As requested by JLAJRC, this is a show that popped up in the late eighties, supported by a Hasbro toyline, produced by DIC, and I guess came out of a meeting where someone said “What if we crossed Robocop with G.I. Joe?”. In the U.K., I believe it was on one summer and for a show I never really bothered to record or go to too much trouble to follow I still managed to find pretty decent. Great theme tune and opening, the best animation of the show is front-loaded into it, courtesy of the involvement of Peter Chung.
Sorry, couldn’t resist!
Always love the part where Mace gets thrown up high in his car, then shoots a hole in the bridge so that Ms. Demeanour and Rock Krusher AND the bridge come crashing down on Big Boss’ limousine.
We’ll start with the origin story, which actually isn’t the first episode of the series.
The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1 Part 1 and Part 2
As always, the episode is introduced by lead cop Bulletproof. Empire City was suffering from a massive crime spree courtesy of the criminal organisation of Big Boss, so Federal Agent BP Vess was called in to lead a specialist task force. During an investigation of evil scientist Dr. Badvibes, he was seriously injured in a vehicle accident by getaway driver Turbo Tu-Tone, leading to his torso having to be replaced with steel casing, making him truly bulletproof, both in name and body.
The recruitment of some of the other members of C.O.P.S. in the first episode is a lot of fun via a series of vignettes, with laser sniper Mace in particular being full of charisma, although by the second episode they rush through the introduction of the newer recruits. To augment the specialists, we have rookies beat cop Hardtop and computer technician Mainframe having to prove their worth by being the ones to save the day. A villainous plot of the “ultimate crime machine” (a flying base that can steal buildings) feels tacked on and detracts from what would’ve been cooler with each of the C.O.P.S. squaring off with Big Boss’ men. So, you miss out on villains like Nightshade and Buttons McBoom-Boom in this one.
Perhaps unfairly, I tend to think of C.O.P.S. as having great music, cool character designs (the androgynous Dr. Badvibes and his weird brain dome especially), awesome animation (the chase scenes in this episodes are especially good, with a real sense of speed and action), decent scripts, but disappointing voices (Big Boss probably is the best one with his Edward G. Robinson impression [“See?!”] while Berserko, purposely played as a moron, is the worst). As I watched on with a few more episodes I found things that both supported and opposed that, but we’ll get there. A decent start to the show, albeit about twelve episodes in. And while the bad guys shoot at Bulletproof’s chest and see the bullets bounce off, why don’t they just shoot him in the head?
The Case of the Pardner in Crime
This episode focuses on Texas Ranger Sundown and his history with cop-gone-bad Johnny Yuma, who used to be his partner. Really cool Western setting to start with, with Yuma using a makeshift lasso to get a lift out of prison. This leads to a cool sepia-tinted photo flashback of how Yuma and Sundown split when Yuma got greedy and Sundown having to take him down when he became an outlaw. Bulletproof tries to keep the escape of Yuma and his arrival in Empire City secret from Sundown, knowing he’ll go after him. At the same time, Big Boss finds out Yuma is in town and tries to recruit him, but Yuma’s not interested.
Sundown has a bit of a lame voice that sounds just a bit too much like Big Boss with a Texas twang. Sundown initially gets humiliated by being tied to a robotic bucking bull, but ultimately confronts Johnny atop a train while Berserko and his buddies try to take out both, necessitating that they team up again. It’s a good episode, but the redemption angle they run at the end is highly unlikely and really corny.
The Case of the Brilliant Berserko
Finishing up with this episode, I always found Berserko, the nephew of Big Boss, a spoiled character on account of his moronic voice, so the idea of an episode with a more articulate and intelligent Berserko was appealing. He does have a decently amusing plan to strike out on his own by stealing an invention that allows anyone to win at chess by predicting their next move. It immediately malfunctions and turns him into an erudite toff. Big Boss actually accepts him as a partner in his criminal organisation, but Badvibes sees him as competition and aims to eliminate him. As is, the temporary genius Berserko, with a voice that fits, comes undone when the batteries start to wear out on his chess crown. This is after cruel and unusual punishment where Hardtop had to sit through watching Berserko’s self-authored video autobiography. It’s a lot of fun.
Conclusion: There’s an episode missing that I could’ve reviewed that I’ve skipped, because I want to do it as part of another review next weekend. All I can say is that drugs are bad, m’kay? I’ve got my ideas of what to review, but if you have any suggestions yourself let me know. Thanks!