dalegardener: Made from a promotional picture.  Starsky is standing, Hutch is sitting, the text 'Dale' occupies the left-hand space (Dale's S&H)
[personal profile] dalegardener
I wrote a second review for the Love Of Me and Thee list, and here it is. The original review can be read here.

The Bait

The ep opens with our guys cruising the streets in their black convertible, wearing their pimp clothes. Hutch is chewing gum and getting into arrogant good ol' boy characterisation, while Starsky counts their flash money with an astonished, slightly longing expression. Hutch certainly seems in a dominant mood this morning - commenting on Starsky's gross physical nature, fiddling with his clothes and being totally unapologetic about choosing shiny pimp alligator skin shoes that pinch Starsky on the instep. Sure sounds like Hutch is determined that someone is going to wear those shoes. Maybe they didn't have them in his size....

They attempt to get in with a drug dealer (played by Mark Alaimo - no wonder he looked familiar to me, since I always did enjoy his turn as Gul Dukat on DS9) but they are busted by the cops, who don't realise that S&H are undercover. Starsky decides that running for it in his sock feet is a better deal than sprinting in those pinchy pimp shoes, although I'm still not sure about how come he's flailing his hands so much. It'd slow him down, surely. The guys remain in character throughout their arrest, presumably so that their drug dealer associate believes their cover, and have a great deal of fun tweaking the metaphorical noses of the guys who arrest them. Hutch leans back on his chair, Starsky has surely undone yet one more button on his shirt, and they are cheerfully disrespectful. We have a fun continuation of the 'he's Starsky, I'm Hutch 'routine. Just for the record - Hutch is O'Brien, and Starsky is Rafferty.

The guys are lone wolves so far as departmental co-operation is concerned, and their attitudes are endearingly like small boys caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Dobey, however, isn't best pleased that they've lost a contact to the major bad guy, but luckily they have another potential contact - a drug mule, Cheryl, who at first isn't at all convinced that our guys are on the up and up. I'm not sure that Starsky complaining about his shoes again is going to convince her. Cheryl, understandably unsure of what's going on, demands a lobster dinner, and gets it. I guess two high-rollers like Rafferty and O'Brien can afford lobster. And how much do I love Starsky's enormous bib of a napkin to protect his blindingly white suit. Hutch and Cheryl seem more confident of their ability not to drop food down their fronts.

The guys and Cheryl go driving for the purposes of investigation (theirs) and exposition (the audience's) and Danner, the Big Bad Crime Kingpin is introduced. Hutch notes that one of his goons, Shockley, knows him because Hutch busted him back in his uniform days. He hides his face behind his big stetson and our heroes drive off, with Starsky spread out all over the backseat of the car. The man is incapable of not taking up all available space.

Cheryl introduces Rafferty and O'Brien to Connie, a gentlemen with his fingers in all sorts of pies, and a very colourfully dapper suit. Hutch very much enjoys playing redneck asshole to Connie's African-American pimping dude - it's the battle of the stereotypes. Hutch can't help but drop briefly out of character when Connie informs them that he has a severely underage girl in his 'stable' that he wants to pass on to these newcomers. And good grief - has Starsky simply lost the buttons to his shirt? Not that the view isn't very pleasant.

Connie draws Cheryl aside to grill her about what happened after her arrest, and we learn about Cheryl's friend Joanne. I rather like Cheryl. She's loyal as well as canny, albeit sadly after the event, but she's learning, and keeping her wits about her in a dangerous situation.

Next scene is Danner, and Pretty Billy, establishing Danner's stamp obsession which will play out in the plot. Danner and Billy make various astute and foreboding observations about how to deal with Rafferty and O'Brien, and Cheryl, if she's a girl who brings them cops. Dum-de-dum-dum.

Our guys approach Connie once again, with Hutch playing The Angry Guy in the partnership once more, and Starsky the relaxed guy. They set up a drug deal, but they need the money for it, so to save sets, they meet their captain at Huggy's. I was never quite sure how Huggy maintained his underworld connections through the show, what with S&H and occasionally Dobey swanning through Huggy's premises at the drop of a hat. The character surely has the middle name of Deus Ex Machina. But certainly he's never at a loss; if Dobey wants wonton soup, then wonton soup he shall have.

Their flash money in hand, our heroes adjourn to Connie's pad, which is exceedingly nice despite its sleazy location. The guys have decided to use the shortage of flash money to emphasise their undercover characters as brash adventurers in crime, and it's fun watching the looks that pass between them as they make split second decisions as to how to deal with Connie. For someone who's been dragged unwilling into the scene, Cheryl makes a professional job of testing the merchandise. An angry Connie is balked of his extra $15,000 , and Hutch, who really is having major anger issues in this undercover role, takes pleasure in turning Connie's 'take or shake it' catchphrase back at him.

This deal done, Starsky and Hutch inform a happily surprised Cheryl that she's done her work for them. Of course, it's never that simple. Danner and Pretty Billy are in conversation and Pretty Billy assures Danner that he'll deal with any circumstances arising. Danner says ominously, "I know you will" although whether this refers to his trust in Billy, or his assurance that Billy will enjoy beating up and terrorising Cheryl is left open.

In Cheryl's apartment, our boys extract a little more exposition for the audience as to how Cheryl found herself in this mess, and how she's concerned for her friend Joanne, before they leave for their meeting with a DEA representative. As they leave, Billy appears to ominous music before he sets about beating the crap out of poor Cheryl.

So, besides two undercover cops and police captain, now we have a Fed frequenting Huggy's. Good grief, although we get various bits of comic business out of proceedings. S&H are going to need $250 K to convincingly carry off the sting, and understandably the DEA guy wants in. Our heroes are less convinced. I'd love someone with a long term knowledge of US cop shows to tell us the first appearance of the local enforcement vs Federal enforcement plot device. It's a very common trope in US cop shows, that's for sure. Starsky and Hutch are surprisingly meek in agreeing to terms, and Dobey is understandably and quite rightly suspicious. Our heroes also pass on the picture of Joanne, as part of their quid pro quo with Cheryl.

Connie and some associates have followed our heroes, and we have a two to one odds fight which our guys of course win. Unsure whether they have been made as cops, they are immediately worried for Cheryl, and find her deeply distressed in her apartment. This scene is really interesting to me. They're gentle and reassuring, but they want their bust, and all their gentleness and concern is directed towards reassuring Cheryl and thereby keeping her on task.

Next step for our guys is both strategic and personal - they pay a visit to Pretty Billy Harkness to try and set up contact with Danner - especially since their previous contact will no longer 'talk' to them. Good that they make the point of trying to protect their witness there. Starsky is almost child like in his menace, and Hutch, living up to his characterisation as the Angry One, gives Pretty Billy a small taste of his own medicine. I commented in my previous review about the homo-erotic overtones of this scene, and I think it's worth commenting on again. Violence is a perverted form of intimacy - especially in this interaction. There are naked chests, low voices, skin on skin contact. It's kinda scary. Also, the Hutchinson index finger gets a Schwarzenegger-style workout in this entire episode. Hutch is feeling a lot of outrage.

Next we have a 'what the hell was Hutch thinking?' moment of a type that I don't really see again until the execrable 'Partners', and 'Starsky vs Hutch'. Hutch has apparently purposely given the Feds the wrong address for the meet - hardly a surprise for this type of show. However, he also has apparently just sprung this news on Starsky, who aside from a heartfelt 'you're gonna get us both killed' doesn't protest his partner's high-handedness, or lack of gun. This from the guy who doesn't go to see his mother without his weapon? Oh, show. Continuity is not your thing. The meet is of course an ambush, and Starsky's white suit stands out in that dim warehouse like he's under an ultra-violet lamp. Pretty Billy is killed and our boys make their escape. I'm still not sure if Hutch's blithe dismissal of back-up was some sort of brain fart or a cunning plan because he and Starsky expected the ambush rather than a genuine meet and didn't want to blow their cover yet. The DEA guy is understandably upset, although Dobey seems to believe that it was genuine mistake on Hutch's part. I'll hope that this is loyalty rather than stupidity on his part. I note that neither of our guys disabuses him of the 'mistake' idea. Very wise of them, because they'd be off this case so fast their pretty heads would spin.

Joanne's body is found, and identified with convenient swiftness in these pre-internet days. However, poor Cheryl must still identify her. How long has Joanne been dead - the ep has already stated that she's been missing four weeks. Joanne's fate steadies Cheryl's resolve, and her strategic thinking. She tells the guys about Danner's stamp obsession and this gives them the bait that they need to take Danner down.

I have no idea how convincing the fake newspaper report would be back in those pre-internet days, let alone now. How would these sort of subterfuges, quite common on tv, fly in real life? However, that's beside the point, which is that S&H have a gift that will guarantee them access to Danner at long last. Shockley is supposed to be got out of the way, but in the interest of extra tension, we all know that he'll appear at precisely the wrong moment.

Danner's home and clothes are wonderfully sybaritic and he looks almost genuinely orgasmic when he finally gets a look at his stamp. But of course, Shockley appears to identify Starsky and Hutch as cops. Hutch fights off the bad guys while still chewing his gum - he's lucky that Starsky didn't have to perform the heimlich manouevre, I think. Danner is captured, and the all important stamp did not end up in the swimming pool.

The episode ends with Cheryl heading off for a break to see Joanne's parents and get away from the Bay City scene. I guess that she may or may not be needed as a witness - it's not like she knows anything that Starsky and Hutch didn't witness. The ep ends with a bit of business about Starsky's delight in junk food. Chinese pizza indeed.


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July 2015

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