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T.J. Hooker

By Bret Fetzer

Florid of face and flamboyant of voice, William Shatner oozes smarmy self-importance with the barest sliver of irony...yet that sliver transforms him from unbearable to bizarrely charming. Mock him all you want--and you will--but the man is unstoppable; T. J. Hooker was his fifth TV series (not counting assorted mini-series or the animated version of Star Trek), with more to come.

As a freshly-divorced, middle-aged cop who--out of either proletariat zeal or just a bad attitude--would rather pound a beat than be a detective, Shatner swaggers around in a sausage-tight uniform and lush wig of curly hair, casually spouting right-wing speeches and fearlessly hurling himself onto moving vehicles. With cocky Adrian Zmed (Bachelor Party) and mischievous Heather Locklear (another TV diehard, co-starring in this show and Dynasty simultaneously) as co-stars/eye-candy, T. J. Hooker is a glorious slice of Aaron Spelling cheese.

The brief first season--only five episodes--delved into the dark side of Hooker's character, brooding over booze and mounting debts, riding his recruits because of his own regrets. All that went out the window as the second season roared into action, turning Hooker into a standard tough guy with a heart of gold. But the classic Spelling elements were there from the start: Almost every case involves a relative or an old friend; the bad guys announce their sleaziness from the moment they appear; and no opportunity to show a little skin is missed (short-shorts and tight, nipple-emphasizing tops are de rigeur).

Featuring street gangs, snipers, Bible-toting psychos, baby-faced arsonists (a very young David Caruso, NYPD Blue), and vengeful cops (Shatner's old pal Leonard Nimoy), T. J. Hooker had no pretensions to anything but roiling melodrama with some midlevel stunts thrown in every few episodes. It all rests on whether or not you like Shatner. If you do, you'll hug yourself when Hooker's ex-wife tells him, as if intoning a zen koan, "You'll do your best, and I know you already have, because you always do." No commentaries, alas; the only extra is a pointless compilation of "Next week on T. J. Hooker" snippets.

T.J. Hooker on DVD!
T.J. Hooker is now available on DVD! Get it at Amazon.com!
Season One

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of T.J. Hooker? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"T. J. Hooker was brilliant! It was so funny, sometimes without trying to be. My favourite character was Vince Romano mainly because I had a huge crush on Adrian Zmed! I would happily buy T.J.Hooker on DVD if it was available. It was so typical of the Awesome80s and let's face it, it was one of the best decades ever! [Editor's note: You will no argument with that last statement!]"

--Nutty Tart

"I think TJ Hooker was a really good show. Vince Romano is a sight for sore eyes he drop dead gorgeous."

-- suebente@excite. com.

"Possibly the best thing about TJ Hooker was Vince Romanos hair and the amazing car chases. I remember watching TJ chasing a guy and trying to shoot him but he misssed and because it was a shotgun it blew a massive hole in the wall - absolute class!"

--Mattman

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: March 13, 1982 - September 17, 1987

Cast: William Shatner, Heather Locklear, Adrian Zmed

Network: ABC

Genre: Police Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC


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