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Captain Frank Furrillo (Daniel J.Travanti) is groomed for the mayor's
office by a local kingmaker (Granville Van Dusen). Officer Bobby Hill
(Michael Warren) escorts his father's casket home for the funeral. Sgt.
Lucy Bates (Betty Thomas) begins the process of adopting a runaway boy
whose mother is a drug-addicted prostitute. Sgt. Mick Belker (Bruce
Weitz) finally marries his sweetheart Officer Robin Tataglia (Lisa
Lt. Norman Buntz (Dennis Franz) goes with a former police colleague ostensibly to interview an informant. Officer Andy Renko (Charles Haid) arrests legendary country singer Bobby Angel (Billy Green Bush). Officer J.D. LaRue (Kiel Martin) and his partner Detective Neal Washington (Taurean Blacque) run a sting with the help of a tattooist/snake charmer/fence (Grace Zabriskie).
A very busy day at Hill Street precinct becomes considerably more heated as SWAT team commander Lt. Howard Hunter (James B.Sikking) vandalizes the station-house boiler room causing the temperature to skyrocket.
Unbeknownst to his colleagues, having sustained a concussion and lost consciousness after falling down stairs whilst attempting to find lost equipment he comes to, forgets where he is and believes he has been abducted by the Soviets. He sabotages boiler room mechanisms on their 'ship' in order to facilitate an escape.
One of the critically lauded network TV series ever produced Hill Street Blues juggled multiple story-lines and character arcs. In some episodes little happened beyond imparting essential information about characters sometimes tying up lose ends opened in previous episodes. This entry shows us a lot but it is pretty insignificant on its own. The show didn't insult the intelligence of its audience by staging World War III every week.
Officers Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren) rescue odious
wanted mass murderer Albert 'The Creeper' Sawyer (Paul McCrane) from a
mob of outraged ghetto dwellers. Renko wants to collect reward money
for the capture but finds he'll have to wait in line. Public Defender
Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel) finds herself fighting for the
opportunity to represent 'The Creeper' when a media savvy lawyer
(Jordan Charney) vies for the opportunity.
Manolo Sanchez (Eloy Casados) - a member of the citizen's mob that detained and beat the psychotic killer decides he wants to be a police officer. When he applies he is rejected due to a past criminal conviction. He becomes belligerent and ultimately violent.
Sgt. Mick Belker (Bruce Weitz) takes his wife Robin to the hospital to have their baby. He overhears a mysterious conversation about an exchange and looks to take down a hospital employee for dealing drugs stolen from a pharmaceutical locker.
As usual we get the interplay of a large ensemble cast placed in a chaotic setting with frequent tension derived from very real life experiences. The insight into these characters takes on an exploration of self esteem. The unemployed guy who gets his fifteen minutes of fame after beating and detaining 'The Creeper' aspires to become a cop and is stung when he is disqualified is but one example.
Then there is Davenport. Initially freaked out by being in the same room as the psychotic killer she later finds herself fighting to keep him as a client when a publicity hound attorney presents himself.
Few shows could boast the kinds of guest stars in almost any given episode that this series was able to. In just this one episode we see Earl Boen, Eloy Casados, Jordan Charney, Jenny Gago, Ray Girardin, Elizabeth Pena, WK Stratton, Jeffrey Tambor and others. The show used a lot of veteran character actors while giving a start to younger actors who would, in many cases, go on to become highly regarded and famous.
Debates on the real setting for the show Hill Street Blues can be settled by a line from this episode that references Michigan Avenue which is in Chicago.
Las Vegas private detective Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) is hired to find
out if legendary country singer Hank Jenner (Strother Martin) is really
dead. His daughter (Lauren Tewes) is sure she saw him at the chapel
during her Vegas wedding but to the world he has been dead for ten
Her debt-ridden manager Lyle Galen (Lloyd Bochner) sends goons to dissuade Tanna. But the P.I. is considerably more bewildered by the secrets his client and the man she wants him to find are hiding. The resolution is kind of redneck. But the use of a soundtrack which sounds like a bizarre amalgam of disco & porn is a tad vexing set against a rustic storyline.
As with any episode of this show the guest stars are the amongst most impressive aspects of the production. Lloyd Bochner, Tony Curtis, Lauren Tewes, Slim Pickens, Randy Powell...Quite a list for any network show of the time.
Lauren Tewes played cruise director Julie McCoy on the mega-hit schlock series Love Boat. She made guest appearances on several other ABC TV series lending her star power to each. These included Charlie's Angels, Starsky & Hutch, Fantasy Island, TJ Hooker and Finder of Lost Loves.
Las Vegas private detective Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) usually has all
the work he can handle augmenting security & 'loss prevention' at the
casino resort hotels of shady tycoon Phillip 'Slick' Roth (Tony
Curtis). But his job allows for freelance assignments and in this
episode he is hired to bodyguard supermodel Shawn Adams (Cristina
Ferrare) during a photo shoot assignment at a Roth hotel.
During a contract negotiation with a new cosmetics firm she passes out from drugged booze and is stripped down for non-consensual nude posing. Her debt-ridden agent Nat Finer (Dane Clark) whom she has been trying to fire plans to then blackmail her if the cosmetics company reps don't nudge him out of the way. Tanna tries to recover the photos and negatives whilst also attempting to find a lion missing from a magic show at one of Roth's hotels.
Las Vegas circa 1978 - a garish cityscape of flashing lights and tacky marquees. A place where washed-up entertainers and fixed boxing matches were used by organized crime elements to entice hardworking people from all over the world to throw away their savings in games of chance which heavily favored the house. In no small way the same entertainers were also being paid to confer legitimacy via association with the casinos.
A nice guy private investigator with strong morals is not really the type of detective one associates within such a milieu. But due to the appeal of Robert Urich it somehow seemed right. With recurring guest stars like Tony Curtis augmented by other solid guest performers as well as Charlie's Angels as lead-in this show should've been more popular than it was.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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