Originally created 03/16/04

More of TV's old cop shows deserve movie makeovers



Cop shows have been a television staple almost from the beginning.

Men and women in blue are pounding the streets in NYPD Blue and three editions of Law & Order, while crime scene investigators make up two versions of CSI. There could be more cops working cases on television right now than you'll find in some cities.

With the dearth of original ideas plaguing Hollywood, TV cop shows have become fair game for the big screen once-over. In the past year, we've had an enjoyable romp with the team of S.W.A.T., and we've suffered hell on Earth with Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Now comes Starsky & Hutch, the film version of the cheesy TV series about two undercover cops working in Bay City (wherever that is). The movie pairs Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as two seemingly incompatible partners.

Because this adaptation works rather well, I thought Hollywood could use some of my advice about which old police shows it needs to adapt for the big screen. Here are just 10 suggestions:

MIAMI VICE

WHY? It was the coolest cop show on TV for its time. Who cares that it was as realistic as a $3 bill?

CASTING CHOICES: Johnny Depp as Crockett and Mekhi Phifer as Tubbs.

WHY THEM? Mr. Depp still has enough credibility to pull off the goatee and earring, and Mr. Phifer has attitude to spare.

THE SETUP: Crockett and Tubbs, sporting baggy pants, earrings and tattoos work undercover to stop South Florida's drug trade.

THE CAR OF CHOICE: A Hummer.

THE MUSIC TO GROOVE BY: Nelly. But for some reason, Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight still finds a place. And you still can't tell the players without a scorecard.

BARETTA

WHY? That charismatic cockatoo named Fred deserves another shot at fame.

CASTING CHOICE: Tony Danza as Baretta.

WHY HIM? Well, Robert Blake's career was nearly dead before Baretta came around. Maybe he and Mr. Danza can share that trait.

THE SETUP: Italian detective works mean streets of Los Angeles in a crappy blue Chevrolet Cavalier while he resists the urge to fry up his smart-aleck bird for Sunday dinner.

POLICE WOMAN

WHY? Because the beautiful women of NYPD Blue are forced to take a back seat to Andy Sipowicz's back seat.

CASTING CHOICE: Drew Barrymore.

WHY HER? She's been one of Charlie's Angels, so she may as well get the chance to play a real cop.

THE SETUP: Lady detective gets to prove that she's just one of the guys, all while keeping her hair and nails straight and catching crooks.

HAWAII FIVE-0

WHY? Because everyone deserves to hear McGarrett say, "Book 'em, Danno," again.

CASTING CHOICE: Charlie Sheen. Yes, I know he's employed on Two and a Half Men, but haven't you ever heard of hiatus?

WHY HIM? Just look at his hair, baby. Who else working today can match Jack Lord's do? Besides, isn't it deliciously evil to think of former Hollywood bad boy Mr. Sheen playing a cop?

THE SETUP: Former surfer boy busts the rich and elite of Hawaii who think that they can get away with anything - including murder.

COLUMBO

WHY? I crave seeing that ugly weatherworn raincoat and putrid Peugeot once again.

CASTING CHOICE: Tony Shaloub of Monk.

WHY HIM? Have you seen the king of neuroses in Monk? I still think that Peter Falk's Columbo had obsessive-compulsive disorder.

THE SETUP: Brilliant but totally out-of-sorts police detective annoys would-be criminals to the point of confession.

KNIGHT RIDER

WHY? Because it's fun watching a TV show where the car is smarter than the driver.

CASTING CHOICE: No one really cares who portrays Michael Knight. OK, so it has to be someone who is an expert at vapid. Ashton Kutcher, anyone? As for the car, I nominate the newly unveiled Chevy Corvette convertible.

WHY THEM? Vapid and Mr. Kutcher seem to go together like Riunite on ice. As for the car, you need only look at it.

THE SETUP: After a brain transplant, a cop reportedly killed in the line of duty is given a new identity, a car that might be smarter than he is and a mandate to fight injustice wherever he may go. Might I suggest the national conventions of both political parties later this year?

THE ROCKFORD FILES

WHY? C'mon. When was the last time you saw a former alcoholic with relationship difficulties living in a trailer who hadn't appeared on The Jerry Springer Show?

CASTING CHOICE: Scott Bakula of Enterprise.

WHY HIM? He's slightly grizzled and charismatic and is going to need a job after the latest starship comes crashing down in a ratings heap.

THE SETUP: Recovering alcoholic astronaut turns private eye and solves crimes out of his converted space shuttle.

MAGNUM P.I.

WHY? Ummm - being purely sexist here. Seeing women in bikinis in the background comes to mind.

CASTING CHOICE: Brad Pitt.

WHY HIM? Who else could give Thomas Magnum that breezy, aloof charm?

THE SETUP: Seemingly unintelligent Hawaiian estate caretaker basks in the sun, romances beautiful women and, when he has a spare minute, solves a mystery. Needless to say, mystery-solving is very low on the list of priorities.

KOJAK

WHY? Because there's no one on TV to say, "Who loves ya, baby?"

CASTING CHOICE: Ving Rhames.

WHY HIM? Well, that haircut is one reason. Besides, he looks as though he could suck on a lollipop and still kick someone's rear.

THE SETUP: Black man adopted and reared by his dead parents' Greek best friends rises to the top of the police department as its lead detective. Endorsements for Tootsie Pops ensue.

QUINCY M.E.

WHY? What other character could make the details of an autopsy sound so ... sexy?

CASTING CHOICE: Oliver Platt.

WHY HIM? Well, because he needs a good role to match his skills. And before there was a Gil Grissom on CSI, there was Quincy - and he didn't even need DNA evidence.

THE SETUP: Witty, urbane and slightly rotund medical examiner solves crimes, and the ladies can't resist his deductive reasoning skills.