T.J. Hooker: Season 3, Episode 18

Death on the Line (3 Mar. 1984)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama
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The latest victim of the Marina Rapist - and the first to survive - is known to Hooker, but she resists his request to admit what really happened for fear of losing her boyfriend. Even when... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Stevens
Lynne Moody ...
Dr. Pamela Carter
Cliff Tanner
Jonathan Perpich ...
Dan Stevens
James Whitmore Jr. ...
Frank Bryce
Peter Schrum ...
Julie Ronnie ...
Geno Silva ...
Arthur Adams ...
Ned Vickers
Judy (as Rosalind Ingledew)


The latest victim of the Marina Rapist - and the first to survive - is known to Hooker, but she resists his request to admit what really happened for fear of losing her boyfriend. Even when one suspect is killed whilst trying to escape a crime scene, Hooker isn't convinced the Marina Rapist's crime career is concluded. Written by Steve Green

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Action | Crime | Drama




Release Date:

3 March 1984 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Primitive Discourse On the Nature of Criminality
16 April 2014 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

After a sunbathing woman (Kimberly Beck) is attacked beside her apartment pool veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) are dispatched to the scene. They arrive in time for Hooker to give chase as the rapist Bryce (James Whitmore,Jr.) and his thief accomplice Tanner (John Dennis Johnston) flee. Hooker valiantly pursues Tanner but the attacker eludes him. Bryce mysteriously gets away separately.

The rape victim is Linda Stevens - a civilian receptionist at the Academy Precinct where Hooker works. She refuses to help the investigation and at first denies she even was raped out of fear of what it will do to her upcoming marriage and her life. Her attackers have raped and murdered three other women. As the only living victim/witness she is crucial to the case.

This is another instalment in a series that could be classified as a "dumb cop show" based upon viewing unremarkable episodes like this one. At times what we are seeing looks like it was gleaned from a bad movie-of-the-week storyline. At other times what we are seeing looks like a public service announcement. Law & Order: SVU would, more than 15 years later, show how to really handle a plot like this with sensitivity.

At very least we get varying degrees of evil in separate criminals who are working together. One is just a coke-head loner of limited intellect and social graces struggling to score more of his favorite drug. Severe-looking and eccentric he struggles to fit in anywhere. The really dangerous one Bryce embraces a cloak of ordinariness whilst having the ingenuity and nerve to follow through on a scheme to satisfy his repugnant impulses.

In far too many episodes of this series the guest baddie has the quality of 'otherness' (for lack of a better word) and it is exaggerated. The otherness of a criminal is one which echoes a prosecutor's cursory summation of an accused's life. It is a simplification that taxpayers and TV viewers take comfort in i.e. that the criminal is just a random wacko people can avoid if they are careful. John Dennis Johnston, a very convincing actor whose head-shot looks like it belongs on the wall of a post office is perfectly cast in such a role.

But the insidious criminal Bryce, portrayed by James Whitmore,Jr., is more complex and less safe. A skilled worker who makes a very convincing show of normalcy can do more harm over a longer time. A character like this more difficult to explain. He holds down a job in a necessary field and from that has a good deal to lose if he turns criminal and gets nabbed. The theory that a criminal is someone with nothing to lose is a comforting fallacy in an affluent society.

What isn't dealt with properly is the question 'Why does he do what he does?' Were network TV audiences ready to explore that in a meaningful way? They aren't ready to explore it now.

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