Monday, September 6, 2010
Shatner's toupee in pop-culture: Night Court.
Night Court is a US TV sitcom that ran from 1984-1992 and focused on the exploits of a group of legal professionals working the night shift in a New York court. During its eighth season, an episode called "To Sleep, No More" aired, which featured very direct references to Bill Shatner's toupee-wearing. In the episode, bald bailiff Nostradamus "Bull" Shannon (pictured above), decides to wear a toupee with an unusual name: "The Shatner Turbo 2000". A quick overview of the story:
TV host Bert Parks appears as himself in the episode, although he's now working as a spokesperson for "Frosted Neon Nuggets Cereal". He approaches Bull (played by Richard Moll) in the court cafeteria and offers him the opportunity to answer a question and win a prize. Bull answers the question correctly and must then choose from four prizes - three are revealed beforehand and one is a secret mystery prize.
Bull chooses the mystery prize, which turns out to be a toupee; the character can then choose any toupee from a catalog (sound convoluted? well, it is an 80s sitcom!). After reading through the options, he decides upon a controversial toupee called the "Shatner Turbo 2000".
This toup, it turns out, is "Cultivated from the hair of specially selected donors. Each follicle is individually steamed, pressed and hand-woven by a team of craftsmen in Vienna." But the "indestructible" toupee also has some "effects" which turn out to be an uncanny ability to attract women.
Naturally, the toup is unmistakably modeled on the long-serving "TJ Curly" style (1976-2000) that Bill Shatner wore during this period. Here's a clip from the episode:
And here's Bull realizing the powers of the "Shatner Turbo 2000":
Later on, Bull wears the toup for an important function only to have it removed and stamped upon by a colleague (prosecutor Reinhold Fielding Elmore, played by John Larroquette) who thinks that a tarantula is eating Bull's head.
In typical sitcom style, by the end of the episode, the character has learned his lesson about letting himself be loved for what he truly is rather than what he wishes he could be - he ditches the toup. What did he do with it? He gave it to the bald janitor...
Sadly, the episode in question isn't available on DVD yet, though earlier seasons of Night Court have been released. Click here for more Bill Shatner toupee pop-culture references.