UK viewers who were fortunate enough to have satellite television in the late 1980s and early 1990s will remember the award winning Australian police drama Cop Shop. The good news is that the series is being released on DVD, and the first thrilling volume is now available over here.
Cop Shop fans will be thrilled to know that the series is now being released on DVD. Many of your favourite stars crop up during the police investigations.
The programme became an instant hit when it launched in Australia in 1977, winning the Logie Award for Best New Drama, and going on to run for 582 episodes. The series follows the professional and personal lives of the plain clothed detectives and uniformed officers who staff the suburban Riverside Police Station.
In this first batch of episodes there are plenty of thrills and spills to keep you perched on the edge of your seat. Senior Detective Sergeant Glenn Taylor (George Mallaby) returns to work after recuperating from a gunshot wound and what confronts him is a very worrying situation indeed.
Glenn finds that his old friend Detective Tom Foster (Peter Sumner) is in the frame for a spate of vicious homosexual bashings and murders. Tom does indeed appear to have some hang-ups, his career has been a rather lacklustre affair and after the death of his wife things got steadily worse as he turned to a life of gambling and grog. Matters are further complicated when it transpires that his son Gary (Andrew McKaige) is gay himself and has made sexual advances towards his school master.
George Mallaby plays Senior Detective Sergeant Glenn Taylor in Cop Shop.
Whilst investigating the homosexual bashings, the rough and ready Detective Jeff ‘JJ’ Johnson (Peter Adams) falls for the charms of a stripper called Valerie Close (Joanna Lockwood) and a volatile romantic entanglement will develop between the two of them. There are those who disapprove of this new liaison and incidents from Valerie’s past will come to light which jeopardise the fledgling romance.
Valerie’s place of employment raises many questions, it’s a strip club frequented largely by homosexuals, and yet it could also be a cover for a knocking shop. The warm hearted stripper will need to make a choice between her career as an exotic dancer, her free loving ways, and her relationship with the copper who will bang up many of her shady customers. When she receives a nasty bashing from a punter she realises that she needs to make up her mind, and fast.
JJ’s job also creates problems for the couple and they will find themselves being held at gunpoint by a nasty gang of mongrels who will only free them if their comrade is released from prison in an exchange arrangement. JJ is a man with some unfortunate habits, after suffering a heavy loss during a game of poker he realises that he has been done over by a card shark and is being set up for blackmail.
Left: Peter Sumner plays the troubled Detective Tom Foster in Cop Shop, those on both sides of the law wonder if he is a bent copper. Right: Jeff ‘JJ’ Johnson (Peter Adams) falls for the charms of a stripper with a heart of gold in Cop Shop Volume 1. Centre: Tony Bonner has become a firm favourite with UK television viewers through his roles in Skippy, Skyways and Neighbours, in Cop Shop he plays Senior Detective Don McKenna.
Elsewhere we find that Glenn Taylor is more than capable of managing his police station, but he is less capable on the home front. This is a man with serious family issues; his neglected wife Pamela (Rowena Wallace) resents his dedication to the job. She is sick and tired of being taken for granted and takes up with an old flame. Meanwhile their 15 year old daughter Gayle (Jo-anne Moore) is growing up fast, she has discovered boys and booze, and takes a shine to a much older man.
Unfortunately Gayle turns out to be a two pot screamer who can’t handle her grog and finds herself in a rather sticky situation. After being banned from seeing her adult boyfriend she decides to run away with him, leaving her poor parents at their wits end. Gayle will find that Vince (Michael Long) is not the knight in shining armour that she had imagined, he will want much more than she is prepared to give.
Senior Detective Don McKenna (Tony Bonner) is a popular member of the team but is another man with problems on the home front, he is shocked to his very core when his estranged wife Carol (Louise Pajo) takes up with another man and demands a divorce. Don and Carol are constantly at odds over the best way to care for their five year old daughter, and she will ruthlessly manipulate the two men in her life to get what she wants. Perhaps there is a ray of happiness on the horizon for poor old Don when a touch of romance ignites with policewoman Danni Francis (Paula Duncan).
Rowena Wallace shot to international stardom as Pat ‘The Rat’ Hamilton in Sons & Daughters, in Cop Shop she plays Pamela Taylor, the spoilt daughter of the wealthy businessman Edmond Eliot-Smith (Walter Sullivan). Pamela will not do the neglected wife bit and makes sure her workaholic husband is aware of that fact.
Danni is a compassionate person when it comes to dealing with the victims of crime but things will get out of hand when she finds herself the subject of an internal investigation after fatally shooting a warped rapist who has recently been released from prison.
Sergeant Eric O’Reilly (Terry Norris) is the head of the uniformed branch; he is a bit of a hypochondriac and a whinger to boot. Eric is often driven to distraction by the antics of the overly eager Constable Roy Baker (Gil Tucker), and by the good natured fitness and food freak Constable Peter Fleming (Patrick Ward). Eric soon forgets his problems when he encounters a troublesome schoolgirl and her father. Young Kathy Curtis (Lisa Aldenhoven) is constantly wagging school, she seems to have an ample supply of money, and we wonder if she is turning tricks to fund her lifestyle. Things go from bad to worse when she runs away from the police station and puts herself in real danger with some very unsavoury individuals.
Constable Tony Benjamin (Gregory Ross) has genuine cause for concern when his fiancée Jill (Linda Newton) is seriously injured after being caught up in a bank robbery; things begin to take an even more sinister turn when one of the suspects is crushed to death beneath the tyre of a car.
The boys in blue have to investigate an attempted abduction, a nasty incident where a paraplegic is given a callous bashing before being dumped, and Don McKenna demonstrates his gun skills when an assassination attempt is made on a retired police Inspector. Meanwhile a politician finds his career on the line when he is blackmailed after spending a night with a hooker, and an old lady refuses to be evicted from her home causing a media frenzy. There is more to this than meets the eye, this supposedly innocent geriatric could well have links with a big time crim who is currently serving time behind bars.
Right: Policewoman Danni Francis (Paula Duncan) has to take drastic action when she is confronted by a warped rapist in Cop Shop. Left: The compassionate policewoman Danni Francis (Paula on the left) listens to the woes of troubled schoolgirl Kathy Curtis (Lisa Aldenhoven) in Cop Shop Volume 1.
A case of arson at a factory gets out of hand when a man is killed in the blaze, a local footballing icon is murdered opening up a quagmire of criminal activities, and an Inspector from Scotland Yard arrives to hunt down an international crook who is wanted for grand larceny and embezzlement in the Old Country.
Things continue to hot up when a young man is bashed within an inch of his life; he is doused in sump oil, and narrowly escapes being burnt alive but refuses to lag on those responsible. One of the men at Riverside is accused of police brutality, the squad look into the dealings of a bogus travel agent who has been doing his customers down, and a perverted rapist who strangles his victims after pleasuring himself is terrorising the women of the district.
The action doesn’t stop there. The detectives attempt to crack a multi-million dollar heroin racket which leads to a major shoot out resulting in JJ being gunned down. Deadly letter bombs are being sent by a person or persons unknown, and when the troubled Tom Foster re-joins the team it appears that he hasn’t changed his old ways at all. Crims and cops alike will wonder if Tom is as bent as a two-bob watch and is open to taking backhanders. Things take a surprising turn when Danni Francis finds herself attracted to Tom and will need to make a big decision regarding her own future.
The problems keep piling in; Glenn Taylor is given a major headache when his daughter Gayle is arrested at a drunken party which turns into an all-out brawl after some gate-crashes hit the scene. In a further disturbing development a distraught mother reports her young daughter missing, but we wonder if the woman is actually a mentally unhinged bash artist.
Many of your favourite stars appear in Cop Shop Volume 1 including Tom Richards (from Sons & Daughters) who plays a card shark called Harry Lewis.
Cop Shop Volume 1 features a cavalcade of your favourite stars in guest roles. Keep your eyes peeled for Tom Richards from Matlock Police; Shane Porteous from A Country Practice; Noel Trevarthen from Carson’s Law; Alwyn Kurts and Gary Day from Homicide; Debra Lawrence from Home & Away; Anthony Hawkins from Special Squad; Tom Oliver and Moya O’Sullivan from Neighbours; Nick Waters from The Sullivans; Adrian Wright from Freewheelers; Vincent Ball from Crossroads; and Lynn Rainbow from Number 96.
Fans of The Young Doctors will spot Margaret Nelson and Stephen McDonald. Lovers of Prisoner: Cell Block H won’t be disappointed either as Tommy Dysart, Amanda Muggleton and Judith McGrath all make guest appearances, as do Lynda Keane, Lois Ramsey, Briony Behets and Kit Taylor from The Box.
Maurie Fields and Terry Gill from The Flying Doctors crop up during the police investigations, as do Peter Aanensen and Moira Carleton from Bellbird. Other familiar faces appearing in this batch of episodes include Ernie Bourne, Olga Tamara, Harold Hopkins, Sally Conabere, Penne Hackforth-Jones, Steve Bisley, Vince Gil, John Jarratt, and Diana Greentree.
Those of you who are based in the UK can order Cop Shop Volume 1 and a wealth of other Australian television classics exclusively from Eaton Films. If you are based in Australasia you can obtain your copies from Crawford DVD. If you are located anywhere else in the world you can place your order by emailing Eaton Films for shipping details.