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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: What old TV shows desperately need to be reinvented or rebooted?

Star Cops DVD

When I think about TV shows that aren’t on DVD but should be — as in yesterday’s QOTD — I invariably come back to Star Cops, the short-lived 1987 BBC science fiction drama. The thing is, the show did get a Region 2 release in 2004, but it’s long been out of print, and the four used copies currently available on Amazon U.K. range in price from £92 to £130… which is preposterous.

Star Cops was amazing. It’s set in the near future — 40 years after it was made, but 2027 is not so far away now! — when humanity has started in earnest to move out into near space, into orbit and on the Moon, and taking all the usual ordinary human problems with us. Such as crime. Which necessitates the creation of an off-Earth police force. David Calder plays Nathan Spring, the veteran cop who takes over the force — he is, of course, crotchety and angst-ridden, as all good and interesting TV cops are.

Though done on the usual cheap BBC budget, it made an excellent attempt to be scientifically realistic about life in space — including no sound in a vacuum and zero-gravity — and made some good speculations about ordinary everyday technology. There’s widescreen wall-mounted TVs/computer monitors, video phone calls, and other spot-on devices — Nathan has a computer called Box that operates like Siri — yet the world on Earth, such as Nathan’s house, hasn’t gone all Star Trek. The writing is sharp and smart, the stories are provocative — the show was hugely ambitious and mostly managed come up to the level it aspired to.

Check out the first 10 minutes of the first episode:

(It seems that most or all of too-few nine episodes might be available in YouTube. But that’s not a satisfying viewing solution compared to DVD.)

Not only would I love to rewatch the 1987 episodes — I used to have them on VHS, but no more — I would love it if the show got a reboot. We don’t see science fiction like this much: near future, high frontier, no aliens, just humans in a new environment. And it would look even better with today’s FX technology.

What about you? What old TV shows desperately need to be reinvented or rebooted?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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