I remember a time when I would waste hours watching something utterly ridiculous just because it was on television. I probably cannot add up the time I lost watching movies like Airborne! and UHF. Those are classic films, but did I really need to stop what I was doing, and spend weekend afternoons watching them? Thankfully I am now married with a son, so my time wasting weekend afternoons are spent at the library or watching Blue’s Clues.
A part of me kind of misses those lazy days, but that part of me was probably hungover at the time. Is there a better hangover cure than watching “Weird” Al Yankovic as Rambo? Probably not. That part of me returned last week (minus the hangover), and allowed me to sit and watch the entire 90-minute T.J. Hooker pilot from 1982.
From what I remember about T.J. Hooker it starred everyone’s favorite Starfleet captain/Rescue 911 host/singer William Shatner, future ex-wife of Tommy Lee and Richie Sambora Heather Locklear and Adrian Zmed. You might remember Zmed from…T.J. Hooker. Shatner was the title character, a hard-nosed cop looking to regain everyone’s trust, Zmed was his partner and Locklear a rookie cop. I think she may have been a rookie cop the entire time she was on the show (1982-86), but I could be wrong. The first thing that might pop in your head about T.J. Hooker is Shatner sprawled out on the hood of a moving car. I honestly do not know how many times he did this on the show:
The pilot, “The Protectors,” is the starting point. Hooker is assigned to the police academy (unfortunately minus Steve Guttenberg and Michael Winslow) with the task of shaping up the new recruits. Crime is starting to take over the unknown city (LC?) that the academy is in, and the recruits are sent to the streets a little too soon. Did Hooker teach the recruits enough, or will they all be killed?
With all the crime going on the story focuses on two guys, Whit and Travis. Whit has just been released from prison, has a baby and needs to make some money. He teams up with Travis (who wears a peacoat ALL THE TIME even with people wearing shorts) to kill a couple for $17, rob some other guys and shoot a couple of the recruits. Whit and Travis decide to rob only people from “swanky” restaurants, but these restaurants are in terrible neighborhoods. One looked like it had a junkyard across the street, and the other had an apparent crackhouse next door. I guess the restauranteurs for the city were trying something “different.”
Eventually the recruits catch-up to Whit and Travis at a chicken place across the street from where they are having a picnic. The recruits hear gunshots, run to their cars to grab guns (pretty sure all the cars were unlocked and had their windows down) and head across the street. It leads to a pretty epic Shatner moment where he shoots at Whit while he is barreling down on him with his car. Hooker jumps out of the way, and Whit rolls over a car and the both cars catch on fire. No one rushes to get Whit out of the burning car, we move on to the recruits receiving their assignments and credits roll.
The pilot had some very 80’s moments. A bar scene turns into a disco dance party, there are a couple of Vietnam flashbacks, there is the allusion of sex and an affair (one of the recruits has a phone conversation with his wife who is naked in bed, Hooker later catches her in a car with her boss), feathered hair, short shorts and monogrammed underwear. They seriously had a discussion about Zmed’s monogrammed underwear.
While there is no Heather Locklear in the pilot it did have its share of 80’s hotties. The cheating wife, Lacy, is played by Deborah Shelton who was Miss USA 1970 and made the rounds of 80’s shows as a guest star. Kelly Harmon played Officer Kelly Sanders, but did not appear in another episode of Hooker. At first I thought she was Cheryl Tiegs, but some internet searching led me to the reason I recognized her:
She was the WRIF girl! This commercial ran for years in the Detroit area, and was a favorite among local boys. Harmon is also the daughter of Heisman Trophy winner Tom, and the brother of Mark. Also, she was married to John DeLorean. Her biography outside of acting seems way more interesting.
Overall, I would say it was a pretty awesome evening. I was reminded of my 80’s childhood and now I am wondering which former favorite I should watch next. Alf? The A-Team? Miami Vice? The list is pretty endless, but I honestly do not think I will have the time. I have a lot of Blue’s Clues to watch.