Cop Rock

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Cop Rock
Created by
Theme music composerRandy Newman
Opening theme"Under the Gun" performed by Randy Newman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes11 (list of episodes)
Executive producerSteven Bochco
  • Charles Haid
  • Michael M. Robin
  • John Romano
  • Craig Zisk
Running time45–48 minutes
Production companies
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 26 (1990-09-26) –
December 26, 1990 (1990-12-26)

Cop Rock is an American police procedural musical television series that first aired on ABC in 1990. The show was co-created by Steven Bochco, who also served as executive producer. This mixture of musical performances with serious drama was a critical and commercial failure when it originally aired. TV Guide ranked it #8 on its List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list in 2002,[1] and dubbed it "the single most bizarre TV musical of all time".[2]


Cop Rock combined the police procedural with musical theatre and black comedy, the former a genre in which Bochco had already been 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, a courtroom scene in the pilot episode had the jury break into song, proclaiming their verdict on the defendant ("He's Guilty") Gospel-style; and Episode 2 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; Episode 5 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 Episode 8 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.[citation needed]


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 dark humor) 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. (The final episode featured a then-unknown 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.





No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
1"Pilot"Gregory HoblitSteven Bochco & William M. FinkelsteinSeptember 26, 1990 (1990-09-26)2101
2"Ill-Gotten Gaines"Gregory HoblitSteven Bochco & William M. Finkelstein & John RomanoOctober 3, 1990 (1990-10-03)2102
3"Happy Mudder's Day"Charles HaidSteven Bochco & William M. Finkelstein & John RomanoOctober 10, 1990 (1990-10-10)2103
4"A Three-Corpse Meal"Fred GerberS : Steven Bochco;
T : Toni Graphia;
S/T : William M. Finkelstein,
John Romano
October 17, 1990 (1990-10-17)2104
5"The Cocaine Mutiny"Arlene SanfordT : John Romano;
S/T : Steven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein
October 24, 1990 (1990-10-24)2105
6"Oil of Ol' Lay"Michael FrescoT : Toni Graphia;
S/T : Steven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein,
John Romano
October 31, 1990 (1990-10-31)2106
7"Cop-a-Feeliac"Arlene SanfordSteven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein,
Michael A. Graham,
John Romano
November 7, 1990 (1990-11-07)2107
8"Potts Don't Fail Me Now"Brad SilberlingSteven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein,
Michael Graham,
John Romano
November 21, 1990 (1990-11-21)2108
9"Marital Blitz"Gilbert M. ShiltonT : Toni Graphia;
S/T : Steven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein,
John Romano
December 5, 1990 (1990-12-05)2109
10"No Noose Is Good Noose"Michael M. RobinT : Toni Graphia;
S/T : Steven Bochco,
William M. Finkelstein,
John Romano
December 12, 1990 (1990-12-12)2110
11"Bang the Potts Slowly"Fred GerberS : Steven Bochco;
T : Toni Graphia;
S/T : William M. Finkelstein,
John Romano
December 26, 1990 (1990-12-26)2111

Home release[edit]

On May 17, 2016, Shout! Factory released the complete series on DVD in Region 1.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Episode Result
1991 Emmy Award 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" Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production Joe Ann Fogle Pilot Won
Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics Randy Newman Pilot Won

International broadcasts[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Cop Rock was televised on BBC1 and premiered on Monday 30 September 1991. The show premiered on Australian television via the Ten Network on Thursday 23 January 1992 at 11:00 PM.

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.
  • Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist


  1. ^ Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (July 12, 2002). "The Worst TV Shows Ever". CBS News. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  2. ^ "TV Musicals: The Highs and Lows". TV Guide. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  3. ^ "ABC Cancels 'Cop Rock'". The New York Times. November 13, 1990. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (November 11, 1991). "A Series Makes the Starting Gate". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (June 4, 2004). "Flops 101: Lessons From The Biz". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 28, 2008.
  6. ^ Lambert, David (February 4, 2016). "Cop Rock – Shout! Factory Surprises Us with 'The Complete Series' on DVD!". TV Guide Online. Archived from the original on March 29, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016.

External links[edit]