T. J. Hooker-Complete First and Second Seasons (1982)
|Year Of Production||1982|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
John E. Davis
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Ever wondered what William Shatner was doing between the various Star Trek films of the early to mid 1980s? Well, here’s your answer – T.J. Hooker, an Aaron Spelling creation that went from hard right wing to ‘run-of-the-mill’ left wing during the space of a season in an abrupt about face that nearly had the cast’s teeth shattering.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it deals with hard as nails patrolman Sgt Thomas Jefferson “T.J.” Hooker (William Shatner). The show opens with Hooker busted off his usual duty to train a crew of raw cadets. After the pilot episode The Protectors, Hooker is teamed up with one of these cadets, smooth talking womaniser Officer Vincent “Vince” Romano (Adrian Zmed), as his new partner. Through the first season of this show, totaling a grand five episodes, we see Hooker’s broken family life, a casualty of his dedication to the force and to the job, and bear witness to his right wing acerbic one-liners, monologues and diatribes. Some of these are so hardcore right that they are nothing but farce (the quote above being a perfect example).
Clearly the producers recognised this fault because in the second season that right wing diatribe is gone and smooth-talking Zmed is joined by, and in part usurped by, knockout blonde bombshell Officer Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear in an early role, looking hotter than ever). From here on the show loses some of its grit, but also some of its farcical errors, and becomes a fairly straight forward police drama.
A full episode summary would spoil the fun, and you can get a good summary at TV.com. The following sets out the episodes as they appear in this set, which would appear to comprise all of Seasons 1 and 2, as well as the first two episodes of Season 3:
Having not watched this show for many years, it was interesting to revisit it. I saw on the Internet that a couple of happy reviewers were trying to mention this and Michael Mann’s stunning Miami Vice in the same breath. While not quite sacrilege, this is still a long way from the truth. T.J. Hooker cannot hold a candle to Miami Vice. Although both somewhat dated, the former has mass market appeal because of its mediocrity, where the latter has had lasting appeal because of its innovative approach to storytelling on the small screen. The plots of Miami Vice could have been written today, and are equally as applicable (how’s that for a depressing indictment on the ‘war on drugs’?). T.J. Hooker aimed itself squarely at the times with very little innovation – though in fairness, I think this show still has a lot on its contemporaries.
As a big fan of crime drama, particularly of the hard boiled nature, this show filled a mass-market need and had its odd moments of genius. Without Aaron Spelling in the production room, I wonder what this show could have made of itself. Though, interestingly, I found The Return, the opening episode of Season 3, to be the pick of the lot. But that’s just subjective taste. Think of a more melodramatic version of Law & Order, and you’re pretty much there – a more human series than that show, but less inventive and groundbreaking than Miami Vice. If you like your crime classic 80s and melodramatic, chances are you’ll enjoy this.
Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, this is the show's original broadcast aspect ratio.
This is a fairly straightforward transfer. As the transfer appears to have been made from a film negative rather than videotape, it stands up reasonably well.
Colour is better than I was expecting, though still a little muted.
Shadow detail is a little blue sometimes, and a little murky at others. I think a lot of that is a source fault, though, rather than a problem with the transfer.
The picture is pretty smooth, and less grainy than I would have thought would be the case in a show of this age.
Aliasing and background noise is minimal, but present if you really scan for it.
The dual layer pauses appear to fall between the episodes and are not visible. Given there are five episodes per disc, this was a surprise for me, but I’ve watched it all the way through and didn’t spot one. The other possibility is that the pauses are in one of the various fade-to-blacks for ads.
The sound is a straightforward 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono, available in English, French and German. I listened to the English track.
Dialogue is reasonably clear, but without stereo dynamics.
The music is well rendered and nicely balanced for mono, without drowning out the dialogue.
There were no surrounds or subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are in 1.33:1 Full Frame, static and silent.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Content wise, R1 and R4 appear to be identical. Without an R1 copy I cannot do a direct video-to-video comparison for you, but I suspect that the version we have here is an NTSC transfer. Region coding and NTSC colour will be different.
T.J. Hooker is an interesting show, and quite watchable once the producers changed direction in the second season. A proper “right wing” police show would have been interesting (bleeding heart liberalism can be decidedly one-dimensional at times), but the writers and producers of this show clearly weren’t up to the task, nor were they imaginative and daring enough to go where Miami Vice went. Entertaining, to be sure, but not brilliant.
|DVD||Sony DVPNS92, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-HS60 WXGA 3LCD Cineza Projector (10,000:1 contrast ratio) with 100" Longhom Pro-Series Micro-Textured White Matte PVC 1.78:1 16:9 Fixed Mount Screen with Black Velour Trim. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Jensen QX70 Centre Front, Jensen QX45 Left Front & Right Front, Jensen QX20 Left Rear & Right Rear, Jensen QX-90 Dual 10" 250 Watt Subwoofer|