We here in North America like to think that there's a reciprocity between the the US and the UK in terms of pop culture. We send over Elvis, they send over the Beatles. We send over Star Trek, they send over Dr. Who. For every Saturday Night Live there's a Monty Python, for every Douglas Adams there's an American writer who mixes SF and comedy, uh, let me think, I'm gonna go with Harry Harrison here? Maybe? Anyway what I'm trying to say is that we have this nice little fantasy that we have some sort of idea at what TV looks like in Britain. And that isn't the case at all, mostly because of shows like this one.
Yes, it's Z-Cars, pronounced "Zed Cars" you barbarians, the exciting police drama that ran on the BBC for hundreds of episodes, a great many of which were shot live and another great many of which were just erased, because videotape was expensive. So this seminal UK police drama never made so much as a dent into the viewing habits on this side of the pond - and it never will, until they reboot it as "Z-Cars 2030" or maybe "Z-Cars Special Victims Unit." In fact, all we have to go on with this show is, well, this 1965 Annual. So turn your capital N sideways and we'll begin!
Here is your super list of contents! It definitely and superbly lists everything contained in this annual, from the "gripping" to the "dynamic" to the "interesting". Kind of loses energy there in the finish, I think.
First, let's get some British slang out of the way - "on the blower" means "unleash a torrent of profanity." And now on with our story!
Nothing gets me into the Christmas spirit like filling the stockings with a lot of hot merchandise. Remember, your money goes further when you buy stolen!
Lynch and Riorden could have handled any seven ordinary criminals, but these guys? They were SWARTHY.
It's just like I've been saying - those roundabouts are nothing but trouble!
You can learn so much about other countries by reading their comics. Here we learn that a "fag packet" is a pack of cigarettes, that airlines used to give out smokes instead of arresting you for smoking, and "get shifted" is, well, it's an expression that is really, really obscene.
Working the 7-4 shift at the cigarette factory, fencing stolen watches, crusing around in a green Hillman - sometimes I think these comics make criminal life look too glamorous!
Look, Lynch and Riorden have been driving themselves around all day. Now it's time for somebody else to drive THEM around.
And here we arrive at that quintessential British media institution - the rambling old country estate. Judging from TV and movies, this is where 90 percent of mystery and crime in the UK happens. Extended families of snobs are always murdering each other for inheritances in these giant mansions, there's always a spy hiding out in the attic, a counterfeit ring in the basement, the ghosts of tortured innocents haunting the garden, and a mad scientist working on carnivorous plants or time travel or teleportation running up electricity bills in the garage. So if you're ever in the UK, stay away from these places if you know what's good for you!
It's time for a rematch with those swarthy criminals. I'll give them this, they're going to make the cops work for their arrests!
Police work is grueling and frequently thankless, but moments like this make it all worthwhile.
Here's a tip for lawbreakers: "come and get it" is not really a good legal defense. Because they will. And Barlow's right to be annoyed - that cab fare works out to about 34 pounds in today's money! Call it fifty bucks. That's some Uber surge pricing right there!
and now let's take a little break.
Sometimes even the cops of Z-Cars need a little quiet time.
And now back to Z-Cars!
It's looking like an escape plan is in the works at Warley Prison. They'd better call Fancy and Jock of Z-Cars immediately, because there's a shifty-looking chap that needs some looking after, in a way only Z-Cars officers can do it. Which means some driving. It's what they do.
"Shifty". Maybe not as ethnic as "swarthy," but it's enough to earn him some Z-Cars surveillance!
And for the second time in a row, our Z-Cars heroes are pummelled into submission by a whole crew of ne'er-do-wells. I can see the Daily Mail headline now: DEFENCELESS COPPERS BRUTALIZED; WHEN WILL OUR BOYS GET PROPERLY TOOLED UP?
Shifty here thinks he's a James Bond villain; he's got to explain his clever scheme to somebody. I don't know that I'd want to be anywhere near anybody detonating high explosives under a canister filled with firearms, grenades, and tear gas, myself. Maybe just mail them a file in a cake?
Today smoking, or at least possession of the accoutrements thereof, is going to SAVE lives!
I guess you could ask the driver where the hut is, but trying to work it out logically is just more fun.
Look at Officer Expert On Homemade Artillery Pieces here with his ballistics estimates!
It's justice time again as the law takes the law into its own lawful hands. Letting them blow themselves to smithereens with their homespun howitzer would have been fun to watch, but darn it, Z-Cars doesn't let the crooks do their job for them.
And now let's take a look at the stars of Z-Cars!
You may remember Brian Blessed in his movie-stealing role as Prince Vultan in the 1980 film "Flash Gordon." Did he chew the scenery with as much vigor as "Fancy" in Z-Cars? We don't know. What we do know is that sometimes Jock and Fancy are just fascinated.
And that's it for our look at this Z-Cars annual. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse at the show, and we can only hope someone in the UK is working hard at making fun of, say, Adam-12 or maybe Car 54 Where Are You. Reciprocity, you know.
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