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EPISODE#: 4.72 < prev | next >

"The Chicago Connection"
AIRDATE: 05.04.85

WRITER: Bernie Kukoff & Steve Kline
DIRECTOR: Michael Lange

TJ-HOOKER.COM RATING:         

WHAT SAID:  

A "three hour" extradition trip to Chicago becomes an extended stay for Hooker when he goes undercover to nail a heroin dealer.

SYNOPSIS:  

Hooker goes to Chicago to retrieve Louie Felcher who is helping Det. Sydney Stover set up the arrest of a big drug supplier. While Stover is taking them to the airport, they receive a "shots fired" call and find one boy dead and the other injured. Hooker arranges to stay in Chicago with Louie and he connects with Steiger, Frawley and Freddie to setup a buy. At the new location, Stover disguises himself and attempts to apprehend the dealer. Frawley bursts out of the building pursued by Hooker and Stover who finally arrest him. After Steiger has Louie killed, Hooker volunteers to act as the buyer as long as Frawley stays locked up so he can't identify Hooker. Hooker sets up the buy at the Excelsior [sic] hotel. While he and undercover policewoman Roz wait in the hotel room, they are monitored by Sydney from the adjacent room. Eventually Freddie arrives and he and Hooker make arrangements for Hooker to meet Steiger. That evening, Hooker and his driver are taken to a new location for the drug meet. Just as Hooker and Steiger are making the deal, Frawley, who was just released from prison, arrives and identifies Hooker as a cop. Steiger and Freddie escape in try to escape in a diesel truck, but are apprehended when their truck comes to a crashing halt. With the case closed, Hooker prepares to return to Los Angeles, only to learn he's been reassigned to Chicago to help out until their flu epidemic is over.

REVIEW:  

One of the most bizarre episodes of T.J. Hooker ever filmed, this final episode of the fourth season (its final episode for ABC primetime, and the last to feature Romano as part of the opening credits, although Adrian Zmed had already left the show to fill the hosting slot of "Dance Fever") attempts a complete retooling of the series in one fell swoop, transplanting Hooker to Chicago and introducing an entirely new cast of supporting characters, including the painfully embarrassing racial caricature Detective Sydney P. Stover, a wisecracking black Chicago detective who dresses as a rastafarian to go undercover, uses terms like "shuckin' and jivin'," and mugs his way through scenes like some bizarre '80s reject from a blaxploitation film.

As the episode opens, Hooker arrives in Chicago for the above-mentioned extradition job, to the tune of bad blues music and some stock footage of an airplane landing. However, beautiful location shots of Chicago's landmarks reveal a somewhat expanded budget for the episode. The redux of the show's tone begins when Hooker actually narrates the opening moments of the show in a bizarre homage to '50s film noir ("I was stuck in Chicago in the coldest winter in the last 50 years," Hooker says as we see him leave a taxi on Michigan Ave. "The only thing between me and frostbite is an 8-ounce mailorder raincoat I borrowed from lost and found. It's only three hours . . . tough it out, Hooker.") We also learn from this voiceover that Hooker has been promoted back to Detective, although everyone continues to call him Sgt. Hooker throughout the rest of the episode.

Hooker's coats become a running gag throughout this episode which seems to primarily be played for laughs. If his coat isn't too thin for the weather, he's ripping the sleeve of a brand new down-filled red number that ties off at the waist, or tearing the seam of his expensive italian trenchcoat he wears while undercover.

Hooker soon finds himself paired up with Detective Stover, an unlikely pairing that seems more than likely "inspired" by the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte pairing in the film "48 hrs." The Chicago police precinct Stover works out of is portrayed in a manner that suggests the influence of Hill Street Blues, which adds yet another element to the hodgepodge of styles this episode seems determined to combine.

A key moment comes during Hooker & Stover's transfer of their prisoner Felcher to the airport (in Stover's '59 El Dorado, which Hooker dubs "The Batmobile"), when they receive a call about a liquor store holdup. When they bust the perpetrators after a long car chase beneath the El, Hooker finds out that they're a couple of kids who tried to hold up the store with a toy gun. When one of them, Ray, is found dead, Hooker admonishes the still-breathing one about the dangers of robbing stores with a toy gun. The boy reveals they were just trying to get money to satisfy Ray's drug habit, and the pieces start to fall in place. Obviously, this musts be connected to Steiger and Felcher. Hooker decides to tough it out in Chicago (after calling in to his boss in L.A. and feigning a bout of "Hong Kong Flu") for three more days until this Steiger scum is put behind bars.

Steiger's menace is further illustrated when he later threatens a now-freed (and in cahoots with Hooker & Stover) Felcher by nearly pushing him off the top floor of a downtown Chicago mall.

Hooker & Stover receive a tip from Felcher about the location of one of Steiger's drug houses that deals to kids (Felcher also reveals his good nature, claiming that he hates Steiger because he sells drugs to kids). They investigate, with Stover dressing as a ridiculously conspicuous jamaican named "Ranaldo" in order to try to make the bust. His cover is blown early, and when Frawley, one of the pushers, makes a break for it, it is up to Hooker to make chase (the incidental music here begins to resemble the Pointer Sisters' "Jump"). He pursues Frawley (a black man) into an all-black tavern, where Hooker is hindered from making the bust by the bartender who accuses Hooker of being a racist. Stover bursts in and saves Hooker's tail, busting Frawley.

Back at the precinct, Hooker settles in with the bland new cast of characters, which includes a woman named Roz who delivers her lines like an over-the-hill Annie Potts and asks Hooker out to see "Carmen," which he refuses but continues to flirt with her anyway. Felcher calls him, telling him to meet him that night at "the dock," where he'll be able to meet Steiger. Hooker & Stover investigate, only to find Felcher alone, dead, and wired to a bomb. They make a hasty retreat before the place goes up in smoke.

Hooker then decides to go undercover to nab Steiger, and kicks the episode into high gear. His amazing turn as "Harry Grant--from L.A." is all classic Shatner, flash clothes, posh cars, and expensive hotel rooms at the Ambassador. He wears expensive italian clothes and a pair of Foster Grants. He makes Roz his mistress, flirts hard and heavy with her, and finally makes the connection to Steiger. On his way to meet him, he's transferred to one of Steiger's personal cars. They meet, of course, at a meat packing plant, and when Frawley fingers Hooker as a cop, it's a classic foot chase, with Hooker diving in and out of slabs of hanging meat, using meat as a weapon, and finally escaping by hanging from a sliding meat hook in plain view of the pursuers.

Stover meets up with him, but Steiger makes a break for it in a Semi truck. Hooker comandeers another diesel, and actually rams into Steiger's truck to make him crash. Stover admires Hooker's insanity.

When all is said and done, Hooker finds out he is to spend the next month in Chicago, which sets up a potential new series; however, when the show reappeared the next season on CBS Late Night, he was back in L.A. as if nothing had happened--albeit Romano was nowhere to be found.


(reviewed by 4Adam30 and Johnny Durrell)

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GUEST STARS:

Charlie Barnett
"Det. Sidney P. Stover"

Richard Biggs
"Frawley"

Ronald Carter
"Kid"

Jordan Charney
"Captain Pankowitz"

Ron Dean
"Detective #2"

Leelai Demoz
"Jimmy"

Brooks Gardner
"Hogan"

J.D. Hall
"Bartender"

Nicholas Kusenko
"Detective #1"

John Mahon
"Mr. Zewecki"

Kris Martin
"Doorman"

Nicholas Mele
"Freddie Lanier"

Lynne Moody
"Nadine"

Ernest Perry Jr.
"Man In Line"

Vic Polizos
"Rudy Steiger"

Michael Stoyanov
"Ray"

D.V. de Vincentis
"Youth"

Frank Wagner
"Det. Freiberg"

BEST MOMENTS:

- Hooker's entrance into Chicago, including a stunning Mike Hammer-esque voiceover by Shatner

- Hooker's manhandling of a boy who robbed a liquor store

- Hooker's undercover spin as "Harry Grant--from L.A."

- Hooker's leap away from an exploding shack at "the dock"

- Hooker's driving of an 18-wheeler like it was a go-kart

 

BEST LINES:

"What's the matter with you? What are you doing robbing a liquor store with a toy gun?"

"Ray needed a fix!"

"Fix? He Needed a fix? He's fixed now, isn't he? For good!"

- Hooker admonishing the young boy who robbed a liquor store with a toy gun


"I wasn't dressed properly."

- Hooker feigning sickness to his captain back in L.A.

"For the next 3 days, we're like siamese twins: you itch, I scratch."

- Hooker to Stover upon learning he has three more days in Chicago

"Your coat's leaking."

"So is your head."

- Stover and Hooker exchange witty rejoinders after Hooker tears his new down coat


"I'm Harry Grant--from L.A."

- Hooker undercover, exiting a limousine in front of the Ambassador Hotel

 

"Hooker, do you realize what you just did was insane?"

"What, you thought you had the franchise?"

- Stover and Hooker after Hooker wins an 18-wheeler chase to nab Steiger

 

 


EPISODES : the formula | episode guide

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