Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ten Reasons Why T.J. Hooker Is Awesome


Lately my wife and I have gone back to watching reruns of the classic William Shatner cop show T.J. Hooker. T.J. Hooker, the 80s tv show created with the idea that people like me wanted to see Captain Kirk in a patrol car, ran for more years than I remembered (like three or four) entertaining with one self righteous speech after another. Hooker was the toughest cop in all of L.C. (L.A.) fighting for the rights of the innocent and taking down the scum that plagues society. He used to be a detective, but after a controversial shooting he went back into blues. Not that he was busted down, he asked for the streets! Where he can make a difference! After watching several episodes back to back, I've decided to list ten reasons in no particular order why T.J. Hooker is so awesome.

1. T.J. Hooker is so cool that everyone in the fictional city of L.C. knows him and only refers to him by his last name.

Hooker has contacts throughout the city, everyone who is not a criminal knows Hooker and is on good terms with him. He relates to all walks of life and is revered by them for being the living God he is. Almost all criminals know Hooker too, they're just not on good terms with the man. To be accurate, all snitches know Hooker and can't handle the heat when TJ leans on them for information. Only occasionally does the criminal of the week know Hooker, because obviously he did know Hooker the punk would be too scared to commit a crime in L.C. Along with his fame comes a cache of cool, so everyone calls TJ Hooker by his last name. His partner Vince Romano calls him Hooker. Other police officers. Community leaders. Even his ex wife. Only his kids don't call him Hooker, but maybe that's because he's never around home. Too busy fighting crime to raise his kids.

2. Sub Plot Stacy aka Heather Locklear

Heather Locklear was working double time appearing on both TJ Hooker and Dynasty. Her character Stacy Sheridan started as the desk / dispatch clerk and is the daughter of the police chief. She later becomes a street beat cop with Moondoggie James Darren where she morphs into sub plot Stacy. Whenever a kid or civilian woman needs to be watched, wherever a beautiful young woman is needed as bait, or if a cop is going to be taken hostage by bad guys Stacy is there to do it. Locklear fills in her role as eye candy nicely which is just as well since she's never once believable as a police officer (she looks 90 pounds and has no attitude). It doesn't help her that the Sheridan character is made out to be so naive that she is disarmed and taken hostage more times than I could count. It's as if Sheridan carries a gun so she could arm the criminals that capture her. Part of the fun of sub plot Stacy is to make fun of her character's stupidity in service of the story, plus you get to make Tommy Lee jokes and view possibly the corniest exotic dancing to hit the airwaves. Work those shoulders and snap them fingers baby!



3. Vince Romano is a Vietnam Veteran


I feel bad for Adrian Zmed, his career had such promise. After Grease 2 and TJ Hooker it seemed like he just disappeared. Zmed did a really good job as Hooker's eager young guy on the make sidekick Vince Romano. Completely believable as a rookie cop, completely believable as Hooker's partner with a different acting style, believable in his action scenes...but totally not believable as a Vietnam Veteran. I'm sorry, Adrian Zmed looks like he's in his mid 20s during this show - maybe he looks young for his age? His character is portrayed as a guy in his mid 20s too, which makes it ridiculous to claim Romano is a Vietnam Vet. It's not like they referenced this once and let it go, Romano's Vietnam past is brought up multiple times in the series (including flash backs). It's said Romano went to 'Nam faking his age to join the war, but what was he 5? A 5 year old faked his way into the army? Really?

4. 80's L.C. (L.A.) is a beautiful thing

Remember the old Kentucky Fried Chicken sign? Or when you could buy a new truck for $5999? Or gas for $1.11? You get to see a lot of the ol sights and sounds of Los Angeles. Just watched an episode today that opens with a robbery at Venice Beach. Watch the background, you get to see old company logos ( TJ Hooker makes a speeding left turn through an intersection next to Safeway in many episodes) and businesses that don't exist anymore (1st Interstate bank I think was one). The settings and backgrounds are a nostalgic treat. I hadn't felt that nostalgic since playing Grand Theft Auto - Vice City.

5. TJ Hooker drinks and drives

Particularly in the early seasons Hooker would often frequent bars after work. Then he'd down a few drinks, mull over the case he's working on, flirt with a girl then DRIVE HOME. And we can also assume still carrying his gun too. If a major tv character did this today people would be up in arms I tell you. But again, because he's TJ Hooker we can assume as well that he is immune to the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

6. Worst Car Chase Cops In The Biz

Hooker and Romano are the worst cops to put in a car chase. 81% of the time they lose the bad guy due to traffic or wrecking their vehicle in a fiery explosion. Only if the villian crashes his own car in a fiery explosion do they get caught. Hooker has destroyed so many vehicles not to mention private property (like entire gas stations) that L.C. should be bankrupt from the liability claims on this guy. The general rule of TJ Hooker is this: if the car chase happens within the first half hour, it will end with the criminals getting away and Hooker punching the car while shouting "Damn!" Second half hour, somebody is gonna get caught.

7. The Shatner 2000

It's no secret that the Shat wears a rug. Or has plugs from what one co-worker once told me. In any case, the Shatner 2000 (so named from a classic Night Court episode) lives up to it's hype. A pure masterpiece of false follicles, there are times when I think the 2000 covers not just the top but the front side burns as well. Speaking as a bald man myself, that's impressive coverage.

8. Recycled guest stars and pilots for shows that never came to be

TJ Hooker made two attempts at spin offs that funnily enough did not feature any of the regular cast. The most noticeable one was Sharon Stone - yes, that Sharon Stone - as a tough female detective working the Hollywood beat. She's tough...but she's sympathetic too because she cares (awww...). Stone herself is pretty bland here, no hint of the ice pick wielding psycho she'd successfully portray a few years later. The second spin off attempt wasn't much better, it was a blatant Beverly Hills Cop rip off set in Chicago starring a guy working overtime trying to match Eddie Murphy's manic brilliance and coming up short. And trying to rip off the Pointer Sister's "Jump" as background muzak for a foot chase scene. Classy.

For other guest stars, there is the predictable Star Trek link with Leonard Nimoy making an appearance. Not to mention Ike Eisenmann from ST II ("he stayed at his post, when the trainees ran..."). And I suppose I can throw in Marcy Lafferty (ST:TMP) though that's cheating since she was married to Shatner at the time. I'd also use that to justify her playing two different characters on Hooker (one a murderous thief and the other a psychic) except they did that with actors who weren't married to Shat as well. Clarence Williams III was an armed robber twice and not the same character. Lynne Moody was a doctor one day and then a police clerk in Chicago the next. Most notable was James Darren who first played an illegal street racer before making series regular as Jim Corrigan.

9. TJ Hooker rides the hood of a car

This moment in tv history was so indelible that decades later it became a joke in a Robert DeNiro movie. So here it is, revel in the glory.



10. Danny can't hear!

TJ Hooker tried hard to be sensitive to people in need, but in typical Hooker / Shatner fashion that sensitivity is delivered loudly and clumsily - which is pretty awesome once you get used to it. Nowhere was this more evident than an episode where Hooker berates a gang member / crime suspect until he realizes the punk has a hearing problem. Hooker does a complete 180, trying to get the gang banger a better life and medical operations(!) because (Shatner dramatic pause) Danny can't hear! Hooker goes on and on about how this kid could have been a lawyer or doctor or whatever but because he can't hear (and the kid's brother is a junkie) the kid HAD to join the gangs to survive. Danny...he could have built a rocket ship to the moon, cured cancer, brought world peace but no, he had to join the gangs because...Danny can't hear!

And those are just ten reasons why TJ Hooker is so freakin awesome. But don't take my word for it. You can watch a brief version of one of my favorite TJ Hooker episodes below. And just to give a shout out to a website, www.tj-hooker.com provides tons of info on this beloved tv show.

6 comments:

Jeannie said...

Remember Hooker told that cop with the alcohol problem that he too knew the dangers of the bottle but got help for himself before it was too late. #11- Hooker has been there, done that. Hooker was the Dos Equis man of.the 80's. "Stay thirsty my friend."

Mr. Mike said...

#11 sounds great honey! And #12 is Members Only jackets!!

my cousin dommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
my cousin dommy said...

I'm enjoying Hooker as well... You nailed most of the highlights... You failed to mention the faux opening credit sequence and theme song for Sharon Stone's pilot that is a total knockoff of "I'm So Excited"... and I believe LCPD was not a city but all of LA County. They wanted to used LAPD but the city would not allow them. Downtown, The Valley, Santa Monica, Hollywood were all part of their area. The odd thing is in the epic Sharon Stone pilot... Hooker has to get a motel room to help with her case apparently because home was so far away but Hollywood is a part of Los Angeles. He's always driving by the area on patrol.

Mr. Mike said...

I forgot about the "I'm So Excited" knockoff that was funny. Or that one of my favorite Hooker moments was him narrating his own car chase at the end of the hill side racer episode. "Gas...accelerate...brake...turn...you're not going to make it...not going to make it...(after criminal drives his car off a cliff) you just weren't good enough punk."

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