Cop Rock (TV Series 1990) - Plot Summary Poster


Plot Summary

  • In what must have been one of the shortest lived series on network television, "Cop Rock" was part "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" and part "The Sound of Music". After chasing down a criminal, the force would take to the street for an organized dance number, then haul the guy back to HQ. This may have been the only series to have been based on a Broadway musical format.

    - Written by Michael Silva <silvamd@cleo.bc.edu>
  • The 1990s started off with one of the boldest experiments ever attempted in American television # the creation of an hour-long weekly television police drama, done as a musical. Longtime television innovator Steven Bochco, creator of major hits like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law, took the biggest risk of his career. He brought the musical back to television but this time as a gritty, street-wise cop show called Cop Rock. The songs were written by a stable of songwriters ably led by the Oscar-winning Randy Newman. Half the critics thought it was the worst idea of the century; half thought it was pure genius. The television drama had been moribund for some time and Bochco created something entirely new, powerful, interesting, fresh. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before, and most importantly, it was done well and done seriously. Its detractors claimed it was unrealistic for cops and robbers to break into song, but none of them had complained quite this loudly about the various aliens that had appeared on the airwaves, about shipwrecked movie stars and millionaires, about bionic men and women, or about the rest of the lackluster crap filling the TV schedule. As an example of its audacity, its first episode alone included a rap song delivered by junkies as they're being arrested in a drug raid, a gospel number by a judge and jury convicting a drug dealer, a tender pop ballad by a husband about his much younger wife, and an R&B number by a corrupt lady mayor to the man who's just offered her a bribe. But the most powerful number came at the end of the episode. A young junkie sits on a bus stop bench singing a lullaby to her infant daughter, a haunting Randy Newman song called "Sandman" (later re-used in Newman's Faust). As she finishes the song, a station wagon pulls up, a man gets out and pays her $200 for the baby. As he drives away with the baby, the junkie finishes the lullaby and breaks down in tears as the music quietly ends and the camera pulls away. It was devastating. And it was brilliant drama. Unfortunately, it cost $1.8 million an episode # a record at the time # and its ratings were consistently dismal. ABC tried to get Bochco to drop the musical numbers but he refused, so they canceled the show after four months. Bochco later told Entertainment Weekly that of all his shows, Cop Rock was by far the most fun he had ever had making television. Years later, Cop Rock was partly redeemed as cable channel VH-1 rebroadcast the series and a new generation discovered its quirky brilliance.

    - Written by newchaz64@aol.com


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