Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nostalgia Theater: Hasbro's C.O.P.S. -- Fighting Crime in a Future Time

More like C.R.A.P.S., amirite?


C.O.P.S. was Hasbro's late-'80s Hail Mary aimed at replicating the decade-long success the toymaker had enjoyed with G.I. Joe. This time, the military conceit of "Joe vs. Cobra" was switched out with police officers and criminals. Thus, the titular Central Organization of Police Specialists (they sure loved their acronyms in the '80s, didn't they? And wouldn't that be C.O.O.P.S.?), a group of law enforcers in the year 2020 with names like like Bulletproof, and Longarm, and Barricade, would square off with the cadre of colorful criminals populating Empire City, all led by the corpulent Big Boss.

In launching C.O.P.S., Hasbro stuck pretty slavishly to the same script that had allowed Joe to take off, with action figure profiles and backstories devised by genius Joe maestro Larry Hama, a companion comic book (not by Hama -- a pity -- and published by DC instead of Marvel), and the requisite animated series, which was produced by notorious crap mavens DiC rather than Marvel Productions, which had done every Hasbro-related series until then. I actually didn't watch the show regularly, but I remember it thanks to the catchy theme by usual DiC duo Shuki Levy and Haim Saban. Here's the intro:

Like I said, the parallels to G.I. Joe are uncanny and unmistakeable (Hama even seeded the C.O.P.S. profile cards with several wink-nudge nods to its predecessor). Also, every episode of C.O.P.S. ended with a "C.O.P.S. for Kids" segment similar to the Joe "Knowing is half the battle" lessons, with various characters appraising wee ones not to wander into dark alleys, talk to strangers, etc. But whether because the whole thing had a "been there, done that" flavor, or because "Fighting Crime in a Future Time" didn't have quite the same ring to it as "A Real American Hero," lightning failed to strike twice, and C.O.P.S. died on the vine pretty much instantly.

Despite some nice designs by future comic book artist Bart Sears, only a handful of the action figures (with cap-firing action -- totally safe!) made it to shelves. The comic book was gone after issue 15, and the animated spin-off didn't make it past the 65 episodes that aired during the '88-'89 syndicated season. While it's resurfaced occasionally (it re-aired on CBS in the early '90s as CyberC.O.P.S. to avoid any confusion with the Fox reality show), and the whole series has been released on DVD a few times, C.O.P.S. remains a forgotten relic even today's age of perpetual reboots. I highly doubt it's on anyone's "Most Wanted" list.

(Then again, they're bringing back Manimal too,  so what the hell do I know?)

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