Toy-turned-cartoon C.O.P.S was such an odd bird when it ran in syndication back in its original '88-'89 run, that it's a surprise that it doesn't pop up in conversation more often. Based on the C.O.P.S 'N' Crooks toy line from Hasbro, it was set in the year 2020, but had the tone of a 1930's gangster saga featuring a tone that could could best be described as "slapstick-y." The series pitted the titular members of the Central Organization of Police Specialists against the criminal element of New York stand-in Empire City, typically in plots where the rotund villain Big Boss would engage in almost Cobra-level schemes to steal jewels, explosive moon rocks, or what have you, only to be thwarted by B.P. "Bulletproof" Vess and his stalwart collection of cybernetically-enhanced police officers.
Oh yeah, and everyone had either a pun-tastic name or nickname. I see you over there, Ms. Demeanor.
Classic television outfit Mill Creek Entertainment released the 33 episodes comprising the second and final season of the series. How'd they do? And for that matter, how well does C.O.P.S. hold up?
I mentioned at the top of the piece that C.O.P.S. was a little odd back in the day, but I don't recall anyone from my age group ever making much noise about the series then or since. However, given that everything will one day end up on a disc or as a download and sold, Mill Creek, following Shout Factory's earlier releases, has put the second season of the show out there for old (and possibly new) fans. Personally, I think it's worth seeking out, particularly given the unique look and feel of the show which somehow mitigates the cornball nature of many of the stories.
Besides the silly-but-kind-of-clever character names, the characters in the cartoon each had some pretty interesting designs that played off of the '30's-meets-21st century motif. The commitment to the aesthetic even carried over to the music, particularly the theme as well as the opening and closing piece of music that played over Vess's (voiced by Ken Ryan) narration about the current "Case File" being considered in a particular episode (all of the episode titles are some variation of "The Case of the...").
The look and feel of the show make a little more sense when you discover that Batman: The Animated Series helmer Kevin Altieri directed the show, perhaps providing its unique Hays-era crime pic/cartoon style. While nowhere near as polished as BTAS--it never really bothered to take itself seriously, and the humor was of the "cross your eyes and stick out your tongue variety--you could still feel the weight of hard-boiled crime fiction peeking through in every episode.
The second season presented here arrives in a decent enough package for a relatively unloved series. Neither remastered, HD-quality, nor muddy, VHS visuals, the image quality is serviceable given the age of the material. Ditto the audio. In terms of special features, there's a spot for Jayce and the Wheel Warriors, another oddity from the period that I recall having a lot more affection for. Also, I'm not sure if it's simply a review package or the way the release is being packaged for consumers, but the discs come packed in paper sleeves inside of a plastic case.
So, is this set worth seeking out? Well, the price is more than right, so you could do worse with your six bucks for 11 hours of cartoons.
C.O.P.S. - Volume 2 is available on DVD now.