Cop Rock

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Cop Rock
Genre Police drama/Musical
Created by Steven Bochco
William M. Finkelstein
Written by Steven Bochco
William M. Finkelstein
Michael A. Graham
Toni Graphia
John Romano
Directed by Michael Fresco
Fred Gerber
Charles Haid
Gregory Hoblit
Michael M. Robin
Arlene Sanford
Gilbert M. Shilton
Brad Silberling
Theme music composer Randy Newman
Opening theme "Under the Gun" performed by Randy Newman
Composer(s) Greg Edmonson
Alan Elliott
Randy Newman
Mike Post
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 11 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Steven Bochco
Producer(s) Charles Haid
Michael M. Robin
John Romano
Craig Zisk
Running time 45– 48 minutes
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
Steven Bochco Productions
Distributor 20th Television
Original network ABC
Original release September 26 – December 26, 1990 (1990-12-26)

Cop Rock is an American musical police drama series that aired on ABC in 1990. The show, a police drama presented as a musical, was co-created by Steven Bochco, who also served as executive producer. TV Guide ranked it #8 on TV Guide's List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list in 2002.[1] The periodical dubbed it "the single most bizarre TV musical of all time".[2]


Cop Rock attempted to combine police procedural with musical theatre, the former a genre in which Bochco had already been very successful with Hill Street Blues. The series centered on the LAPD and featured an ensemble cast that mixed musical numbers and choreography throughout storylines. For example, one courtroom scene in the pilot episode had the jury break into song, proclaiming their verdict on the defendant ("He's Guilty") Gospel-style. Another episode had a lineup of Hispanic suspects proclaim in song "We're the local color with the coppertone skin / And you treat us like we're guilty of some terrible sin." The show also featured crossover appearances from other Bochco series; one episode featured James B. Sikking reprising his Hill Street Blues role of Lt. Howard Hunter (Sikking was working on another Bochco series at the time, Doogie Howser, M.D.), while another episode featured cameos by L.A. Law stars Jimmy Smits and Michele Greene.

The series' theme song, "Under the Gun", was written by Randy Newman, who also performed it in the series' title sequence music video-style in a recording studio, complete with a full backing band and the show's cast (appearing out of character) serving as an audience. Mike Post, who served as Cop Rock's music supervisor, was also part of Newman's band in that opening sequence; Post is the keyboardist in dark glasses sitting next to Newman.


The show was a critical and commercial failure and was canceled by ABC after 11 episodes.[3] Owing to the combination of its bizarre nature (a fusion of musical performances with serious police drama) and its high-powered production talent, it became infamous as one of the biggest television failures of the 1990s.[4][5] The series' final episode, which aired on December 26, 1990, concluded with the cast breaking character and joining crew members in performing a closing song. (That final episode featured Sheryl Crow appearing as a back-up singer.)

Despite its overwhelmingly negative reception and short run, the series still has been rebroadcast in later years, with VH1 and A&E Network airing it on separate occasions later in the 1990s, and Trio airing it in the 2000s.


Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]


No. Title Original air date Production
1 "Pilot" September 26, 1990 2101
2 "Ill-Gotten Gaines" October 3, 1990 0X02
3 "Happy Mudder's Day" October 10, 1990 0X03
4 "A Three-Corpse Meal" October 17, 1990 0X04
5 "The Cocaine Mutiny" October 24, 1990 0X05
6 "Oil of Ol' Lay" October 31, 1990 0X06
7 "Cop-a-Feeliac" November 7, 1990 0X07
8 "Potts Don't Fail Me Now" November 21, 1990 2108
9 "Marital Blitz" December 5, 1990 2109
10 "No Noose Is Good Noose" December 12, 1990 0X10
11 "Bang the Potts Slowly" December 26, 1990 0X11

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient Episode
1991 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Robert Appere, Gary D. Rogers, Ron Estes, and Mark Server "Oil Of Ol'Lay"
Nominated Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Gregory Hoblit Pilot
Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics Ron Boustead and Greg Edmonson "Oil Of Ol'Lay"
Won Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production Joe Ann Fogle Pilot
Won Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics Randy Newman Pilot

International broadcasts[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Cop Rock was televised on BBC1 in 1991.

See also[edit]

  • Hull High - Another television series with musical segments that debuted (and was canceled) in 1990.
  • Viva Laughlin - A 2007 television drama with musical segments. The show was canceled after just two airings due to poor ratings.


  1. ^ "The Worst TV Shows Ever". 2002-07-12. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  2. ^ "TV Musicals: The Highs and Lows". TV Guide. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ "ABC Cancels 'Cop Rock'". The New York Times. 1990-11-30. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  4. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1991-11-06). "A Series Makes the Starting Gate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (2004-06-04). "Flops 101: Lessons From The Biz". Retrieved 2008-08-28. 

External links[edit]