Cop Rock

1990, TV Show

News

Viva Is Dead; Long Live the Race!

Lloyd Owen in Viva Laughlin by Robert Voets/CBS

Since almost no one watched the second and final episode of CBS’ misbegotten quasi-musical mess Viva Laughlin, let me share with you a headline that appeared at the start of Sunday’s episode: “Viva Craps Out.” I kid you not. (The headline was referring to the fictional casino, not the show. But really. Did they already know this was coming?)And then there was this bit of dialogue, as casino owner Ripley Holden (Lloyd Owen) surveys his customer-free casino (prophetic, that) and asks his mousy accountant, “How long can we hold out?” The answer: “A week, tops.”Viva Laughlin didn’t even last a week. Episode 1 crashed and burned Thursday with a plum CSI lead-in, and Episode 2 (which was of even considerably worse quality than the pilot) caused nary a ripple Sunday night. With the ever-fatal combo of lousy ratings and blistering reviews, CBS made the only logical move and canned it. After a CSI repeat this Sunday, The Amazing Race will return o... read more

Before I begin what will seem ...

Question: Before I begin what will seem like a tirade, I want to let you know that I have respected and enjoyed your column for many years. Unlike what I've heard from a lot of critics (including you), I have been extremely pleased with the new fall season. Chuck, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Moonlight and Gossip Girl I loved right off the bat. Cane, Private Practice and Reaper have improved and I now love them as well. Life had a mind-blowingly good pilot but wasn't as sharp in its second outing. And Journeyman had a clever and touching premiere, though it also struggled to keep up the momentum in subsequent episodes. But what I was really excited about was Pushing Daisies. It sounded smart and original and was, of course, a critics' darling. Wow. Um, original? I'm sorry to disagree. Maybe for television, but not for the entertainment business in general. It feels like a melding of Tim Burton's far-superior movies and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. The characters act ... read more

Comings & Goings: Mad Men, Viva Laughlin

Jon Hamm in Mad Men courtesy AMC

You could get vertigo tonight, scaling the heights of the finale of Mad Men on AMC, and then plumbing the depths of the tone-deaf misfire that is Viva Laughlin, premiering on CBS in the plum slot after CSI before moving to Sundays. There, only those with the most morbid curiosity to watch a show’s slow yet hopefully quick death are likely to follow (unless every critic I know is totally off the mark).First, a salute to the best and most fascinating new show to arrive on TV this year (and I’m even including my quirky new treasure Pushing Daisies in that equation). Mad Men, so hypnotic in its look and style as it recreates a classic movie-worthy image of 1960 Manhattan, is a period piece that says volumes about today, or about any era in which salary and status is tied to self-worth and where people construct a false reality to sell themselves on the American dream.Don Draper (instant star Jon Hamm) would seem to have it all. Besides the movie-star looks, he enjoys upward mo... read more

Kids, Vampires, Musical Drama: Is CBS "Nuts"?

Skeet Ulrich in Jericho by Robert Voets/CBS

Frankly, I was surprised and a bit dismayed that CBS didn’t have symbolic bowls of nuts in the room as the network launched its portion of the TCA press tour Wednesday morning. Which didn’t stop Jericho from dominating much of the conversation when CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler took the stage to introduce one of the more ambitious and controversial new lineups in CBS’ recent history.Tassler said she couldn’t go to a neighborhood camera store, or even a doctor’s office (where the doctor pulled a bag of peanuts out of his coat in reference to the fan campaign) without being reminded of the furor over Jericho's cancellation and subsequent renewal for seven episodes at mid-season. She says she went on message boards, read the e-mails, “and what you saw was a huge segment of the population that really felt they were not being counted, but more specifically, that they had a knowledge and an awareness of the show that was so detailed and so committe... read more

CBS: We've Got Ratings, Now We Want Buzz!

It isn't enough for CBS to be the most-watched network. At the presentation of its new fall schedule, network execs announced they want their shows to be talked about, too.It's a new version of an old tune. For years, CBS has had the largest number of viewers, but many of them were old and not as desirable to advertisers. Recently, the network has gotten much more competitive for the 18-to-49-year-old crowd that Madison Avenue pays most for. Yet shows such as ABC's Ugly Betty get a lot more ink and watercooler chatter than the higher-rated Two and a Half Men or Survivor (CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler drove the point home to the audience at Carnegie Hall by citing how Betty's ratings have dropped 40 percent since its premiere).With a solid foundation of dependable hits, Tassler says this is the year she can afford to take a few programming risks to improve her share of buzz. Even if CBS' new shows fail, its regular program lineup will deliver ratings close to what it did t... read more

CBS: Some Things Old, Something New

Anthony LaPaglia in Without a Trace by Mitch Haddad/CBS

In years past, CBS's stability (which you've gotta know the other networks covet) has often been criticized as complacency, especially in these last few years of wall-to-wall crime dramas. Zzzzzz. That's about to change, with a fall lineup of new, intriguing high concepts that could open some eyes where the Eye net is concerned and give CBS the one thing it most desperately desires: Buzz. Let's hope some of the new stuff sticks.There is reason to be skeptical. The few shows from last season that went particularly "off brand" didn't last, most notably the serialized crime caper Smith (gone in three weeks) and the apocalyptic Jericho (canned after one season, which ended in a hail of bullets between warring towns, leaving fans on edge and up in arms themselves). The nagging question is if CBS will truly give its offbeat new lineup a chance to distinguish itself or instead will fall back on the tried and true that works so well for a network known for its satisfying, crowd-pleasing mai... read more

Any early thoughts on Hugh ...

Question: Any early thoughts on Hugh Jackman's CBS project Viva Laughlin? The musical/drama seems like a very ambitious project! Answer: Doesn't it, though. I loved the BBC America series it's based on (Viva Blackpool), a fantastical hybrid of musical and mystery with echoes of Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven). With characters breaking into song, basically singing along to pop standards on the soundtrack that comment on the action, it is definitely a big risk for this most conventional of networks. I'm sure comparisons to Cop Rock will be on the minds of all the inevitable naysayers. I'd love to see CBS swing the bat with this one. If it fails, it would do so grandly. But if it turns out that this is something America has actually been waiting to see (shades of Lost's early breakthrough), imagine the thrill ... read more

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Premiered: September 26, 1990, on ABC
Rating: None
User Rating: (11 ratings)
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Premise: Cops burst into crack houses---and then burst into song---in this experimental police series, an ambitious and definitely odd musical dramedy that blends the sensibilities of Steven Bochco's `Hill Street Blues' and Dennis Potter's `The Singing Detective.' The Bochco-produced series debuted in 1990 amid much fanfare, but audiences weren't ready for the jarring experience of watching crooks and cops crooning. It lasted three months.

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