In a remarkable bit of coincidence Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) just happen to be at the scene of a drug deal going down in a city park. Hooker recognizes the buyer and he and Romano chase the guy and the seller down. The buyer is already wanted for other things but the seller is a first-timer - no criminal history whatsoever.
The players don't match the level of the buy which puzzles Hooker and his colleagues. It is not until they trace it poker room gambling czar Barnett (Jim Brown) who is using gambling addicts in heavy debt to him, as drug mules that it makes sense. Hooker enlists ex-girlfriend Nancy Winters (Cristina Raines) - a gambling addiction counsellor, to help take Barnett down.
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. I would much rather have seen Cristina Raines in a better episode.
Yet the timing of when this episode was first broadcast (February 19th, 1983) is interesting. The Superbowl had been played on January 30th. The college basketball ' March Madness' tournament was weeks away. What gambling action could there be besides casino gaming? Other shows like 'Cheers' and 'Tales of the Gold Monkey' also had episodes involving poker the very same week. Why? Completely coincidently 13 people were murdered at the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle on the exact day this episode was broadcast. Earlier that same month Mickey Mantle had been threatened with a ban by Major League Baseball for accepting a job as a greeter at a casino. Pathological Gambling had begun to be part of insanity pleas in court trials and had by then resulted in multiple acquittals.
It stretches the bounds of believability to see uniformed officers Hooker and Romano in their police car in plain view, broad daylight being able to sneak up on baddies and witness then in the act of committing nefarious deeds. In this episode Hooker is even able to recognize a known felon from the same distance that the felon fails to see the police cruiser.
I didn't buy Jim Brown as a baddie but he definitely had a reason for being in this episode beyond his football fame and associations of gambling with that sport. His father Swinton Brown had a gambling problem.
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