On Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, we got a reminder that there was a musical police show entitled Cop Rock, and that it was awful.
In his introduction to an extended piece on the problems with policing, which he referred to as "one of TV's favorite subjects," he played a clip from Cop Rock that featured reporters grilling detectives about whether or not police have too much power, use excessive force, feel any remorse, or whether or not their case has racial overtones — all issues that remain relevant today, but that sound ridiculous when put to '80s-style synth rock.
"Now, you're probably just currently shouting 'what?!' increasingly loudly, so let me quickly explain," Oliver said. "That is a scene from Cop Rock, a very real musical cop show that premiered on ABC in 1990 and lasted exactly 11 episodes. Think of it like if Pitch Perfect crashed into The Wire and there were absolutely no survivors. Now I'd say that it was the best worst thing I've ever seen on TV, but the thing is, I have seen more Cop Rock. There's a subplot about child selling and if you're wondering 'does the child seller sing?' Yep!"
Oliver then played another clip, featuring a man singing to a concerned couple that he is the "baby merchant, Tots R Us."
"That song is three minutes long, and they never do anything else," Oliver explained. "That couple just stands there while a man informs them that he's the baby merchant for three human minutes. That show was on television in America!"
There's a callback to the baby merchant later in the show, and he adds "Seriously, it's three minutes long! It's so weird! I'm not saying you should seek it out. I'm just saying you do need to know that it exists."
The main piece on police raids also includes mockery of an old Geraldo Rivera special that followed police raids as they happened, including his "undercover" disguise which looked like, in Oliver's words, "the Pringles guy auditioning for Miami Vice," although he still compared it favorably to Rivera's current look, which he described as every single Batman Joker rolled into one.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs Sundays at 11:00 PM ET on HBO.
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Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.