There's a raw tabloid poetry to the opening of Cops, the long-running Fox TV reality show: handheld shots of criminals sprinting down alleyways, brawling with policemen, and squirming from taser-shocks, all counterpointed to the thumping reggae-groove of Inner Circle's anthemic "Bad Boys." It's a genius hook, and it's hard to stop watching the stalwart cops in their non-stop pursuit of evildoers.
But after awhile you notice something curious: almost all those evildoers are incredibly small-time. The huge resources of the American police-force keep coming down on scrawny, toothless white meth-heads in stained wife-beaters and their girlfriends in azure-blue T-shirts that say I'm With Stupid; on young, inner-city black men slinging crack or weed on street corners; on transvestite hookers with their five-o-clock shadow ever-darkening and their flab stuffed pathetically into spandex tops.
We need a Cops type show for big-time criminals -- the thieves and swindlers who have robbed innocent Americans of their money, their homes, their hope, and their self-respect. The ones who operate from known criminal hangouts like Wall Street skyscrapers and trading-firms.
We open with a shot of cops running full-speed down a gleaming corridor in pursuit of a Darthmouth grad in a Hugo Boss suit, as other execs cower by the water-fountains. For opening theme-music, there are many great choices: Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," or The O'Jays "For the Love of Money," or the Delfonics "For God's Sake (Give More Power to the People)." (Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind," if we want a more ironic mood.)
The cops finally pin down the slick bank exec at the scene of the crime, his glorious corner office overlooking lower Manhattan.
"Why were ya runnin', son?"
"'Cause you were chasing me, officer!"
"Sure. That's what they all say."
The bank exec keeps blathering on about his innocence, until a sharp-eyed sergeant notices something of great interest:
"Well, well, well... look what we have here..."
"Officer, I swear to God, those aren't mine."
"Oh? I suppose these credit-default swaps just crawled onto your desk, huh?"
"Uh... uh... you planted them!"
"And what about this great big mortgage-foreclosures, huh? We plant them, too?"
"The -- uh -- maybe the cleaning-lady put 'em there!"
"Hands behind your back, sir."
And as they march the young exec -- with his $3,000 suit, and the hair of a young Mitt Romney -- past the modern art on the corridor walls, the cops get to a part of the Miranda warning that actually makes the slick V.P. laugh out loud: "If you can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided to you..."
"Oh, don't worry," he snarls at the lowly cop, in a moment of bravado, "I can afford a lawyer."
But the old sergeant isn't ruffled. "You can today, son," he says -- and not unkindly. "Tomorrow may be a whole different story. The bigger they come, the harder they fall."
Cue the O'Jays: "For the love of money, people will lie, steal and cheat; For the love of money, people don't care who they burn or beat..."
I think we're talking cable-TV hitsville here. And, best of all, it could follow the regular Cops show in its regular time-slot -- on Fox.