Episode 8: Kill Huggy Bear

When Huggy’s old friend Dewey asks him to deliver some stolen money back to the mob, Dewey’s girl Sarah and her boyfriend rob Huggy, leaving him in serious trouble.

Harry Martin: Dick Anthony Williams, Dewey Hughes: Roger Robinson, Sarah Kingston: Gloria Edwards, Lou Malinda: Hamilton Camp, Angie: Wally Taylor, Roy: Ed Cambridge, Jennie: Marilyn B Coleman, Receptionist: Adina Ross, Jerry: Dan Howard, Sam: Don Peters, Tom: Craig Shreeve, Bill: Cal Haynes. Written By: Fred Freiberger, Directed By: Michael Schultz.


The store owner doesn’t want the police involved in his liquor store shooting, and his own injury. I like how Starsky says wryly that “the NAACP” will give them a lot of trouble if they let it go.

The witness starts out as a concerned and observant citizen and then complains about losing a dime phoning the police. Hutch keeps his misanthropy under wraps but you can still see the saddened people-are-weird look as he fishes in his pocket for change, and of course this is the one time he doesn’t have any.

Despite having had the Torino for a number of years, Starsky is diligently trying to get Hutch to love it, and Hutch, of course, sees this as a golden opportunity to belittle Starsky. “It’s red,” he finally says, with maximum disdain. Starsky explodes, and Hutch smirks. It’s a small smirk but deadly nonetheless. It says, I’ve done it. It says, I’ve won. The question is, done what?

Why does Huggy use his own pay phone in the bar?

Also, how does Huggy know Lou Malina’s number by heart? How does he, in fact, know it’s Lou’s operation in the candy store? Is that common knowledge in the neighborhood? If it’s such common knowledge, then why does Dewey make such a fatal error?

Why does Starsky refer to himself as “9W21” to Dobey on the Torino phone? It’s nothing he’s ever said before, or since.

Starsky and Hutch note to each other that Huggy isn’t straight with them for “the first time,” regarding the light green Ford parked in his alley. Three years later, in “Huggy Can’t Go Home”, another “first time” occurs when Huggy is asked to cover for J.T. Washington. Are Starsky and Hutch aware they’ve allowed Huggy more than one first time?

Starsky points out that for a hundred thousand dollars, “a guys’ brains could go out to lunch.” It is Hutch who flat out can’t believe that Huggy would be dishonest with them: “Ah, come on Starsky, we’re talking about Huggy!” What makes for the difference in their trust levels? Does Hutch really believe Huggy wouldn’t sell them out for a six-figure payout? That seems pretty naive. In their dealings with him, Starsky is can exhibit more obvious affection with Huggy (he is more demonstrably affectionate with everyone) but seems more distrustful of him. Hutch tends to take the middle ground.

In Sarah’s funky apartment, making out with her boyfriend, there’s a jazz rendition, it sounds like, of the “Starsky & Hutch” theme playing. One can’t help but notice the apartment is bright and well-furnished, with some cool art on the walls and possibly the best coffee table of all time – a white pod with a glass top and real goldfish swimming inside it – and it’s amusing when Starsky later makes an uncharacteristic comment that it’s a “nice place”.

Dewey has smart moments, and not-so-smart moments. He’s quick to catch on to Sarah’s duplicity, but dumb enough to just stand there while Harry glares at him then slowly closes the curtains. You can almost see the words “crime scene” flashing above all this. Dewey has time to run. But he doesn’t.

There’s a mirror above Sarah’s bed tilted for maximum effect, and it begs the question: is this meant to further degrade our opinion of mercenary Sarah? I remember decorative mirrors being very popular at the time, so it may not have been as unusual then as now to have one over the bed, but I can’t help but wonder if this bit of staging misogyny (if that is indeed what it is) implies sexual adventurousness in a woman is held out as proof of moral decay.

Starsky talking to Dobey on the radio, Dobey telling him about the snitch in the storm drain. “Starsky, don’t be cute. If you need help just call for it.” “Hutch is cute, I’m careful,” Starsky says. “What does he want, a date?” Hutch says, overhearing the end of the conversation, which is amusing. But is Starsky right in saying Hutch is generally more reckless than he is? Throughout the run of the series they look just about even on that score. Is this all for the sake of saying something irreverent?

The storm drains of Los Angeles make a great dramatic backdrop to the action, and one of the few times the specific architecture or scenery of the city is put to use.

I love how Hutch starts to flirt with the “secretary” of the health club but then just drops it as if he can’t believe he’d just sunk that low. I don’t mean to disparage this young actress, but I am reminded of the chilling cameo by Christa Helm, who shares with Adina Ross the same vacant, hungry look of someone desiring stardom, and who thinks she may have found it in this small role.

Lou’s office at the health club has to be one of the most obnoxious sets in the series. It’s a combination of paneling, tufted leather bar, showy trophies, French provincial chandeliers and vaguely Deco bronzes that mark Lou as a fraudulent huckster with zero taste.

Hutch must have found the bread story particularly enchanting – he sniffs the loaf and obviously finds it good, although he doesn’t show it at the time. It probably bugs him more and more, which is why he just takes the loaf in the end when he goes. He just can’t resist it.

Two parties steal “bread” from Lou Malinda. He loses his fifty thousand dollars. And Hutch walks out with an actual loaf of bread in the tag. After his Bakery Parable to Starsky and Hutch, which bread loss does Malinda find more unnerving?

Hutch talks intensely and at length about steroid-cases and how to deal with them, but in the end both resort to shin-kicking and hair-pulling to bring down Lou’s goons. Hutch really seems upset at the end, accusing Starsky of abandoning him. “I know that pride of yours,” Starsky says reasonably, but Hutch is so furious he’s inconsolable, and it seems to me this is one of the few examples of Starsky misreading the situation and underestimating his partner’s level of upset. Starsky, of the two, can be more heedless to emotional tenor, and more likely to be far more casual than he should be. (Another example of this is when he makes light of the very dangerous situation in next season’s “Fatal Charm”).

It’s interesting that when Hutch asks, “you come up with something?” as they sit in the dusty bracken, what Starsky comes up with is a surreal discarded wet suit. A metaphor for the confusion they’re both feeling?

Filming notes: Glaser and Soul do their own stunt work in the fight with the muscle-bound giants, and are actually driving the Torino at high speed in the brakeless scene; a camera was mounted on the hood instead of using fake-looking rear projection, which was more common at the time.

When the Torino’s brakes are cut both Starsky and Hutch both yell a lot of pretty hilarious advice: hit the brakes, hit the parking brake, jam into low, drag your feet, put out an anchor, and (finally) jump. Note that they both insist the other jump, a nice little partnership moment.

The chase scene between Harry Martin and the guys is one of the best in the series, mainly because of the dazzling white of the rooftop and the blue, blue sky, and the dumbfounding stupidity of risking death for a few hundred dollars, all of which end up floating away in the wind. As usual the guys chase their quarry without a word to each other, acting with an uncanny knowledge of what the other is doing. They also react to the shooting in silence, and Hutch gestures for the cuffs without a word.

There are two shows early on that feature Huggy and his troubles: this one and “Huggy Can’t Go Home”. Both Red and Dolphin, and Dewey, drive away from a robbery in which they shoot a man in a panic. Both parties involve the “light green Ford” in a minor traffic accident. It is parked in front of Red and Dolphin’s get-a-way car and they run into it. Dewey drives the “light green Ford” into the car parked in front of him. Even more coincidence is that both of these episodes involve Huggy protecting someone and lying to Starsky and Hutch.

Tag: Huggy sure takes his future security for granted when he saunters into Lou Melina’s office with Starsky and Hutch in tow. Does he not think this close association is going to bite him down the line?


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16 Responses to “Episode 8: Kill Huggy Bear”

  1. Daniela Says:

    Hello again,
    so why do you think Starsky is showing off the Torino at the beginning of the episode? Was this the first one taped after the pilot? By this episode they have been driving around in that car for the pilot and several episodes.
    Starsky is talking like he just got the car and is trying to get Hutch to approve of it…. What’s the story?

    Also, in the fight with the muscle bound goonies, there are people in the background looking at the scene, on a balcony or a fire escape landing. Lucky them!
    Sometimes I wonder what it must have been like to live there in those days and look out the window and there are Starsky and Hutch fighting with somebody or driving down the road or walking in a store…

    On a side note, have you noticed how these mean nasty rich criminals in paneled rooms and surrounded by gruffy bodyguards do nothing all day? Whenever they come in the picture, all they are doing is sit behind a desk and look at some kind of payroll books. How do they get that high in the crime ladder? But what pitiful lives too.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Starsky showing off the Torino to Hutch this far into the series has always struck me as well; it’s obviously been inserted for “new” viewers. I suspect this is because they’ve had a spike in the ratings and want to re-establish the personality quirks, but this is just a guess. It’s these inconsistencies and illogical moments that make dissection so much fun.

      It’s good to pay special attention to background gawkers during external shots of car chases and other street scenes, mainly because it happens so rarely. The series was shot on a closed set and was apparently unusually restrictive. This counts for the “dead” feeling of the scenery – everything’s been closed down and cordoned off. Still, at least they filmed out in the real world as much as they did. Atypical of the time. Those balcony-viewers were lucky!

      I love the fact that the Criminal Masterminds in their Boston-fern and wood-paneled offices do nothing all day. It’s a subtle political statement saying true evil is so often banal and boring. Make others do the nasty work, is the credo these guys seem to live by.

  2. Nadine Says:

    So what’s the deal with Starsky’s pants? First they were torn around the knee area when he pulled the wet suit – then they were just fine as he was checking the brake lines!

    Sure wish they would have had more than 4 seasons – loved this show in the 70’s and now too.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Continuity has never been perfect in this series: egregious errors include Hutch changing clothes in the middle of a drink of water and a car’s window exploding before the bullet hits it. But the lack of attention to detail gives people like us a lot to talk about. And you’re so right, four years is nowhere near enough – imagine what they could have accomplised in eight, or ten.

  3. King David Says:

    There’s an atrocious rear-projection in a Torino sequence in another episode, and it’s woeful! A huge saving grace that here it all looked realistic. And to those of us in Australia, for whom the US was an exotic foreign place, it was great to see some real scenery. Cutting the brake lines was a staple in the car-disabling armoury. Try changing down a gear. Up a side street on an incline? And if they had jumped? Ouch!
    Yes, those villains were always in panelled offices, sitting like malevolent spiders in the centres of their webs. Note to law-enforcement: if the suit has overdone the panelling, book him (on a charge of gross abuse to interior decor).

    • King David Says:

      And a PS: I just watched this again yesterday, and noticed that Starsky has changed jeans mid-scene, as it were. Before they get in the Torino and have that terrific, harum-scarum drive, Starsky walks up the hill and retrieves the wetsuit. His jeans have a big rip in the right leg just above the knee. (No wonder they get disbelief when they say they are police.) Then in the next bit, when they’re on that big white rooftop under the big blue sky, there’s no rip. (Did they take a trip home and change? Was it THAT scary?) The ripped jeans have a nice bit of stitchery on the left thigh which could be mending. He’s got the same mending on the ones in the zoo in ‘Pariah’.

  4. Sandra Says:

    Not my favorite but it has great moments. I also like the good view of Hutch’s apartment when they hide Huggy there.
    Sorry to start again with SurCon but all those little scenes remind me of things said at that event like the boys (lol) telling us that pretty soon they did all the car scenes completely themselves, like clapping their hands for a new scene, switching on lights and tone and everything else (at the beginning there was always some guy in the back of the Torino who did this). They said something about huge cameras on the Torino and obviously very rarly (my opinion) used fake rear projection.
    Lol, and one time Paul turned the Torino 180 degrees around in the middle of the street just to land on some lady’s lawn (kinda ruining it) with the lady watching all this letting her groceries fall. That made them laugh so hard, Paul said, he peed his pants. Grin
    Oh and I think Hutch’s need to win over Starsky in some way is something that is there in David a little, too. After giving some real thought of answer to a question he turned to Paul saying. Now, follow that one, Paul! with a very smug smile on his face. But then looking at his partner he immediatly changed his attitude and (with what looked like in a surge of affection) went over to Paul, hugged him from behind, leand his head on Paul’s and then kissed Paul on the head. So much for teasing!

    • merltheearl Says:

      Sandra, thank you so much for these invaluable stories from SurCon. More please!

    • Sandra Says:

      There have been DVDs made of the whole event (and the autograph session before that ) If you want a peek at what’s on it look here:

      Everyone can purchase those DVDs (though they are not exactly cheap). But I’m sure I will remember more things as I read through your blog again. I could talk about those two all day long! lol

  5. Sandra Says:

    Here you can buy the DVDs: http://www.starskyandhutch.info/store/product-category/dvds/ It’s the Documentary on DVD. And here’s the other peek at it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ajFxNBYHw This is all on the SurCon website as well, it just plays better on you tube. There’s also pictures and other stuff about the convention to look at. Have fun!

  6. stybz Says:

    I went to Surcon 2014. It was a lot of fun. I would love to get the DVDs from 2013, but they’re sold out. 😦

    As for the episode….

    The question raised about “He’s cute. I’m careful,” makes me think that while they both are usually on the same page, Starsky seems to be the one who is scanning the area when they’re on a scene somewhere. I’ve seen this in a couple of episodes. Hutch might be careful as well, but Starsky seems to be on alert, swiveling his head around to scan for anything suspicious. So far he seems to catch things pretty quickly, like in the pilot when the shooters confront them at the pool (Mayday!), and in Death Ride when he spots the watch on the guy on the gurney. It’s probably why he’s in the rear as they’re walking to the elevator, rather than in front where Dobey is between the two women.

    I’m hoping the reason they tell the other to jump out of the Torino when the brakes were cut was because they were looking out for each other, but what if neither of them wanted to jump because it was potentially more dangerous than staying in the car? 🙂

    My view of Starsky’s insistence on going on and on about the Torino is partly to needle Hutch, whose car Starsky hated, and maybe to one day hear Hutch actually approve of the car. Sometimes you just need that approval from your best buddy. 😉

    Also, since David and Paul hated the car, maybe they or the writers figured some well-deserved jabs against the car would help explain that Hutch at the very least thought it ridiculous that they drive such a loud car when they’re trying to blend in with the neighborhood. 🙂

  7. stybz Says:

    Two more comments:

    I’m wondering if the “9W21” is Starsky’s badge number. Maybe the writers thought it would make more sense than saying, “Detective Starsky,” but later dropped the idea.

    I loved it when Starsky snatches the keys from Hutch (after he said, “It’s red.”) and says, almost hurtfully, “It’s candy apple red.” LOL!

  8. Spencer Says:

    I’ll add an alternate analysis to the fight with the goons. I don’t think Starsky misread the situation but, in fact, was confident that Hutch could overcome the particular goon he was fighting even though Hutch, himself, apparently was not. Starsky displayed similar confidence in Hutch’s abilities (dispite Hutch’s own lack thereof) in episodes such as “Omaha Tiger,” “Murder on Stage 17” and “Long Walk Down a Short Dirt Road.” As in these episodes, Starsky stood on the sidelines encouraging Hutch and serving as his partner’s biggest cheerleader. I see this scene in a similar way. In fact, Starsky’s comment, “I know that pride of yours,” is completely accurate. Hutch likes to sound as though he is knowledgeable in certain situations but in reality he tends to be unsure of himself — a personality quirk Starsky knows very well. Starsky was of course standing by in case Hutch actually did need help.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Spencer, thanks so much and I appreciate this comment, and I agree with you even if I do think in this instance Starsky is using Hutch’s pride against him in a passive-aggressive way. It always struck me as a bit uncharacteristically retaliative, an I’m not sure Hutch needed a lesson in that particular moment.

    • DRB Says:

      Starsky may have been giving Hutch a chance to prove his point about how to overcome the “muscle-bound” opponents. You would think that Hutch would get tired of embarrassing himself with his patronizing generalizations. And it was fun to watch him get so hot at Starsky standing back, “So I have a quota now?” One thing I anticipate from Hutch; he is seldom at a loss for words when he is angry. (Don’t you just hate thinking of the perfect come-back 5 minutes late?) He certainly laid down the guidelines to Starsky: “Forget my pride!” Starsky still doesn’t take it seriously. Perhaps his faith is so genuine that he finds it hard to believe that Hutch is going to come up against someone he can’t handle. Later in “Shootout” for instance, Starsky thinks Hutch has already taken out the bad guys when he first revives from the blow on his head.

  9. Kit Sullivan Says:

    A few tidbits of interest: rear-projection for the Torino scenes was used only one time in the series, late in the fourth season…to disastorous results! It looked terrible, and was probably the result of a low budget and last-minute rewrite. And lets face it: by the fourth season it was pretty clear thier hearts just weren’t in it anymore.
    This episode however is fresh, fun and energetic…the hallmarks of the early episodes.
    It is interesting to note that during the “no brakes” run-away Torino scene, David Soul silently mouths all of Starsky’s dialoque as Glaser is saying it.
    As the Torino comes to a final skidding halt, notice that the brake lights do not work. They were probably disconnected so that chase scenes would appear more “energetic” while punctuated with the sound effects of accelerating high-performance noises.,
    Contrary to the above statement that “Starsky has obviously had the Torino for years”, I disagree. Starsky’s Torino is a 1975 model, and since the show debuted in ’75…it is clearly a fairly new car, both in reality as well as with respect to the internal canon of the show.
    The ’75 Torino(s) used in the first season were quietly replaced with brand-new nearly-identical ’76 Torino(s) for the second season, and kept through the end of the series production. 1976 was the final model-year for Torino production before Ford cancelled the model.
    With a “nudge and a wink” the producers insinuated that Starsky only ever had one “striped tomato” during the series’ run ( the utter destruction of the Torino in “The Set-Up”, and its explanation-free and seemingly magical return unharmed in the following episode notwithstanding.).
    Why the abrupt attention to the details of the Torino in this, the 8th episode? Very simple: including the rebroadcast of the pilot episode at the beginning of the series, the public had been presented with 8-10 weeks of this brand-new series…plenty of time for the thousands of fan letters to pour in for this new break-out hit TV show. And the Torino was quickly recognized as just as popular with fans as the actors themselves. The writers were simply giving the fans what they wanted…more Torino content.
    The scene with Hutch behind the wheel while Starsky sings the virtues of his prized Torino further reinforces the notion that the Torino is a fairly recent acquistion by Starsky, and he is looking for friendly approval of his new purchase by his friend and partner.
    Starsky’s “rev it up, get the feel for it”, and Hutch’s “I’ll give it a whirl” response seems to show that Hutch has not ever driven the Torino, or even sat behind the wheel at this point in thier relationship.
    Sound effects editing during dialogue scenes must have been tricky back in the non-digital ’70s: during the “rev it up” scene, there are impressive high-performance engine sound effects used whenever no dialogue is being spoken. However, as soon as Soul or Glaser deliver thier dialoque, there are no engine sound effects used, and the Torino’s stock, quiet and decidedly non-high performance real-world engine sounds can clearly be heard.
    The difference between the impressive ( but fake) hot-rod engine sounds and the California-legal, smog-friendly stock engine’s sound is jarring.
    It is interesting that Starsky refers to the Torino’s power antenna switch, when the Torino very clearly does not have a power antenna.
    Like most teenage American boys, I grew up to be a car-crazy gear-head…a trait (curse?) I still possess to this day. Consequently, I may focus on the minutia of Torino details more than most.

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