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 rigueur). 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. --Bret Fetzer
A street cop who gives a damn! The cop drama series T.J. HOOKER starred William Shatner as a police detective who turned his back on a gold badge and went back to patrolling the streets and training recruits. The long-running series also starred Adrian Zmed, James Darren, and launched the career of sexy Heather Locklear. Highlights include the show's original pilot and a special guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy!