"Fighting crime... in a future time!"

C.O.P.S. stands for the Central Organization of Police Specialists, a mixed group of law enforcement officers with a variety of special skills and equipment assembled to rid the fictional Empire City from Big Boss and his crime syndicate in the year 2020. C.O.P.S. ran for only one season in 1988-1989, but was syndicated as Cyber C.O.P.S. in 1993. Despite the short run, it did have an impressive 65 episodes. The half-hour cartoon was produced by DiC, probably best known for Inspector Gadget.

The animation quality of this cartoon was pretty good as I remember it, on par with G.I. Joe or The Transformers. Violence was kept low, as it was obviously aimed at kids, and most of the C.O.P.S.' equipment was meant to capture criminals without hurting them. I recall the huge machine gun mounted on one of their armored vans being used only once, and against a car crushing machine one of the C.O.P.S. was trapped in rather than against a criminal or his vehicle.

Although this show was intended to sell toys (like most 80's American cartoons), the writers did a great job of telling actual stories rather than blatantly introducing characters for the sole purpose of showing the kids what new figures were available (something even The Transformers sunk to occasionally). There was a solid cast of regulars that viewers came to know well, and each one eventually had his moment to shine by starring in some episode. I don't recall seeing the toys very often in stores, and poor toy sales may have been the death of the series despite the excellent quality of the show itself. The toys were generally high quality though, with lots of accessories to get lost and their molds actually looked like the characters from the cartoon. Their gimmick was that they all came with cap guns.

    The good guys:
  • Agent B.P. "Bulletproof" Vess - Leader of the C.O.P.S., B.P. Vess was involved in a serious accident in the first episode (in a van that crashed into a brick wall) which left him critically injured. His life was saved by turning him into a bulletproof cyborg with one of those magical computer jacks found only in cartoons that let him control machines by plugging himself into them. Dressed in a tan trench coat which hid his cyborg body, Vess was impossibly heroic, unfailingly loyal to his men, and incredibly dedicated to the law and his job. The very definition of the incorruptible cartoon hero. Said his catch-phrase "It's crime fighting time!" before heading out on any mission.
  • Barricade - Dressed in riot gear, Barricade carried a high-tech hydraulic mule for smashing in doors. Also used to knock over bad guys.
  • Bowzer and Blitz - A K-9 unit, Bowzer was the handler and Blitz was a cyborg dog with a built-in police siren mounted on its back.
  • Bullseye - Helicopter pilot.
  • Hardtop - Drove an armored vehicle with a twin-barreled machine gun on top. From what I can remember, the gun was only ever used once.
  • Highway - Knock-off of a C.Hi.P.s motorcycle cop, Highway had a hoverboard that could reach some pretty decent altitude, but usually drove an armored motorcycle.
  • Longarm - Possibly the most boring of the C.O.P.S., Longarm dressed in generic police blues like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but had a cool weapon. On his right arm he carried a launcher that could fire a set of handcuffs toward a distant criminal, trailing a cable that could be used to reel him in. Often used as a grappling hook.
  • Mace - Stereotypical tough guy with a heart of gold on the team, Mace dressed in S.W.A.T. gear.
  • Mainframe - One of two females on the team, Mainframe was the computer specialist and rarely got involved in the actual action, usually playing a support role.
  • Mirage - The other female on the team, for the life of me I can't remember what she did.
  • Sundown - Generic cowboy-style Texas Ranger, Sundown used a pair of revolvers and dressed like a sheriff out of the old West, but with a futuristic style to it.
    The bad guys:
  • Big Boss - Morbidly obese and extremely wealthy criminal mastermind, Big Boss controlled virtually all the crime that went on in Empire City. Dressed in a white overcoat with police badges for buttons, although how exactly he came to get them was left unclear. He had definite limits to what he would get involved in, absolutely refusing to have anything to do with the drug trade in the episode The Case of the Lowest Crime. Had a voice like a caricature of Edward G. Robinson.
  • Berserko - The inevitable odious comic relief, Berserko was only allowed to stay in the gang because he was a relative (nephew?) of Big Boss. Extremely stupid, Berserko was usually the one to screw up the plan and allow the C.O.P.S. to stop Big Boss.
  • Buttons McBoomBoom - A cyborg who dressed like something out of a Dick Tracy comic, Buttons had a pair of machine guns hidden in a chest compartment.
  • Dr. Badvibes - I always love the mad scientist characters, and Dr. Badvibes was one of the classics from the 80's. Had a robot called Buzzsaw for a sidekick (sort of a cross between R2-D2 and Max Steele from Robo Force), who did things in return its favorite snacks, steel wool cookies. Dr. Badvibes was usually a central character in the episodes, generally inventing the gadget that would start a new crime spree for the others. Dressed in standard mad scientist gear (chemical resistant gloves, goggles, and a lab coat), but with a plexiglass dome instead of a skull covering his oversided brain which would crackle with electricity when he got an idea.
  • Ms. Demeanor - Thankfully the only pun name in the series, Ms. Demeanor was an unusual character. She appeared to be a woman in her 50's with superhuman strength. To give an idea of just how strong she was, in one episode she picked up a car by hand to move it out of a no-parking zone.
  • Nightshade - Pretty much a generic cartoon cat burglar, Nightshade used her ninja-like gymnastics skills to move silently, bypass security systems, and slip away unnoticed when the crime was complete.
  • Rock Krusher - Archetypal big dumb henchman, Rock Krusher dressed in basic black and white striped prison garb and carried a jackhammer.
  • Squeaky - Big Boss's chauffeur, I don't remember much about him.
  • Turbo Tutone - Looked like a 50's greaser, and I think he stole cars.

C.O.P.S. was certainly one of the more inspired creations of the 80's cartoon scene, and I was sorry to see it go. A few episodes were recently released on DVD, although in a low-budget transfer with no special features, commentary, or bonuses.

The rest is from my memory of the show, undoubtedly full of holes.

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