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EPISODES
: the formula | episode guide

THE T.J. HOOKER EPISODIC FORMULA

Once the series began to hit its stride, the writers of T.J. Hooker developed a sure-fire formula for success. The vast majority of episodes at least partially follow the formula below, possibly bending a rule here and there for variety's sake. If you are lucky enough to have a television station in your area that is broadcasting T.J. Hooker reruns, try applying this seven-part formula to the episodes you watch.



1. The Criminal

Every good cop show has a criminal. Hooker's criminals were your regular dimestore variety rapists, serial killers, and thieves. However, some had bizarre twists: the psychotic man who dressed as a nurse when murdering nurses; the rapist who had a penchant for saying the victim's name over and over ("Sweet Val...sweet,sweet Val"); the serial killer who strangled street people in broad daylight with a single piece of string.




2. The Moral Dilemma

Routinely, Hooker was faced with a moral dilemma in each episode, eg. "Should I turn in a good cop who's begun drinking on the job?" or "Should I defend a cop at an inquest whom everyone else thinks is a coward, but there's no physical evidence she failed to provide covering fire for Romano?". Inevitably, Hooker chose to see that justice and morality were upheld, and every moral dilemma was found to have a simple solution.




3. The Informant

Nearly every episode contains a character introduced merely to place Hooker on the right track towards solving the case of the week. Whether it's a man who runs a video arcade as a front for providing thugs with explosives to use in their robberies of grocery stores, or "Pinwheel"--a rastafarian conga player who hides dope in his drums, Hooker always stumbles upon someone who will give him the information he needs.



4. The Love Interest

Hooker's definitely a man of action...and normally he gets to see some of the pulchritudinous kind in most episodes. Sometimes it's a quick kiss from Fran, his ex-wife (pictured above). Other times it's a bikini-clad painter who finds a body washed up on a beach. Or sometimes it's even a prostitute-turned-informant like the one played by Heather Thomas. And if Hooker doesn't get some action, then Romano does. If Romano doesn't, then Stacy does. Corrigan never gets any until he gets involved with Stacy. If nobody gets any action, then there's always...



5. The Strip Club

Many times, Hooker finds #3, The Informant, lurking in a strip club. Other times, he and Romano must visit a club undercover while looking for clues. Still other times, one of the gang (usually Stacy or Romano) have gone undercover as an exotic dancer. If it's not a strip club, then it's a bar featuring mud wrestling. Or even just a bikini-clad woman on top of a pool table rubbing her body with papaya oil as part of Romano's new home business. No matter what, there's definitely always a glimpse of L.A.'s seedier side in almost each and every episode.



6. The Final Chase

Yes, there are chase scenes. Sometimes it's merely a standard car chase, sometimes it's a footrace. Other times (and these are by far the best episodes) they involve Hooker leaping onto the back, top, or side of a moving vehicle--like the time he jumped onto the back of a bus full of nuns that had been hijacked...or the time he lept from a helicopter onto a killer's speed boat. For an extra special treat, many final chases build up to an explosion of some kind. Normally, when the chase is over, Hooker has single-handedly caught #1, The Criminal, and hands him over to Romano, who reads the miscreant his or her rights.



7. The Tidy Ending

Almost always the episode ends with a joke of some kind, after a case that would take a real cop weeks to solve has been dispatched in a mere 40 minutes of screen time. Sometime's the joke's on Hooker, like when he had a run-in with a coffee machine that kept rejecting his change. Other times, the ending is tidy, but there's a chance for Hooker to do some serious reflection--either he places a loving phone call to his kids, or he walks pensively down a beach to the sound of some big band music. No matter what, there's almost never a two-parter...each case wraps itself up tidily, with a Criminal behind bars, a Love Interest conquered and left behind, and a Moral Dilemma solved.



"One day Frances said 'It's over.' There I was, no wife, no kids. I needed a friend. And I found one, all right."

--Hooker to Sam, an alcoholic cop, on how Hooker turned to the bottle when times got too tough

EPISODES : the formula | episode guide

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