by the next one, they were prowling the streets again. Empire City may have the best police force in the world but they certainly have the worst prisons.
The characters are very goofy for the sake of being goofy; you can tell Hama was either on something when he created these guys or just having some fun. The good guys, the COPS, are all pretty boring, just like the Joes. Bulletproof, their leader, is a cyborg which makes him cool, but is your typical dull-as-dishwater commander, which makes him not-cool. Mainframe is the mandatory female presence who sits around patching through phonecalls and vacuuming the police headquarters. Long-Arm has a gizmo that allows him to snare criminals with a grappling hook on his arm. Thatâ€™s about it. Hardtop drives the SWAT tank and has a thing for an investigative journalist. Still not feeling it. Oh, and thereâ€™s the required â€œcowboyâ€ character who begins and ends every sentence with â€œYEEEEHAW!â€ Youâ€™ve been warned.
Once again, just like G.I. Joe, the villains are the most interesting characters, though they get saddled with some pretty awful names. Big Boss is the leader of the criminal organization and is basically just a big fat guy who sits behind a desk all day. Thereâ€™s his chauffer and man-servant, Squeaky Clean, who is a total germ-o-phobe. Big Bossâ€™ nephew, Berserko, is in practically every episode and will have you pulling your hair out at how stupid he is. Turbo Tu-Tone is the vehicle specialist and never really does anything important. Nightshade is the cat-burglar and only attractive member of the crooks. Ms. Demeanor looks like Joan Rivers. Dr. Bad-Vibes is the mad scientist who put his brain in a jar on top of his head so heâ€™d have more room to think (makes perfect sense). Rock Crusher is the muscle with an IQ that is surpassed by Bebop and Rocksteady. And, finally, we have the coolest villain of them all: Buttons McBoom-Boom. Jeez, whyâ€™d they have to name him that? The dude is a grizzled old psycho in a zoot suit with freakinâ€™ *machine guns* in his stomach, and he gets saddled with a name like â€œButtons McBoom-Boomâ€? I donâ€™t know whether to laugh or cry.
The plots? Big Boss sends his henchmen out to perform some sort of zany crime, Berserko screws up, the COPS arrest the bad guys, The End. Most of these schemes are down-right ridiculous, such as â€œthe Case of the Crime Circusâ€, where Dr. Bad-Vibes creates a clown-like machine that sucks money out of bank vaults. I could elaborate but thereâ€™s really no need. The stories are your typical cut-and-dry Saturday Morning Cartoon material.
The voice acting is a mixed bag. The only member of the COPS with a very noteworthy voice is Bulletproof, who has this sort of â€œUntouchablesâ€ thing going which I really liked. The crooks are a bit better and a bit worse. Big Boss talks in this old timey â€œMyeah! Youâ€™ll never take me alive, coppers! Myeah!â€ kind of voice which is hilarious for the first 5 minutes. And then thereâ€™s the worst of the lot, Berserko, who has a voice so shrill and irritating you may never finish the first disk.
The animation is provided by various Japanese and Korean studios and fluctuates wildly between episodes. The opening title sequence is gorgeous and one of my favorites from the late 80â€™s. It implies a quality that just isnâ€™t present in the show, unfortunately. The first episode, â€œthe Case of the Stuck-Up Blimpâ€, is animated extremely well with some very smooth and detailed animation as well as a few noticeable Japanese nuances. However, itâ€™s a bit down-hill after that in regards to the animation quality. The rest of the episodes are just bland in appearance. The only one that really stands out is the 2-part â€œthe Case of the C.O.P.S.â€ which serves as the shows origin story. The animation still isnâ€™t as good as in the first episode, regrettably.
What I really liked in this show was the music. It was provided by Shuki Levy; if you ever watched cartoons in the 80â€™s and 90â€™s thereâ€™s a good chance youâ€™ve heard his work. Shuki Levy was responsible for the music in the Real Ghostbusters, X-Men the Animated Series, Power Rangers and the first English dub of Dragonball Z (the Ocean Group version). Some people donâ€™t like his music, as itâ€™s all done on a keyboard, but Iâ€™ve always enjoyed it. His music in this show has a nice film noir/crime-thriller beat to it which adds a lot of flare to some typically boring animation.
The extras on the DVD set are alright. Youâ€™ve got a ton of concept paintings, character art and early sketches, which are pretty cool if youâ€™re into that stuff. Thereâ€™s also the complete storyboards for the opening sequence. Probably the best special feature is the collection of â€œCOPS for Kidsâ€ public service announcements. They go a little more for â€œshock valueâ€ than the G.I. Joe ones did, trying to scare kids into going straight. One, about joining a gang, shows people getting shot in gang warfare (albeit, bloodlessly).
The COPS DVD set is perfect for anyone who is a fan of the show, but in all honesty, itâ€™s not going to sit well with anybody else. The show-itself is a mere footnote in 90â€™s cartoon history. I canâ€™t really recommend it to anyone but the die-hard fans.