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.


  1. Funny thing is that shat has worn toups that have looked that bad!

  2. This piece could be an TJ Curly original, who knows...

  3. The Shatner Turbo 2000
    Hey, I wanna buy one!!

  4. When asked how Shatner welcomed him to the set, Larroquette responded, “He came up to me the first day on the job and went, ‘You’re so big’ and he looked at me and said, ‘And, you have so much hair.’

    Shatner seems utterly obsessed with other men's hair. George Lucas, John Larroquette, David Letterman. Wearing a toupee for Shat is not so much a choice, but a compulsion. He's been wearing other people's hair for most of his life now and has no plans to stop.

  5. Toupee or not toupee!September 8, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    I love this blog! It has just the right combination of admiration and lampooning. I must confess to finding men's hairpieces exceedingly funny, brings out the giggly girl in me.

  6. Toupee or not toupee!September 8, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    I'll send you the Bill for my therapy! Oh the disappointment of reading these sacred pages and discovering the existence of the Jim Kirk Lace. I was one of those convinced that was his real hair!

  7. Imagine if you are Shat sitting at home in the mid 80's. You say, Hmmm I think I'll turn on Night Court. You see a toupee is featureed. You get a little uncomfortable at first, after all this hits close to home. Some styles are mentioned innocently enough. Then it happens You hear your named called out and its the style of a toupee. All the years of cover ups, denials, thrown away with millions of people watching (remember this was pre cable) Shatner Turbo Toupee. Oh the horror! At least the producers were kind enough to give the toupe special powers. Something we here at ShatToup have knows all along

  8. Howard Cosell counseled Shatner on the public perils of toupee use. Shatner learned a lot from his fellow toup wearer and the two became very close friends.

  9. The "helmet hair" here is very similar to Bill's rug on Star Trek - The Motion Picture

  10. Dear readers, we have a dedicated "Shatner does NOT wear..." troller (a person who, through willful action, attempts to disrupt a community or garner attention and controversy through provocative messages). Thanks for simply ignoring and not being drawn in. Considering the number of readers we get and the world we live in, we've actually been very fortunate in this regards. -ST