The United States is a big country and each region has its own distinctive flavor. This applies not only to regional food, accents and quaint habits, but to TV cop shows as well. And while real police officers and judges have to either go through a rigorous gamut of training through police academies, law school or an accredited online criminal justice degree (for those that may not be able to get to a conventional campus due to a lack of a car or a limitless credit line), TV cops seem to only need to know how to strut through their region with a little swagger, local know-how and a gun with a perpetually full clip.
A quick look at some of America’s all time favorite law enforcers makes it obvious that while all cops are good guys, they aren’t all the same. In fact, some probably got a shoddy accredited online criminal justice degree. Here’s a quick run down on the “toughest” and “weakest” of the all time:
Los Angeles is of course the superstar in glamour with Hollywood nearby. It’s no surprise that LA TV cops follow suit, with the aesthetically pleasing Baywatch, a show famous for gorgeous lifeguards saving lives and keeping life on the sandy shores safe. While, the girls are certainly worth watching, they truly aren’t much of a match in a fist fight. Rating: Weak.
Law and Order brings the uniquely New York style of tough to the forefront, where brains and a hard-bitten attitude and style count for more than rough and ready brawn. The lawyers take center stage, but they can hold their own with both the cops and the criminals. They don’t need guns, because they are masters of the law and the legal system, and they know it. Rating: Tough.
Walker Texas Ranger is the iconic Texas-style cop drama. The show starred martial arts expert Chuck Norris, as a State Ranger, who believes in the code of the Old West. He is aided by his partner and best friend Sgt. Jimmy Trivette, who handles the modern day niceties like computers and internet connections. No one is going to call Walker a pansy. Rating: Tough.
Any time fashion statements take center stage on a cop show, the tough factor kicks down at least three notches. Such is the case with Miami Vice. While the characters certainly ranked high for a certain ‘80s cool factor, after all they had fabulous boats, fabulous cars, and fabulous lighting, Don Johnson’s perennial five o’clock shadow isn’t enough to make this a hard core cop show. Rating: Weak.
And then there is Chicago, with the highly rated, but super tough and violent “The Untouchables.” Few cop shows have ever captured the gritty drama of clearing out the mafia while rooting out corruption in their own law enforcement agencies like this one did. Chicago Rating: Tough.
But if you are really going to stamp a region for their cop shows, Los Angeles can be forgiven for the Baywatch rating. After all, Los Angeles is home to the granddaddy of all cop shows, “Dragnet” which opened with the famous, “This is the city…” and that city was Los Angeles and it was a very tough place. In addition Adam-12 and Highway Patrol were both filmed in Los Angeles and based on actual California cases. So when it comes to a regional rating, you have to rate Southern California as, Tough enough.
Of course, it isn’t all about tough. Those glamour shows are great fun to watch as well. For a real life drama, shoot ‘em up fun, fashion sense, car chase galore and whodunit mystery, there’s nothing like TV cops.