Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks Television Edition: Police

Some weeks, Thursday Movie Picks is pretty tough because there just aren't that many films to choose from on a particular topic. This week, it's the exact opposite. There are too many choices available. That makes it even tougher. The topic, by the way, chosen by Chief Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, is Police. That would be tough enough if we were actually talking about movies. However, this is the last Thursday of the month. That means we're talking about television. And literally every other show on TV is a cop show. It's been that way forever. I think I can find at least a few you may not have thought of. So, let's start with a theme within the theme. Ladies...

Police Woman
Sgt. "Pepper" Anderson (Angie Dickinson) is the star of our show. She's an undercover cop in Los Angeles who's laundry list of covers include nurses, hookers, flight attendants...ya know...wimmin stuff. Hey, it was the 70s. And since it was the 70s, that made this a historic show. It was the first successful prime time drama on American television that featured a female lead. Many people also credit the show with a major spike in the number of female applicants to law enforcement agencies all over the country.

Cagney & Lacey
Cagney (Sharon Gless) and Lacey (Tyne Daly) were a pair of New York City detectives who were partners. No pretending to be prostitutes for these two. They were just regular, hard-working cops who also had lives away from the precinct. One of the criticisms of Police Woman is that it treated its ├╝ber-hot star in a sexist manner. Aside from the occupations she often posed as, there was the way her co-workers treated her, and Dickinson herself recalls getting tired of having a shower scene in seemingly every episode. Cagney & Lacey avoided all that by treating our heroes as real people. A boat load of Emmys can attest to the quality of that approach.

Shots Fired
To flip the script just a bit on current events, this series revolves around the shooting of an unarmed white man by a black cop. Investigations also reveal that local cops are trying to cover up the death of a black teen. Our hero is Ashe Akino (Sanaa Lathan), a cop from the Department of Justice, investigating the local police department. The series is currently in its infancy, only six episodes in. I'm a fan, so far, but the show is still working out the kinks. Thank Mrs. Dell for this since I generally don't watch much TV. She put me on to this one. Aside from Lathan, the show boasts a cast that includes Richard Dreyfuss, Helen Hunt, Will Patton, and Aisha Hinds. By the way, the episode that aired just last night happened to be helmed by none other than famed director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Rachel Got Married) who, sadly, passed away on the same day.

You know what? Those shows are a bit too "normal." You come to Dell on Movies on Thursdays because I'm the one who is going to pick some outlandish shit you never thought of watching. No sense in disappointing you. That means it's time for bonus picks!

Get Christie Love!
Inspired by such blaxploitation classics as Foxy Brown, and Cleopatra Jones, or just copying them, this made-for-TV movie was created. It featured our heroine, Christie Love (Teresa Graves, looking like a 70s version of Whitney Houston) as a cop who goes undercover to take down a drug ring. As you might expect for a TV movie, it's rather tame by blaxploitation standards, but it was still pretty successful. So successful, it was, it spawned an entire series of the same name. It only lasted 23 episodes, but it is historically significant. Believe it or not, It was the the only U.S. network drama to feature an African-American female lead until Kerry Washington strutted her very expensive Manolo Blahniks across the screen in the first episode of Scandal in 2012. That's 38 damn years from one premiere to the next, in case you weren't counting.

Cop Rock
Have you ever wondered what Glee might have been like had it been set in a police station instead of a high school? Well, here's your answer. No, I'm serious. It's a freakin' cop drama/musical. Yup. I'm done talking about this. Just watch a minute or two.

No, don't you dare scroll passed it like it isn't there. Go back and watch!

Pacific Blue
Forget about Glee. Have you ever wondered what Baywatch would be like if it were about cops...on bicycles. No, not motorcycles, like CHiPs, we're talking ten-speeds. It's as bad-good as it sounds. Amazingly, but perhaps not all that surprisingly, this thing managed to go on for four seasons. I can only imagine how that happened...

Never mind. Spiffy new uniforms. I get it.


  1. Why am I just now hearing about Cop Rock? I would've watched that. lol

  2. A great collection of picks Dell! I didn't love Police Woman when it was on but would watch from time to time...I tried to watch an episode a few months ago though and OY! it hasn't aged well. Same deal with Cagney & Lacey as far as watching when it was on, it was an okay show but I was only an occasional viewer. I like both of the leads very much however. I've never heard of Shots Fired.

    Now I LOVED Get Christie Love. She was kick-ass and I remembered Teresa Graves from her earlier gig on Laugh-In. I was horrified when she died in that house fire, such a sad end. I actually sampled Cop Rock when it was originally on for a blip of time and the best I can say is that it was a daring concept but boy was it terrible. Pacific Blue!!! Ha! So utterly ridiculous but since it was excessively generous with both the male and female ogling it's no wonder it lasted that long.

    It will be an interesting week to see what everyone comes up with since the choices are almost limitless. I went with two favorites and a landmark.

    Life on Mars (2008)-In present day New York City detective Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) is pursuing a suspect when he’s struck by a car. When he awakens he finds himself in the same spot but it’s 1973! Already dressed in 70’s clothing he heads to his precinct where he’s mistaken for a transfer and put to work, now he has to figure out what happened while adjusting to his new surroundings and still chasing criminals alongside cops that have rougher methods than he’s use to. Intriguing series has a great cast, Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli and Gretchen Mol among others, terrific period detail and soundtrack but fell victim to poor scheduling which lead to its short duration.

    Wiseguy (1987-1990)-Government agent Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl) is fresh out of jail where he was placed by the Organized Crime Bureau (OCB) to give him a criminal history to enable him to go deep undercover to break up big syndicates. Guided by his often exasperated but understanding boss Frank McPike (Jonathan Banks) and wheelchair bound remote liaison “Lifeguard” (Jim Byrnes) he sets out to crime bust while trying to keep his secret from his mother (Elsa Raven). Excellent series told its stories in multi episode half season arcs focusing on one set of characters. All were good but the initial season’s two arcs dealing with the empire led by Sonny Steelgrave (a commanding performance by Ray Sharkey) and the draconian deeply twisted Profitt siblings (two showpiece turns by Kevin Spacey and Joan Severance) are by far the best.

    Dragnet (1951-1959/1967-1970)-“Dum...da.dum...dum-Ladies and Gentleman the story you are about to see is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent….This is the city-Los Angeles, California…I work here, I’m a cop…my partner’s Frank Smith, my boss is Captain Glavas my name is Friday.”

    So began every episode of this Jack Webb series which he created and in which he starred giving a performance of amazing stolidness handing out his standard catch phrase “Just the facts, mam”. Initially taking a documentary approach before switching to a more standard form of storytelling of solving crimes this is the granddaddy of police procedurals.

    1. Thanks. Truth told I was also an occasional watcher of PW and C&L. Shots Fired is brand spanking new, so no surprise you haven't heard of that one.

      I remember the Get Christie Love! TV movie more than the actual series, but it was fun. Cop Rock is a daring concept, for sure. Maybe a little too daring. And Pacific Blue...yeah, it was that.

      I am aware of Life on Mars, but I have never seen an episode. I was an occasional watcher of Wiseguy, but these days I don't remember much of it. I also watched Dragnet from time to time. Good show. My mother, on the other hand was a huge fan. Now, if I can just unsee that awful movie version I'd be okay.

    2. Ya the movie version of Dragnet was a lemon. It played at the theatre I was running when it came out and I couldn't believe how badly they bungled it, especially since they gathered a decent cast. All I really remember of it was "The Virgin Connie Swail"

      You could actually binge watch Life on Mars it only ran for 18 episodes. :-( There is an English version of it as well but I've never seen that one.

    3. That movie was far below the quality of its cast.

  3. Never heard of any of these before.

    1. I hope you at least watched the Cop Rock clip I posted. It's worth the price of admission. Not that you paid to get in here, but you get my point.

  4. This is incredible. Of course, as a stupid kid, I f--king loved Cop Rock. Even then I knew I was watching something totally insane, and I was on board. But my all-time favorite cop show? NYPD Blue. Hands down. Andy f--king Sipowicz was/is my hero. And occasionally, you got to see nine-tenths of someone's, clearly, I was a fan.

    Pacific Blue. Good God. Baywatch on bikes. For some reason I avoided this show like the plague.

    But we all mistakes...

    1. Sadly, I didn't watch nearly enough NYPD Blue. I think it was because of when it came on. Can't remember if it was because I was usually watching something else or because it aired on Fridays at a time when I wanted nothing to do with TV on a Friday night.

      Pacific Blue had high skin exposure. A mistake, indeed.

  5. OMG!! Police Woman-totally forgot about Angie and would love to see some episodes now-gotta love that 70's suit she is wearing. I also watched Get Christie Love. I thought that lady was badass. I had these dawn dolls-like miniature barbie and I had an African American one whom I called Christie! What about Diahann Carroll who played a nurse in Julia? I remember seeing a couple of the episodes but not much. Still, It is pretty sad that it was almost 40 years before a strong African American lady runs the show. I watched Cop Rock! I thought it was entertaining even though I rolled my eyes when they started to sing and dance. Pacific Blue...never watched, too Baywatch for me.

    1. Glad to see all for Get Christie Love! As for Julia, it hit airwaves in the 60s. Aside from that, it was a comedy as was every other show featuring a black female lead between GCL and Scandal.

  6. That's the funny thing about Cop Rock. TV legend Steven Bochco is its creator. He created, or helped create Hill Street Blues, L. A. Law, and NYPD Blue. Goes to show anyone can have a bad idea.

  7. Was he on cocaine when he came up w/ that idea?

  8. Great post, as always! I haven't seen any of these shows, but I enjoyed past-tripping through the '70s, remembering when dudes had a crush on Angie Dickinson. Shots Fired sounds interesting. If done well, that premise could go in all kinds of thought-provoking directions.