My fascination with COPS started as a young boy when it debuted in the 7 slot, Saturday nights on Fox. I'd watch without blinking on my small black and white television and marvel as the action unfolded. And now, I pay homage, not to the police force necessarily, but to COPS--where white trash takes the stage and the breaks are two intense minutes of cheap life insurance and mobile home commercials. So here it is, WHY COPS IS THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION (STILL)
1) TASER GUNS I've said it before and I'll say it again, the taser gun, on top of being one the most effective, non-lethal means of rendering a subject harmless, it's also the most entertaining. When you see some cat take the taser to the backside and drop to the ground, I challenge you to find a more riveting method of takedown. To see a "stunning" testimony of the taser's power, check this out: http://www.big-boys.com/articles/bulltaser.html
2) TRAILER PARKS Never lived in one and only travelled through them, never to them, but how incredible that you can visit a new one every night. I've been in some really dumping trailers, some really nice trailers, met some fantastic people and some that, well, I wouldn't want to be within a bullwhip's distance of. Regardless, it's much like travelling to an exotic land, except there's no beaches, palm trees. There's no nice hotels with hot tubs or fancy rich people. Actually, it's nothing like traveling to an exotic land at all. Man, I better watch myself or my name might be Larry and these might be my neighbors:
3) THE FOOT CHASE Nothing like actually being in the chase. The camera man throws the camera on his shoulder and takes off like a true champ. What's better is when you can hear the cameraman weezing as he finds himself short of breath. What's even better is when the cop goes short of breath. I suppose coffee, donuts and cigarettes does not constitute a well-rounded diet. But, I tell you what, I've see some big boys get their run on catch some fast criminals. It gives hope to big guys like me. Hey, I had my first triple this year. Of course, I pulled my first quad in the process.
4) THE COPS MARATHON Cable television has made a killing off of COPS reruns. These marathons pop up like dandelions in cable wasteland. You'll be sitting around after lunch on a Saturday afternoon and you'll barge in on the top of like a rediculous 8-hour marathon of COPS. If you're really lucky, you'll catch those early episodes where all the cops have those cheesy cochese moustaches and use a lot of police jargon. Regardless, you're never short of episodes--one day I counted three different marathons going on at the SAME TIME. Insanity.
5) RAW AND UNCUT It's rare that you can experience such a raw television experience these days. Shows are so silly how they lead you along with suggestive commentary and clues that you're supposed to pick up on. Not COPS. It's three 8 minute episodes--each one a complete experience from the call from the dispatcher to the cuffs on the criminal. There's no dubbed-in commentary, no flashy cuts, no steady-cam, no background music. The cops sometimes are heroes while at other times their as much at fault, but it's up to the viewer to make their determination. No one forces it upon you. Even the news is so suggestive and biased these days making me appreciate COPS even more.
6) THE 30 MINUTE FORMAT You can leave whenever you want. You never feel forced to stick around or tune in next week. Each episode leaves you feeling completely fulfilled (unless you're an addict like me). You can just watch one 8-minute cuffing and say, "Wow, that was cool. Wanna play rummikub?" You can't do that in the middle of, say ER or even a Seinfeld episode. You have to watch til the very end and, in some cases, you have to stay tuned for the entire season because these networks gotta sell advertising. COPS doesn't concern itself with all of that corporate crap.
7) THE "BAD BOYS" THEME SONG Inner Circle was a great reggae band. Now they're just the group that performs the COPS theme song. It's not a great song, but it does what it needs to. Man, when I hear that "huh!" that kicks off the intro, it's like the conch has sounded--I run to the closest television and watch til I'm red-eyed.
8) ROADSIDE SOBRIETY TESTS You never know what will happen. Some guy thinks he's Superman and tries to do a backflip before almost cracking his head open on the curb. Some woman takes a swing at a cop. Some go kicking and screaming. Some take off running (I've found most drunk people make it only about a half a block before either passing out in someone's lawn or running into a street light). And, sometimes, you have the quiet drunk who just happily cooperates. Either way, drunks may be bad for society, but they're great for television.
9) THE "STING" Man, nothing like the look on a guy's face when he thought he picked up a prostitute and found out it was cop when five armed officers pop out of the hotel bathroom. That or when you purchase weed from a guy on the street and peculiarly repeats the phrase "It's all good, it's all good," at the end of the transaction. I've found, if you're ever trying to score drugs on the street and the dealer says one short three-word phrase more than two times, just go ahead and lay on the ground with your palms to the air because there's two cops on foot and two in unmarked patrol cars at both ends of the block ready to drop you like a part-time job.
10) S.W.A.T. TEAMS The sound of a door blown off the hinges by a seventy-pound battering log makes me tear up. In fact, I'm reaching for the Kleenex box just thinking about it. Again, it's the element of surprise. Always fun when they do the early morning busts--they stake out the place all night and kick your door down at 5:30 in the morning and you find yourself with a cop's knee across your Adam's apple and a hand-cannon pointed right between your eyes. You're feet haven't even hit the floor and your asking for a new pair of britches. How embarrassing would that be if your folks were in town to visit, sleeping on the pull out bed in the living room and it happens to be "your morning." "Mom, dad, I didn't want you to find out this way."
That's it. Time for bed.
This post dedicated to the great and lovely Steve Guttenberg.