'Cops' DVD set is guiltiest of pleasures

From the Washington Post

Who could forget the one in which the woman called the cops because she was sold fake crack and wanted the real stuff? The car chases, the naked people, the cops huffing and puffing as they jumped chain-link fences to nab their guy?

Oh, what makes it so hard to turn away?

With the "Cops: 20th Anniversary Edition" (yes, we're that old, folks, although the show's premiere was only 19 years ago), it's so easy to remember.

It may not be art, but it has spawned copycat shows, is endlessly parodied and has a theme song that 99.7% of the population knows.

So it's time to just own up to it, invite your buddies over, order a pizza and break out the five-hour-plus, two-disc DVD set ($29.98, available Tuesday) and remember why America is . . . America.

Starting with its premiere on March 11, 1989, the Fox reality show created an entire generation of voyeurs, including Chris O'Donnell, Pete Sampras and Luke Wilson, who wax poetic about the show in DVD extras. (Wilson: "It's hypnotic. You can't beat the real deal." Sampras: "I've seen it in Europe!")

The DVD set includes the pilot, clips from episodes throughout the years, bonus footage that did not run with the original series, commentaries by producer John Langley, police talking about the show (called "Cops on 'Cops' ") and short features on the shows' many imitators and spoofs. Perhaps the best part of the extras is the tribute from the stars of the parody show "Reno 911!"

"Cops" spurred a genre of television that Americans today can't do without, particularly evident during the recent writers strike. Where would we have been if not for "American Idol," "The Biggest Loser," "Project Runway," "America's Next Top Model" and the rest? Probably not on our couch in front of the television, and you can thank (or curse) "Cops" for paving the way.

Go ahead, own up to your guilty pleasure. We know you want to.

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