In the first episode of Star Cops we meet Nathan Spring who is a 41 year old police superintendent who is in the middle of arguing that a case he was looking into, that had been decided to be an accidental death by the computer, was more than just an accident and risked his career by deciding to go ahead with the investigation despite what his superiors, and the computers said, as in this time 2027 the police use computers a lot to help solve crimes but, that there are, some more old fashioned coppers, such as Nathan, who prefer to do things the old fashioned away. So he gets one of his subordinates to look into this for him.
At the same time Nathan is pretty much coerced into applying for the job of commander of the International Space Police which is really the last place he wants to be as he is the last person who would want to travel into space as he seems totally unsuited for it and also dead set against it. He ends up on the shortlist and does his astronaut training and goes for his first trip into space where there is a mystery involving the failure of several spacesuits including one when Nathan is on board the international space station.
David Theroux one of the crew members on the station mentions this to Nathan who, being a cop first and foremost, decided to help solve the riddle and basically make him the best choice for the job as the head of the International Space Force and stop more people from dying in a really horrible way in a place that can be very dangerous, something this show never stops letting you know.
Star Cops was generally very typical of police procedural shows of its era and given that Chris Boucher spend most of his career working on those types of shows the fact that he came up with idea for this show is probably not that much of a surprise. The fact that it was set in the near future and had a rather hard science fiction background was what made it unique at the time and, as I rather like both genres, then the series worked for me and I thought it was rather good.
I liked all the astronaut stuff that Nathan had to go through in this episode, which he was pretty much grumbling all of the way through, as I always wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. The weightlessness stuff I thought was relatively well done, or as well as it could have been at the time anyway, as no matter how you do it is usually ends up looking bad anyway.
I also liked the attention to detail with all the of the science and the space related stuff was also done well i.e the weightless scenes on board the space station, and the astronuat training, which actually looked rather cool.
I also liked the way that at the start of the episode you had the two murders one on the earth and one in space, pretty much identical to each other and they were both well shot particularly the one in space with the shot of the victim drifting away into space afterwards quite effecting.
It did make me laugh that the international police space force only consisted of about 20 or not part time people before this and you can see why people over the course of the series were not sure about them, and also why Nathan was not keen to join them in the first place.
The model work of all the space station and the ships docking with it and even the astronaut stuff was done very well and looked great. This episode did a grand job of setting up the series premise and looked rather impressive with the police stuff being far less important than the hard science behind it set in a world where travel into space was as normal as air travel is to us.
The characterisation of the main characters was generally quite good with Nathan comig across as a rather old fashioned and grumpy character but clearly good at his job and David Theroux coming across as rather laid back guy, but with a lot of common sense which you would need when being in space I should think. Nathan’s girlfriend Lee isn’t really that well realised in this episode and she is just sort of there and it really isn’t that clear as to what sort of relationship that they have. All we really know here is that they do not live together and appear to have been together for a while but are probably two professional people who don’t really have that much spare time for each other, although it does seem that Nathan is less keen than she is to move the relationship along.
Watching it now, just seven year before it was set, is interesting as we are in some ways far from the world depicted in the series which was 40 years in the future at the time of broadcast, in terms of the space travel stuff, but in other ways not too far removed from what it will probably be like in 7 years times.
I mean we have an international space station (although not like the ones in the series), and Nathan’s device box is sort of like the Siri’s, Alexa’s of the world. Unlike a lot of future depictions the clothes aren’t that much different to what they are today, people seem to eat out as we do nowadays, they seem to use guns as we would recognise them, so in lots of ways it wasn’t a bad punt at what it would be like 40 years in the future at all.
It never really featured on my radar when it originally came out and i would have been about 12 turning 13 when it was broadcast so it probably wouldn’t have been something that I would have watched but I did catch it on video in the 90’s before watching it again now, the first time I have probably seen in more than twenty years.