My last Saturday Morning Cartoon post was about a cartoon that I remembered from the mid-1980s, but only saw a few minutes of it, called “M.A.S.K.”. This Saturday’s cartoon is from the late 1980s; I saw a bunch of it, but didn’t immediately remember it until I looked up this episode. Then the memories flooded back. Here is a recap/review of the origin episode of one of my favorite cartoons growing up, called “C.O.P.S.”.
“Fighting crime, in a future time!”
C.O.P.S. stands for Central Organization of Police Specialists, based in Empire City. The team was formed to counteract the activities of the crime lord, Big Boss. Part 1 shows some of Big Boss’s activities and henchmen, plus the formation of the C.O.P.S. team.
A jazzy trumpet and bass number leads you into the episode. The music in the whole episode is pretty good, especially for a cartoon from the late 1980’s. You are almost immediately introduced to the bad guys of the episode (names in the pictures’ captions):
Big Boss is not thrilled that Berserko, in his opening scene, stole bananas. Enter Dr. Bad Vibes, recently joined member of Big Boss’s group. Boss, impressed with Vibes’s previous works, wants him to build ‘the most powerful crime machine ever created… by next week!’ After a rebuffed objection, Vibes agrees and sets out for his new secret lab that Boss built or bought (it was never explained).
We are then introduced to Mayor Davis. Mayor Davis is lamenting the crime wave and the lack of Empire City’s police department’s ability to do much about it, so he decided to…
… bring in the Feds! His assistant is shocked… SHOCKED!!
Enter Federal Agent BP Vest:
Vest – he of the overly dramatic voice – vows to clean up Empire City, starting with a request to visit the last crime scene.
(One of the things I had forgotten about this cartoon is that the lead character was Black!)
At the crime scene, BP Vest finds some clues and asks for a Computer Specialist. Enter Tina Cassidy, rookie Computer Specialist and Analyst:
She finds out that Contrex, Inc. just fired a brilliant scientist for theft: Dr. Bad Vibes. She also has an address for where he’s staying. Vest rushes off to the address, after mutual “glad to meet you… and possibly want more” compliments.
At the address, Berserko and Rockcrusher are moving a couch out the front door… legally; they are actually complaining about being on a ‘legit’ job. Vest shows up, moments later, and somehow missed the two dive behind the couch. On the sidewalk. In broad daylight. Doesn’t leave much hope for his cop skills, does it? Anyways…
Vest enters the address and finds parts that match what he found at the crime scene. Berserko and Rockcrusher report back to Big Boss, via video phone (it’s the ‘future’, remember?), who is not thrilled again. Vest then leaves the apartment, enters the moving van that was parked out front… and becomes trapped in it, as Berserko and Rockcrusher drive away.
The van, destroying everything in their way, catches the attention of a patrol unit, who then gives chase. The chase does not go well for most people involved: Berserko is launched into a pit of cement; the patrol unit crashes off of a highway ramp under construction, into concrete and a wall; Vest and the van crash into a building, which collapses onto Vest. Vest is critically injured.
Big Boss hears about the incident at the address and is not thrilled (this is a recurring theme of Big Boss).
We then go to the Hospital, where a 90% bandaged Vest wakes up, and see Mayor Davis, his Assistant, and members of the police force and Overdyne Institute, watching over him. He is informed that he was badly injured and it could take years (plural) to recover…. unless he accepts this new experimental surgery. The surgery will “give [you] a new electronic body, covered by a computerized metal shell”. Hmmm, sounds Steve Austin-ish. Vest agress to the surgery, as long as he can form “a special group of police officers from around the country” to fight Big Boss. Mayor Davis agrees and the surgery commences.
While Vest is hospitalized, Cassidy and another office set off recruiting officers, in a 2-minute montage. Big Boss, finding out that Vest is still alive, is not thrilled with Berserko, so he sends everyone not named Dr. Bad Vibes to the Hospital, to finish off Vest.
Berserko and Rockcrusher crash Vest’s room, jackhammering through the security locks. They pull guns on Vest; Vest pulls a bed on them.
Berserko is pinned to the wall (and presumably arrested), while Rockcrusher jumps out of the hospital window, falling through the stolen ambulance that Turbo was driving. I’ll give you 3 guesses at the mood that Big Boss was in when he heard about the botched hit on a now bullet-proof Vest (… get it? Har Har!) Bad Vibes, hearing Big Boss’s tirade, announces that his machine is finished: the “Ultimate Crime Machine” (“UCM”)!
Part 1 ends here.
Part 2 picks up with… a Pick Up. Specifically, a building Pick Up: Dr. Bad Vibes uses the UCM to grapple on, then slice apart and pick up, his old apartment! This comes with a bonus: Empire City cops (not C.O.P.S.) were in the building. Vibes sucks up essential items from the apartment piece then dumps the rest – cops and all – into the East River. The cops were rescued.
Big Boss, not thrilled that Dr. Bad Vibes “took the UCM out on a joy ride without his permission” has a brief argument; Vibes makes a good point that he created the UCM and can do what he wants, but is ultimately shot down.
Back at City HQ, a recovered agent BP Vest introduces the Mayor and his assistant (and us) to the newly formed C.O.P.S. unit:
- Susie Young, code named “Mirage” (from San Francisco); specialty is Undercover Investigation
- Stan Hyde: “Barricade” (from Detroit Metro); specialty is Crowd Control
- David Harlson: “Highway” (a C.H.I.P.); specialty is Ace Cycle Trooper
- Walker Calhoun: “Sundown” (former Texas Sheriff); speialty is Special Investigations
- Rex Pointer: “Bowser” (Chicago PD); specialty is K-9000 Handler; has Blitz, Cyborg Police Dog
- Hugh Forward: “Bullseye” (from Miami); specialty is Helicopter Pilot
- Cole Howards: “Mace” (from Philadelphia); specialty is Special Weapons and Tactical
- Sgt. P.J. O’Malley: unknown code name (Empire City Police 2nd-in-Command); specialty is Unknown (at this time)
The meeting with the Mayor is interrupted by announcement on the TVs…. by Big Boss:
[paraphrasing] “I have the Ultimate Crime Machine and I have 2 demands: free my nephew Berserko and give me Federal Agent BP Vest!”
(he actually called his nephew ‘Berserko’)
Vest and C.O.P.S. spring into action. First, they are given the top 2 floors of the 647th Precinct Building as Headquarters. Next, the C.O.P.S. are given their first mission: find the UCM. The team is split up into groups that search every inch of the city; Tina Cassidy and fellow rookie officer Donny Brooks (…oy) asked to stay behind and “man the fort”, so to speak.
Out on search in a helicopter, Mirage and Bullseye come face to face with the UCM. Their demands to “get into legal air space” are met with gun fire, a small chase, and capture by the UCM and Turbo. Bad Guys 1, C.O.P.S. 0.
It’s now Agent Vest’s turn to be “not thrilled” by current events; he and the others go in search of Bullseye and Mirage. Mayor Davis orders the release of Berserko, who immediately is interviewed by the News Station and gives a child-like response to an interview; Big Boss is not thrilled.
A combination fuming and thinking Vest is in a squad with O’Malley when they have an “aha!” moment: the target of Big Boss’s next heist is the Federal Mint building! Off they go!
Vest arrives at the Mint… followed shortly by the UCM; Vest wisely calls for backup and the rest of C.O.P.S.. Cassidy and Brooks, hearing this over the radio, leave HQ and also head to the Mint: Cassidy has figured out a way to stop the UCM.
The robot first seen with Turbo at the beginning of the episode once again cuts his way through a building – the Mint – so that Turbo can grab it with the UCM’s arms. Vest is now inside the Mint, so he goes along for the ride when the UCM carries the Mint away. Speaking of away, C.O.P.S. are too far away to help Vest.
Vest grabs onto one of the Money Presses, as Turbo grabs it from the Mint. He drops down into the belly of the UCM but is quickly spotted by the bot. Turbo shows up and a fight scene happens.
Well, you don’t see the fight, you only see still shots of Vest and Turbo grappling and punching each other, with grunts and sound effects added:
Ultimately, Turbo, with a timely trip from the now-needs-to-be-recycled-violently bot, knocks Vest out of the UCM, with Vest grabbing onto the edge of an open platform at the last second.
Bad Guys 2, C.O.P.S. 0.
Meanwhile, Cassidy and Brooks have driven directly under the UCM, the perfect position for Cassidy to enact her plan: a machine that can take remote control of the UCM. She gets control and causes the UCM to start flying erratically, heading for a crash landing. Turbo, Rock Crusher (who was on board, as well), and the bot jump out; Vest climbs back on board, frees Mirage and Bullseye (who were tied up in the Pilot’s area) ,and uses his new computer body to plug into the UCM and ease it down to the ground. On the ground, Turbo and Rock Crusher were captured but the bot hid in a dumpster.
Bad Guys 2, C.O.P.S. 1.
Back in HQ, Vest assembles C.O.P.S. and starts to congratulate them. Cassidy and Brooks try to leave, since “you only wanted to speak to the C.O.P.S.” (Cassidy), to which Vest responds: “you are C.O.P.S. – welcome to the team! Your new code names are ‘Mainframe (Cassidy) and Hard Top (Brooks)!” Celebratory High-Fives by the two newest members. Vest officially takes the code name “Bulletproof” and gives the ‘inspirational speech’ about crime-fighting, to end the two-part episode.
I read where there were complaints about the animation style of this cartoon. I didn’t see the issue; other than a couple of scenes, everything else looked fine. The voice acting is not that great; tolerable but not good. The music, like I mentioned, was pretty cool. The bad guys seems just competent enough to be dangerous; Big Boss and Dr. Bad Vibes seemed very competent and very dangerous.
This was a fun trip back to my youth. C.O.P.S. may not have had the sharpest of animations or the best voice-acting but, for a 10 year old, it was awesome! It was still pretty good for a 39-year-old, too.