Cobra: The Complete Series (DVD)

Here we have a rare-to-obscure crime/detective series from 1993, whose biggest claim to fame is that it stars Michael Dudikoff of the American Ninja franchise driving a cool car. In order to get through this one, I’m going to have to bring in some special guest reviewers to talk about the complete series of Cobra.

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict: Thanks for that, Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe. Also here is Lt. Marion Cobretti, from that one Stallone movie whose name escapes me.

Lt. Marion Cobretti: Crime is the disease, and I’m the cure.

Verdict: So in this series, Dudikoff plays the improbably-named Scandal Jackson, a Navy SEAL who has gone AWOL after refusing to follow an unethical order. After his father is mysteriously murdered, Scandal is contacted by a secretive crimefighting organization called Cobra.

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict: Scandal helps them solve his father’s murder, thanks to his tough-guy skills and his roguish personality. This organization was founded and is run by mega-billionaire Dallas Cassel (James Tolkas, Back to the Future), and Scandal’s new partner is straight-laced, all business female operative Danielle LaPoint (Allison Hossack, Reaper). With their help, Scandal fakes his own death to avoid Navy capture and takes up employment with this new group. The mission of Cobra…

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict:…is to help victims of crime that police aren’t helping. Their clients are ones who “fall through the cracks,” according to Dallas. This leads Scandal and company into a variety of cases and locales. Stuff like unsolved missing persons cases or crimes so small they’re dismissed by cops often end up being the tip of the iceberg, leading Scandal into conspiracies, major heists, or more. After a while, it gets fun to see where the writers will take the characters next. Unfortunately, it takes the series a while to get into that groove.

Lt. Marion Cobretti: Boredom is the disease and I’m the cure.

Verdict: You said it, lieutenant. The pilot episode sure is bland, even with Dudikoff throwing a lot of punches and roundhouse kicks. The worst part of it is that we don’t really get to know Scandal. Sure, we get a ton of backstory—with his troubles in the Navy SEALs, and with a lot of super-serious voiceovers about Scandal’s father—but knowing his history isn’t the same as knowing him. Scandal spends the whole pilot trying his hardest to let us all know how tough he is, but instead he just comes off as wooden. A few episodes later, though, as Scandal continues working with Cobra…

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict:…things improve. One plot has Scandal and Danielle undercover as a married couple, so they have to share a hotel room. This of course leads to equal parts awkwardness and sexual tension. Yeah, yeah, this type of setup has been done in every other TV show ever made, but what’s great here is what Dudikoff and Hossack do with it. They play off of each other nicely, and it’s a really fun scene. It turns out Dudikoff is actually a charming, likable actor when he’s not kicking thugs.

Lt. Marion Cobretti: Romantic comedy is the disease, and I’m the cure.

Verdict: Other notable episodes include one where Scandal and Danielle pursue a mysterious arsonist. In order to get into the guy’s head, they interview a psycho arsonist who’s locked up and holy crap it’s the most shameless ripoff of The Silence of the Lambs that you could possibly imagine. Not only did they find an actor who looks and talks just like Anthony Hopkins in that movie, but they did a pretty good job of recreating his weird cave-like cell from the movie as well.

Lt. Marion Cobretti: Plagiarism is the disease, and I’m the cure.

Verdict: Another episode has a nerdy computer hacker hiring our heroes to find his cyber-girlfriend, who he’s dated online but never met in person. This being 1993, we’re told that people who communicate via e-mail are socially withdrawn from society and have trouble relating with normal people. I’m struggling with whether or not that was prescient. Also, the dweeby lovebirds don’t log onto the “internet” but onto the “matrix.”

Lt. Marion Cobretti: The blue pill is the disease, and I’m the cure.

Verdict: As the leader of Cobra…

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict:…James Tolkan is obviously having a lot of fun with the role. He’s always got a cigar on hand, and he’s always got a witty wisecrack ready to keep Scandal in line. Hossack is only good when the writers give her a chance to loosen up and let her character show through her straight-lacedness. Otherwise, she’s mostly here to be the exposition, and as someone for Dudikoff to bounce dialogue off of. As an action show, some episodes are better than others, but you can expect fistfights, explosions, and the occasional more outlandish action scene, such as a deep sea diving-themed episode.

Marvel Comics Cobra: Yeah, but in most episodes, the action scenes are in short bursts, and are sometimes a disappointment.

Verdict: That’s true, but you have to remember this was a low-budget…wait, who are you?

Marvel Comics Cobra: I’m Cobra from Marvel Comics. I’ve fought Spider-Man and Captain America. I can walk on walls and I wear green tights and a huge helmet shaped like a cobra’s hood. Cool, huh?

DC Comics Kobra: And I’m Kobra from DC Comics. I’m an evil cult leader co-created by Jack Kirby.

Image Comics Cobra: And I’m Cobra from the new Image comic, Haunt. I have a tattoo on my face and I fight with knives.

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict: It’s getting crowded in here. Back on topic, this four-disc set features all 22 episodes of the series in their original full frame format. The colors are bright and vivid, but there picture still has that flat, capture on early ’90s video look. The audio is adequate but not exactly booming. Zero extras means we can’t learn anything about the show’s creation or production. Finally, this is another release where you open the box to discover the discs are held in those flimsy little envelopes.

Lt. Marion Cobretti: Flimsy little envelopes are the disease, and I’m the cure.

Verdict: So would I recommend you purchase Cobra?

Cobra Commander: Co-braaaa!!!

Verdict: Stop that! The show has its moments, and it gets better as it goes along. I’d file it under “decent” rather than “excellent.”

The Verdict

Make it a Co-braaaa!!! rental.

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