My Top Five Make Me Cry Brief Moments that aren’t between Starsky and Hutch

I decided to focus on moments that aren’t between the guys for this post. Some of these feature the guys, but the focus is not on their relationship. That’s a whole other future post! In fact, in some of these, neither Starsky nor Hutch is even present.

5. His son’s shoes–Terror on the Docks. For some people watching this scene, Earl Banks seems heartless and mercenary with his fixation on his now dead son’s shoes and his wanting them. However I can only see a man so devastated by his son’s murder, that he has grabbed on to one thing that connects him to his son. The actor, Garry Walberg, captures every nuance of shock and grief and raw emotion. It is an amazing scene and one can’t help but shed a tear for the father for whom the magnitude of loss is yet to come. I think one of the things that Starsky and Hutch reminds us of often is that everyone has someone who once loved them and this scene shows it to perfection.

4. Guy in the Garbage Can-The Crying Child. Once again, this episode packs a real punch in the gut. Child abuse has always been with us but it was only in the 70s that it became truly talked about. My career made me a mandated reporter, but yet, even a decade before, teachers could lose their jobs for reporting/making an accusation about suspected abuse. The scene where Hutch opens that lid, finds a huddled Guy in the garbage can, makes me cry every single time. Especially when you realize that Guy doesn’t really think it’s anything out of the ordinary. It’s just another fact of his life. It’s a hard episode to watch but it’s also an important one.

3. Eddy and Nobody-Gillian. Once again, we get to see the people Starsky and Hutch interact with on their beat. Eddy has already appeared in The Bounty Hunter and you know that he’s the kind of guy that Starsky and Hutch keep an eye on to make sure he’s safe, he’s fed, and he has somewhere to sleep. But in this scene, we get to see Starsky’s gentleness and care for him. Eddy can’t understand his friend is dead. Or rather like Earl Banks, he isn’t quite ready to accept it. Once again we see the focus on something seemingly minor–this time creamed tuna–as a way to cope with the unimaginable. It’s that little moment between Starsky and Eddy where Starsky is so gently questioning him, understanding the loss that Eddy has suffered. And then his quiet “It’s okay,” and his making sure Eddy will safely get to the mission. My heart breaks for Eddy no matter how many times I watch.

2. Elijiah in the Alley-The Pilot. This is one of my favorite Hutch scenes of all time and it’s so brief. Elijiah is another one of the down-trodden that Starsky and Hutch always treat with care and dignity. I love Hutch’s way of giving Elijiah money–it’s as if Elijiah is doing him a favor by taking it. He’s giving it with no strings which is also a beautiful gesture and we get one of those very lovely Hutch smiles. But that’s not even the part that makes me cry. No, it’s the moment after Elijiah gets the money–the moment he is going down the alley yelling that he can treat his friend Charlie to a cup of coffee. It’s beautiful and sweet and treats Elijiah with the same dignity that Hutch has afforded him.

1. I Love You-Shootout. Norman Fell is fantastic in this episode but this scene is particularly poignant. Sammy Grovner is one of those people that I want to see finally have some success in life. I get the feeling he’s been working at trying to break into the big time his whole life and has never made it. Maybe he’s not good at it, or maybe he just hasn’t had the luck that some others have. Whatever the reason, Sammy is the underdog I want to see make it. You can tell he loves Robin in every interaction between them, and I’m never quite sure if Robin has ever recognized it or not. Does she want someone who is more successful than Sammy? Does she not love him back? When Robin asks Sammy to tell her something funny, and he says, I love you. Isn’t that a scream?, I always cry. Every single time. Even writing about it makes me tear up. We never get an answer to it–does Robin admit her love also? I like to think that finally Sammy is successful–if not in his choice of career, then at least in love. At least that’s my way of giving Sammy and Robin a happy ending.

My Top Five Favorite Starsky and Hutch Episode Tags

I admit I love tags for TV shows and I miss that many shows today don’t have them. Then again I also miss TV shows that were self-contained episodes and not long drawn out arcs. But enough of that–I’m starting to sound like an old fuddy-duddy.

Only 5? How can I make myself pick only 5? Starsky and Hutch has a lot of great tags to episodes, so how did I decide? I focused on the tags that no matter how many times I watch them affect me emotionally. One other quick note: I tend to refer to the characters–not the actors playing them because Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul always make me believe Starsky and Hutch are real people with their marvelous acting. Here we go:

5. Starsky’s Lady–otherwise known as Starsky and Hutch get drunk and open Terry’s presents to them. I know this is a shock that I only have this in fifth place. I think for a lot of fans, this is one of the top, if not the top, choice for a perfect tag. I do love it. I love drunk Hutch on the phone to someone–is it really someone in Canada at the B.C. Lions desk? Or did he just dial some random number and is talking to someone who is very confused? I sort of like the latter idea even better. I love them sitting on the floor with candles and a Monopoly board and the presents. I love the quietness of it. It is a beautifully filmed and written tag. Not to mention it’s brilliantly acted. The tears in Starsky’s eyes, his “I’ll go first” and the little head nod and breath. Okay, I may be welling up just writing that! But then–oh my gosh–then, we get Hutch opening that present and those tears in his eyes. Seriously, how beautiful does he look with those tears that aren’t quite falling and his little nod and catch in his breath when he reads the note aloud. Sigh.

4. The Plague-Part 2: What? Is this sacrilege? Babs, did you actually put The Plague Part 2 above Starsky’s Lady? Yes, yes I did. After the emotional roller coaster of the two episodes of The Plague, this tag is sheer unbridled joy. Every time I watch it, I laugh and smile and enjoy the beauty that is Hutch all giddy and energized and ready to live life to the fullest. Although I do question his whole conversation with Judith. I mean, he has to know she has work to do in Alabama and we know a long distance relationship between them wouldn’t work. I love how he says that she’s afraid to take a chance now with no window separating them. Um, sure, Hutch. You keep on believing that! I love Starsky just standing back and letting the conversation play out before he takes Hutch by the arm and guides him away. I love Hutch talking about living 100 plus years and then, absolute joy and exuberance with the two of them. They are past the worst–what more could life throw at them in this moment–and they both give the biggest grins ever. They are practically running and I want to get up and run with them. It is joy at its purest and most beautiful.

3. Lady Blue–otherwise known as Hutch cooks dinner for his friend (boyfriend?). Lady Blue is another episode that tugs at the heartstrings. It deals with Starsky’s loss of a girlfriend although, unlike Starsky’s Lady, we never meet Helen. But it also deals with mental illness–and a man so tormented by his demons that he is compelled to kill. It also deals with compassion–Starsky’s anger isn’t so much with Commander Jim, but rather the system that has failed him. Jim is a victim as much as the women he has killed. That’s one of the reasons this tag is so sweet and lovely. It’s gentle after the horrors of earlier. Cooking a meal for someone is an act of love–whether platonic or familial or romantic. To cook someone their favorite meal–a meal that would take time to prepare (at least an hour)-instead of just calling for takeout is an act of love and service. It says, I care about you. I want to comfort you. I do this for no reason other than that I love you. And that’s exactly what we get in this tag. Hutch is sneaky–he hasn’t even told Starsky he is the guest of honor. Maybe it’s because he’s afraid Starsky will bug out, maybe he just wanted to surprise him. Whatever the reason, the delight on Starsky’s face when Hutch lets him know the meal is for him always makes me smile. I love the domestic nature of this tag. One gets the feeling that these two men have cooked meals for each other in the past although maybe not to the extent of using their best dishes and putting candles on the table. But the friendship and caring is so evident throughout the whole scene which is why it’s one of my favorite tags.

2. The Fix. I know that it is probably surprising that this is one of my favorite tags–or maybe it’s more surprising that it’s higher than Starsky’s Lady. Then again, I know everyone has their favorites and they might not always make sense to others. Is that me trying to rationalize why I love this tag so much? I will admit that one of the reasons this tag is so high in my list is shallow–I think Hutch is absolutely gorgeous in it! He’s been through so much in this episode and I love that one of the little touches is that he is still bruised. Jeannie is one of my least favorite characters in the series, but I do love her in this scene. I think she is stunningly beautiful–more so than at any other time during the episode and the goodbye between her and Hutch is heartbreaking although necessary. I mean truly there is no other way for their relationship (whatever it may have been) to end. I love Starsky giving Hutch time to say goodbye. And then we get the “wanna drive my car” line and the laughter. I recently found out that drive my car was a euphemism for intimate relations used throughout the 50s and 60s and into the 70s. So that may be the reason for the laugh when Starsky says it. Even if it isn’t taken as the euphemism it is, it can be seen as a loving gesture by Starsky towards his friend who has been through hell. Because right behind his love for Hutch is his love for his Torino. You get the feeling (even though we do see Hutch drive the Torino a few times) that this is not something Starsky would dream of offering to anyone else.

1 Sweet Revenge–the best ending ever of a drama TV series. Sweet Revenge is one of my favorite episodes. This tag has me laughing, crying, and being giddy right along with Starsky, Hutch, Dobey, and Huggy Bear. First we get Starsky who is healing quite nicely after being nearly killed–oh, and dying! He’s humming and then his partner, his buddy, his best friend, the person who was not going to ever give up on him, the person who would not rest until the man behind the attempt on their lives was brought to justice, sneaks in with a huge tray (okay it’s not a tray but I don’t know what those serving dishes are called) of stuffed veal. Just why this dish is what Starsky wanted or Hutch chose to bring him is unknown. It seems kind of a strange one to me, but Starsky certainly is pleased. Hutch is giggly and tipsy and Starsky is loopy on painkillers and one can’t help but start laughing with them. I don’t care what anyone says–that nurse who keeps popping her head in, is most certainly aware of what’s going on. I mean, does six foot plus tall Hutch really think he can hide in the bed beside Starsky and not be noticed? Oh yeah, did I mention Hutch has climbed in bed beside Starsky? By this point, I am squeeing with delight and then we get Dobey coming in with a huge tray of vegetables complaining about trying to find one for sale at 2 in the morning. My suspicion is Dobey is very honored to be invited to this gathering but has to keep up appearances of being their boss in addition to being their friend. Hence the grumbling which isn’t really grumbling at all. He loves Starsky and Hutch too. Just a note–why is everyone piling all these heavy objects on Starsky? He must be quite far along in his recovery if he can handle holding a big serving dish of stuffed veal, Hutch stretched out by his side in bed, and a ten pound antipasti on top of his legs. Huggy Bear sneaks in and the party goes into full swing with wine and even a lantern. Oops–Huggy hangs it on the heat activated sprinkler and scene with a sprinkler coming on and all of them getting wet. After all the fear of not knowing if Starsky will pull through, after the evilness of Gunther who poisons his associate besides putting out the hit on Starsky and Hutch, after the scenes with Hutch so lost that he appears unable to cope at first, this tag is cathartic. There is release in knowing that everything that at first seemed hopeless is now back to the way it should be. Starsky and Hutch will have more adventures and continue to be together–just as they are meant to.

My Top Five Creepiest Starsky and Hutch Villains

For this list, I’ve decided to eliminate any villains that are canonically mentally disturbed, so no Commander Jim or Tommy Marlowe. I can’t consider them creepy as the show itself generally treats characters who commit crimes because of a mental illness or disturbance with compassion which is a whole other blog post. I’ve stuck with the characters that give me goosebumps every time I re-watch an episode with them in it.

5: Eugene Pruitt: Las Vegas Strangler. One could argue that Eugene Pruitt is mentally disturbed on some level. He’s a serial killer after all. But canonically we aren’t told he is. I know he’s going to kill his mother but every single time I watch that methodical preparation for the killing, every time he walks into the garage and closes the door, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. The aftermath when Starsky and Hutch discover the body (and I can just imagine what we’d be treated to today if the show were filmed now–I’m grateful for the restraint of 70s TV) is chilling. He’s one of the villains that when the news media interviews the neighbors, everyone says how quiet he was and how he kept to himself and was a good son. Well, except for the being a serial killer and murdering his mom.

4. Artie Solkin: Vendetta. Unlike Tommy Marlowe who is a character to be pitied, Artie Solkin is to be despised. We never quite know the extent of Artie’s crimes against people like Tommy and Jimmy-the show never gives us all the answers, but one can imagine. Watching him makes me want to take a bath in bleach. Kudos to the actor Stefan Gierasch who made Solkin so utterly despicable that you want to see him get taken down completely. I imagine that Artie uses young men/boys as his playthings. What has gone on between Hutch and Artie also is never known. Did Hutch see the aftermath of something Artie did to another victim? Was Hutch molested when he was younger and Artie brings all of that back? We don’t know and it’s one of the things I love about Starsky and Hutch. Not having all the answers provides plenty of room for interpretation both in discussions and fanfiction.

3. Simon Marcus: Bloodbath. I still remember Bloodbath from my teen years. I can still remember the bear and the torches and the chanting. What I didn’t remember quite as much was Simon Marcus. The scenes between Simon and Hutch are some of my favorite in all of the series. We get bad ass Hutch and Simon who is playing games with an increasingly frustrated Hutch and enjoying every moment of it. I’m pretty sure they were going for a whole Charles Manson vibe with the character. Once again, we never know all the crimes Simon Marcus and his cult have committed–we never even know how Starsky and Hutch broke the case or what they did to bring him in. But we do know that Simon has a strong hold over his followers and to those in his cult is their God. I’ve always been fascinated in reading about cults and Simon Marcus is certainly the epitome of a classic cult leader. He’s one of the villains that I’d love to know what happens next. What happens to his cult once he is sentenced? Do others go to prison? Once again, we don’t know.

2. Professor Gage: Class in Crime. I debated whether or not Gage deserved the top spot or not, but I had to defer to another. If I were doing this by a point system, Gage would have lost to first by only hundredths of a point. Gage is so creepy because he kills for the sake of killing–almost as if killing is an experiment. Mickie, his partner, at least seems to get a sexual thrill out of killing. But what does Gage get? The satisfaction of a job well done? Or is it just to prove he can kill? I suspect it’s more the latter. Gage is so arrogant that the law means nothing to him. People are nothing but inanimate objects to play with. Even in his interactions in the classroom, he is pretentious. He is one of those people I’d hate to interact with because no matter what he always thinks he’s better than you and wouldn’t be afraid to let you know it. The only true emotion we ever see with him is at the end when Mickie is shot and even then, I wonder how much emotion he truly feels. Is he upset that Mickie got shot because he loves her or upset because someone got the better of him?

1. James Marshall Gunther: Sweet Revenge. I may be addicted to watching Sweet Revenge. It’s one of my top 5 episodes and part of it is due to the fact that I love to hate James Gunther. He is creepy to the extreme. From his introduction where we just see his hand with the gold chain and hear his voice and then have him in front of a picture of Starsky and Hutch to the end with him being handcuffed by Hutch, Gunther is a villain to top all villains. He’s arrogant, he’s rich, he obviously thinks he’s above the law, he’s ruthless, he cares only about himself–I could go on and on. The interactions between Gunther and Bates are brilliantly done and every re-watch I get something more out of them. Bates honestly believes that he can persuade Gunther that everything is not lost. He honestly believes that Gunther will listen to him. But Gunther isn’t that kind of man. Gunther wants what he wants and he will resort to anything to get it. He also wants to hang on to everything he has. The scene with Gunther telling Bates to drink his coffee is chilling. On my latest re-watch, I’ve now questioned whether or not Gunther had also thought of poisoning himself since the poison must be in the sugar bowl. Was he planning to do that or did he only want to kill Bates? What about Thomas–did Thomas know there was poison? Is Thomas in on it? I like to think that Thomas is a protected witness and turns on Gunther. Obviously Thomas is just a tool for Gunther to use–disposable as are all who associate with him. If it’s chilling to watch Gunther so calmly tell Bates to drink his coffee, it’s even more frightening to listen to Gunther’s soliloquy as he is waiting for Hutch to arrive. He’s unraveling and he knows his reign is over. When Hutch walks in and we see the dead Bates in the chair, it’s chilling and sickening at the same time. Gunther sitting behind the desk with the gun and Hutch standing up to him and telling him just the way it’s going to be is one of the best Hutch scenes in the series. Although Gunther has so much power and so much wealth, I can’t help but think when he’s being cuffed by Hutch and read his Miranda rights that despite it all, he’s just a man. Maybe that’s the important message about villains–they are just people like the rest of us. They aren’t gods, they aren’t beyond the reach of the law, they aren’t immortal, and someday, somehow, they will be brought to justice.

My Top Five Favorite Women Characters in Starsky and Hutch

I’ve been thinking a lot about characters other than Starsky, Hutch, Dobey, and Huggy Bear in the series lately–and especially women in the show. For this post, I’m going to disallow any of their girlfriends or any women that are killed off–so no Terry Roberts, Gillian, Abby. I’ve also disallowed women who, although I love them, are only in briefly, so no Sweet Alice, alas. I wanted to focus on women who play a big (or at least a major part) in an episode. So here goes:

5: Edith Dobey-Captain Dobey, You’re Dead. Edith Dobey is one of those characters you swear is in more than one episode (Sweet Alice is my other character I picture in way more episodes than she is (2)). Even if the short time we get to see Edith, we know she’s strong, she’s not going to put up with any crap from any man, and heaven forbid, you try to get between her and her children. You can see the love between Dobey and Edith–they really do make a perfect couple.

4: Jane Hutton-Murder Ward. Suzanne Somers is wonderful in this episode. Intrepid reporter undercover at Cabrillo State, she’s not afraid to do what it takes to get her story. Her interaction with both Starsky and Hutch is great–she’s smart, she’s willing to risk everything for her story, and she’s going to do what she can to help them out.

3: Lisa Kendrick-Foxy Lady. Okay maybe she’s a little less than good, maybe she’s even a criminal but I’m glad she gets away at the end of this episode. Starsky and Hutch somehow manage to lose every brain cell when dealing with her because, you know, even though they are cops, a beautiful women shuts off their brains. I personally believe Lisa was in on the bank heist from the beginning. I also like to think that the man from the bank isn’t really from a bank at all, but rather someone she hired to pretend he was from a bank and she’s got that money stashed away somewhere. I hope she’s living the high life somewhere. She deserved to get away just because of Starsky and Hutch being so stupid!

2. Joan Meredith-Black and Blue. How much do I love Joan? She is one of the best female characters on the show. She’s not afraid of any man, and no man is going to show her up. Joan is not going to put up with any crap from anyone which is one of the reasons I love her so much. I love Starsky underestimating her and her calm, measured way of taking him down. Joan’s had to fight her way to where she is in the department, and no one is ever going to take that away from her. In my mind, Joan is going to be the first woman captain in the Bay City Police Department and if she doesn’t make chief of police there, some other smart, progressive police department is going to snap her up and Bay City is going to regret their loss.

1.Hannah Kanen-Deckwatch. Hannah is old, in a wheelchair, and appears frail, but man oh man, Hannah might be the strongest woman shown in the entire series. I love Hannah for her compassion towards Hector. She knows he’s a killer, she knows the danger they are all in, but she never strikes out. She doesn’t even ever raise her voice. She is calm in the face of adversity–wouldn’t you love to know everything about her? Wouldn’t you love to sit down with Hannah and find out her life story? I know I would. Hannah is a survivor and I like that. I don’t get the impression that Hannah has ever been a person who has sat back and felt sorry for her circumstances. Tragedy has surely struck her family but she is the kind of person who rises above it, who finds purpose and meaning in everything that happens. It’s Hannah who enables Hutch and Starsky to get their plan together. It’s Hannah who sees the man beyond the killer in Hector. I like to think that if there is a funeral somewhere in Bay City for Hector (maybe he’s buried in a potter’s field) Hannah would insist on going to the funeral because Hector, no matter how evil he was, was not born that way and was once his mother’s child.