Sgt. T.J. Hooker:
[to Dr. Garwood]
When the D.A.'s Office is through talking to the girls you've 'treated', there'll be an army of witnesses waiting to bury you. I'll be the one with the shovel.
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Veteran cop Sgt. T.J.Hooker (William Shatner) and his young partner Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) give chase when a flashy sports car is stolen. The car thief turns out to be of considerably lesser concern when apprehended after crashing at the conclusion of the chase. The trunk of the car pops open and the corpse of a murdered 16 year old girl is discovered. The autopsy reveals she was a heavy user of cocaine and had a recent abortion.
Hooker and his colleagues investigate going to the girl's school. They find out that she had begun a career in porn to support her heavy drug habit. Sleazo porn producer Lazslo (James Luisi) and his hack director/cinematographer Dickson (Joe Penny) become the focus of the investigation as they try to track down the girl's murderer.
This entry in the series is a particularly intense one especially for an offering so early (4th episode of season 3) in a TV season. Clearly they wanted a good showing in the ratings evidenced by the fact that Heather Locklear and Adrian Zmed are seen in skimpy swimsuits near the beginning. Then there is the racy subject matter of the plot.
They very clearly aimed to hit hot buttons where they could to massage their Nielsen standing. A sacred American cow like a cheerleader turning drugged up porn performer? Enough to get family-values people white hot whilst stimulating obvious interest from horny teenaged boys and old perverts. The footage shot doubtless made for stirring teaser ads.
How does a network show offer a storyline like this and not get criticized? They try to play both sides without presenting much of real case for either. A 1980s cop show was far from a proper forum for a mature debate on legal limits regarding hard drugs, pornography and abortion. But dangling the subject matter was fine provided they remained within what network censors allowed.
We see the cops treating an abortion doctor like a villain which probably played well with pro-lifers in the demographics that watched a show like this. It might as well have been adapted from a teleplay written in 1965. But the only way to plausibly present the doctor as an actual criminal in a modern context is to show he is incompetent and has ties to actual criminals whom he depends upon for referrals.
As for the pornographers family-values people and many gender feminists to this day readily accept them as malefactors even when they produce legal porn. So why are the police involved? The script makes the girls underage and hopeless cocaine addicts then they tie in murder.
They didn't play it safe but the heavy-handed moral message is a mixed one. Hooker himself expresses disbelief that porn is legal but also shamelessly flirts with an ex-porn star.
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