10 February 2012

Pass the Cheese

There are always bits of pop culture flotsam that slip by in their moments. It's impossible to keep track of everything, even today with the info overload available via the internet. Back in the 1980s it was even more difficult.

During that decade I was a college student and then a young college grad, trying to get by while figuring out what I might want to do with my life. My energy and free time were largely focused on music, and I spent very little time watching television. In college we mainly watched late-night stuff like David Letterman and Twilight Zone reruns, so I was largely unaware of what was going on in prime time.

From our vantage point here in 2012, we know that the 1980s will not be remembered as one of the great eras of prim-time television anyway. But being otherwise occupied meant that I was missing out on some of the egregiously, hilariously bad stuff too, stuff that's worth knowing about precisely because of its awfulness.

One night a couple of weeks ago, I was flipping through the channels (something I rarely do) when I came across an episode of the craptastic 1980s cop show T.J. Hooker. As is often the case with things of this nature, I could not look away (or, in this case, change the channel). Within five minutes I was howling with laughter at the dialogue, which involved a female detective who was secretly using cocaine while trying to solve a series of murders (and what a very 1980s plot that is).

I've watched a few more episodes since, though I don't want to make a habit of it because I'm slightly afraid my brain will cease functioning altogether. It's difficult to watch even a couple of minutes of a T.J. Hooker episode and accept the notion that actual adults were paid to write them. I'm imagining a much more plausible scenario, in which a bunch of eighth-grade boys were rounded up, sent to live in a house stocked with Hostess snack cakes and a swimming pool filled with Mountain Dew, and told to write a cop show. Or it could have been the proverbial bunch of monkeys with typewriters. Regardless, it has to be a contender for worst TV series of all time.

It is also not very surprising to learn that the man who created T.J. Hooker went on to grace the world with Walker, Texas Ranger.

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