T.J. Hooker

"The Decoy"

Season 2, Episode 14 (Aired: January 22,1983. ABC)



Hooker gives chase to the killer of blondes, Stacey plays bait, and Romano is haunted by fast food.



A woman gets almost run over by a car. The handsome looking driver apologizes. But having parked, he watches her and you know his intentions to be sinister when he takes a gun and roll of tape out of the glove box.

Hooker's (William Shatner) partner, Romano (Adrian Zmed),complains about having to eat at Circus Burgers three days in a row because Hooker's daughter wants to win a bike and he's helping her collecting stamps to enter in the competition. Romano is saved by the bell from having to eat his burger when they have to answer a distress call. Hearing sirens, the driver from the start of the episode throws a woman out of his car. Romano stays with her while Hooker gives chase. Romano identifies the deceased as a colleague and instructor at the police academy and one look at the tape binding her wrists tells him they're dealing with the Surfside Killer.

The police feels pressure because the murders occur at shorter and shorter intervals. They decide to employ a decoy. Stacey (Heather Locklear), daughter of the academy's commander, best friend of the deceased, and Hooker's goddaughter, discloses to them at the burial that she is one of four police women who fit the killers profile and has been asked if she would volunteer to play the decoy. Hooker argues against it, because he thinks she's too inexperienced for the job and because she's to dear to him to be sent on such a dangerous mission. But the decision has already been made higher up in the command structure. Her father finds his hands nobly tied, because even if he would get her out of it, her place had to be taken by another who's the daughter of someone, too. All he can do is watch Hooker's back while he tries to prove his own theory about the killer.

At another location, the handsome killer, better known as tennis instructor Richard Britton (Gerard Prendergast) to his neighbors, comes home to see another man leave his apartment. He takes his wife to task, who looks exactly like the women killed. She has only one answer to his accusations, that he finally should accept that it's over between them.

Hooker drops in on the surveillance detail and inconspicuously manages to get Stacey's frequency to overhear what's going on on her side and the computer file number of the first victim. Meanwhile, Stacey is introduced to Britton at the pool of the upper class apartment building that has it's own tennis courts, too, where she's gone undercover as one of the residents.

Hooker looks up the first victim's husband and learns a detail that had not been disclosed by him in his previous questionings - that she had taken tennis lessons.

At his office, Britton phones his answering service to see if someone left a message and learns that his wife has set up another date. By chance he sees Stacey walk by at this moment and he has a vision of his wife instead. He gets out his disguise and follows her. Stacey runs into a new friend on the grounds who offers her the tennis court she'd reserved because she unexpectedly had been called to work. Britton, not exactly choosy about his victims as long as they're slim and blonde, follows the other woman into the parking garage where he kills her.

A car chase and boat explosion later, Stacey is watched by Britton while she tries to comfort a male friend of the last woman murdered and again visions of his wife supersede the image of Stacey. Later, Stacey's shadow calls in that he's delivered her safe and sound to her apartment and signs off for the night, with neither aware that Britton is waiting for her inside. Just as he's about to shoot her in the shower, Hooker and Romano ring the bell at her door and Britton flees out the window.

The next day, with the clues they've uncovered so far, Stacey takes a look at Britton's files and finds that another victim had been taking tennis lessons from him. Britton surprises her and when the officer shadowing her storms in, he takes Stacey hostage and flees in his car. The chase ends in an abandoned former fort and after playing cat and mouse with Britton, Hooker wounds him and frees Stacey.



The episode mainly seems to serve the objective to get Heather Locklear out of as many clothes as the production could get away with. But since they couldn't fall back on one Zachary Quinto, in view of the alternatives left within the main cast, who can blame them. (Note to self: Don't write any reviews after a marathon viewing of Heroes.)

Knowing that Leonard Nimoy directed the episode, a fellow fan once said that some of the viewing pleasure watching this episode comes from the scenes where William Shatner is made to squeeze through gates closing on him. I have to admit that watching it now for the first time and remembering this comment really made me grin when those scenes finally came up.

Back in the nineties I borrowed a couple of tapes from a Shatner fan. But what made T.J. Hooker a successful show I'll never grasp. Still, I read that a T.J. Hooker movie is planned for 2011. So, to each their own and the show gave us some really nice behind the scenes shots of Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Shatner.