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Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) has a nightmare which
recounts a moment back in his plainclothes days five years earlier when
his old partner Johnny Durrall was shot as they tried to foil a bank
robbery. A string of new robberies have the same pattern and fit the
profile of the thieves who escaped. After the incident he requested to
go back to plainclothes duty to be closer to the action on the streets.
When he and his new partner Officer Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) are dispatched to the scene of a robbery Hooker spots the one-handed bandit (William Lucking) who killed Johnny leading the gang of robbers. But he gets away again. Hooker knows for sure that the only way for him to gain inner peace and closure is to catch his partner's killer. Whether he can remain detached enough to do his job by the book is questionable.
The theme of nostalgia in this episode telling. Hooker is seen remembering music of the big band era fondly and wistfully talking about how things used to cost a lot less. The episode itself has a plot similar to that which TV cop shows had been staging in the 1950s and Hooker was played by an actor 15 years passed his prime. Things were comfortably familiar for the older demographic drawn to the show.
The only shocking thing about the premier episode of season 3 is that there was a season 3. T.J.Hooker had debuted as a mid-season replacement series in Spring 1982 and cracked the ratings top 30. Season 2 should theoretically have seen an improvement in its numbers. But the gimmick of seeing Captiain Kirk play cops & robbers wore thin in a hurry. Though the numbers weren't terrible in season two they were far from spectacular on a medium where cop shows were a staple.
From early 1982 to Fall 1984 the only other cop show on the air that wasn't floundering was Hill Street Blues. CHiPS - a longstanding schlock cop show was on the chopping block. Even Barney Miller, a sitcom about cops was soon to be cancelled. Numerous attempts at creating lasting hit network cop shows failed. There were plenty of crime investigator shows on TV but they were not cop shows. Tastes had changed. They would change back but this show would not be a significant part of the resurgence.
Thoughts of regaining top 30 standing lingered though it wouldn't happen. It was figured that Heather Locklear's Officer Stacy Sheridan character might stimulate ratings by going out into the field with a partner - Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) and that change at the end of season two helped stem an inevitable decline but failed to win many new viewers.
Shatner's weight noticeably fluctuated during the series but in the premier episode of season 3 he had noticeably shed some chunk. Doubtless he took the off-season to get into better shape in hopes of maximizing his appeal as the main character to give it a better chance of a solid debut.
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.
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.
LCPD cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his colleagues raid a
porn theater where Oscar (Jason Ross) an informant is trying to trap
mobster Frank Dio (Alex Rocco). The informant is found seated during a
screening dead by Dio's hand and Hooker gives chase collaring Dio but
not before the murder weapon is discarded into a city trash truck.
Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) - Hooker's colleague, had promised
Hooker's old war buddy Phil Parker (Tom Atkins), an assistant district attorney tells him murder charges won't stick without the gun and without the testimony on other criminal matters of the dead informant Dio will have to be released within 72 hours. Hooker decides to find Dio's prostitute ex-girlfriend Angie Quine (Shanna Reed). Dio's henchmen look to find her first. She is diabetic and has a child with her - facts which unexpectedly come to make for tense moments.
Ultimately a pretty ordinary episode full of standard cop show stuff with the exception of the aspect of there being a mole in law enforcement. Few cop shows go in to proper detail about that kind of thing. The way it is done here is far from original. With the solid guest stars in the cast they probably figured the acting and screen presence of each would make up for more than it did.
You could say Tom Atkins 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 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. He needn't have actually played a cop to add appropriate texture.
Alex Rocco was also the perfect guest star for any network cop show having played hoods and cops with near equal frequency to the point where he would play one of each on separate episodes of this series. He and Atkins had each done multiple feature films as well giving the respective teleplays they were in a feature film quality.
LCPD cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his colleagues take down
a heroin operation in a junkyard. After a brief shootout an off-duty
cop who shouldn't be there is found dead. Officer Stacy Sheridan
(Heather Locklear) logs $6 million in 'China White' heroin into the
evidence locker and the case looks like a slam dunk.
Stacy then begins seeing her former fiancée - dapper mob defense lawyer Harrison MacKenzie (Ray Wise) who helps his crook associate (Jason Evers) set her up. The heroin is replaced with sugar and when the lab tests it (the field test at the junkyard confirmed it was smack) her career is on the line. She is swiftly suspended from duty and an Internal Affairs probe is pending.
With his colleague's credibility put in to question Hooker looks to clear her and take down the heroin network. But Stacy sees an easy way out by quitting and marrying MacKenzie and looks ready to take it. The future of a young officer whom Hooker has come to depend upon and love like a daughter is unfolding completely contrary to how she and her colleagues once saw it.
We get varying degrees of evil in this episode. The character Jason Evers plays is thoroughly decadent and was corrupted long ago. The MacKenzie character is a kind of homme fatale i.e. the male equivalent of a femme fatale in film noir. A love interest blatantly using a hero cop whilst engaged in criminal enterprise is a tired TV cop show cliché. But when the cop is female it can at least appear somewhat different.
Briefly in this episode Stacy rides with Hooker. I always felt that was the way the series should have gone after Heather Locklear's character moved from behind the precinct front desk and went out into a squad car on patrol. It would have been much more economical financially and plot-wise in the long-term and the short-term to have Captain Kirk and Sammy Jo - the two real stars of the show riding together with a different couple of cheap actors backing them up each week.
But Locklear was simultaneously playing Sammy Jo Dean on top rated 'Dynasty' throughout her run on T.J.Hooker. Rumors were ever-present that she would leave one show for the other to escape an unforgiving work schedule. T.J.Hooker - a ratings also-ran appeared to be the one most likely for her to quit. Her character was perpetually one bullet away from freeing her up to be Sammy Jo full-time. This episode showed another possible route for exit.
Anne Lockhart appears briefly in a hairdo so uncharacteristic for her that she is barely recognizable. Given the amount of screen-time she got (blink and you'll miss it) one might well wonder why she would have taken the role at all. As a fan I hate being jerked around by seeing a favorite actress (and yet another boyhood crush) listed as a guest star when she is only on screen briefly.
Two underage prostitutes are abducted in a van by a man (Kario Salem)
known as 'The Boulevard Strangler' and his accomplice (David Labiosa).
veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner
Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) are dispatched to investigate after an
anonymous tip details the kidnapping. Hooker, as was his custom, runs
the van off the road.
One of the abducted girls is dead having been strangled. The other girl, Betsy Campbell (Jill Whitlow) is returned home and tries to resume life as a normal teen knowing the men she witnessed kill her friend escaped the accident and may be looking for her. Hooker tries to find them first. But along the way he finds out some surprising things about 15 year old Betsy.
The theme of law enforcement vs the world's oldest profession was reduced to a punchline by most police procedurals in the early 1980s. This show sometimes focused on the subject with more sensitivity. The main character had two daughters and tended to look at every child of the night as someone's kid.
I tend to regard this as one of the few truly powerful episodes of the series. The scene in which Betsy wipes away her make-up and changes into conservative high school girl clothing makes for a startling transformation. The duality of this child who walks between an All-American high school existence whilst hustling the streets at night is profoundly chilling.
Then there is baddie - one who conceals a criminal persona seemingly so perfectly. It is fitting that he does double-headed coin tricks as each side is different than the other but the same. Beyond psychosis what in us is self and what is persona? It was unusual for this show to explore anything so cerebral and completely unexpected that it do something like that so well.
If you think this is just a dumb cop show (And I just can't imagine why you would!) this type of character exploration is something you generally find elsewhere.
Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner
Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) are on stakeout at the boardwalk of a beach
watching a snow-cone vendor sell bags of heroin as expensive side
orders. Unexpectedly sleazo drug kingpin Martin Colson (Barry Primus)
shows up with his henchmen and attempts to abduct the snow-cone vendor
in a dispute over distribution.
This is foiled by Hooker and Romano who give chase. The chase is foiled by Agent Rossi (Paul Picerni) a decrepit fed who is in league with Paige Miller (Simone Griffeth) a beautiful former colleague of Hooker's. Paige is deep undercover as courtesan/secretary to Colson. Hooker is ordered to stay out of Colson's face until Rossi and the feds can close in. Hooker can't comply. Too many teens are dying or turning to crime to score.
Hooker's lack of compliance leads to friction between he and his superior Captain Dennis Sheridan (Richard Herd), Rossi as well as Paige With tensions still bubbling beneath the surface. Paige, an old colleague but present love interest is playing a very dangerous game. It isn't long before Hooker is not just worried about the safety and well-being of the kids in his community.
If you think this is just a dumb cop show (And golly gee willikers! I just can't imagine why anyone would!) certain implausibilities may appear to confirm an existing perception. What really stretches the bounds of believability is the sight of uniformed officers Hooker and Romano in their police car in plain view, broad daylight consistently being able to sneak up on baddies and witness them in the act of committing crimes. Either these criminals are completely brain-damaged or blind as bats.
Simone Griffeth's turn is pretty much consistent with that of whichever much younger female guest star who happened to be inexplicably captivated by Hooker each week. She didn't laugh. I don't know why beautiful young women had to find Hooker irresistible. Just because it is his show doesn't mean they have to write in these romantic subplots.
Police Detective Sam Dietrich (Vincent Bagetta) and his partner
Detective Tony Fernandez are on stakeout inside a sports bar which they
think will be hit by armed robbers 'the Jumpsuit Bandits'. Dietrich who
has begun to drink on duty is wasted. When the bad guys suddenly make a
move Dietrich is startled and unprepared and because of it Fernandez is
Backing up Dietrich and Fernandez are veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) stationed nearby in a cop car. other colleagues Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) and Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) are on a rooftop across the street. Despite all the positioning the bad guys still get away mainly because Dietrich was under the influence.
Whilst his career is on the line and his marriage is in trouble Dietrich shows no signs of getting help or wanting to get help. Hooker intervenes and tells a superior which results in the Internal Affairs division launching a probe. All this sad melodrama runs concurrent to the hunt down of the robbers.
Any episode of this series which gives us depictions of more cops than than just Hooker, Romano, Corrigan & Stacy and a few extras should theoretically be superior to the others. But this one just offers a bad movie-of-the-week storyline. Not that alcoholism has never been a very real issue for some cops. If Belinda Montgomery had played the drunk cop instead of just Dietrich's wife I might have found it more interesting.
Aside from the normal clichés of the series (like football tackles of suspects) was Hooker clinging to the outside of a moving vehicle like Velcro. Here we get that as well as two car chases that end with the baddies getting their vehicles flipped over. After a while you start to wonder how many different ways they can stage the same thing and still think what they are showing the audience is different.
Armed robbers hit a supermarket. veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William
Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) are
dispatched to the scene. Backing them up in another cop car are Officer
Gina Canelli (Lenore Kasdorf) and Officer Bill Briggs (Jeff Pomerantz).
While Hooker easily handles one of the robbers inside the supermarket
the confrontation in the parking lot is considerably more intense.
Briggs freezes and is shot in the shoulder. Canelli doesn't shoot either because she can't get a clear angle. A bullet grazes Romano's head and two of the three robbers escape. Briggs and Romano blame Canelli even though Romano was not in a position to see what went down. Briggs had a clear shot but didn't take it. Blaming Canelli deflects attention from him and it is easy to blame her. She was disciplined for freezing up under fire a few years earlier.
A board of inquiry is launched and Canelli's career is on the line. Hooker agrees to defend her but in so doing he incurs the wrath of fellow officers. Romano as his partner in particular is incensed by the side Hooker is taking. Not only does he think Canelli nearly cost him his life, she is denying it and putting his credibility into question.
Rumors around the cop shop are that Romano wants to change partners. The board of inquiry process runs concurrent to the hunt-down of the robbers. With tensions still bubbling beneath the surface Hooker and Romano still have to work together even as Hooker is set cross-examine Romano at the inquiry. Perhaps these are the last days they can ride together. But perhaps the case will offer surprises.
One of the first productions upon which Shatner built his career was 'Judgement at Nuremberg' (1961) and after Star Trek a production upon which he gained some momentum was 'the Andersonville Trial' (1972). Because of that this episode has kind of a legacy/nostalgia feel to it. But perhaps not as much as if Hooker had busted a Ferengi for selling hot watches.
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 is 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.
After a jogger (Robin Dearden) is attacked near an athletic field
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 a prolific and athletic serial rapist
(George McDaniel), dubbed 'Bigfoot' by the media, flees. Hooker
valiantly pursues but the attacker eludes him.
Ambitious, rude and arrogant police detective Sgt Wayne Conrad (James O'Sullivan) is assigned to the 'Bigfoot' case and is convinced the attack was committed by a random weirdo (Charles Bartlett) who likes to confess to crimes and has a long record of having been a nuisance to police. Hooker and Romano show no bias though the suspect confessing was collared by them.
This is a very well-directed episode. The sequencing of shots gives an illusion of depth that buttresses the diagesis. The televised news conference, featuring characters in the episode, being broadcast at the scene of another crime gives the audience an exaggerated sense of scale. The gimmick of the talk radio show linking residents of the city together is also quite effective in presenting the illusion of this fictional setting.
Aside from the normal clichés of the series (like football tackles of suspects) one cliché that is featured stands out - Hooker's use of his nightstick to subdue the baddie. The character is seen utilizing the implement with varying degrees of aptitude in episodes. Shatner got good at using a nightstick and I mean REALLY good! We're talking Kung Fu good! His remarkable display of nightstick magic in this episode has to be seen to be believed.
Another aspect depicted well in this entry is the flake element of police work. We see it exemplified in the serial confessor character and the outraged citizen character. The weirdos that police have to deal with make for entertaining stories. They are much more entertaining than the contrived whimsy of showing Hooker and his partner kidding each other about their respective peccadilloes.
The 'City of Passion' storyline trilogy of the cop show 'Hunter' adapted by ex-LAPD cop Dallas L.Barnes from his novel also featured a serial rapist called 'Bigfoot'. Barnes also wrote this episode of T.J.Hooker.
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