Joey Carston’s continued infatuation with Starsky compromises his cover and endangers Hutch, who impersonates a hit-man to try to stop a killing.
Joey Carston: Mare Winningham, Eddie Carlyle: Kaz Garas, Sid: Lana Wood, Mrs. Carston: Ann Prentiss, Schiller: Peter Mark Richman, Damon: Lenny Baker, Officer Kromack: Tom Jackman, Steve: James Vaughn, Minnie: Marki Bey. Written By: Robert E Swanson, Directed By: Leo Penn.
QUESTIONS AND NOTES:
This episode’s title refers to the short story by Damon Runyon called “Forty Pounds of Trouble”, which was filmed several times, the most popular being a Shirley Temple vehicle. “Marky” is a little girl whose father gives her to a gangster-run gambling operation as collateral for a bet. He then loses his bet and commits suicide, and the gangsters are left with the girl on their hands. Her guardians eventually become fond of her and a new sort of family is formed. Parallels to this episode are a bit murky, except to note that parents very often fail, and that what society may view as “bad” for a child are in fact good, if the love is there. Schiller’s henchman Damon may be a reference to the story’s author.
This is a lushly-filmed episode, with soft lighting and handsome staging, especially the beachfront location. The scene in which Starsky confronts Joey in the hotel hallway in particular has a rich, cinematic look cheapened somewhat by the cheesy flute-and-saxophone soundtrack.
Joey Carston is the character originally played by Kristy McNicol in “The Trap”, now a year or so older and still infatuated by Starsky. McNichol gave her character a fiesty, argumentative edge while Winningham is altogether quieter, more contained, with a bit of princess thrown in – more classically feminine. Her crush on Starsky is seen (by Hutch and the rest of the detectives in the squad room anyway) as charming, and Starsky’s discomfort as a harmless bit of fun, and Winningham’s pouty determination causes no alarm bells to ring. Fifteen is a lot different from twelve or thirteen and it’s surprising no one sees this situation as inappropriate, and these are hardcore cops who have seen a lot of sexual misconduct in their careers. Is this just naïvite on the part of the writers, or have the times changed all that much?
Hutch’s earlier health regime seems to be in abatement since he eats most of a stale doughnut meant for Starsky.
Hutch isn’t seen very often as the fraternizing type, so it’s nice to see him laughing easily with the other cops over Starsky’s discomfort with Joey’s puppy-love.
How would Hutch handle this, if Joey’s devotion was directed at him? My guess is with a lot less easy charm, and lot more nervous fumbling. Let’s throw in an earnest lecture or two, and perhaps a call to Kiko for advice.
Hutch tells Starsky Dobey is waiting for them to have a meeting, yet seems happy to meet without his partner. What’s happened to Starsky? It’s not like him to miss something like this. Looking for a doughnut shouldn’t take precedence over an assignment.
Apprehending Carlyle, Starsky and Hutch shout to each other, “Cover me” and then “Got you.” Really, is this not what, in the end, we all need from each other?
It’s nice to see how animated both Starsky and Hutch are at the hospital with the unconscious Carlyle. It’s been awhile since either one has shown the least bit of enthusiasm for the job. The energy in the room is high; all Dobey can do is surrender to it.
Dobey reminds Starsky and Hutch that Carlyle has a right to a phone call and lawyer when he awakes, which would jeopardize their plans to get Schiller. Dobey then gives Starsky and Hutch thirty-six hours, which he says is cutting it close. How is Dobey able to guarantee any amount of time, unless he’s privy to medical information he doesn’t share? Or is he prepared to make sure Carlyle receives an extra dose of sedation to keep him incapacitated longer than he normally would be? When Carlyle does wake after several scenes he takes what looks like an ominously-filled syringe from the tray by his bedside and injects the doctor with it. How far do you think Dobey might go ensure justice is done?
Both Starsky and Hutch think it’s a great idea for Hutch to impersonate Carlyle, given a vague resemblance. If whoever hired Carlyle hasn’t hit hasn’t met him, what difference does it make what resemblance there is? And if they have met, they’ll see right away Hutch isn’t Carlyle. Unless Hutch is thinking he might pass in a bad driver’s license photo, this whole gamble is pretty meaningless. Were they wondering if, at some point, Carlyle described himself on the phone? “You’ll know me, I’m six foot, blond, with a moustache.” I guess you can’t be too careful.
As is usual in the fourth series, the tone is a bit on the light side. Very often the episodes crumble into absurdity, but in the scene in Carlyle’s hotel room in which Hutch tries to get in character as the urbane hit-man while Starsky plays the useful role as dour kill-joy, the humor and tension are perfectly balanced. Hutch’s enjoyment in his role is lovely to watch and nicely underplayed by Soul, as is Starsky’s suppressed amusement at his partner’s foibles. As Hutch adjusts the fedora Starsky gives him an up-and-down glance that manages to combine affection, sarcasm and exasperation before announcing “you playing a classy character is about like Lou Costello playing Noel Coward.” Hutch stubbornly insists he’s getting into character “like a serious actor”, and that he would be “at home with the hoi polloi as the Rothschilds.” Notice, though, he waits for Starsky’s approval, or at least his full attention, before asking, “What do you think?” even though he knows what Starsky will say. He’s practically demanding to be ridiculed. Starsky gives one of his cautious grins. “Don’t ask.” “Why bother,” Hutch says as if completing the thought. The two of them continue to tussle in this way for quite awhile and it seems to be genuinely fun, the pleasure in each other’s company is nicely evident, and note how, when the phone rings and the meeting goes down, both Starsky and Hutch instantly coil into apprehension without losing a beat.
How much confidence does Starsky lose in their plan when Hutch asks, “where’s my hat” and Starsky has to point out it is on his head?
What is Hutch really trying to say when he complains he “may have the salary of a cop, but he “has the soul of an aesthete”? Does this mean Hutch believes he doesn’t have the soul of a cop? What is his definition as the “soul of a cop” and who would he say has it? He persists in this grievance for so long even though it’s clear this isn’t remotely true. Starsky does what he always does in these situations: amused, he knocks his partner down a notch, forgets it, and moves on.
Hutch doesn’t want Damon to meet him in the hotel room, instead he picks a fancy French restaurant instead (one he obviously remembers from some time in the past although the name – Chez Moi – slips his mind). Seems to me the hotel room would be a better bet, a much more easily controlled environment (cops in the other room as backup, listening and recording devices, etc, no troublesome bystanders to worry about). What are his reasons for this? Does he believe he is thinking like Carlyle, or is he sure the department wouldn’t back up such a risky plan? His cowboy attitude must annoy the police administration to no end and perhaps he is wiser to keep Dobey out of it. But by relying solely on Starsky, who is later removed from the action, Hutch is taken to a warehouse without backup, which is worse trouble.
11:45 am and Hutch is drinking wine and eating crab and caviar? Pretty “classy”. Hutch probably had to pay for this expensive meal himself; I would imagine it would be difficult to convince Accounts to pony up. Notice how in this acting job Hutch defaults once again to Supercilious A-hole when it’s not strictly necessary. Surely the haughty speculation on the merits of caviar is more for his private enjoyment, because it dangerously antagonizes Damon.
And on a minor note, caviar on a saltine? Oh, so wrong.
Hutch does an extraordinary amount of eating in this show.
Starsky’s game to get Sid to talk to him – by searching for a lost wallet under her table – is very similar to his bluffing to Mickie about wanting to purchase the car in “Class in Crime.” It didn’t work particularly well then but it works better here (bad Bogey impression notwithstanding). In his scenes with Sid he’s breathtakingly masterful. Self-assured, authoritative, physically relaxed, and powerfully sexual without a hint of threat or malice. You can see that at first she’s irked at being hit on but within seconds she’s genuinely happy to have him stick around. It’s the same act he pulled with Rosey too, a season earlier. Now, as then, when he really turns it on it’s painful to see the look of hopefulness on her face – another woman beaten down by men in the past, certain there are no good ones out there only to be swept off her feet by Mr. Perfect – and know for sure she is going to get hurt.
Once again Hutch and Dobey have a meeting sans Starsky.
Joey’s flaky mother mistakes Hutch for Starsky. At least mother and daughter won’t be fighting over the same man. It’s always great to watch Hutch’s subtle and variable emotions: here, it goes from annoyance to loathing to, eventually, a kind of flat disgust.
Sid tells Starsky she met Schiller once in New York, and he showed her a good time. She tells Starsky “You don’t want him mad at you,” meaning he’s both violent and unpleasant, but here she is, meeting him again. What is Schiller’s hold over her, and what exactly is her role in this organization anyway? It’s never explained, although she seems to have some pull. Gangster’s moll doesn’t quite cut it – there’s more to the story of Sid than we are ever told.
Joey Carston says to Huggy, “Love’s a runaway train, and I am riding this one to the end of the line.” Does or doesn’t she end up doing just that? Seems to me she jumps off before the station. Speculate on the fact that all of Joey’s relationships are going to be “runaway trains.”
When Huggy tells Joey, as discouragement, that Starsky is “over the hill … set in his ways … basically a demented sex fiend.” Strong words, but is there any truth in this description or is Huggy think he’s doing his job as a friend? What makes Huggy think he has to play the role of Discourager, anyway? Had Starsky been complaining about her?
Speaking of Huggy being in the know, Starsky doesn’t have to explain about Schiller and Carlyle and all the rest when he phones, he simply trusts him to understand what he means. Did they tell Huggy all about it at some point? If so, isn’t that risky and potentially illegal, and likely to get them all into trouble?
And when Huggy, on the phone with Starsky, says (loudly enough for Joey to overhear) “your lunch date is here” and then in the same breath, meaning Sid, “is she pretty?” what the hell is his game? If this is indeed a conscious ploy to let Joey know Starsky isn’t interested in her, it’s clumsy verging on cruel. If it was just an oversight, this is pretty lame. Huggy, in the snitch business for a long time, not to mention proprietor of all manner of drunken secrets, should know better.
Both Joey and Sid are women with men’s names. Joey has insisted on hers as a talisman against girly weakness and Sid has been subsumed by a disappointed father. Both will do anything for a man’s approbation, and will endure all kinds of danger just to feel protected and wanted. Both see femininity as a tricky but powerful weapon rather than something integral to their being. Both are creatures of impulse. Both are driven by a sense of victimization and helplessness. Both prefer to see themselves as passengers rather than conductors on their “runaway trains”. Both give the impression of capricious high spirits but in fact are deeply insecure and despairing. And both are inexorably drawn to the same man.
Carlyle comes to and goes for a syringe on his bedside table, all while the nurse is less than two feet away. Why not wait until she’s out of the room? He can’t be sure she’d be as oblivious as she in fact turns out to be.
I love when Sid, casting about for a way to keep Starsky around, blurts out “do you want to get a room?” (Ignore for a moment the depths she is prepared to go for the sake of the organization). Look how Starsky gives her a quick glance consisting of surprise, pity, wariness and calculation, before gently replying, “No.” It’s probably the nicest rejection Sid ever had and Starsky is able to make it seem more like a compliment than a refusal. Nice work, Glaser.
What’s going on in Hutch’s mind as he walks up to Starsky to “shoot” him? Whatever it is – and it’s likely to be fuck I hope this works – you can see the shock in Starsky’s face quickly, nearly instantaneously, turn to understanding (you can almost read it: Hutch is in danger of being made, they know cops are involved, he has to prove he’s legit by pretending to shoot me, so go ahead and I’ll make it convincing) in what may be the best psychic moment in the series.
When Starsky goes down, you can see a mark on his shirt, perhaps the “nick” he mentions later. As good as he is with his trusty Magnum, a “nick” would most likely mean something pretty grisly, particularly since Hutch moves pretty fast which compromises accuracy. Starsky is up and about and completely fine moments later. Was he, in fact, injured, or was this the smudge of a powder burn?
Joey having a CB radio in the Mercedes is perhaps the only element of the episode compromising its plausibility . It’s too pat and convenient. Other than this detail, this is a very well-written episode (despite a personal dislike of the Joey storyline).
Tag: who’s more upset at being considered old, Starsky or Hutch? It seems about even. It’s shocking how fast Joey dumps Starsky after adoring him so ardently, and for so long, and disturbing too how smug she is about snagging the captain of the football team. Her relationship with Starsky hasn’t really had a sexual element to it; for all her clinginess and talk of having a “date” it’s quite sweetly prepubescent. It’s only when she meets the boy in the park does she suddenly burst into estrus. When exactly did she change from earnest tomboy to status-driven manipulator? And why, exactly, is this presented as something cute, a necessary rite of passage into womanhood?
It is a foregone conclusion that Starsky will end up taking Hutch to the Springsteen concert.
Clothing notes: Starsky has stopped wearing his Adidas, and wears brown crepe shoes. He walks into the station room in jeans so tight it’s amazing he can even move around. Hutch wears dark-wash jeans plus a grey wool jacket and both his tusk necklace and the sun and moon necklace, a simultaneous pairing that takes some guts to pull off. When he dresses as the flashy hitman he looks absolutely wonderful in a fedora, scarf and suit ensemble. Starsky wears a nice jacket-and-slacks outfit to pick up Sid.