geekery

SF OBSCURE: STAR COPS

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Star Cops is a British SF show broadcast in 1987. It’s not well-known, and I only ran across it by chance. It was created by Chris Boucher, most famous for his contributions to Doctor Who and Blake’s 7. It only lasted one season, with nine broadcast episodes plus one additional episode that never aired.

The premise is based on hard SF- unusual for television which generally sticks to space opera, paranormal, or dystopian settings in its SF shows.I think harder SF is a more difficult sell. Is there enough of an audience to support a hard SF TV show? audience aren’t sure what to think and neither are producers. With a few reservations, I think Star Cops was a decent attempt at a hard SF show and worth tracking down if you get the chance.

Star Cops is set in the future-2027- in which there are five permanent space stations surrounded the Earth, Moon, and Mars. Space travel is common, with governments and private enterprises exploring the Solar System. The International Space Police Force (ISPF) is given the job of handling criminal investigations that concerning the space stations. Nathan Spring(David Calder) is the new commander appointed to the ISPF. He was a homicide detective who reluctantly accepts the post. Along with his second in command, David Theroux (Erick Ray Evans) they solve crimes on the space stations. Most of the crimes concern industrial espionage, scientific hoaxes, rival space based tech corporations. It’s a neat show that dwells into the competing views of what space explorations means; the rivalry between companies and the large amount of money at stake; and just plain old human greed, jealousy, and resentment.

This show is a combination of hard SF and British style police procedural. It is an understated approach to mystery-that might not work as well with today’s audience-but I found intriguing and effective.

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There are a few complaints. Although the science tries to be realistic as possible, the time it takes for the Commander to go to a space station, come back to earth for dinner with his girlfriend, and then report back to work stretches credibility. Although they often bring up the issue of money and expense of space travel, particularly in criminal motivation, the ISPF seems to have fairly unlimited funds to keep traveling back and forth on shuttles. It has been criticized for stereotypes-inscrutable Japanese businessmen; devious Russians; money hungry Americans-with the good, solid British police officer left to do the right thing. Despite those things, I felt it was an interesting show, with a unique concept.

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