C.O.P.S aired in 1988, one year after the debut of Robocop, and the future-cop theme and design is clearly influenced by Verhoven’s violent satire. As a child I caught onto this influence immediately and a part of me always saw it as derivative (along with some Judge Dredd influence). Watching it now I get an eery knot in my stomach as I realize just how silly and loaded with slapstick this cartoon really is, and yet cannot help but still recognize the design influence of Robocop. Throughout there is this strange paradox of immensely threatening looking characters doing terribly silly things. One should expect these various behemoths to be murderers, rapists or just violent thugs (just look at the caricature grins most of them have and tell me I’m wrong) and yet they’re stealing fur coats and cavemen and all have goofy voices….my brain takes a while to process all of this.
This show arrived right about the same time as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so the animation is nearly identical and, with my rant about the characters looking violent not yielding, all of the heroes, villains and outrageous vehicles look more than action figure ready. Of course, being a Hasbro production, this means that it was a toy before it was a show, making it another in a long line of televisions series that double as commercials (think Transformers and GI Joe, also from Hasbro).
As already mentioned, the voices are often goofy or over-the-top. The main villain has a nice Edward G. Robinson-style sneer and the C.O.P.S chief is voiced by retired Pro Baseball player Ken Ryan. The stories all wrap up in one episode (except for one two-parter) and they use the term “caper” every single chance they get (perhaps more Edward G. Robinson influence there).
Fullscreen 1.33:1. The footage has aged some, perhaps more than it should have considering it has some of the marks and scratches that one might expect to see watching Rocket Robin Hood or some other series that is more than 40 years old. Largely it looks fine but never outstanding.
2-Channell Mono. One episode “The Case of Mace’s Romance” is not mixed properly but otherwise things are well balanced in a two speaker setup. Everything comes through clear enough.
Despite the constant implication of violence (or at least potential violence) this series is too silly to be taken seriously and therefore is largely harmless for kids to see. Still…there is something enigmatically alarming about it that might have an impact on you or your kids like it did on me.