Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Incident on a Dark Street - a toupological analysis.

Incident on a Dark Street is a 1973 feature-length pilot for a proposed television series that was (thankfully) never picked up. It was ultimately broadcast as a one-off TV movie instead. It is set in the annals of the District Attorney's office of Los Angeles County, focusing on several Justice Department lawyers - some freshmen - prosecuting all manner of cases.

The plot, to quote an Imdb.com reviewer:

...involves two law school grads (David Canary of "All My Children" and Robert Pine) who take on their first big cases as prosecutors for the federal government. David Canary's case involves convincing a marked mobster to blow the whistle on local politicians on the take from organized crime. Robert Pine's case is about whether or not to prosecute a seemingly clean cut family man of being the bag man in a drug deal.

Bill Shatner has a "guest star" role as Deaver G. Wallace, the corrupt head of the Utility Authority, making deals with the Mob for his own self-enrichment. He's under surveillance by the good guys...

The guy from Jaws talks to Bill Shatner.

How this piece of dreary garbage managed to make its way onto DVD at all remains something of a mystery.

Evidently, no-one involved in this production (NBC and/or Fox) has bothered to attend to the copyright of a low-quality print of this TV movie and so all manner of strange-looking DIY DVDs have been released, mostly with odd and deceptive packaging. There's a reason for that - the pilot is, frankly, dreadful. Years later, Bill Shatner remains its only conceivable selling point. Ironic, since the movie represents the absolute nadir of his "Lost Years" period during the mid-1970s.

There's something about bad pilots that is almost universal: the over-earnest two-dimensional characters; the cookie-cutter-constructed bland ensemble (there's even a "token black guy" that gets a few lines), with each cast member forcefully being assigned their own "interesting" quirks; the utter lack of chemistry between the performers...yes, Incident on a Dark Street serves as a textbook example of how not to put together a prospective TV series.

The direction is awful, with the actors lost as to the emotions or point of any given scene; the pacing is dreadfully slow - the movie feels far, far longer than it actually is; the script is so bad, one wonders how it was ever filmed in the first place. Add to that a lack of action, poor performances, bad dialogue and a dull story and you have Incident on a Dark Street. None of the main cast elicit any interest from the viewer. Indeed, Bill Shatner and the other guest star Richard S. Castellano manage to outshine the proposed regular cast - which isn't a good sign at all for a pilot.

Let's move quickly on to the hair...

Firstly, Bill Shatner's hair is very, very thick in this show. In fact, it is so thick that one wonders if it should be categorized as a wig (or treacle) rather than a toup. The hair-line is particularly high up on the forehead, and we also have sideburns and a mustache. The entire construction is clearly serving as a critic of this TV movie, telling us not to take it seriously.

Years before Christopher Reeve was cast a Superman, Bill Shatner wears an S-curl in one scene (another example of this can be found here):

In another scene, Shats scratches the toup:

There's also a fight with some bimbo over a bear, perhaps a there's a toupee metaphor there of some kind:

And at the end, the hair gets knocked around a little - alas the framing conceals the true extent of what is underway. Why waste a great toup moment on a bad film, right?

Incident on a Dark Street is available on DVD, but we recommend that you stay away from this deceptively-marketed turkey. It really isn't "so bad it's good" - it's just plain awful.

UPDATE: A reader correctly points out that Incident on a Dark Street's Robert Pine is the father of Chris Pine, who portrayed James T. Kirk in the recent Star Trek (2009) movie.


  1. Bill must have been close to bald on top when this movie came out. No transplant hair plugs could ever cover over Shat's monumental baldness. The only prescription is a toupee. Shatner's Toupee.

  2. Wasn't Robert Pine the father of Chris Pine, who played young Kirk in Star Trek? Give the movie one point for irony, then.

  3. One of things that emphasize how fake the hair is, is the lack of attachment to his forehead.

    His shiny forehead + overtly hair density is another giveaway.

  4. MVPisOnline: well identified - this is what we at the School call the "Shatner HSF+OHD Quotient". Our toupologists tell us that the full formula for this equation runs 473 pages long. -ST

  5. It's funny how Bill stares at the fat dude.

  6. Ops... fat and BALD dude

  7. Incident on a Bald Street?

  8. Is this toupee as bad as the toup Bill wore on that gameshow Beat the Clock?

  9. Man ST - you really need to give us students the ST 101 on all these 'Quotient's.

  10. The Daily Mail in the Uk features John Travolta's baldness today http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1249926/John-Travoltas-battle-baldness-revealed-mesh-hairline.html
    and one fascinating tidbit is that the "mesh" applied to the head is designed to let the remnant natural hair be threaded through and grow. I wonder if it is an answer to the transplant or wig question?

    The other odd thing is that this is a 2009 piece and you can see the lace with a relatively low resolution image. And yet Shatner's lace still evades close up, then or now.

  11. Al, could you mention more about the "mesh" applied to the head that is designed to let the remnant natural hair be threaded through and grow. I've never heard of this,

  12. Hey, Hell Toupee
    I think that this toupee is not as awfull as the one that Shatner wore at that game show. But we are not saying that its is good. The moustache and the sideburn only adds to the overall fakeness.

  13. More wig/toupee news

    From the autopsy of Michael Jackson:
    --The hair on Jackson's head was described initially by police as "sparse and connected to a wig." The autopsy revealed "frontal balding -

    I wonder what the coroner will say when it will comes Shatner's time!

  14. If I have a son, I'll name him Deaver Wallace in honor of this magnificent role in an outstanding film classic.

  15. Al
    I reckon that would explain the present (and maybe some of the better previous) Shatoup(s) perfectly, a weave allowing some of his remaining own/( and some transplanted?) hair through whilst also providing an anchoring system...he's no doubt had many various "systems" and treatments over the years which is why we some some strange scalp issues on some of the pics, especially at the back.

  16. Interesting article about John Travolta (who ironically had small roles in two Bill Shatner movies - perhaps the latter was Travolta's toupee mentor!). What the actor is likely wearing in that picture is a classic lace. We think that the writer uses "weave" not in the sense of a hair weave, but rather that the lace works with individual hairs that are woven or knotted into a lace mesh. Bill Shatner's "Jim Kirk" worked the same way. -ST

  17. Shatner gives advice to Jason Alexander on toupees and accepting fame.

  18. This show and the Six Million Dollar man episode he was in clearly show anyone he is wearing a wig. His "hair" looks absolutely SHOCKING here. 1973/1974 shall forever be low points.

  19. I agree with your review. I bought an /Incident on a Dark Street/ DVD at the dollar store and I still feel like I overpaid. It was a very boring movie.