Episode 4: Snowstorm

Cocaine missing from a bust and the murder of their informant lead Starsky and Hutch to suspect either Stryker, a drug lord, or two fellow officers, Burke and Corman.

Marty Crandell: George Dzundza, Phil Corman: Richard Venture, Burke: Paul Benjamin, Kalowitz: Bill Sorrells, Stryker: Gilbert Green, Rodgers: Eric Mason, Freddie: Jim Bohan. Written By: Robert I Holt, Directed By: Bob Kelljan.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a great, punchy early episode with many wonderful scenes. The story, for all its complications, is tough and believable, there is a strong emotional component to the narrative, the clash between generations is always fascinating, and best of all Starsky and Hutch (or more precisely Glaser and Soul) are particularly upbeat. There’s a barely suppressed joy here, much laughter and grinning, little jokes and a general sense that both are fully engaged with this story and enjoying themselves immensely. For instance, in the scene in which Starsky and Hutch are menaced by Stryker in the underground garage, the grim realism of the moment is made even better by Starsky’s laughter at the end of it – you get the sense Starsky (and Glaser, for the line here is a thin one) is saying, “can you believe how great this all is?” As well the talismanic Dalmatian Hutch sees repeatedly, and Starsky doesn’t, is a lovely touch and not something employed ever again. This metaphor for the whim of fate, or maybe a concrete sign that Hutch really is under a lucky star, doesn’t affect the brutal realism of the plot. In fact it adds to the idea that life – and death – is precarious, ineffable and impossible to decipher, much less predict. The fact that Robert Holt gets away with using this magical device in an otherwise gritty, hard-boiled crime story, is a testament to how great this script really is.

The first scene is wonderful for many reasons. One, Starsky is sitting on that garbage can in a neat perch that only youth and graceful athleticism allows. I like the binocular pan of the desolate, ugly landscape of dusty, weedy lots and aluminum shacks. The fact that we see firsthand that police work is largely boring, and that cops get hungry too, is a nice bit of realism and one that was at the time subtly revolutionary for television.

Starsky throws Hutch a sandwich and Hutch catches it expertly like a professional baseball player (and Soul is a very talented one).

When Crandell and his partner drive up to the drop with their contraband and the shark-like green sedan cruises up, Starsky and Hutch quickly take off, leaving the other officers hidden inside the building. They then drive quite a long way away, only to turn around the return for the bust. This always strikes me as interesting and not very practical. The long drive back, dust flying, gives the bad guys extra seconds to look up and assess the situation. They then calculate the risk and go into defensive mode faster than they should have, pulling guns and blasting away. It would have made more sense to hide the Torino on site and simply wait at the scene for the deal to go down, then ambush quickly and silently.

Kalowitz says Edward Crown “had you cold, Starsky,” and notes Starsky should be grateful to Corman for shooting him. It appears Starsky saved himself ably and with plenty of time, making Kalowitz’s statement patently untrue. Is this symbolic of Kalowitz’s limited vision and bad judgment in hanging around Corman and Burke? Even if it’s proven he never took part in this scheme, Kalowoitz is still shown to be one of the Old Guard, that is, deeply suspicious of Starsky and Hutch and eager to put forth the idea that his cronies still have what it takes.

Leaving a premonitory bad taste in my mouth is Phil Corman’s quick demand Starsky buy him a drink in return for ostensibly saving his life. Most cops would shrug and say, “it’s nothing” if their actions were singled out, and so Corman comes off as a self-centered prat in this small moment. Robert Holt’s script is full of these nice details. The scene continues with Corman’s racist joke at the expense of his partner which pretty much tells us this is one reprehensible human being.

In a wonderfully deft bit of comedy, Starsky and Hutch are sharing a cup of water as they debrief in Dobey’s office following the bust. They continue to hand it back and forth throughout, and then, at the conclusion of the meeting when Starsky gestures for it, Hutch refuses to share. This adroit little comedy bit not only enlivens a dialogue-heavy scene, it allows us to see that Starsky and Hutch exist in a world of their own, a part of – but somehow separated from – the environment around them. Sharing also emphasizes the intimacy of the partnership as well as its good-natured competitiveness (and Hutch’s often punitive sense of humor).

Dobey says the informant has to keep feeding information to Starsky and Hutch until they get Stryker, the big boss. Starsky and Hutch vehemently disagree but Dobey tells them about a statutory rape charge pending against the informant they should use as leverage. It seems to me a mistake that Dobey knows the name of their snitch. They should have – and easily could have – kept that in confidence, although I guess that legally Dobey could have forced them to reveal the name or risk prosecution. Although I can’t imagine Dobey doing that, this is, as we discover, is an unusually urgent case for him. The clandestine, undocumented and “casual” nature of undercover detective work pretty much depends on secrecy. Starsky and Hutch should not have been made to be accountable for unrelated crimes committed by Crandell. They should have kept his identity secret. They want to catch Stryker as much as Dobey does, but I wonder if they would have gone through with the Philadelphia rape charge threat if Dobey hadn’t forced them to.

I love how Hutch slaps Starsky’s back as they go through the door at Huggy’s.

Huggy’s responsible for one of the great nonsensical lines in the series when he announces, “Huggy Bear’s is where the elite meet and come to greet the deet and fleet of feet who are so sweet with the finer things of life, beep, beep, bee-beep, beep.” Equally amusing is the blank look both Starsky and Hutch give him. It’s great, though, the guys have one ready for him at the tag end of the episode: Hutch saying, “He can’t cut loose without his juice,” and Starsky plays along: “He’s fine as long as he does wine,” and Hutch says, “Otherwise he’ll drink turpentine,” with Starsky, joyously adding, “And go blind!”

The guys are walking through the bar toward Crandell. In the foreground is a woman wearing kind of a dumb-looking African-style cloth cap and matching dress. Just as you notice it, Starsky does too, giving what seems like an improvised double-take, Glaser managing to telegraph bemusement and disbelief without changing the blank look on his face. Later, much later, Starsky also notices a guy walking down the street talking to himself. He gives the same look of fatigued disbelief. This ties into his complaint to Hutch that he’s too tired to be Bad Cop. Incidentally, Starsky is much more likely to keep his thoughts to himself while Hutch is inclined to express his opinions and frustrations.

When Starsky tells Hutch to “play the bad guy for a change,” is it because he feels he ends up playing the bad cop more than Hutch, or is it pretty much 50/50? It’s Starsky, frankly, who slides most easily into the menacing role in the interview room, due to his mastery of the slow burn.

You have to really look for the moments in which Starsky controls Hutch, but they’re there. Hutch is more obviously bossy and manipulative, but Starsky matches him point for point in his own quiet way. It’s Starsky who almost imperceptibly motions to Hutch when it’s time to let Crandell out of the booth. Hutch smiles and obeys.

Also, I like when Crandell leaves Hutch slides from his side of the booth, where he’s been blocking him, and goes to squeeze next to Starsky on his side. There’s no real reason for this except to be closer to him. They share a joke – “I didn’t even get a chance to get into my character,” Hutch, consummate asshole-actor wannabe, complains – and Starsky kicks him lightly and gives one of his all-too-rare big grins. This is a wonderfully unguarded spontaneous moment.

The dog is seen again at night, at the other side of town, as the Torino glides into the underground parking lot of what might be Starsky’s brief flirtation with high rise apartment living (not that there’s much proof in this supposition; this is the one and only time he’s seen here, and it’s not as if the scene is entitled “Starsky Drives Home For a Sec”). Starsky says, “I’ll be down in a second; need anything?” “No,” says Hutch, genially enough. Two questions. What, if this is indeed Starsky’s apartment, is he needing at night in the middle of the case? Money? Bullets? And two, why ask Hutch if he needs anything? Does this imply Hutch keeps something there, like an extra t-shirt? Of course all this is moot if this is a parking garage for a grocery store, or if Starsky is running in to pay a phone bill, or buy model airplane glue or pop or something. While the front exterior of the building nominally resembles the police department, there is a notable absence of police cars. Besides, how and why would Stryker risk entering the underground parking lot of the police station? He’s a lot of things, but nuts he isn’t.

All right, let’s talk about the dog for a moment. This is the first and only time a truly magical element is introduced to the series and it defies all rational explanation. Even Joe Collins’ visions in “The Psychic” can be mostly explained away rationally (I try to do just that in Character Studies 29). The dog is a complete mystery, but it’s fun to look at it from several different angles.

If we want to stay in the worldly realm it’s possible it is not the same dog Hutch sees multiple times. Hutch may be alerted to the unusual sight of an apparently stray Dalmatian and then begins to see Dalmatians everywhere. We can all relate to this – many of us hear an unusual word or see something out of the ordinary and then it seems as if we see and hear it everywhere. The human brain is wired to make patterns out of nothing, which is why pure coincidence is such a difficult concept for people to accept. I once heard the same obscure 80s pop song three times in one day in different locations.

It might be an amusing bit of karma that Hutch, who can be a bit of a know-it-all, comes off like a bit of a lunatic when he keeps claiming to see a dog Starsky is sure doesn’t exist. The dog is indeed real, if unusually watchful, staring at Hutch as if to transmit a message. For most of the episode the dog is also a precursor of duplicity. He is first seen as they walk into Huggy’s and talk to Crandall, who, as a three-timing snitch is the very model of duplicity. Second as they enter the underground parking lot to be ambushed by Stryker, who tries to recruit them with bribery. Third just before getting a call to the murder scene – a murder perpetuated by the police officers, a murder Stryker believes is proof that Starsky and Hutch are lying about the cocaine. In the tag, he appears when Starsky and Hutch are slipping out of Huggy’s to avoid paying a bill.

But beyond that, Hutch’s ever-increasing sensitivity to the dog’s seemingly arbitrary appearances means that by the time he sees the watchful, solemn Dalmatian at the really crucial moment, on the street outside Crandall’s apartment, he is fully and instantly attuned to the oddity. Each time the sighting grows stranger and more intense, and now when he sees the dog here he is flooded with adrenaline. And it is this flush of alertness that saves his life. Determined to solve this mystery, he bends just slightly to encourage the dog. The bullet zings past the top of his head.

I like how unimpressed Starsky and Hutch are when they realize the specter in the garage is Stryker.

Dobey tells the guys they are under investigation by Internal Affairs along with the three other detectives involved in the case. Now, here is where the plot gets a little complicated. Stryker tells Starsky and Hutch there is one million bucks in cocaine missing. It’s not as if he has informants within the department who were there when the shipment was brought in and weighed, because we find out later the missing cocaine was never part of the “official” bust. It might have been so much easier for Corman and Burke to skim off the top during the chaos of the arrest site at the same time they steal the gun, but we eventually we learn that Crandall himself has stolen the cocaine even before it was baled into the cotton shipment. So how did Internal Affairs even know there was missing cocaine? There may have been solid information about the weight of the shipment from someone inside Stryker’s outfit but Stryker himself dismisses this idea and I’m inclined to believe him. The guy Stryker bailed out wouldn’t know – how would he? So how does Stryker know?

Starsky mentions to Dobey that Corman used the missing drugs to set up a rip-off deal. A large amount of cocaine like that would be carefully monitored by secure lockup personnel but Starsky says it like he knows for sure. This turns out not to be the case, so I’m curious where Starsky got this information and why he repeats it so confidently.

I just know someone smarter than me will point out the obvious. But I admit I’m stumped.

I wonder, when Dobey compares himself and his partner Elmo Jackson to Starsky and Hutch, if is implying they too had the same depth of love and trust. It’s possible he just meant a good working relationship, but even so comparing himself and Jackson to Starsky and Hutch provides a crucial clue to the essential character of Dobey. Later, in “Captain Dobey, You’re Dead!” we will hear a similar story of a cold case and Dobey’s failure to bring a criminal to justice, and how it eats away at him. At the end of the episode Dobey is present at the arrest of Stryker for the murder of his old partner – “and best friend”, he says angrily – in order to provide closure for a long term injustice. I always wonder how much guilt he suffers because of his inability to arrest Stryker back in the day for the torture and murder of that best friend. I wonder if he questions his own ambition, the roads he has traveled since, from fiery street cop to desk-bound administrator. If those failures eat at him, does he in turn eat to smother the guilt? Do those little rages of his – gusting unexpectedly but dying down just as fast – give an indication that he is, at all times, angry on some level? Think ahead to future episodes in which either Starsky and/or Hutch is in danger, possibly in danger of death, how weak Dobey can be, how after a burst of shouting he just seems to give up like the air’s been let out of him. He’s bewildered in “Bloodbath”, and in “Coffin” says, “well, that’s it then” when there is still time to fight. He goes out for the evening when Hutch is suffering a heroin overdose in “The Fix”. He thinks “missing officer” trumps “missing partner” in “Survival”. He seems deflated and defeated when Starsky lies near death in “Sweet Revenge” while Hutch keeps ramping up the energy. And simultaneously he coddles the two detectives, favors them and covers for them, gives them all kinds of leeway, some legal and some not. In a sense he is living through them, enjoying their power and freedom from behind his lonely desk. All these elements are more complicated when juxtaposed with the brutal truncating of this early and formative partnership with Elmo Jackson.

There is no scene that shows the divide between Starsky and Hutch and the rest of the department better than when they are driven off the road and verbally attacked by Corman, Burke, and Kalowitz. Out of nowhere a powerful latent resentment rears its ugly head and the three older and more established cops – in their rumpled suits and ties, about as old-school as it gets – reveal just how jealous and defensive they are. It’s easy to imagine how Starsky and Hutch would rub these guys the wrong way. Kalowitz, Burke and Corman must sit at their local and pound back their bourbon shots and grouse about the bewildering way these “young punks” gain the confidence and trust of informants while overtly ignoring petty crime. It’s interesting how Starsky is singled out specifically as “pushy”, even more so than Hutch. We see this resentment worsen later in “Pariah”, when Starsky is unfairly condemned by fellow officers. Of the two, Starsky seems more visibly shaken by the incident, and not only because the insults were directed at him; in these earlier episodes he is simply more likely to lose his temper when provoked, thus unintentionally living up to his reputation as “pushy”. Hutch is more likely to show his anger in later seasons – here he is cautious and vigilant rather than outwardly angry.
“Buy me a beer, will you?” Starsky says, squinting at Hutch. “Yeah,” Hutch says, agreeable as ever in this episode.

Corman and Burke say they would have only waited another fifteen minutes for the apparently tardy Crandell and they “would have split.” This would have saved Crandell from getting shot five times and dumped in a field. At least for now. Freddie was also after Crandell and there was talk of Crandell getting tortured for information. And finally, Starsky and Hutch were also on Crandell’s tail, wanting him to set up his boss. All three scenarios make Pennsylvania in the winter seem positively benign.

Crandell was dealing with three different people’s “interests” and doing some pretty nifty deals. He managed to rip off Stryker, out-think Corman and Burke, and keep Starsky and Hutch in the dark. His only mistake was not hiding half the cocaine somewhere else and tipping off Corman and Burke on the telephone to its location. Showing up in person, and then digging out both packages from the hiding spot, was a dumb move on his part, but I wonder if that was the only way he was sure to get paid.

Is there anything more gruesome than the phrase “hamburger machine”?

Waiting for Crandell, Hutch and Starsky engage in a little argument about Hutch’s crappy car. The window handle has just come off. Starsky begs Hutch to go to his uncle’s car lot “just have a look”. Hutch says, “you just want me to be driving a striped tomato like you got.” (Stri-ped, amusingly, Hutch briefly channeling Richard Harris) This may be the first example of this phrase, because Starsky is incredulous. “My car is a striped what?” he says. And even Hutch has the decency to back off. At the response to the code 3, Hutch performs an extremely satisfying squealing u-turn, smoke billowing like an angry dragon, and you get an idea why he might like that car.

Times have changed in Los Angeles. This dirt-road-and-ragweed parcel of land does not seem far from the city.

Dobey says he has “something (you guys) might want to see” when he knows damn well it’s Crandell under that sheet. Passive-aggressive, or what?

Why do Corman and Burke bother dragging Crandell’s body outside after they kill him in the shack, and exactly how do they get his body outside? The door is locked and the window seems an unlikely choice, since it’s boarded up. If they kept the body in the shed or even ripped out a section of the floor to dump the body (there was room to stash the cocaine, there might have been room for a corpse), it might not have been found for weeks, even months, and would likely be unidentifiable.

I love how the blood-thirsty conversation between Stryker and his henchman – in which Stryker proposes murdering police officers – is undercut by Sryker urging him to have some cheese and the amoral assassin says, “No thank you, I’m on a diet.”

Stryker’s motivations throughout make sense, but the narrative could use some clarity, as I am forced to make assumptions about why Stryker cares enough about a couple of stolen packages of cocaine he was never going to get anyway, care enough to risk everything and a) attempt to negotiate with a couple of detectives he must know are on the up-and-up and b) kill those same detectives when he feels let down by them. What does it matter to him what happened? My answer to that is twofold: one, he is a proud man, and has a reputation to uphold, so gossip about loose merchandise would hurt his feelings. And two, more practically, cocaine that pure getting sold on the street would dilute his own distribution aims.

Dobey seems surprised hearing Corman and Burke are going to go fishing together. It could be he sees it as a team building exercise, or maybe because he too has a little cabin in the woods and longs to chat to someone about it. But more likely it’s because he knows Corman is a racist little shit and he wonders why Burke is spending time with him.

Hutch is careful to ask where exactly the cabin is. Even if Hutch wouldn’t admit to it if you asked him, this means they are already harboring suspicions about the older detectives.

“There’s that dog!” Hutch exclaims and, when he bends to call him, just misses getting assassinated. Diving to avoid bullets he cries out, “Did you see that dog, Starsky?” Wanting, desperately, to be proven sane. “Yeah I saw it,” Starsky says. “I’m beginning to love that dog, Starsky!” Hutch yells. “Me too, Hutch,” Starsky replies.

I love the single take when Starsky and Hutch enter the Adams Hotel from one side, Rodgers leaves from the other, and a moment later the guys emerge on the rooftop to find it empty.

I wonder if this is the last time Starsky and Hutch believe in the concept of “brother cops”.

Starsky refers to “button, button, who’s got the button,” an old children’s game in which a button is surreptitiously passed around and hidden.

When Huggy makes his bogus call, which is rerouted to Dobey’s office, he asks for Starsky. Starsky answers and Huggy pretends to think it’s Hutch. “It’s me, dummy,” Starsky says, charmed at first and then realizing this mix-up of them – which will plague them for the rest of the series – is a code-word for danger. Of all the mixing-up of their names and identities by other people, this is the only time in which the mix-up is both deliberate and and extremely helpful.

Endemic racism is an issue on both sides of the law. Crandall treats his partner Burke with cruel disrespect, and Starsky tries the same tactic when he dismisses Huggy as “that black fink”. Both must have an inkling the goons around Stryker are southern yokels – Hutch refers to them as “rednecks”.

It’s mighty strange when Hutch tells a tied-up Huggy he might be charged with conspiracy for making that phone call. Sure it’s a joke, but it’s painful to hear it. Huggy was kidnapped and had a gun to his head and they knew it, and to make light of it seems way over the line, even for acerbic Hutch.

Which department does Hutch call when he says, ‘Hutchinson, send an ambulance to Huggy Bear’s restaurant. Tell Captain Dobey to send over a backup unit”? Switchboard? Desk? Why doesn’t he request the back up directly? At that point they had all the time in the world.

Describe what could be going through Dobey’s head when he gets the call: he knows Starsky and Hutch went to Huggy Bear’s because there was trouble there. He then receives a call requesting an ambulance, backup and no other information.

Starsky is the one who grabs the bottle of whiskey and the glass in the middle of the chaos of the take-down. He pours Rodgers a glass in a way that makes it clear that this is a meeting – albeit bloody and violent – between like-minded compatriots. Then he brings up the name Elmo Jackson. Hutch may know nothing about this turn of events, despite the fact he pours the booze. Quite likely he is thinking only about arrest and prosecution of the thugs who held Huggy. When he twigs to what’s really going down – and, wonderfully, it’s no more than a second or two – he gives Starsky a nod and a particularly warm look to indicate that he believes in, and in fact endorses, what’s about to happen.

I’d like to believe Rodgers’ testimony against Stryker will stick, but it’s awfully tenuous to rely on the memory of a felon who is also angling for a deal, especially when it comes to a decades-old cold case murder.

“Never pick on a man’s partner,” says Hutch. This ties a bow around the idea that Dobey has finally brought justice to his partner’s murder. However, the scene lacks something. It could be Bernie Hamilton’s acting limitations, it could be Dobey’s A-B emotional range, it could be the script’s refusal to risk bathos, whatever it is we do not get the sense that a twenty-year search for righteousness has just ended, or a man’s grief, guilt and private fears can be laid to rest. Instead the moral wrath is saved for Starsky and Hutch on their quest to bring down Corman and Burke.

Starsky remarks that Corman and Burke are like “The NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan having a togetherness rally,” which neatly sums up the contentious, racially-tension-filled partnership. It’s also perceptive: although he was there when Corman made the nasty remark early on to Burke about “totin’ those bales” he didn’t appear to react to it, or even hear it. But of course he did, and tucked it away for later. Also goes to show that although Corman and Burke were partners, with the same dark/light yin/yang as Starsky and Hutch, there is no love or loyalty between them.

The set dec people really go to town with the branches and dead grasses all over the ground. What are they hiding, a parking lot?

Starsky is forced to shoot Burke, who cries out, “we could have made a deal!” “Haven’t you heard by now? Hutch and me don’t make deals,” Starsky says, bundling him up and shoving him roughly back toward the cabin. Not only is it great that he is speaking with absolute certainty on Hutch’s behalf, he is acknowledging, ever so slightly, the gossiping in the department, gossip that Burke and Corman heard and probably participated in for their own purposes.

It’s moving that Hutch looks so crushed when Starsky returns to find he has killed Corman. There’s only sadness and loss, no triumph or told-you-so. They have lost rather than won.

Tag: Dobey reminds the guys that next time they have to do it “by the book” and Starsky lightly dismisses the idea of Internal Affairs having any sort of a problem with how things turned out. But honestly, going off like that on their own to confront fellow officers, resulting in the shooting death of one and the severe injury of the other, is a procedural and political nightmare. It could reflect poorly on the department and result in years of inquests and paperwork.

I like how Starsky says “condemnation” when he means “commendation”. It rather nicely ties in with his much later mixing up of penguins and pelicans in Starsky’s Lady, but also Starsky is acknowledging the fact it doesn’t really matter to Huggy either way. A piece of paper is useless if your upstairs room has been trashed – he’d rather take a monetary donation.

The beautiful dog reappears, which Hutch calls “my dog” and “lifesaver”, but there’s no resolution (and no owner either!) It’s wonderful to see the two of them interact with the dog with such joy and caring. Pretending not to see the dog when Huggy claims to is a nice twist on the mystery. For the first time the dog interacts with them instead of slinking away, and the wagging tail tells us the danger, for now, has passed.

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13 Responses to “Episode 4: Snowstorm”

  1. phaedrablue4 Says:

    Hutch isn’t phased at Starsky’s remark about Crandall’s taste in cars being has bad has his. He’s more interested in the dalmation on the sidewalk. Again, attesting to Hutch’s not storing value in material things and affirming his appreciation for the beauty in living things.

    Huggy’s funny rant does make you wonder what he was smoking, but I think “to greet the deet” is actually “to greet and eat” but he slurs the words. But does it help to know that?

    I’ve noticed the guys can’t go through a doorway without a protective tap or touch, as if to say, this doorway is safe to go through, you don’t need to pull your weapon.

    As the guys approach the both Hutch turns and quietly says to Starsky, “Push or shove?” Starsky “You play the bad guy for a change”. Hutch’s eyebrows go up as he does a double take as if to say, “Are you sure?” Starsky replies, “I’m tired” so not only does Hutch play the “heavy” as he blocks Crandall into the booth. More is at play here than meets the eye.

    Starsky is at a low ebb and distracted by the aqua marine clad woman and a few paces behind as Hutch says, “Hiya, punk!” and slides in beside Crandall. Starsky slides into the far corner of the booth and remains in an almost fetal position with his legs protecting his chest. Hutch is like a protective wall blocking Crandall from Starsky. Starsky leads the questioning and Hutch keeps Crandall in his place until Starsky give the silent signal that he’s okay with the info and the meet. It’s just great they way they interact when dealing with the bad guys.

    OH, I got the same impression as you, that they guys were pulling into Starsky’s underground parking to his apartment building. The way Starsky backs into the spot like he’s been doing it forever. Striker being there reinforces this idea as if he has connections that allow him to find Starsky’s residence. It also fits with how luxurious Starsky’s appartment is with the solid wood four poster bed and expensive sheets in a coffin for Starsky. His place does become far more modest later in the series but if the first season Starsky’s place has rich furnishings.

    Interesting points about Dobey. Dobey’s a bureaurocrat now, through and through. But what was he when he was in his late 20s and early 30s? I wonder if he feels responsible for his partners death? Maybe he was climbing the bureaurocrat ladder leaving his partner to take on Stryker alone, and to his subsequent death. He seems very pragmatic in his adherence of rules and laws, and as you say, resigns far too easily in the face of adversity. Personally, I think the reason we no longer see his wife and family is that she took them away after their daughter’s birthday because he left them to their fates while he was on T.V. that night. He did, with incredulity and amusement take his eyes from his clipboard at the unusual prospect of his to older detectives, known for having racial opinions, going fishing together. But other than bemusement, he didn’t put it together that they were in cahoots which shows a distinct lack of insight and perspective into his detectives’ lives.

    I thought Hutch was calling Radio Dispatch who would be able to contact all of the parties quickly.

    Starsky does grab the class and bottle and sets it infront of Rogers but its Hutch that takes the cue and while pouring the drink reads Rogers his rights. Here’s where I’m sure you’re right. Hutch nods permission but just as Rogers starts to left the drink with his handcuffed wrists Starsky stops him. Hutch mentions Stryker and Starsky mentions the “cop-on-a-meathook”. Rogers affirms and then is allowed the drink. Hutch, not facing, Rogers gives Starsky’s stoic face a look of appreciation.

    Great posts. I love your insights.

  2. King David Says:

    It never occured to me that at the confrontation with the two cars in the underground carpark it might be Starsky’s residence. Hutch’s? I had presumed police dept. After all, no-one ever got Stryker connected to anything, so he could reasonably attend a police building (sticking two fingers up?)
    There’s a thought: where did the mirrored four-poster go?
    I do like the little kick Starsky gives Hutch…a Glaser moment? In a later episode, where the two of them are in a disco booth (The Avenger?) Starsky sits, quite pointedly, on the other side. When you remember this little scene, it makes S4 so much colder.
    And why oh why did cops dip fingers into suspect substances and taste it? Some poisons need only a trace amount to kill you!
    “He had you cold, Starsky.” Imagine an alternative outcome …actually, no, don’t. It’s too awful.

  3. Sandra Says:

    Love your insights of the episode. This one’s always gonna be a favorite of mine, mostly for the many littel gestures and looks that define the boys’ relationship.
    I always thought that when Paul kicked David in the booth it was as if to show off that he took David’s glasses and put them on and then telling him. Look, I’ve got your glasses on!” It certainly lookes like something unscripted.
    I also love the “what’s mine is yours” attitude. I don’t like to drink of a glass someone else drank of before me but that never bothered them. Just like sharing food. I remember when last year at Survival Convention Paul grabbed the beer of David’s hand (and David didn’t even react to that) took a swigg and gave it back to him (also without David really reacting). So adorable and all the fans were excited abou that.

  4. Anna Says:

    I am somewhat impressed that this show sailed into the “dirty cops” thing this early in the show. Often, the whole cops = good, crooks = bad coding is what holds sway at the beginning of pretty much any show (replace “cops” and “crooks” with any other protagonist/antagonist identities), and the moral heterogeneity only sets in later, to shake up the status quo. This isn’t a bad thing — in most shows, it works very well, and results in some great stories and moments, but it’s done very blatantly both in the Pilot and here, just three episodes later, so in this show, there IS never a clear status quo of good-cops/bad-crooks to be shaken up.

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the great scene where Starsky overhears the gunshot from inside the cabin, and upon entering, finds Hutch sitting on the floor blank-faced and silent against the fridge next to Corman’s body, not really in shock or horror, he’s not that surprised or shaken, it’s not that new a concept to him, but just temporarily overwhelmed with disappointment and miserable wordless distaste for the whole affair. And Starsky doesn’t say anything, or react when Hutch tosses the gun aside in disgust, just takes it in, understands what happened, and wastes no breath on platitudes or questions, and sits down with him and puts his hand on Hutch’s shoulder in that completely perfect way. It’s a really striking and powerful moment, even though it’s brief, and rather off-kilter (in a good way) from the punch-out of the preceding climactic fight.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Anna, you’re right, and the “dirty cops” theme is one that really fascinates me. And I love the scene you point out. There are SO many beautiful moments like this.

  5. Grevy's Zebra Says:

    A thought: the crooked cops describe Starsky and Hutch, and Starsky in particular, as “pushy” not because they actually are, but because that’s the effect sterling and forthright people like them produces on the guilty and defensive cops’ corrupt, secretive consciences. Recall Starsky’s steely “Hutch and me don’t make deals” at the end of this episode, and speculate on how that made Burke feel.

    I really like the fact that all the codenames in the opening scene are lame “snow” puns (getting flashbacks to Mr. Freeze in “Batman and Robin” haha). It makes me imagine all the cops, while collaborating and wading through the mounds of planning and paperwork to put this bust into action, lightening up the tedium with some job-apropos humor, much like the horrifically but understandably offensive slang ER doctors give to various injuries and conditions (calling motorcycles “donorcycles” and so forth), or the snarky acronyms (FUBAR, SNAFU) the armed forces have unofficially come up with.

    I wonder if the gruesome murder of Dobey’s partner may inform both his affection for and unwavering belief in Starsky and Hutch, as well as his, as you say, defeatist and emotionally detached attitude in general — the result of emotional trauma and personal loss that went without closure for so many years must be so, so, so bitter, the kind of thing that eats away at you, drags you down, buries you in nihilism and skepticism about the value of individual people and emotional attachments, even if you still retain the memory to appreciate them when you see them in younger, untarnished people. Dobey’s dully amused “nobody ever connects Stryker” is haunting and personal and feels like a sentiment he’s lived with for a long time.

    The inevitable parallel is a riveting one to speculate about: what kind of a man might Hutch have become fifteen years down the road, if Starsky had died in “Sweet Revenge” and Hutch had never managed to nail Gunther?

  6. stybz Says:

    Two comments about this episode.

    1. Dirt roads in LA: Los Angeles is a huge county filled with urban, suburban and some more rural areas. I’m sure it wasn’t as developed in the 1970’s as it is today. The TV series Emergency used a lot of dirt roads as well. They’re probably the same road(s) used over and over.

    2. Anna made some nice comments in her post about the scene in the cabin. My take is that while they’re experienced with firearms both Starsky and Hutch probably hate killing people. There are shows today that explore PTSD that point out that most cops can never get used to shooting/killing people. I saw that scene as Hutch having regret for it getting to that point. He knew he had no choice, but he’s not happy about it. And Starsky understands and can relate to that feeling.

  7. stybz Says:

    Watched this again with the analysis in mind. 🙂 I have a few more comments to make. 🙂

    I think that was Starsky’s apartment, though we do see the exterior in later episodes being in a different building. Maybe he moved partway through the season? His question to Hutch, “Want anything?” could simply have referred to something like a soda or a snack. In a way it’s as if Hutch was inside the apartment with him, and Starsky was being an hospitable host. 🙂

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Dobey had a close friendship with Elmo Jackson. There are many cop shows that depict the close bond that partners have or develop thanks in part to the long hours working together and the sense of duty and teamwork they share. Dobey isn’t as cold as he makes himself out to be. He just has that gruff exterior because he’s the boss. Otherwise, I think he would have had a partner that he felt close to. Was it exactly the same as what Starsky and Hutch have? Maybe, maybe not, but perhaps in his mind he thought it was.

    I agree that it is puzzling that internal affairs found out about the missing cocaine. I see Starsky and Hutch confiding in Dobey, but the way the scene plays out it seems someone else told IA.

    I think the reason Dobey is pleasantly surprised that Corman and Burke are going fishing together is because of their reputation for hating each other so much (racial slurs and Starsky’s NAACP/KKK comment). Maybe Dobey thinks they’ve finally decided to be like him and Elmo and Starsky and Hutch and become friends.

    Did anyone notice the shots or lack thereof that were fired during the shootout when Rogers was on the rooftop? Starsky fires one shot then his gun either jams or is empty. It’s hard to tell as he turns away from the camera after we hear the click. Then, when Hutch says, “Cover me,” Starsky fires, but there’s nothing coming out of his gun, whereas he did get one shot off prior to the click with smoke or a flame escaping the chamber.

    Then, when he runs to join Hutch at the other car, another shot is heard, but Roger’s gun is jammed at this point and there’s no indication as to whether Hutch fired when he raised his gun. The sound effect for Hutch’s gun is almost similar to the rifle it’s difficult to tell the difference. That said, it couldn’t be Roger firing as his gun jammed.

    Roger has lousy aim. Either that or he intentionally missed them. LOL!

    I loved the long takes in this episode. 🙂 First there’s Dobey’s office (with Starsky and Hutch sharing the coffee – I missed that twice until I read your analysis, Merle. I was too busy watching Dobey. LOL!). Then there’s the shootout. We see Starsky and Hutch run into the building, and then the camera pans to the other side where Rogers escapes into his car and drives off. Then the camera pans up to the roof. Fantastic!

    I’m wondering if the reason Starsky removes his gun from his holster and puts the back of his jeans is to give the false impression that they’re over for a friendly visit. Of course he should have gone one step further and removed the holster altogether. 🙂

  8. Ymas Says:

    Just read your analysis and then rewatched the episode. A lot of interesting points you made, thank you for letting us all share in your ideas!

    A few of my own:
    The scene at the warehouse, where Corman shoots Crown and Kalowitz gives the ‘he had you cold, Starsky’-line: in my opinion, that scene shows how Corman shoots to kill without scruple. Kalowitz is part of the team. Maybe he doesn’t know Corman is dirty, but maybe he knows he’s quick to shoot and tries to justify Corman’s actions because he knows exactly it wouldn’t have been necessary for him to kill Crown.

    I love the scene in front of the ballistics room where Hutch tries to get a drink from the machine. Starsky comes out of the room and Hutch immediately reaches his hand out to him. Starsky, not even quite out of the room and still talking to Dobey knows right away what Hutch wants and gives him some coins. Love it, because usually it’s Starsky who needs money for the candy machine.

    When Huggy is held by Stryker’s goons and Starsky and Hutch play the the racist card, it’s not only an inkling they have that they are Southern. Huggy right out tells them. He is extremly clever. He calls out “Y’all come in!” to Starsky and Hutch twice, letting them know who they are up against. ‘Y’all’ is a most distinctive southern expression and I don’t think Huggy ever uses it again, which makes me believe it was totally on purpose. Add that to the ‘Hey Hutch, give me Starsky’-call, and we know Huggy is not only clever, he is also more than capable to assess a situation lightning-quick and think on his feet, even when under immense pressure. No wonder he knows everything that’s going on on the streets.

    I also believe Dobey lets them get away with so much because he sees himself and Elmo (or an idealized version their partnership) in his favorite duo.

    By the way, my DVD-subtitles say it’s “Huggy Bear’s is where the elite meet and come to greet the neat and fleet of feet who are so sweet with the finer things of life…”
    Also cool how Starsky grabs Huggy’s beer in that scene and takes a sip before Huggy takes it back without so much as batting an eye. Starsky doing it with Hutch’s drinks is not that surprising but I think this is the only time he does it with someone else’s. Shows how close those two are with Huggy, too, but it still surprises me that Huggy doesn’t react in any way at all. He who usually complains about everything! Maybe he’s concetrating too much on delivering that complicated sentence!

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