42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
mini-masterpiece from the 1980's!,
This review is from: Star Cops: The Complete Series [DVD]  (DVD)
This criminally under exposed show (I can't say 'underated' as the few who watched it loved it) stems from 1987 and was tucked away on BBC 2 at a graveyard time. After just nine episodes and 'poor' viewing figures, it was cancelled. As I say, "criminal", as STAR COPS is a superb blend of genuine science fiction and thriller that proved way ahead of it's time (too much so, it would seem!). Devised by a major talent to emerge from the DOCTOR WHO writing stable, Chris Boucher (he also wrote five of the nine episodes), STAR COPS displays all the excellent dialogue and interesting characters we've come to expect from the man who made BLAKE'S 7 so enthralling. It helps that the cast was spot-on; Of the regulars there isn't a bad appple present (Trevor Cooper as "COLIN DEVIS" is especially convincing), but David Calder as the lead "NATHAN SPRING" gives a superb performance. On the basis of this series alone he bacame one of my favourite actors and I subsequently discovered that he's as good as he is here in everything he's done. Stories use the 'futuristic' setting in just the right balance to ground them in realism and the series' single mention of 'aliens' is clever and unexpected.
As always, the show has faults. The wire work from episode one that represents zero gravity is a little embarassing and resulted in a relocation to the moon of "Star Cop" HQ. Effects are pretty respectable for the BBC of 17 years ago - Some shuttle passes are beautiful while some spacewalks are horrendous, but this series wasn't about that and they are easily forgiven. A number of guest actors tend to be a little forgetable, almost as if they subscribe to the "I'm in sci-fi so need not do my best" syndrome. Some, such as Maggie Ollerenshaw and Geofrey Bayldon, are the opposite and lend real depth to already well sketched characters. The incidental music borders on horrendous at times - It's twee & totally innapropriate (the 'comedy' cues are pathetic!) and I'm not too keen on the title song either, it must be said. However, as soon as you realise just how good the scripts and main cast are, such flaws become less evident.
After nine consitently good episodes (not a single duff instalment) the series ended on a high with the prospect of the STAR COPS moving to Mars, while the massive improvement to the production values as the show progressed is stellar - Why did it fail?
Well, the British television viewing public have no taste, but that's a given. The title itself, "Star Cops", doesn't help. The irony is that it's intended to sound cheap and tacky, but it may have worked against the show. Also of course, then as now, science fiction has a bad reputation with "proper tv" watchers and the good gets dismissed along with the bad. Idiotic and unjust of course, but you can't fight human nature! This innovative series (and DVD) comes VERY highly recommended, and is very good value too. There are plenty of extras for a 'minor' series of this age, but I was a little disappointed by the commentaries provided by Chris Boucher. For a man with so much to say in his scripts, he tends to fall silent for long periods of time during his recollections. One thing that does come across is how upset he was that the series was cancelled and on that point, I can only agree.