02 03 Nerd Lunch: Shatner Week: T.J. Hooker 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Shatner Week: T.J. Hooker

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Don't mess with TJ

Take a hard-bitten crime drama, pepper in some 80s TV action, and then add a whole lot of Shatner. The result is T.J. Hooker.

I don’t know if it was Rick Husky or somebody else who came up with the idea to blend those elements, but that person struck the right chord. The show debuted with top 30 ratings, lasted 5 seasons, and went on to be referenced/spoofed by the likes of Saturday Night Live, Robocop, the MTV Movie Awards, and The Sopranos.

On the surface it probably seemed ludicrous to cast Shatner as a grizzled veteran who sacrificed nearly everything to be a cop. However, Shatner just seemed comfortable in the role of middle aged mentor who still has some heroics in him. The parallels with the aging Admiral Kirk in Wrath of Khan no doubt worked in his favor.

To be fair, the show did feature some incredibly over the top dialogue and action sequences where “the overactor” Shatner could run wild. While those elements probably contributed most to the show’s pop-culture cachet, they were also the things that glued CT and me to the tube to catch T.J Hooker reruns during college. And if you get past the cheese, you’ll find a crime drama which is surprisingly gritty by 1980s broadcast standards.

The pinnacle of T.J. Hooker episodes, Target Hooker, isn’t available online or DVD at the moment, but watch a little of what’s available at Hulu and tell me it’s not fun.

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