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T.J. HOOKER PRESSROOM : VARIETY REVIEW - PREMIERE EPISODE


T.J. HOOKER
March 31, 1982
DAILY VARIETY


William Shatner, back in a would-be series with a 90-minute opener followed by four one-hour chapters, finds himself vying with Robert Stack and Mike Connors to bring law and order out of the soft-on-crime chaos. As instructor to a class of police recruits in some mythical burg whose initials seem to be "L.C." (but whose looks are straight L.A.), Shatner's "T.J. Hooker" likes "living on the edge," as his ex-wife puts it; nobody defines what the edge is.

Another nuts and bolts police series with the LCPD falling in line to wipe out crime, the concept was so worn the criminals are in double jeopardy. A pair of killers, gang killings, a sniper and Hooker's recitation of atrocious experiences on the force were routinely ticked off in Rick Husky's script; the recruits, each trying to become an identity as the telefilm progresses, were "Rookies" brought (somewhat) up to date.

The original TV Guide advertisement for the premiere episode of T.J. Hooker

Ethnicity and femme cops were part of the package, and some civilian connections to disturb the workings of Hooker's minions. But the difference lies with the character of Hooker, a war veteran who's hopeful but thinks everything yesterday was better, and who's so tough he's walking around with half a stomach and a back full of lead.

Character of Hooker has been overladen with stuff of meller, and Shatner strains to bring credibility to a role that used to be a top sergeant in WW I films. Hooker's philosophy: Shoot to kill, ask the corpse questions afterwards.

To show the callousness apparently necessary on the LCPD job, Hooker and one of his trainees, after knocking off a pair of killers in a car, stand by the burning wreck and talk about Hooker's wife. Now, that's savoir faire!

Among the recruits there's the usual personality mix. This time out Adrian Zmed plays the token Italian (who shouldn't have passed the psychological inspection on the basis of jellied nerves); Brian Patrick Clarke as the ex-jock whose wife cheats; Richard Lawson as the dependable black trainee; Jo McDonnell as a team dame not easy to coax into a smile; Michael Horton, trying to be a cop like the others in his family; Steve Hanks as a country boy.

Lesser characters have been drawn with touches of irony that weigh in like lead, and director Cliff Bole helps not a bit by letting secondary characters -- the civvies in the project -- overplay to the point of caricature.

But Sgt. Hooker has a good shot at a lengthy series if the blatancies and contrivances can be honed -- and if Hooker can turn into a genuine person. Even his ex-wife, played securelty by Lee Bryant, likes him; she just can't live with him. She has a point.

 

--Tone.






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