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Which TJ HOOKER Intro Is the Best?


 

(Hey, it counts as CanCon because Shatner is involved.) The intro to the Aaron Spelling/William Shatner collaboration TJ Hooker was selected earlier this year by The Popcorn Trick as the awesomest of all ’80s action-show intros. The author gives it the following score on the ’80s action scale: Action: 9; Sexiness: 9; Cheesiness: 8; Homoeroticism: 9; Intangibles: 10; Total: 45, beating out the runner-up, Riptide, by 5 points. And, indeed, the intro to TJ Hooker is always glorious; in every version looks like somebody took every disreputable television show ever made and mixed it all together in a cocktail of shirtlessness, bralessness, toupees, stunt doubles, flipping cars and Mark Snow theme music. But we can’t just leave it there, because this show ran for five seasons, and every one had a slightly different intro. So which one is the greatest triumph of all that makes television Not Good For You?

I’m going to just start with the best of them all instead of proceeding chronologically: the definitive Hooker intro, the masterpiece, is season 3. Here not only is Mark Snow’s theme re-scored to add an electric guitar solo, thereby making it cool, but we get the following: a) Shatner running fast! toward the camera in silhouette; b) somebody vaguely Zmed-like sliding across what appears to be a diamond-covered floor; c) “Shatner” jumping from a helicopter to a speedboat; d) more explosions; e) SAZ (Shirtless Adrian Zmed) talking to LIB (Locklear In Bikini) f) Heather Locklear going undercover as a stripper; g) A police car jumping in slow motion; h) Locklear showing her police skillz by knocking over a perp with one throw of her mighty club; i) James Darren gets added to the opening credits, which now also sport a glitzy new font. There is more sordid, critically-loathed Spelling-style trashy goodness in these 88 seconds than in every episode ever made of the new Knight Rider (or even the old one).

The best intro can’t be the first season’s, because Heather Locklear wasn’t on the show yet. (Locklear is kind of a reverse Ted McGinley: every time she was added to a show in the middle of its run, it seemed to do better in the ratings. Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, Melrose Place, and I think she helped or at least didn’t hurt the ratings of Spin City.) Still, the seed of greatness is here already: the shots of “Shatner” jumping from one building to another and doing a backflip for no apparent reason; and then he apparently hijacks a school bus. And the first glimpse of the SAZ factor.

The second season intro is the one linked by the Popcorn Trick, and it adds several elements that bring it closer to true magnificence. First there’s a shot of Shatner running fast! toward the camera. Then there’s a SAZ shot that makes him look like he’s being basted. And the car sliding on its side and knocking over a gas station.

Season 4 shows a clear decline from these heights (or depths — in Aaron Spelling Land, they’re the same thing). The credits font is depressingly normal and Zmed’s babe-magnet hairband can’t make up for the near-absence of SAZ.

The intro for the fifth and final season, without Zmed and on CBS instead of ABC, is actually an improvement, as it allows for more of the many moods of Locklear: her cool Blair Warner hairdos, her mastery of the futuristic police computer, and her nervous, conflicted two-handed brandishing of firearms. It’s not season 3, but it’s a good try.


 

Which TJ HOOKER Intro Is the Best?

  1. First of all, this is the finest posting ever placed on the maclean’s web site (and that definitely includes Couchboys and Inkless Wells). At a time of broad economic distress a little T J Hooker goes a long way in settling frayed nerves. Scott Feschuk bought me the collected DVDs two years ago and they just may have saved my life.

    Second, I would come down squarely in favour of Season One. And the reason can be summed up in four words: Car. Hood. William. Shatner.

    His afro-weave swinging on the hood of a speeding Impala is the iconic symbol of this show. It demands respect.

  2. Wow! A car being chased by a plane. AWESOME!!

  3. Wow! A car chase where BOTH cars are on fire! AWESOME!

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