Search This Blog

Monday, January 23, 2017

'Hooperman' S1 DVD: 'Three's Company' + 'Hill Street Blues' + 'L.A. Law'

Image result for Hooperman DVD
Olive Films adds to its cult series cred. by adding DVD releases of S1 and S2 of the Steven Bochco (and of course Mike Post themed) '87 - '89 dramedy "Hooperman" to the Olive releases of the uberfantabulous sitcoms "Better Off Ted" and "King of the Hill." One can only hope that the mid-80s sitcom "The Popcorn Kid" about teens working in an old-style movie theater enters the Olive radar.

The focus below is on S1; a post in the next few days will wrap things up with a discussion of S2.

"He was robbed" Emmy nominee John Ritter plays titular San Francisco-based compassionate cop/reluctant and frustrated landlord Inspector Harry Hooperman. Sofa spuds everywhere know that Ritter takes this role fresh off portraying the far more goofy Jack Tripper for eight seasons of "Three's Company" and for one on the "Company" spin-off "Three's a Crowd." Ritter showing his ability to retain the charm of Tripper, the quick-thinking of a rising star attorney on Bochco's "L.A. Law," and the sensitive edge of a cop on Bochco's "Hill Street Blues" is a nice HA HA to anyone who thinks that the pretty boy known for slapstick comedy is not up to the challenge.

As an aside before delving more deeply into S1, it is worth noting that the Olive "Hopperman" releases evoke sad memories of the shockingly untimely 2003 death of Ritter. This, in turns, triggers new sadness regarding the numerous November and December 2016 celebrity deaths.

Speaking of deaths, the "Hooperman" pilot evokes strong feelings of the then fairly new hit "Law." The opening scenes show our hero waking up and preparing for his day only to have a water problem in his clearly "tired" apartment requiring creativity regarding rinsing shampoo from his hair.

The charm of Hooperman soon comes through in a scene in which he makes a date with his beloved elderly landlady. This scene also introduce Bijoux, a feisty Jack Russell Terrier who is a fan favorite.

The "Law" connection comes in the form of the death of the landlady changing the life of Hooperman by making him the new owner of the building and new parent of Bijoux. This unexpected event is comparable to the death of a partner early in the pilot of "Law" having significant impacts at the law firm around which that series centers.

Elements of "Law" and "Blues" also nicely come in during the pilot regarding Hooperman relying on the "testimony" of eye witness Bijoux to investigate a suspect as to the murder of the landlady. The "Law" aspect of this is particularly strong in that the extent to which a dog can be considered a valid witness in a criminal proceeding can be a real-life legal issue.

Additional early adventures of Bijoux include trying to masquerade as a drug-sniffing dog and responding as expected when Hopperman turns on a news cast solely to taunt her.

Real-life police elements in S1 include calling in Hopperman's literally resident psychic to help in a murder case and another episode in which our hero freezes when confronting a dog-faced scumbag.

"Law" and "Blues" also unite when Hooperman catches a brutal rapist soon after the commission of that act and has that perp voluntarily confess only to have that bad guy at least temporarily escape any punishment for that offense. This episode further illustrates the very Bochco element of the Hooperman code of fulfilling his law-enforcement duties even when doing so violates that character's personal sense of right and wrong. In other words, "Hooperman" is much more than a 30-minute sitcom and often provides substantive food for thought.

The Bochco style further comes through regarding the thoroughly modern cast of quirky characters who inhabit the (often overlapping) personal and professional lives of Hooperman.

"Blues" veteran Barbara Bosson plays aptly named police captain Celeste Stern, who tries to run a tough ship despite the boy's club mentality in the department and even though she has traumatic marital problems. A scene in which she and Hooperman confess vulnerable moments in their lives is hilarious.

The young rookieish cops are handsome macho openly gay officer Rick Silardi and his aggressively heterosexual partner-in-crime solving Mo DeMott. The "seduction" techniques of the latter regarding the former include annoying him with reports of what she is wearing under her uniform and trying to get him to at least be naked with her. One episode even has the mother of DeMott advocating a relationship between the two, reasoning that her daughter at least will be left in peace to sleep at night.

Other squad room stereotypes include 40-something inspector McNeil, whose age is starting to affect his job performance, and daffy but friendly dispatcher Betty Bushkin. The background noise in the form of Bushkin speaking with callers to the station provides much of the entertainment in the series.

On the homefront, Hooperman has a largely congenial "when will they" relationship with tomboy/untalented aspiring writer Susan Smith. Talented character actress Debrah Farentino perfectly portrays the tough exterior and not-far-from-the-surface soft interior of Smith. She also makes a good and equal partner for Hopperman in his effort to keep the building intact and to get the tenants to pay their rent without any pregnant pauses.

The exceptional blend of elements discussed above further proves the philosophy of Unreal TV; namely, that good quality fictional series are far better than reality shows and that DVDs have many advantages over streaming. There truly never is a dull minute in "Hooperman," which passes the "one more test" to the extent that you will want to watch the 42 episodes in the series in one sitting.

Further, both DVDs and streaming offer good chances to either discover shows missed during broadcast and syndicated runs or to give watched shows another look. In this case, current love of "Hooperman" far exceeds personal good regard for the series back in the day. Additionally, DVDs offer more flexibility than streaming and avoid the disappointments related to streaming services losing the rights to series before you are done with them.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hooperman" is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.