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"T.J. Hooker" Blue Murder (1983)

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Fun Homage to Magnum Force

Author: Jason Daniel Baker from Toronto, Canada
16 April 2014

LCPD cop Officer Roper (Grant Goodeve) and his partner Officer Kelly (John Sanderford) disregard with the legal minutiae that lets heinous brigands and ruffians go free. They decide it is much easier to just corner known criminals and shoot them dead. Other than subverting the justice system they also appear to perversely enjoy this alternative method a lot more than the legal way.

When Sweet Willie Brown (Jay Scorpio) - the biggest drug distributor in the city is murdered by them it bookends a pattern that veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) notices. It is not just a matter of a few random delinquents and hoodlums getting their tickets punched. The line of murdered malefactors reads like a 'Who's Who' list of underworld royalty - people who have routinely sidestepped countless deadly pitfalls before.

One theory is that a new syndicate is taking over. But an unseen witness (Jeana Thomasina) to the hit on Brown debunks that. She saw two uniformed cops do it. What she did not see and what Hooker fails to take into account is that there might be more cops in on the conspiracy. It is telling that she is deathly afraid to even talk to cops after what she has seen.

The vigilante instinct is one ascribed to every cop and is one any good cop resists. As the best of cops Hooker not only resists but seeks to bring the murderous cops to justice. It does not necessarily mean he is overcome with grief over the deaths of the worst criminals in the city. It means he believes in the overall good of the system.

This is a low-rent take on the Clint Eastwood film 'Magnum Force' (1973). That doesn't mean that it is bad. In fact it makes for one of the more fun episodes of the series for all the same reasons it made for an excellent Eastwood film. There is a measured contrast to the approach Hooker has and the one the two vindictive cops have and this dialectic is depicted even if a tad simplistically.

It could be said of Paul Burke (Adam Flint on TV's' The Naked City' that he was typecast as a cop from early on in his career. For that reason he was the perfect guest star for any network cop show. By the time he appeared in this episode of T.J.Hooker as Captain Frank Medavoy it didn't matter what he played. Just his presence in the episode brought with it that subconscious deja vu credibility from previous cop show roles.

Grant Goodeve was an intriguing choice to portray a young vigilante cop. Best known as the All-American eldest son David Bradford on TV's 'Eight is Enough' this role gave him an excellent chance to subvert perceptions audiences might have had. The scene in the bar where he bothers Heather Locklear's character is doubtless intended to deflate some of his appeal. Without it we have this favorite of family audiences exterminating scum criminals. Without it Hooker becomes the baddie to too many watching.

Any episode of this series which gives us depictions of more cops than the four we got to see too much of on this show should theoretically be a good episode. It buttresses the narrative to depict the police community of a big city to have more than the regulars and a few extras milling about the precinct in uniform. In this one they even depict an entirely different precinct separate from the one Hooker worked out of.

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