Episode 1: Savage Sunday

Two men steal a car for a Sunday afternoon crime spree, unaware that it contains a trunkful of dynamite an elderly couple plan on using to blow up city hall to protest living conditions in their care home.

Gregg Morton: Bob Delegall, Wilbur Sloan: Edward Walsh, Henny Wilson: Arthur Peterson, Sarah Wilson: Hope Summers, Tony: Ray Vitte, Sally Ann: Suzanne Somers, Geoffrey: Dave Shelley, Marty: Tom Castronova, Ed: Dick Wesson, Huey: Eric Kilpatrick, Ted: Louis James Oliver, Billy: Skip Lowell, Diane Sills: Bobbie Mitchell. Written By: Fred Freiberger, Directed By: Claude Ennis Starrett Jr.


“Confidence, Huey, confidence.” Hutch is reading the funnies to Starsky with dramatic flair, a particularly nice gesture on his part although not the last time he reads the paper aloud to his friend (for example he reads the sports while on a stakeout in “Terror on the Docks” and the wanted ads in “Targets 2”). The cartoon caption foreshadows the basketball game he and Starsky later play against Huey and Tony. Was it a lack of confidence that made Huey lose?

“Oh now, lookee here, lookee here, that’s our baby,” Sloan says to Morton as they watch a car pull into the parking lot, a grayish piece of crap looking very much like the car Hutch insists on driving. “That old tub?” says Morton, not convinced. “That old tub,” says Sloan, “is like a thousand other old tubs.” Meaning it can’t be immediately identified. Morton’s disdain, saying a flashy sports car is more his style, and Sloan’s stubborn insistence on a beater, might make the two of them a criminal version of Hutch and Starsky. As proof of this supposition, Sloan makes Morton pay the tip – something Hutch would do.

If the two of them want to have a low profile, why make memorable small talk with the cashier and the old couple?

Starsky and Hutch first see white Chevy at 1:20. They are in meeting with Dobey at 1:37. In seventeen minutes, Starsky and Hutch engage in a car chase and then get downtown to turn over their prisoner Milty, then get to Dobey’s office to make their meeting. Supercops, indeed.

That’s a very nice car chase we see, one of the longest of the series and nicely uncluttered. The dingy beige landscape, dry foliage and near-empty streets contrast beautifully with the candy-red Torino.

Henny and Sarah Wilson are still able-bodied, intelligent, capable people, so why are they living in an old age home? Granted, it’s a minimal-care facility, but why not in their own apartment? Is one of them sicker than they appear? And also, while we’re in the topic, how do you suppose Henny got the dynamite in the first place? Does he have old cronies in the construction trade, or is it something more sinister?

The whole dynamite issue is treated pretty lightly in this episode, the Wilsons seen as heroic, more adorable more than dangerous. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt because of us!” Sarah Wilson implores her husband. Oh yeah? What about the dynamite in your car? Believing that massive collateral damage is part of proving a point is the sort of deeply unsettling justification used by politically-motivated terrorists. An interesting connection to this dubious ethical stand is also seen when Huggy advises his pretty bartender “there is thievery, and allowable thievery”, meaning that a woman is entitled to steal as much as a man, but no more. This sums up the illogical equation made of the Wilsons: a “reasonable” grudge against city hall is as allowable as any other act of civil disobedience.

The cheerful musical punctuation of each scene is something, thankfully, they never used again.

Why do the two guys give up so easily when they play Starsky and Hutch a game of basketball for information? Barely four points in and they cave. Is it a matter of pride, or are they just really tired and not wanting to admit it? Perhaps they’re desperate to get rid of a coupla white guys who could ruin their reputation if one of their friends happens by.

Starsky and Hutch need the password (knock, two shorter knocks) at Monty’s bookie joint, but they end up just kicking in the door. Is this accumulating information just a game for them, a shakedown for the hell of it, a way of manipulating and controlling people, just to prove they can?

Sally Ann is forthcoming with information, and looks cute in her sparkly outfit, but why question her about something so important at the bar? They should have taken her in for questioning, or at least asked her to step outside. Five minutes between dances isn’t a lot of time to elicit what they know will be the most important information they have so far about a time-sensitive case, yet they’re awfully cavalier about it. Would Sally Ann be fired if she left the bar? Would it be worse than being seen talking to cops?

When confronted by the two criminals in the alley behind the go-go bar, Starsky and Hutch are very fast on the trigger, blasting the shots away with no genuine provocation – if the case was taken to trial, they would be in very, very big trouble.

This is the first time the guys have been bested when the Torino either breaks down or is wrecked by bad guys. The only other instance is the spectacular explosion in “The Set-Up”, after which Starsky apparently gets an identical car (the stolen engine in “Targets”, thankfully, doesn’t interfere substantially with the case).

Dobey tells Sarah and Henny they are free to leave; their lawyer paid their bail two hours ago. It’s not Dobey who keeps them sitting there that long, it’s the two old people themselves, insisting on staying and looking through mug books, despite attempts to get them to leave when they were bailed out. You can tell Dobey’s patience is wearing a bit thin. They only agree to leave when he tells them the bad guys have been identified.

Starsky stealing Dobey’s hamburger is Glaser’s ad lib.

Should Ted believe the guys when they tell him about the bomb in the car? It really does sound like a line invented by cops to get him to confess. I mean really, it’s sort of incredible that there’s dynamite in the trunk. But he immediately buys it. “Cops, man,” he says to no one in particular as they peel away, “they’re weird.”

With all the complaining about working on a Sunday, it’s a good thing no one was working at the construction site when the car was driven into it.

Clothing Notes: Huggy deserves a mention for his pink leisure suit with cravat. The guys are in usual attire; Starsky wears the same clothes he’ll wear for the next four years. Except in the tag, where he wears a very silly bowtie (ostensibly for the councilman, or maybe out of respect for the table of elderly residents), which he rips off in a hurry.


8 Responses to “Episode 1: Savage Sunday”

  1. King David Says:

    I cannot watch this episode without screaming at the screen (and I mean you, Starsky) to drive more carefully with the bomb car. God Almighty! He bangs and crunches – he could’ve killed everybody!

  2. Alex Says:

    Not my favorite episode and I wonder to this day why they started the series with this lame episode. They had such a good pilot and for me this first episode after the pilot was a letdown. Hard to believe that milquetoast elderly couple would conceive of such a nefarious plot much less carry it out. And the villains were forgettable. Give me Richard Lynch or Steven Keats over these two any day. Nevertheless there are some points of interest in this episode. Starsky debuts the infamous Adidas, his hair is longer but not too long, and he’s still a food junkie. Hutch looks exactly the same. Cpt Dobey is new and likable enough. The original Dobey’s gravelly voice grated.

    I’m not sure what the elderly couple intended to do with the dynamite. They were going to park the car at city hall then call and alert officials. If they meant to blow the building up why would they alert anyone beforehand? They obviously didn’t want to hurt anyone, but how would their scheme have ever benefited them?

    How did Starsky start the car so fast? Looked to me like he was turning the key in the ignition while Hutch tried to pry the trunk open with a sign. If the key was in the car, why not hand it off to Hutch?

    Earlier there was fear driving over a pebble would ignite the dynamite yet Starsky bangs the rear of the car into a concrete wall.

    The councilman at the end was left handed. I’m convinced Paul Michael Glaser pushed for equal opportunity for southpaws. Councilman also had a comb-over. After having watched the entire series recently I was struck by how many men had comb-overs. Maybe I’ll point them out as I meander through the series again.

    Huggy was at the dinner but no Cpt Dobey. Why wouldn’t he attend considering a councilman was in attendance?

    Requisite slug bug shots.

    Oh and Starsky’s goofy, infamous run, head down, arms windmilling. Ben Stiller nailed that run in the Starsky and Hutch movie.

    In the opening credits the shot of Starsky jumping out of the car is not of Paul Michael Glaser but his stunt double. I have always hated that they chose a scene with the stunt double instead of the actor. I’m sure they were more interested in showing a car being blown to bits than humoring an obsessive Paul Michael Glaser fan.

  3. Shelley Says:

    This episode does seem to be somewhat of a jarring contrast to the pilot. The older couple is like a pair from Little House on the Prairie or some such show. If they are living in a “home for the aged,” maybe it’s because they’re broke, but then how do they get dynamite? Which is something Merl wondered, in addition to why this criminal behavior of theirs is essentially ignored like it’s no big deal.

    The timing seems off through the whole episode. The dynamite is set to blow up at 5 pm but by 1:37, people are still saying they have four hours to prevent this. Somebody manages to professionally paint an entire car in practically no time at all. It seems like hours later that Huggy says they have three hours to prevent this.

    Alex mentioned the early fear that the dynamite would blow up if the car hit a tiny bump. By the time the guys actually got the trunk open, I was wondering if the dynamite was bogus, considering all the frenetic driving around in that car with no effect at all.

    I always wonder why practically everyone in this show (including S&H) dresses like it’s very chilly. The radio announcer said it was a hot day, but the guys’ clothes look like it’s about 55 degrees.

    Why does Hutch throw Starsky’s chili dog in the trash? That seems pointless. A sign of future behavior as well.

    • Beena Thomas Says:

      Throwing Stasky’s Chilli dog in the trash was indeed mean. And as you have pointed out this is a sign of his future behavior towards him throughout.

  4. stybz Says:

    Not one of my favorite episodes. I agree with much of what was said here.

    I need to rewatch the scene in the diner. Did the guys steal the keys to the car from the old couple? I thought they hotwired the car, and was under the impression that Starsky did the same. It took a while for it to catch, but fortunately not too long.

    How handy the sign was right in front of the car when the pulled up to it in the garage. Otherwise what would Hutch have used to try to prop the trunk open? 😉

  5. Kit Sullivan Says:

    I must be the lone dissenter here: I loved this episode, from the moment it was first broadcast way back in ’75 and I was on the floor with my chin in my hands watching it likea fanatic!
    The opening car chase set the tone for the series as far as i was concerned. Some of the editing was off, though: What was visible through the back window of the torino ask S&H deliver thier dialog does not come close to matching the footage shot of the exterior of the Torino.
    They guy’s banter is very entertaining when questionoing the witness at the beginning, and when questioning the old folks at the home.
    I was a little distressed at Starsky’s glibness at basically stealing some snacks off the shelf at the crime scene!
    I give this ep a lot of slack: It is the first one filmed after a long break from the piolt, and they clearly were attempting to alter the tone a bit to “fit” a weekly series. They would very soon have the key ppoints down perfect!

  6. Kit Sullivan Says:

    After watching this episode again for the bazillionth time, I did notice a few interesting items:
    First, when the dynamite bomb is shown in the trunk of the white ’62 Chevy the first couple of times, the spare tire with its steel, green-painted rim is clearly visible…even though the white car had not yet been painted green by Ted yet.
    Sure enough, once the car recieves its utterly amazing professional-quality green paint job in a matter of only a few minutes (for only $30!), the car’s wheels are indeed green also.
    And somehow, the car has not only changed color…but year-model too! What started out as a white ’62 Chevy ends up as a green ’63 Chevy.
    Obviously, the producers utilized two ( or more) different cars…clearly a neccesity due to the time constraints of a weekly TV series.
    In the early chase scene with Milty in the back seat, a bundle of electrical cables can clearly be seen snaking up, over and out the top of the passenger side door…another obvious clue to production equipment.
    The “brand new, double-belted 60-buck radials” that Starsky is peeved about are clearly not brand new, or even the tires that were actually on the Torino beforehand. Double white-walls and a very worn-out looking tread are both very clearly evident as Hutch pulls one up and tosses it to Starsky…obviously not the tires that were on the car.
    The parking garage where the bomb car is eventually discovered has several levels…apparently.
    Starsky drives through the first two floors, and they discover the bomb car parked on third floor.
    Yet…every time the Torino turns onto the next floor, the same big “1” painted on the wall is clearly visible. It appears the same collection of random vehicles are parked on every level, just rearranged slightly.
    And just how the bomb car was found in time begs an explanation, since the radio announcer says to be on the look-out for “green ’73 Chevy”…which looks considerably different than the ’63 Chevy they are actually looking for.
    The trunk lid falls off the bomb car just before it explodes, yet is instantly back in place moments before the explosion.

    None of this detracts from the show however, they are all just the artifacts of a TV show produced 40 years ago on a skimpy budget. And of course no one at the time could concieve that they would ever be shown more than a few times before relegated to history. Who would have dreamed that DVDs of each episode would ever be scrutinized on big-screen hi-def TVs?
    The flaws give the charm to me. I love it!

  7. Kit Sullivan Says:

    Two additional comments on this episode:
    You mention that Starsky stealing Dobey’s hamburger is ad-libbed by Glaser, but if so it must have been planned out well before in the writing phase, as there is obvious fore-shadowing in Glaser’s acting puncuated by deliberate camera moves…as well as close-up insert shots which could never havr been planned for if truly ad-libbed.
    A true ad-lib is something done totally unplanned…this whole scene obviously was not a pure ad-lib.
    Also, a bit of wierd editing towards the end: As Starsky kneels down and is “slapping the cuffs” on Morton, both he and Morton suddenly look up directly at Hutch…who has said or done nothing to warrant such a reaction. Then, well AFTER Starsky’s and Morton’s reaction moment, Hutch finally says “it must be your lucky day…”, a line which would have warranted that reaction if it had come earlier.
    I think the editing just made it seem a little odd.

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