TV Review: Top Coppers

Top Coppers

This broadcasting network ain’t big enough for two crime-cracking spoofs starring the cream of the current comedy crop. That must be the reason why Top Coppers has taken a while to appear – it was originally scheduled to go out around the same time as Murder In Successville, but the wait for this one has been worth it.

Top Coppers stars John Kearns and Steen Raskopoulos as ginger-haired, homoerotically inclined buddies Mitch Rust and John Mahogany, two frankly useless officers hell bent on stamping out crime in the fictional Justice City – a cross between Starsky & Hutch-era New York and Sweeney-era London. They drive a crap British car, but their boss is a shouty black American in a loud checked jacket. In the opening episode they have to finger a drugs baron running his business from an ice cream factory with a nice line in 99s on the side.

The style is combination of the weirdly absurd and the downright derivative. Anything John Kearns is involved in is always going to be interesting and this is no exception. But a lot of the gags and set-ups feel like updates inspired by old comedy movies and TV shows. As well as the non-comic Starsky & Co, this takes a rather large leaf out of Police Squad’s book with its unashamedly quirky sight gags. 

There is also a reference to The Killing. In fact if you were not so busy laughing you could do a drinking game where you down a shot every time you spot a reference. The only trouble is you’d be under the table before the programme reaches its halfway mark. I was particularly keen on the anthropomorphic hamster – you can decide for yourself in which comedy series you’ve seen that sort of thing before. 

And if that doesn’t appeal you can also play a drinking game based on spotting familiar comedy faces. The first episode boasts Paul Ritter, Rich Fulcher. and Phil Wang – and they were just the ones that I picked out before I passed out. Top Coppers, written by Cein McGillicuddy and Andy Kinnear, feels like a nice little idea for a sketch that got carried away with itself and turned into a series. It is so ridiculous it might just work.

Review of Episode 4 here.

Top Coppers, Wednesdays from August 19, 10pm, BBC3. And now repeated on BBC2 on Sunday nights from Oct 4.

Update, June 2021 - this review dates from 2015. You can now watch Top Coppers on netflix.

pictured: John Kearns and Steen Raskopoulos


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