1 out of 5 – Would Recommend: Cop Rock

featuredWelcome back to 1 out of 5 – Would Recommend, where the author is the editor and can change his mind at the last second. Since the full series set came out last week, we’re taking a look at the pilot episode of 1990’s Cop Rock this week.

What’s The Plot?

The episode follows several LAPD police officers in the days after a drug bust as they deal with the consequences in different ways: one tries to help a single mom junkie caught up in the bust, another tries to catch one of the dealers who is freed on bail (and later murders a cop), another deals with the death of his partner, etc. Pretty standard stuff.

Randy Newman songs to boot.

Randy Newman songs, specifically.

Except for the parts where they break into song. That’s…odd.

Who Made This Beautiful Garbage?

“Dad, these old stories can’t compare with our modern super writers. Steven Bochco could kick Shakespeare’s ass!” – Bart Simpson, Tales from the Public Domain

Co-created by legendary TV producer Steven Bochco, creator of Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., and NYPD Blue. The man is, quite rightfully, highly respected in the world of television – which makes this bizarre show all the more inexplicable. Then again, considering the show about a teenage doctor was a big hit right before this came out, he had good reason to go with his gut.

Five Reasons to See It

  1. The songs are composed by Randy Newman, meaning they’re actually pretty catchy. The gospel number delivering a guilty verdict is a particular stand-out.

    Though the love song about bribery is pretty great too.

    Though the love song about bribery is pretty great too.

  2. The mixture of gritty, socially conscious police drama and elaborate musical numbers meshes exactly as well as you’d think it would.
  3. The minor supporting characters are played the likes of Ronnie Cox (RoboCop, Captain America), Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters).
  4. The chief of the LAPD (Ronnie Cox’s character) has an animatronic cowboy shooting dummy in his office closet. He straps on six-shooters and has a quick draw contest with it. There’s no real explanation for why.

    Still less embarrassing than having been in Nothing But Trouble.

    Still less embarrassing than having been in Nothing But Trouble.

  5. “Nelson, you see, you’re not hearing me. I don’t need you to testify, what we’re doing here is against your constitutional rights, your testimony’s worthless.” – Well, at least the writers were aware.


Overall, the series is a paint-by-numbers police procedural and would be utterly forgettable if it weren’t for the musical aspect. The songs are light in the first half of the episode but come fast and furious in the second half, which is – let’s be honest – the only reason you’d bother to watch this show. It’s a fun and inexplicable piece of 90’s pop culture, and definitely worth watching just to say that you have.

This aired. On a major network.

This aired. On a major network.

 NEXT WEEK: We return you to your regularly scheduled Strike Commando review.

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past's social media lackey. He's all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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