dalegardener: Starsky and Hutch, smiling, monochrome pic (Starsky and Hutch)
[personal profile] dalegardener
I wrote this for the episode discussions on the Love of Me and Thee List on Yahoo Groups.

The Torino miraculously finds a spot right outside the PD in the interests of scene setting, before we move to Starsky sitting in front of a typewriter, a pencil placed fetchingly behind his ear. He also has a fetching sparkle in his eyes as he talks with the dearest little old lady you ever did see. Okay, he is a touch patronising, maybe, but given that a grumpy Dobey reveals that this lady is a fantasist who regularly turns up at the PD making fake complaints, really, he’s very kind and sweet. Hutch is in the background with an amused, fond smile on his face, and I think I’ve received my metaphorical admission price’s worth just in this scene. Maggie may be confused about some things, but as far as the pleasure of flirting with David Starsky is concerned, she’s very present indeed.

However, plot intrudes upon the cute character stuff. Dobey is grumpy about the Feds keeping a secret witness against a crimelord called Garvin, well, secret. And while Starsky and Maggie have been bonding over the case of the stolen Kaiser-Frazer, Hutch has received a call from Vinnie at the gym, advising him that John Colby, who was at the academy with them before he left to join the Air Force, is back in town and kicking the crap out of other gym members in a sparring match.

Our guys head to the gym, in a pranking mood. They’ve already indulged some cute banter about taking a ride in a Kaiser-Frazer. Mmmm. Yes please... They bang on the lockers at the gym, and when Colby appears in a towel (but with his tighty-whities discreetly popped on underneath) there’s nothing to be seen, until Hutch pops up in the hamper playing cartoon Nazi with his leather jacket and Colby’s hat. Starsky is hiding in the locker, and then we have some very cute manly tussling as the guys herd Colby into the laundry hamper under threat of being popped with the towel. So, all is happy and cheerful, until Colby catches the guys up with his past.

He’s been a POW for five years, rehabilitating himself from injuries for two, and now he’s trying to track down his now divorced whirlwind bride and lost son. It’s all calculated to tug at the hearts of our boys. Starsky reminisces that they used to be called the Corsican brothers. Of course, they’re only too happy to help their old friend, who has a tight window of opportunity before he returns to Germany. S & H go on their way, and Starsky’s salute is sharper than Colby’s, ironically enough.

Next scene is a party at Hutch’s place. Hutch is sitting on the bed with a pretty blonde, and Starsky is curled up on the sofa with a curly-haired brunette girl. Poor Fifi hands around the snacks, and has a penchant for calling Hutch ‘Kenneth’. Two actresses ended up playing Fifi, and this one is rather pretty in her flowing caftan and carefully styled hair. She’s not pretty enough to distract Hutch from flirting with his current girl, though. A bruised and bloodied Colby turns up the door, precipitating hysterics from Fifi. Starsky is definitely a proponent of tough love in this case, growling at her to be quiet or else he’ll hit her. Certainly Fifi is over the top for the situation – Colby is a mess but he’s hardly that horrific a sight. Colby claims that he’s been beaten up by people who don’t want him to find his ex-wife, and S&H are all soothing competence as they apply first aid.

Next scene is the guys outside Karen’s old apartment building. The Hutchian index finger is going full throttle, plus he’s threatening the building supervisor with any amount of harassment from health inspectors and building supervisors. In this scene, Hutch is grumpy and Starsky is relaxed. His shirt and hoodie ride up at the back and the viewer gets a nice view of Starsky skin through the window of the Torino. The guys get a Post Office forwarding address and take themselves off to a building declaring itself the Palms Station PO, which has clearly been rebuilt or relocated since the show.

Hutch is inside investigating and Starsky is outside having his amour propre damaged as a gorgeous girl walks past, takes up with a mousy-looking accountant guy and then smiles back at Starsky’s discomfiture. Can’t win ‘em all, gorgeous. Alas, Hutch’s efforts in the Post Office come to nothing. The forwarding address is a vacant lot, and grumpy!banter ensues. The guys at least know Karen’s name – Karpel – and that she’s married to a guy who’s an ex-con.

Next is the scene that sets up Colby as up to no good. The seventies long-haired fashions weren’t always kind to men with full heads of hair. On a balding guy, they’re what my daughter calls ‘heinous’. However, he won’t offend our sensibilities for long, poor man, as he is very professionally stabbed by Colby.

Next we see Colby at The Pits, apparently unimpressed by Huggy’s enthusiasm for a science fiction story. It’s good to see Huggy having a life outside of providing burgers and intel to our heroes. Our guys arrive, and now it’s Starsky’s turn to be the grump. S & H break the news to Colby that his supposed ex-wife has taken up with an ex-con, before they are called back to the PD by Dobey, leaving poor Huggy with two uneaten hamburger meals. Starsky indulges some more appreciation of girls, as a cute redhead walks in.

The redhead sees Colby and clearly knows him – only she knows him as Mike Robbins from Miami. Colby is a smooth guy in dealing with her, I’ll give him that.

Back at the station, Dobey advises our guys that the grand jury proceeding is at risk of being disrupted, as there is a rumour that a high-paid hitman has been brought in. One important witness is already dead. So all the dots are joined for the viewer, if not for our guys.

We go back to Colby and Jackie the redhead, who sadly is too bright for her own good, although not quite bright enough, and will be finished off in the same professional manner as the important witness with the heinous hair. This muddies the waters for the cops – it’s the same MO as the earlier murder and yet there’s nothing to tie this murder to Garvin. But Starsky and Hutch remember that they saw the girl at Huggy’s.

Back at Huggy’s, Colby sets poor Huggy up to take a beating, the better to encourage S&H to further efforts on his behalf. We have the canon reference to Husky and Starch. Which was which, I wonder? I can well imagine a young Hutch as rather ‘starchy’, myself, and I wonder what Colby truly thinks of this apparent composite entity of his old friends. Starsky is very tenderly concerned for Huggy, while Colby smirks evilly in the background.

Our guys attempt to get info out of one of their snitches, a numbers guy called Emile, who has both terrible hair and a terrible shirt/tie combination. Hutch takes mean pleasure in burning up Emile’s numbers as leverage. What is that contraption that Emile has – some sort of mini-incinerator? Emile promises that he’ll do his best to get them a hot tip, so long as they bust him so he can explain the missing receipts. I’m pleased to see the guys using a source other than Huggy for a change. How Hug ever maintained his street cred with Starsky and Hutch in and out of The Pits is beyond me.

Just to cement Colby as hitman, we have a scene of him with Garvin. Tight seventies trousers are kind to Mr Colby’s back view, I’m just saying. Then we have a scene of happy beach domesticity between Karen and Warren Karpel. Karen comments that her husband was killed in Vietnam – just to muddy the waters further. Could it be that Colby really is Karen’s ex, as well as an evil hitman? Of course not, but never mind....

Hutch checks back with Emile from a payphone, while Starsky reads something call ‘Ahoy’. My knowledge of seventies girlie mags is limited, but that looks rather retro even for the times, surely? Or is it merely cheaply printed? Still, our boys appear to be enjoying the content. Emile directs the guys to an area called Turner Beach. We really are getting the Cooks Tour of LA/Bay City environs this episode.

Colby shows Hutch a pic of Karen, just before he sets up both Karen and Hutch. Hutch is rather charming in his conversation with Karen Karpel, primed for absolute sincerity as he has been. I’d have followed him down a lonely side street. Colby shows his true colours, and it’s so convenient for him that his real name is John, just like Karen’s dead husband. Hutch is laid out on the ground. Karen is sadly rather wet; I’d have at least tried to run. The end result would have been the same, though, I’m sure.

We cut to Dobey and a Fed. Karpel was Garvin’s accountant, and Dobey contacts the guys to fill in the last blanks for them. Dobey is exasperated by the Fed secrecy. It’s true that if our heroes had known that Karpel was the witness that we’d have had no story, but that aspect of secrecy is at least is believable.

The guys make a dash for Karpel’s beach hideaway, and arrive very fast behind Colby. I simply don’t understand why Karpel doesn’t hear the gunfight which I presume is the other goons distracting Karpel’s Fed minders so that Colby can have an uninterrupted shot at Karpel. It certainly provides a convenient excuse to separate our guys so that Hutch can have that emotionally charged confrontation with Colby.

DS is clearly visible in the majority of the fight scene, which is nice, although I’m not entirely convinced that a professional assassin wouldn’t have put up a better fight. Still, Hutch’s cause is just and his heart is pure, and that has to count, right? Starsky turns up to cuff Colby, with the cuffs from Hutch’s back pocket, and drag him up none too gently. Even over the supine body of their erstwhile friend and colleague they have to touch each other for comfort.

The tag is a classic piece of Mean!Hutch. He advises Starsky that a friend of Maggie’s, a ‘real sweet lady’ called Abigail Crabtree is waiting outside for him. Starsky is appropriately terrified and begs Hutch to tell her that he’s not there. Starsky is just so cute here – how can Hutch can withstand those puppy-dog eyes and clutching hands? Out in the main office, Abigail is revealed to be a young and beautiful blonde. Hutch, you are a mean, mean man. It’s just as well that Starsky and I love you, regardless. Dobey, even though he’s rather grumpy about how the grand jury nearly went west because of S & H’s well-meaning interference, is apparently less immune to a pleading Starsky than Hutch. He peeks out the door to see if the coast is clear and sees what’s going on. Hutch exits smugly with the lovely Abigail, and Starsky is left chagrined. Poor guy. It is not his episode to have any luck with the ladies.

Some general remarks:

Yet again, we have that staple of cop shows – competition between competing jurisdictions. We also have the familiar tv trope that old friends of the characters only ever show up to betray them or get them in trouble or die tragically.

How much of Colby’s back story is cover story? I’d have thought that as a member of the Air Force that Colby would have been more likely to be killing at a distance rather than up close. However, if he was genuinely a POW that might account for some of his (presumed) character change from when S & H knew him. Alternatively, he was never in the Air Force at all, or was discharged for dishonourable reasons. It’s interesting to compare Colby to the rather more ‘ethical’ hitman in The Plague. Art Hindle, who played Colby, has enjoyed a long and steady career and appears to have aged very handsomely.

I really want to give props to the director and camera man in this ep. There are some very effective and iconic shots, both of the settings and of our heroes, and this seems to be one of the more ‘genuine location’ heavy episodes. That scene of Starsky and Hutch together looking down towards the beach has appeared in several song vids, and they both have notably luscious angles in this ep.

I have no doubt missed commenting on matters of interest to other watchers. The more the merrier. :0)
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