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296 reviews in total 
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Deborah Wakeham Guest-Stars, 24 April 2014

Former Vegas showgirl Lisa (Deborah Wakeham) is carjacked and raped having been lured to a secluded location by a mysterious stranger (Michael Cole) and his accomplice. Her friend Bea (Phyllis Davis) works for local private detective Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) but he is not hired to investigate. Lisa, suddenly also unemployed, was reluctant to report the attack in the first place and felt humiliated by the process.

Tanna is outraged and works with Veteran cop Lt. David Nelson (Greg Morris) to track down the assailants. It isn't long before there is another victim (Elyssa Davalos) and her accidental death complicates things. The only one who can identify one of the rapists in court is Lisa. Such an event would tie them in with the death of the other victim. This makes her a potential target.

What better idea for a detective show could there be than a private investigator in Las Vegas? There are infinite avenues to explore the light and shade of human character in Sin City and plausible reasons why a PI might make a handsome living there. Sadly Vega$ only lasted three seasons. I never could get past the putrid disco soundtrack the show had so the mute button on the clicker came in handy.

As with any episode of this show the guest stars are the amongst most impressive aspects of the production. Elyssa Davalos is given but a few minutes screen-time. But Canadian actress Deborah Wakeham appears in much of the episode. Michael Swan plays a baffling role in this with characteristic flair. For whatever reason Michael Cole looks hungover during his time on screen. It works for role...I guess.

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Way Ahead Of It's Time, 23 April 2014

Veteran LAPD cop Detective Matt Hallet (Darren McGavin) and his young partner Doug Baker (Michael Cole) begin investigating serial mutilation murders of young gay men in the Los Angeles area.

Hallet is a liberal-minded sort even after decades on the job. His partner is a homophobe of near epic proportions and only does his job as a reflex. He feels nauseated about seemingly every aspect of the case. Hallet puts up with it until he thinks it is hurting the investigation.

Following up the leads across a community well-versed in the art (one necessitated by regressive laws) of keeping secrets a picture emerges of the prime suspect - a burly cowboy-type nicknamed 'Tex'.

By the time that picture is in focus four men are dead and there is another very different suspect. Hallet and Baker have to cross-reference everything all over again on the off-chance they missed something useful.

The casting is only slightly against type. Darren McGavin was a very masculine type of actor who played uber-macho private detective Mike Hammer in the ultra-conservative 1950s. Michael Cole portrayed a hippie undercover operative on The Mod Squad. You'd think the older macho actor would be the homophobe rather than the young hippie icon.

The maturity of that theme explored alongside the mystery invites the viewer to examine judgments of people by previously ingrained perceptions.

A lot is going on in the various character arcs each moving to different degrees. Where there is any perceptible movement at all is a starting point for a realistic character study as change is the one constant in everything.

The immediate unsubtle hint that what we are watching is from 1974 is the dress and physical appearance of the cast. The wardrobe suggests mass color-blindness. The hairdos appear to have drawn inspiration from the contents of vacuum cleaner filters. The nearly ever-present temptation is to ask each of them if they looked in the mirror before they left for work.

Then there is the attitude of the character portrayed by Michael Cole. Beyond his homophobic slurs he questions his own decision to allow his wife to take a job.

But aside from that what is shown is, politically speaking, decades ahead of it's time.

Trial By Media, 22 April 2014

LCPD patrolman Officer Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) is shot confronting a gang of car thieves. His partner veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) prays Romano is able to emerge from surgery alive.

An unarmed 18 year old kid was also shot in the confrontation as Hooker returned fire. Witnesses and news camera footage from the scene indicate the kid was fatally shot by Hooker though it is obvious the car thieves fired the shot.

Hooker is without his hospitalized partner as he begins his investigation into the car theft ring. He also has a cloud hanging over his head placed there by the media during a slow news day. It will be several news cycles before ballistics returns with a report that will clear him. By then perceptions of Hooker's guilt will have solidified and evidence that clears him will seem like a cover-up.

Beyond that the lingering question is whether Romano's head and heart are still in it enough to be effective if he is even able to come back after being shot. Visibly shaken by the shooting, Romano has been given cause to doubt himself in that contrived moment when a hero becomes haunted by his own finiteness the way Hooker occasionally did.

In a half-decent series entry this examines how the media had been less than kind in broadcasting about police excesses and indiscretions during the late 1960s and afterwards. This episode showed how cops had to deal with the pressure and still do their jobs when their every move was not only being scrutinized but when the threat to life and limb was still ever-present.

Written by former LAPD cop Dallas L.Barnes.

Bye bye Corrigan?, 22 April 2014

Treasury agent Bob Komack (Kip Niven) teams with Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his LCPD colleagues to attempt to take down a counterfeiting ring. Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) is in on the raid and accidentally shoots a valued informant to death. Corrigan is inconsolable and ponders quitting the force. Engaged to a wealthy young woman whose father has offered him a cushy job there is a new life waiting for him.

Hooker still has hopes of taking down the counterfeiting ring whilst also keeping his valued colleague on the job. Corrigan's partner Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) naturally wants the same thing. But the lingering question is whether Corrigan's head and heart are still in it enough to be effective.

This is a half-decent entry which could have ended James Darren's tenure on the series.

Adrian Zmed who had portrayed Hooker's young partner Vince Romano left the show before the start of the fifth and final season. It had been cancelled by ABC in May 1985 but picked up by CBS and put on a lower budget. No word on whether much money was saved by the production as it did without him. After he left, Hooker drove alone mostly but could have rode with Sheridan.

I did not detect a decline or an improvement in the quality of the series resulting from Zmed's departure. Yet often when the audience has gotten used to seeing a quartet of characters as the main cast the moment an actor leaves one of the remaining three can look like a third wheel. Since Shatner was the star of the show and young guys like me were understandably focused on Heather Locklear as Officer Stacy Sheridan the actor who got shortchanged was of course Darren except for this episode.

Had they cast an attractive young male actor in Zmed's place before season five began they might have staved off the dramatic decline in the ratings that set in and opened up story arcs consistent with the original concept for the show. Instead Corrigan was left to do the things that Romano would have done that Sheridan wasn't doing. It meant more screen time for Darren but his character wasn't doing much spectacular except in episodes like this one.

Perhaps it was thought that filling the passenger seat of Hooker's patrol car would emphasize the loss of Zmed when they were trying to minimize discernible change to hold what audience the show still had.

The Show T.J.Hooker Might Have Become, 22 April 2014

LCPD Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) arrives in Chicago in the dead of winter to bring heroin trafficker Louis Felcher back with him to California. Sour-faced motormouth Chicago vice-cop Sidney Stover (Charlie Barnett) implores Hooker to keep Felcher in Chi-Town just a little bit longer. Stover thinks that he is key to making a big heroin bust.

Hooker won't bite until he sees a young junkie (Michael Stoyanov) die after an impromptu chase in Stover's car following a liquor store robbery. He is outraged and works with Stover to try to take down heroin kingpin Rudy Steiger (Vic Polizos) using Felcher. But it is far from that simple and by then Hooker is too invested in matters to leave.

Observant audiences will recall 'Hollywood Starr' (Season 4, Episode 17) a back-door pilot series vehicle for the then 26 year old actress Sharon Stone. Like that one the entire style of this curiosity item is very different from any other T.J.Hooker episode.

In fact little of what is shown is at all similar. The viewer is continually given pause to wonder why Hooker is really in this environ unless they are aware that this was intended for a re-working of the series for ABC.

What we see is a fun comedy-adventure with Hooker as straight-man to a cast of comic actors. LCPD colleagues Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) and Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) are never seen except in the opening credits. Neither is Adrian Zmed who portrayed Officer Vince Romano - Hooker's young partner. Zmed had left the show. Locklear and Darren would have been gone too had ABC embraced the change.

This would have been an intriguing route for the show to take. But it was not intriguing enough for ABC to renew the show for a fifth season. Nor was it intriguing enough for CBS to go along with the re-jig when it picked up the series to broadcast after prime-time. Indeed it would have contradicted most of what audiences had seen of the show and it's main character.

Had they chosen instead to move T.J.Hooker into being a comedy-adventure in Chicago what would they have really gained? ABC might have gotten one of those critically acclaimed shows that entertainment writers and people in the industry love but that is watched by few people all in the wrong demographics.

Vengeance In Sight, 22 April 2014

A couple of dastardly villains are out to get LCPD Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner). One - Walt Duggan (Robert Dryer) wants revenge on Hooker for something and has paid another - Mickey Tavelli (Don Gordon) to help him get it. They are able to find Hooker's squad car whilst he is on patrol and they firebomb it. Hooker survives, the baddies escape but Hooker's young partner Officer Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) is blinded (corneal scarring) possibly permanently.

Hooker vows to find the assailants as does Romano's girlfriend Officer Maggie Paine (Karen Kopins) who rides with Hooker in temporary stead of Romano. Hooker also enlists Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) and Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) to join him in the investigation. But the motive which might illuminate the identity of the culprits is elusive. Duggan is also far from done trying to kill Hooker and will keep trying no matter what the collateral damage is.

This is actually a highly entertaining episode compared with so many if not most T.J.Hooker entries. We get a real point-counterpoint series of exchanges with some solid character arcs. There is also the discernible creation of doubt as to whether a hero cop who is a regular on the series can die on duty. Hooker actually looks scared. It is rare for this show to even hint at that kind of thing. This overcomes the substandard acting by Kopins & Zmed and the merry-go-round guest-star casting.

Robert Dryer and Don Gordon had both appeared on the show in different roles the season before. The audience was never supposed to notice when shows did this or still do this but we do notice and it is irritating. Shows with a stable main cast and well-defined style need different guest actors to come in lest the show look like it is repeating itself. Using the same guest actors in different roles is counter-intuitive.

One thing about the show T.J.Hooker that is sometimes overlooked is that although it only broke the ratings top 30 just once (in its 5 episode debut season) it was broadcast on Saturday nights in first four seasons. Through those four seasons it held its own in its time-slot and no show on Saturday nights broke the ratings top 30 by its fourth year.

When a Thug Just Needs a Hug, 21 April 2014

In a remarkable instance of serendipity Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) just happen to be driving by the scene of a drug deal gone wrong in a railway yard. Drug-lord Carlo Vega (Miguel Fernandes) murders a heroin trafficker and his minion Cruz (Trinidad Silva) gets Danny Perez (Panchito Gomez) an underage, deaf accomplice to dispose of the murder weapon. Hooker and Romano nab Danny but not Vega or Cruz.

Deemed very expendable by his fellow gang members Danny is set to take the fall for Vega and Cruz as they corner the local heroin market. Hooker is outraged that they would take advantage of the kid that way and tries to help Danny turn his life around. Danny's gang associates get the idea that Hooker is just being nice to get him to inform on them. They plot to exterminate the potential snitch before he decides to talk.

This is another instalment in a series that could be classified as a "dumb cop show" based upon viewing primitive, slipshod episodes like this one. At times what we are seeing looks like it was gleaned from a bad after school special storyline. At other times what we are seeing looks like a cheesy public service announcement. I would much rather have seen Pamela Shoop and Miguel Fernandes in a better episode.

The propensity Hooker had in the series for finding violent criminals seemingly wherever he went was something that the viewer either accepted or rejected. If you wanted to believe it was plausible you could come up with explanations. Perhaps crime in the city was so bad that he couldn't help but stumble over it. Since almost every cop we see other than Hooker and those he works closely with are either obscenely dumb or corrupt crime in the city might very well be that bad.

It has always been my theory that this episode was written with Ricardo Montalban in mind as guest-star in the role of the sympathetic doctor which was instead filled by Henry Darrow but that Montalban was too busy with Fantasy Island to appear.

Snow Shovel, 19 April 2014

Drug Enforcement Agency operative Twill (Gary Lockwood) teams with Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his LCPD colleagues to attempt to take down a Chicano cocaine ring. Things go sour and an undercover cop is killed whilst his back up is out of position. The deceased was highly popular amongst his colleagues. Hooker, partly blaming himself for the death, vows to find the killers.

After his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) is badly wounded saving his life Hooker enlists Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) and Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) to join him in an undercover sting. They all want to avenge the loss of a brother officer and near loss of another (Romano).

This is a mildly entertaining episode compared with so many if not most T.J.Hooker entries. But it illustrates the identity crisis the show had. This entry and others features Hooker and his colleagues doing things beyond the normal details uniformed patrol cops are assigned to do. This is explicitly alluded to but never adequately explained. Indeed this episode illustrates what can happen when cops aren't where they are supposed to be.

This show began as a series about grizzled cop Hooker returning to teach police academy classes before taking top rookie Vince Romano as partner and then going out on patrol with him. By the third season there was no need for any attachment of the main character to police academy training or the Academy Precinct or indeed uniformed patrol.

With this series making sense or depicting realism wasn't a priority. But for whatever reason ties to the police academy and the main character driving a patrol car in uniform were. In this episode and others they even have him doing roll call. Why not put him on dispatch or parking enforcement whilst also making him chief of detectives? One of ten episodes in this series directed by William Shatner.

Doctor Feelgood?, 18 April 2014

Traumatized by having killed a 17-year old gang member in a shootout in the wrong part of town LCPD Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear) decides to use her vacation time to get her head together and come to terms with it.

Her colleagues Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and Officer Jim Corrigan (James Darren) who were at the scene with her agree it was a righteous shooting. But she is still bothered by it and decides to take leave to visit her sister.

In heavy rain she is run off the road by a heavy truck. Having bounced her head off her steering wheel she loses consciousness. In a remarkable bit of coincidence a young doctor (Joseph Hacker) happens by in his car and attends to her then takes her to his private clinic.

When she regains consciousness she has amnesia. He appears to be in no hurry to help her remember who she is or in any way help facilitate her departure.

In a yet another remarkable bit of coincidence Hooker and Corrigan investigate the escape of two inmates from an asylum. One of them happens to be Stacy's impromptu physician. But they don't even know she is missing until well after they begin looking for the escapees. Stacy could be in grave danger and with her memory slow to return she might be the last one to know it.

With horror movie music, a creepy old house and a crazy doctor this would logically make for a Halloween episode. Yet the timing of when this episode was first broadcast - February 19th, 1986 and the lack of real chills prompts me to speculate it just wasn't scary enough to be shown on Halloween. But it does make for a fun episode even with the absurd coincidences, obvious use of stock footage and lack of recognizable guest stars.

There is real suspense as well as real chemistry between Locklear and a very convincing Joseph Hacker.

Between Hooker & John, 18 April 2014

Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) gets into a standoff with a baddie who has a machine gun and young woman as hostage. He calls for back-up. Officer Karen Remy (Robin Dearden) and her partner Officer John Reed (Jeffrey Byron) show up. Karen is yet another of Hooker's old flames and after the standoff is resolved he asks her to dinner. She takes a rain-check saying that there is something she has to deal with first.

Hours later Karen is dead having driven over to the wrong part of town to meet an informant. Hooker swears to find her killer and uses his vacation time to investigate. He clashes with Reed - her former partner who also claims he was going to marry Karen. When Hooker shakes down underworld sources a disturbing picture develops and police brass appear to be in on it. The truth conflicts with what all the evidence suggested.

This episode contrasts with most others in the series with the exception of how it begins. It looks more like a private investigator show of the kind that were dominant on the small screen back then and has a less facile plot. For most of it Hooker is in plain-clothes acting completely unlike himself. So many episodes of this series looked so much like others it is almost like this one is a long dream sequence.

Any episode of this series which gives us depictions of more cops than just Hooker and the two he usually worked with (Officer Jim Corrigan and Officer Stacy Sheridan) 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.

I grew up watching Jeffrey Byron in movies like Metalstorm and Ragewar and thought he was a cool actor. But for whatever reason he was less than compelling in this role. I'm going to guess the way his characterization was edited might be the culprit. But the dialogue he was given isn't exactly top flight either.

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