Short-Lived Shows: Cop Rock
All right, let's get into this Cop Rock thing that the A.V. Club has just mentioned as one of the top "lamentably lost" television shows. Trust me folks, the show was not something to lament about. In fact, I'm sure there are people out there who wish the show would just be lost and buried deep into the ground.
I guess you could say that the concept of the show was unique. Created by Steven Bochco, who was known as the driving force behind the police drama Hill Street Blues, Cop Rock combined said police drama with musical theater. Each episode of the short-lived series, which ran on ABC from September to December of 1990, began with a music-video style credit sequence with theme music by Randy Newman. Then, throughout each week's program, characters would break out in song and dance during the middle of a scene. For example, a jury would sing out "He's Guilty" in Gospel format, or a lineup of Hispanic suspects would proclaim racial discrimination in a pithy little ditty.
The critics and viewers hated it. Despite the fact that it had stars such as Ronny Cox (Beverly Hills Cop) and Barbara Bosson (who had appeared on Hill Street Blues). Bochco even featured cameo appearances of characters from his other shows, such as L.A. Law's Jimmy Smits and Michele Greene.
Still, the viewers weren't there. So, after only 11 episodes the show was canceled. The last episode featured cast members talking about the cancellation and ended with a big cast sing-along. It was eventually sold into syndication to air on such cable networks as VH1 and Trio.
You would think that this would have been the end of Bochco's career at ABC and on television in general. Not so. Shortly after the dismal performance of Cop Rock, ABC greenlighted another of Bochco's creations; a little crime-drama named NYPD Blue. This time around Bochco hit gold and would remain with the network for nearly a decade.
Oh, by the way, Cop Rock wasn't all gloom and doom. In fact, one star from that show went on to greater glory on NYPD Blue. I'm talking about James McDaniel, who portrayed Officer Franklin Rose on Rock. Two years later he would be promoted to Lieutenant Arthur Fancy in Blue.