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Cops

By Wikipedia

COPS is one of the longest-running television programs and one of the earliest reality TV genre programs, which networks love because they are not paying actors or writers. It is broadcast by the Fox Network and documents the day-to-day activities of American police officers and sheriff's deputies ("cops") while on-duty.

Originally created by John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, it premiered on March 11, 1989 and has aired over 600 episodes. It won the American Television Award in 1993, and has earned four Emmy nominations.

The show is made up of footage shot by film units who accompany selected police officers while they execute their duties. As the show's opening spiel mentions, "COPS is filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement...all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court-of-law." The show has followed officers in 140 different cities in the United States and also has filmed in Hong Kong, London, and the former Soviet Union.

Recently, several themed DVD's have been released, some of which include profanity and sexually explicit footage cut from the network version. They are entitled COPS: Shots Fired, COPS: Bad Girls, and COPS: Caught in the Act.

The show is well known for its theme song, "Bad Boys", sung by reggae group Inner Circle.

Criticism

The show has been criticized for its predominant focus on the criminal activities among the poor. Critics of this aspect of the show say it unfairly presents the poor as responsible for most crime in society while ignoring the white-collar crimes that are typical of the more wealthy. Documentary film maker Michael Moore raises this very issue in an interview with a former associate producer of COPS, who was on the program for one season only although he was erroneously presented as a spokesman for the program. Dick Herlin was included in Moore's film Bowling for Columbine. One response to this allegation - also supplied by Hurlin in response to Moore - is that television is primarily a visual medium, requiring regular footage on a weekly basis to sustain a show, and police officers "busting in" on some office where identity theft papers are being created or other high-level crime rings are operating do not happen very often, thus it is not likely to be filmed and thus not shown. The low-level crime featured on the show happens every day, providing large quantities of material suitable for filming. "COPS" creator John Langley readily acknowledges that the program is about street crime, not white- collar crime, and urges that it should be judged accordingly.

Parodies

COPS is a popular subject for parody, a testament to how deeply the show has become embedded in American pop culture.

A common theme among parodies is incompetence displayed by law enforcement at hand. For example, in a parody from the television series The Simpsons, the police use a helicopter to watch a drive-in movie. Other shows that have parodied COPS include the Comedy Central series Reno 911!, the Ronnie Dobbs sketches on Mr. Show with Bob and David, Mad TV and Saturday Night Live. The series was also the centerpiece of an episode of The X-Files, called X-Cops.

COPS has also been frequently parodied in feature films such as There's Something About Mary, in which the main character is arrested "live" on the show as his friend watches to his dismay, and Shrek 2, which puts a spin on the parody with the medieval themed "KNIGHTS".

In the sci-fi film Minority Report, fugitive protagonist John Anderton appears on an episode, hinting that the show will still be around in the late 21st Century. Another notable sci-fi example was Troops, a parody that combines COPS and the popular Star Wars movie franchise.

The comedian Bill Hicks has also used the show as subject matter for his act, as well as comedians Paul Rodriguez, Larry the Cable Guy and others.

Shows influenced by COPS

  • The late Paul Stojanovich, a former COPS producer, created the syndicated documentary series World's Wildest Police Videos, showing footage of police work from dashboard-mounted in-car cameras and from news footage. That show's narrator, John Bunnell was a former Multnomah County, Oregon sherriff's deputy who appeared on an early episode of COPS conducting an undercover drug bust.
  • The Montgomery, Alabama FOX affiliate, WCOV, also airs two long-running locally-produced shows based on the COPS formula: M.P.D. documents the Montgomery Police Department and County Law [2] covers the Montgomery County Sherriffs Department. Both shows air following COPS and AMW on Saturday nights.
  • A Canadian syndicated series of the early 1990s, R.C.M.P. documented the activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • LAPD: Life On The Beat, a syndicated series focusing on the Los Angeles Police Department. Unlike COPS, LAPD would run a small text blurb at the end of each segment explaining what became of the featured "suspect" ("He was charged with Disturbing The Peace and released").
  • True Stories Of The Highway Patrol, usually dealing with County sheriffs and State Police.

Memorable Episodes

  • Bad Girls 1, 2, and 3 - All female perpetrators, plus a few transvestites
  • Naked Perps - All perpetrators were nude at the time of arrest. (Aired censored on television.)
  • Jersey Cop - The gruff bluster alternating with tenderness of Cpl. Anthony Damiano of the Passaic County, New Jersey Sherriff's Department proved so popular that he became the only police officer to receive an entire 30 minute episode devoted to him.
  • Mardi Gras - Annual episodes filmed with the New Orleans, Louisiana police as they attempt to restrain the alcohol-fueled revelry of Mardi Gras.
  • Coco the Clown - An undercover officer with the Tampa police department in full clown costume conducts a prostitution sting.
  • Tased and Confused - All perpetrators were apprehended with the use of a TASER (electronic stunning device) at the time of arrest.

 

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: March 11, 1989 -

Cast: The Hard-Working Men & Women of Law Enforcement!

Network: FOX

Genre: Reality

Theme songBad Boys by Inner Circle

Image courtesy of FOX


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