Space Precinct 2040 was a short-lived British TV show that explored what would happen if you replaced the cast of Law and Order with animatronic frog puppets and all references to ‘crime’ with ‘space crime.’ It was made by the guy that did Thunderbirds, so you’d expect some kid-friendly camp, but no — apparently the dude most famous for prancing marionette action always wanted to do a serious adult police procedural. But one where the role of ‘Scarred Pimp’ was played by the kind of background creature that Star Wars hoped you wouldn’t look at too closely.
Listen, I make fun because you pay me to — but these wonky epileptic pondcops could have been charming if not for the tone of the show. It’s somewhere between Full House and CSI Miami, but with the sets, costume designs, and budget of a 1970s Doctor Who season finale. And god damn, every time I try to make fun of it I just wind up selling myself on the premise.
Truly, it is a show that should not be. It’s like somebody pitched a mash-up of Step by Step, Fraggle Rock, and NYPD Blue and shit — I just did it again.
Normally, this is where I’d do an episode-by-episode breakdown to really bring you into the world of Space Precinct 2040, but I’m dead serious when I say they just slapped a Boglin head on Sipowicz. It plays like every other utterly indistinguishable hour-long cop drama on the major networks. We follow family man and straight-laced cop Lt. Patrick Brogan…
As he generally disapproves of crime. Occasionally he leaves the police procedural behind to shenanigan with his sitcom family, which legally must consist of Buzzkill Wife, Sassy Daughter, and Shitty Son. Brogan’s partner is Officer Jack Haldane, cocky dipshit. And the most interesting thing about Haldane is that the actor playing him is seriously named Rob Youngblood, which is what I tried to get my 5th grade bullies to call me, and also incidentally why they bullied me.
Bobby the Bloody’s only characterization is that he desperately wants to get with Buzzkill Lady Cop — which you really should’ve expected, because the only roles for women on ‘90s TV were “Dead Prostitute #63” and “Buzzkill Woman (But She’s Kinda Hot).” Their relationship is a thrilling love triangle between an exhausting man, an exhausted woman, and the wipe screen that ends the scene.
That’s your cast, and I believe it’s against SEC rules to invest in their character arcs. Here’s a sample of the kind of cutting dialogue you can expect:
The only interesting thing about this show is the hilarious character design which, let’s be honest, is all I really wanted to talk about here anyway.
This is Zil, Lt. Brogan’s pet and registered offender against all that lives:
Zil should not be, and Zil burns 100% of its caloric energy trying to communicate that fact. It’s a furry mermaid parrot with nonfunctioning monkey hands and its face is forever moving, trying to beg somebody to return it to the ocean. Not because it lives in the ocean, but because death by drowning is the only dream Zil has ever had.
Here’s Tooky, Buzzkill Lady Cop’s partner, who looks like Rule 34 Yoda and exclusively uses her psychic powers to barely lift hats.
It is a struggle every single time:
Slomo the robot is the closest thing you’ll find to endearing in this awkwardly blinking nightmare world, so treasure your time with him.
He’s treated as the comic relief, but his monotone voice and sad, hesitant stutter just come across as a general reluctance to be in this show, which makes him the most relatable character on Space Precinct 2040.
Although if I’m being honest, my personal spirit animal is Overdosing Blobfish.
Surprise Idris Elba break!!!
Four episodes in and entirely without sufficient warning for proper panty security, Idris Elba appears in a motel painting wearing a spray-painted motorcycle helmet to shout “SUBLIGHT PIZZA TIME!” D-did this ancient British TV show somehow come unstuck from time just to slip into your skull and film your most confusing recurrent wetmare? Not quite: Because you do not get to hear Idris Elba’s voice, both the 1st and 4th sexiest thing about him, in this scene. The director dubbed him over with a nerd doing a weird cowboy accent. Idris Elba is then immediately dismissed in annoyance, which may be the least believable thing about this space puppet show. Once again, here’s Sexiest Man Alive Idris Elba doing what he does best(?): Saying something embarassing in an annoying voice and then being told to get the fuck out of the shot.
Speaking of, there are a few weirdly high-profile cast members in Space Precinct 2040. Respected character actor Jerome Willis is behind this eye-baffling monstrosity:
While episode 19 sees an uncostumed Steven Seagal make an appearance as Morgo:
The ‘unlikable guy in witness protection’ episode plays out exactly like it does in every other cop show ever filmed, except instead of Joe Pantoliano, you get a pug covered in Gak.
Here’s the alien nerd from the obligatory hacker episode, who comes from a galaxy far, far away, but still wears wire-rim glasses and an argyle sweatervest.
Unfuckable, Glorbax. Take a space shower.
It’s not crazy to me that British TV made a show with these freaky face-puppets. British TV likes their creature design like they like their comedians: cheap, ruddy, and with eyes pointing in opposite directions. But it is crazy to me that it’s the same guy who gave us Thunderbirds. It all feels like the cynical result of several unrelated oversights: “The network can’t believe we don’t have a cop show in the lineup, we’re contractually obligated to do one more project with the puppet guy, and I desperately need a way to write off a warehouse full of full-mouth-articulation frog masks as a business expense. No wrong ideas, people.”
Let’s go ahead and end the article the same way Space Precinct 2040 ends every episode: