In Sleeping Giants, ApexFan looks at genre properties currently in limbo and examines how and why they should be adapted for modern film or television in new or updated ways. This week’s column focuses on C.O.P.S. (Central Organization of Police Specialists).
Don’t remember C.O.P.S.? The 1988 animated series featuring a futuristic law enforcement team attempting to restore law and order in the fictional Empire City in the year 2020.
What makes this largely forgotten relic of the 80’s a sleeping giant? Continue reading to find out.
Character Concepts That Beg To Be Modernized
The C.O.P.S. animated series was designed to accomplish one purpose, to sell a line of action figures and their vehicles the same way the G.I. JOE, TEENAGE MUTANT TURTLES, and TRANSFORMERS animated series were doing back in the 80’s. But since kids don’t buy action figures of ordinary, uninteresting people, each character was given a futuristic gimmick to insure children everywhere would continue to want to spend their parent’s money. This led to the creation of some inspired character concepts that remain as interesting now as they were when you were a child. For example…
Baldwin P. “Bulletproof” Vess- Bulletproof Vess (t), get it? The leader of the C.O.P.S. was a federal agent assigned to Empire City to assist in the investigation of Big Boss’s criminal activities. During his investigation he was seriously injured. His life was saved by the installation of a cybernetic, technologically advanced bulletproof torso. Upon his recovery, he created the C.O.P.S. team.
Dr. Badvibes- Big Boss’s demented mad scientist responsible for the creation of artificial life forms and various technologies that aid in the execution of numerous schemes. His defining characteristic is his freakishly large brain, which is visible through a glass dome situated on the top of his head. When he has an inspired moment, literal brainstorms are generated around this dome, complete with clouds, rain, and mini lightning strikes.
These are just some of the larger than life characters found throughout the series, and most of them have gimmicks equally as exploitable for a world in which a mixture of CGI and practical effects could be used to bring them to life in an interesting and exciting way. There’s Mace, a one man SWAT team from 2020, K-9 Officer Bowser and his cybernetic dog, Blitz, or Buttons McBoomBoom, who despite having a stripper’s name is a contract killer with twin machine guns that come out of his chest! Now that I think of it, maybe that’s a character best left reimagined as a female. Just sayin’.
In any case, taking these characters and expanding them by giving them some interesting beats to work with or infusing them with more adult pathos wouldn’t be particularly hard for a good writer. Think Shane Black’s take on the Mandarin in IRON MAN 3, or David Goyer’s Scarecrow from BATMAN BEGINS. In both cases, well established characters that were arguably caricatures were treated in a manner that made them relevant to the world we live in today. In the hands of a gifted writer, the characters of C.O.P.S. could transcend their action figure beginnings and become something really special.