• T.J. Hooker: The Complete Series



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: July 18th, 2017.
    Director: Various
    Cast: William Shatner, Heather Locklear, Adrian Zmed, Richard Herd, April Clough
    Year: 1982 - 1986
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Series:

    Everyone knows William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Star Trek and its insane popularity made the hammy Canuck a household name and he remains instantly identifiable because of that role to this very day (and will be long after he passes on). But not everyone knows him as Sgt. T. J. Hooker (the 'T. J.' stands for Thomas Jefferson), though some of us who grew up in the eighties remember the role fondly. T. J. Hooker lasted five seasons (the first four on ABC then over to CBS for its last season) and although it never enjoyed the popularity that Shatner's earlier space faring adventures did, it was an entertaining and sometimes actually clever cop action/drama.

    In the first episode, we're introduced to Detective Hooker who, after his partner is murdered, decides to move back into his older position as a sergeant. His logic? If he can get back on the streets and make a difference, he might be able to prevent other undercover cops from dying like his partner did. In his personal life, we know that Hooker is divorced because of the pressure that his job caused his marriage but that he and his wife still get along well enough, even if they're both trying to move on and leave the past behind them. Hooker was soon tasked with training some of the new rookie cops and eventually finds himself teamed up with the arrogant and hot headed Vincent Romano (Adrian Zmed). The two clashed and Hooker and Romano had their share of problems but generally, they liked one another and soon became friends as well as partners. Throughout the first season, Hooker and Romano solved plenty of cases together, taking the time out periodically to chat up Officer Vicky Taylor (April Clough) and to fight with their boss, Captain Sheridan (Richard Herd). In the second season, we're introduced to Captain Sheridan's gorgeous daughter Stacy (Heather Locklear) who was brought in to replace Vickey when she left but soon graduated to being teamed up with another pro-cop, Jim Corrigan (James Darren). More often than not, the two teams would work together on cases throughout the remaining seasons, though periodically one team would get more focus than the other.

    Highlight episodes from the first two seasons include The Protectors, the pilot episode where we're introduced to Hooker and learn of his origins from undercover detective through to rookie trainer trying to cope with an overwhelming crime wave resulting in him and his new partner having to track down two bank robbers who are on the loose. In God Bless The Child TJ finds out that one of his young daughter's friends has been injected with a lethal amount of heroin and pushed off the top of a building. The motive? She had planned on exposing a drug dealer's operation. When Hooker gets wind of all of this, he takes the case personally, concerned that it could have just as easily happened to his own girl rather than someone else's.

    The unfortunately titled Hooker's War features a cameo from the one and only Sid Haig (of House Of A Thousand Corpses, Spider Baby and a zillion other cult and horror pictures) as well as Richard Moll from Night Court. Hooker and Romano see a mysterious van run a red light. When they approach, the opens fire on them and a high speed chase gives way. Hooker and Romano soon learn that a biker gang is behind it all, but the real question is where are they getting all of the weapons from and what are they doing with them?

    The first episode of the second season, Second Chance, features Robert Davi (of Maniac Cop 2 & 3) and Victor Campos of Kojak. A stripper has been murdered and the killer chopped off a lock of her hair as a souvenir. Hooker thinks the murder might be related to a serial killer that he was tracking almost a decade ago, and he worries that the killer's next victim might be a woman who he tried to kill on his first rampage but who survived the attack.

    Jerry Lee Lewis of all people shows up and plays himself in Deadly Ambition. A guard tries to halt a robbery but is killed in the line of duty, but the detective investigation the scene deduces that the guard was on the take and in cahoots with the thieves before it all went sour. Hooker was friends with the guard before he was killed and doesn't think he was involved so he sets out to clear his name.

    Too Late For Love features a guest appearance from M. C. Gainey. Hooker and Romano are after a couple of punk thieves who are holding a girl hostage who happens to be Romano's ex-girlfriend. They save her, but the bandits make off with the furs. Romano and his ex both succumb to familiar emotions once more, but there's more to her story than he realizes.

    Star Trek alum Leonard Nimoy directs The Decoy in which the latest victim of a serial killer known as 'The Surfside Killer' is revealed to be a cop. Stacey bears an uncanny resemblance to the latest victim and Hooker worries that she might be next on his list.

    Not content to simply direct, Leonard Nimoy actually shows up in the episode entitled Vengeance Is Mine. Hooker and Romano finish up a case with an old buddy of Hooker's named Paul McGuire (Nimoy). They respond to a rape call and find that it's McGuire's own daughter who is the victim. She can identify the man who did it, but he's smarter than your average scumball and McGuire and Hooker set up to catch him their own way (which surprisingly – and a little bit sadly - doesn't involve phasers or neck grip action). Also worth noting is that in The Lady In Blue, Ken Foree of Dawn Of The Dead shows up – the episode is also directed by Shatner.

    As the series progresses, we basically get more of the same. In season three we kick off with The Return, a story where Hooker notices that methodology used by a street gang connects to the death of his old partner years back. In Carnal Express Stacey goes undercover as a stripper to help bust a white-slavery ring while in The Cheerleader Murder we see the team bust up a teen pornography ring! Gritty!! Later in the episode we see Hooker bust up a money laundering operation, deal with some murderous cops taking out criminals freed on technicalities, stop a serial killer targeting nurses, save Stacy from some rigged up charges that implicate her in a heroin ring and deal with a psychic girl who foresees Hooker’s death.

    In season four we open with Night Vigil, an episode where Stacey gets hurt during a robbery sending Hooker out into the streets looking for revenge. In Hardcore Connection Hooker turns to an ex-hooker whose former roommate holds the key to clearing the name of dead vice cop. In Target: Hooker an attempt is made on T.J.’s life leaving Romano blind and his girlfriend dead! Stacey goes undercover (again) in Model For Murder in hopes of finding out who killed a fellow model while in Grand Theft Auto Romano’s car is stolen and the only witness is a ten year old kid who isn’t talking. Before this season is over our favorite cops will also deal with some shady happenings at a massage parlor (go figure), Hooker getting investigated for bribery, a situation where Stacey and Corrigan are taken hostage, the murder of a cop interrupting Hooker’s vacation and then in the last episode, Hooker’s extradition to Chicago.

    Season Five, the final run for the series, saw Zmed exit the series after splitting to become the new host of Dance Fever. This takes away from the show a bit, but there’s still some pretty fun stories to be told starting with the season opener The Ransom wherein an ex-cop kidnap’s Hooker’s daughter in order to force the F.B.I. to divulge the location of his own family, now in the witness protection program. The Return Of A Cop sees Hooker’s own father show up unannounced with an unusual interest in T.J.’s current case. The Assassin sees Hooker trying to stop a man he served in Vietnam with from killing a Russian diplomat while in Taps For Officer Ramy Hooker has to look into the death of a female officer he was once involved with. Moving towards the end of the series, the special extended episode Blood Sport sees the failed assassination of a senator result in Hooker having to play bodyguard for the man. Into The Night sees Hooker trying to stop a gang from killing a blind witness while the series finale, Deadly Force, sees Hooker’s efforts to stop a murderous robber ground to a halt by a nosey reporter.

    Guest starts later in the series include Heather Thomas, Jim Brown, Tori Spelling, Sharon Stone, Clarence Williams III, Jonathan Banks, Marjoe Gortner, James Hong, Billy Drago, Alex Rocco, Mickey Jones, Lisa Hartman, Terri Nunn, Richard Lynch, John Vernon, Ray Wise, Vic Tayback, Bruce Glover, Tom Atkins, William Forsythe, Miguel Ferrer, Angel Tompkins, William Smith, an uncredited David Caruso and even Betsey Palmer!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Seeing as this was a television series it makes perfect sense to see the episodes presented in 1.33.1 fullframe as that was how they were composed and meant to be seen. Overall image quality is pretty good – there is some edge enhancement and some shimmering here and there but print damage isn't bad at all and the picture is quite clean throughout. Skin tones look decent enough and black levels stay pretty strong as well (though if you look for them you'll notice some mild compression artifacts dancing around in the darker spots of the frame from time to time). The reds look a little bit harsh in one or two episodes but overall the show looks very nice on DVD as there's a fair amount of detail and sharpness present in the transfers.

    The sound for the material is presented in its original English language Dolby Digital Stereo mix. There are no alternate language dubs, nor are there any subtitle options.

    In terms of how it all sounds, well, no half bad, actually. The dialogue comes through nice and clean and while a scene or two might lean slightly towards the flat side, overall things sound pretty nice. The levels are well balanced and the background music and sound effects don't overshadow the performers and you can always hear what they're saying loud and clear. The theme song comes through with a nice amount of punch as do the sound effects especially during the more action intensive scenes. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and for an older television series, there's really not a lot to complain about here.

    There are no extra features on this release at all, but each disc does include a static menu that offers episode selection and inside the cover sleeve for each season there’s a listing of the episodes that the season contains.

    The Final Word:

    While the set certainly could have used more in the way of supplemental material, the audio and video quality don't leave much to complain about and surprisingly enough, T.J. Hooker – The Complete Series holds up really well. It's a nice blend of eighties goofiness with cop drama and action that works really well together.























































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Zane C.'s Avatar
      Zane C. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jane View Post
      Just bought this. Sounds like a solid purchase.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I really dig Shatner. Reading through that guest has me tempted to pick this up. Nice review
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