A Clockwork Hammer
|"A Clockwork Hammer"|
|Sledge Hammer! episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Reza Badiyi|
|Written by||Chris Ruppenthal|
|Original air date||September 17, 1987|
"A Clockwork Hammer" is the 23rd episode of the television series Sledge Hammer! and the first episode of the series' second and final season. It originally aired on ABC in the United States on September 17, 1987. While the episode is mostly a parody of the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, series creator Alan Spencer cites the 1965 film The Ipcress File as the episode's real inspiration.
The episode begins with the last scene of the season 1 ender "The Spa Who Loved Me", where Hammer attempted to defuse a nuclear bomb, only to destroy the city in the process - resulting in a cliffhanger ending. However, following the scene, a disclaimer explains that this episode takes place five years before "that explosion".
During an important trial involving mob boss Johnny "Red Shoes" Haggis (Eugene Robert Glazer), police officer Chris Raker (Dan Lauria) takes to the stand to testify against the mobster when he suddenly twitches and loses all sense of control, hearing a ringing sound and seeing violent images in his mind. This incident results in the trial being put on hold.
At the precinct, Hammer dismisses Raker as a wimp. Trunk, however, is depressed, as he saw himself being a "second father" to Raker. Hammer suggests that Raker faked a psychotic break after being paid off by Haggis.
Meanwhile at Vile Video Concepts, Haggis' lawyer Marc Rinsler (Sal Viscuso) meets up with Landon Smartikoff (Nicholas Guest), the company's head of production. It is revealed that Smartikoff has developed a means of reprogramming people's minds through television. Rinsler pays Smartikoff as a reward for reprogramming Raker.
Later that night, Hammer is at his apartment when Raker comes in. Raker explains to Hammer that he did not take any bribes and does not remember anything other than the ringing sound in his ears and nightmares of a white room. As Hammer urges Raker to try to remember what he saw, Raker suddenly snaps and goes berserk before Hammer knocks him out.
After Raker is taken away to a hospital, Hammer and Doreau discuss the incident, with Doreau trying to figure out what Hammer said to make Raker snap. She recalls a news article on mind control techniques related to the KGB's white room process. Hammer suspects that Raker was brainwashed to break down whenever the subject of Haggis is brought upon. Hoping the mastermind will come to him, he then tells Trunk that he will testify against Haggis on grounds of new evidence.
The next night, Hammer is sedated and abducted out of his apartment by VVC employees. He wakes up inside a white room in the network building, strapped to a chair and exposed to television images. The brainwashing process, however, proves to be a failure, as Hammer dozes off. Smartikoff tries using violent images, but they only excite Hammer. The programmer runs out of ideas to brainwash Hammer, who points out that the only person capable of reaching into his mind is himself. Smartikoff then develops a virtual recreation of Hammer as a means of going through his subconscious. Using the virtual program, Smartikoff orders Hammer to shoot District Attorney Theiss if he continues to press further against Haggis.
Hammer wakes up the next morning, not remembering the events from the night before. At the courthouse, Theiss (Ken Letner) calls in Hammer to testify. But when Hammer sees Haggis' red shoes, he starts to snap and pulls his gun. However, he points his gun at Rinsler, who tells him he's supposed to kill Theiss; thus confessing to the brainwashing incidents. Rinsler then pulls out a gun, but Hammer shoots it out of his hand. The bullet ricochets and hits Haggis in the foot. As Haggis is taken away, Hammer explains that he is immune to subconscious brainwashing because he does not have one.
Back at the precinct, Hammer explains to Trunk that during his brainwashing ordeal, he thought of one thing: the person closest to him that he's never expressed his true feelings. Doreau thinks he is talking about her, but he pulls his gun, revealing it to be what he is talking about.
According to series creator Alan Spencer in the season 2 DVD boxed set, the film format of the series was downgraded from 35mm to 16mm in order to cut costs.
The character Landon Smartikoff is a parody of NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff. In one scene, Smartikoff envisions a fourth television network in the country, which is a jab on the then-fledgling FOX Network.
Hammer's virtual recreation is a parody of Max Headroom. The episode itself was originally titled "Max Sledgeroom", but was met by objections from ABC executives. Incidentally, David Rasche was one of the early actors considered to play Max Headroom before Matt Frewer landed the role.