Episode 23: The Las Vegas Strangler

On loan to the Las Vegas police department, Starsky and Hutch try to prove that Hutch’s high school friend Jack Mitchell is not behind a string of serial murders.

Jack Mitchell: Frank Converse, Vicky: Lynda Carter, Lt. Ted Cameron: Paul Burke, Eugene Pruitt: Darrell Fetty, Mrs. Pruitt: Joan Blondell, “Ace”: George Tobias, Comic: Foster Brooks, Iris Thayer: Roz Kelly, Sharon: Victoria Ann Berry, Glenda: Collette Bertrand, Duke: Stymie Beard, Gretchen: Jayne Kennedy, Dr. Cleveland: James Ray, Lantz: Seth Allen. Written By: Michael Fisher, Directed By: George McCowan.


This is only the second episode written specifically for the actors, and a two-parter. There are four two-part shows in the run of the series, “Las Vegas Strangler”, “Murder at Sea”, “The Plague” and “The Set-Up”. All of them, with the exception of “The Plague”, suffer from narrative padding and a fair dose of silliness.

Roz Kelly, playing Iris, seems uncomfortable in her skimpy outfits, first as a showgirl and then in her teeny off-duty short-shorts. Her body language screams get me outta here! Is this part of the act, or is Kelly just irritated? Plus, she seems unable to turn off that east-coast accent and tough-girl motorcycle-chick thing, even for a moment, although it is very possible the producers insisted she do her Pinky Tuscadero over and over again.

What are the guys talking about as they walk into the squad room?  Starsky says, “behold the desert prince,” and Hutch is impressed. “That’s good,” he says, as if Starsky has just capped off their previous discussion with a little flourish.

The moment Ted Cameron, the Las Vegas detective, enters the room, the guys radiate hate and suspicion. Dobey doesn’t like him much either: see how he keeps his eyes on his desk, as if thinking, god, just let this be over with. What’s the back story?  Nothing is ever explained about why they hold Cameron in such antipathy. Yes, he’s the kind of guy they dislike most: suit-and-tie wearing desk-jockeys with a penchant for deceit and manipulation. He’s also defensive and prickly. But that doesn’t tell the whole story; there must have been a bad incident or two from the past.  When it’s revealed later he maneuvered the guys into the situation in the jail with Jack we realize he’s untrustworthy and manipulative, but it seems as if Starsky and Hutch already knew that, hence their earlier attitudes. Why does Cameron feel he has to be so covert? Why doesn’t he just come out with his plan? It’s a pretty good one, and chances are the detectives might go for it, especially if Cameron was smart enough to imply they might help Jack’s case, rather than hurt it, by engaging his trust.

And while we’re on the topic, just how does Cameron find out about Jack Mitchell’s very tenuous relationship with Hutch in the first place? So they were friends in high school, but since then it’s more or less a certainty there has been no contact. How would Cameron know enough about Jack’s childhood to gamble that, if he dug deep enough, he’d hit pay dirt? Imagine an explanatory scene in which Jack, suffering a psychopathological episode, talks earnestly about his old best pal and all the great times they had and how he wished he could go back in time when things were good.

Starsky is in a particularly poetic frame of mind. While looking at the files, and entirely for Hutch’s benefit, he murmurs, “I see two thirsty souls trudging through the desert towards a neon city.”

Starsky and Hutch are outfitted by Huggy and Duke (the wonderfully named Stymie Beard, who manages to steal the scene) for Las Vegas, but circa 1946. Starsky, in an obsession that will become very familiar to fans, is unhappy with the shoes. Apparently they’re “dubious”.

Hutch drinking from a coconut seems more than a little fanciful, especially if there are coolers filled with juice in every gas station from LA to Las Vegas, but perhaps there was a roadside vendor offering them. Pointedly, he does not share, and nor does Starsky ask.

On the road to Vegas, Starsky is typically skeptical at first, but then throwing himself enthusiastically into the challenge. Hutch is also as usual: his grumpiness growing exponentially with his partner’s cheer, told-you-so’s flowing freely.

Later, in “Blindfold”, Starsky will complain to Hutch about having to work on Sunday. He has a whole list of statements and statistics. “Only cops work on Sundays’, which he knows is untrue. “95% of crimes committed are committed between Monday and Saturday,” which may or may not be true, but doesn’t line up with Starsky’s last magic number that “only 2% of crimes are committed on Sundays.” Hutch lets him babble on, perhaps remembering another one of Starsky’s creative statistic exercises from this episode, as they drive across the desert on the way to Las Vegas and Starsky says, “100 cars cross the desert with 23.6 of them having engine trouble.”

Starsky is into playing the one-armed bandit at the gas station, holding up the cab, but when Hutch goes back with the last quarter it gets really interesting. Watch how he derides Starsky for his “pathetic” addictions, then feels the strong pull himself. When the bandit pays off, he looks shocked, then embarrassed. Then pleased, in a sick sort of way. What’s the moral of this little scene? That it takes two to gamble successfully? That Starsky is always right? That hunches should be listened to? That David Soul is one of the greatest actors around?

It’s an interesting moment when the guys first walk into the casino. First off, if Hutch is so hypervigilant about being stared at, why doesn’t he simply take off the fedoras and unfashionable ties and blend right into the crowd? He doesn’t because he’d much rather suffer and complain. Then, when Starsky is obviously starry-eyed about the casino, Hutch insists on taking charge of the money, explaining to a crestfallen Starsky that plan is to lose it as fast as possible, get into a fight, and go to jail. If he’s so skeptical about Starsky’s ability to win (even though he “won” at the previous game at the gas station) why doesn’t he just let his partner happily lose the two hundred? But no, he grabs the money and storms off. He not only wants to control the situation but also hide the queasy feeling his partner has a winning streak that can’t be beat (in “Iron Mike” Starsky similarly bests Hutch in chess). Does Hutch see Starsky’s luck as threatening, in the same way he’s threatened by his partner’s energy, and his general good nature? Is Hutch trying to say you’re not happy till I say you’re happy?

“You’re mean,” Starsky says to Hutch, who won’t let him gamble their winnings. “You know, you’re really mean.” Hutch smiles, sensing victory, but victory over what remains the question. You can see him visibly relax. The transference of energy is complete, one becomes the other: it’s Hutch, after all, who has the gambling problem, who must be managed and controlled.

Of course, Starsky has prepared for this eventuality. He slips a bill out of his collar like a magician and proceeds to gamble it. Nothing Hutch does or says is any surprise to him; he already assumed his partner will be a royal jerk. Hutch discovers this duplicity and is furious. They then engage in a prolonged, arm-holding, body-pressing argument that is so hot and bothered I’m surprised it got by the censors. And in the end it’s Starsky who’s oblivious to money, despite what Hutch likes to think, picking a fight and to hell with the $9,000 in winnings.

Jack Mitchell says “Ken,” then immediately switches to “Hutch”, indicating this nickname preceded Starsky by a long way. Apparently in the past the two were called “The Prince and the Pauper”, similar to “The Corsicans Brothers” when Hutch, Starsky and Colby were in the police academy in “Deadly Imposter”. Hutch, apparently, has a way of evoking classic literature.  According to Jack, Hutch was voted Most Likely to Succeed and was the lifeguard every girl drooled over, but was also class valedictorian. This means Hutch was not only athletic but smart as well, and popular with both boys and girls. It’s a rare glimpse into the privileged Prince of Duluth, MN.

For a guy who hadn’t kept up with his friend since high school, Hutch is mighty loyal to Jack, to the point of being irrational and irresponsible. This is in keeping with Hutch’s nostalgic blind spot, which we see in “Deadly Imposter” and more strongly in “Birds of a Feather”, in which he is willing to overlook danger signs when it comes to people he loves, admires, or feels protective toward. This also makes his proud assertion in “Little Girl Lost” that he is immune to the “euphoric sentimentalism” of Christmas even more ironic than it already is.

If the guys didn’t dislike Cameron so much, would they be more amenable to this stake-out?

Hutch seems to slip into his old ways with Jack, becoming the person he shed long ago: a hyper, gambling, dancing, all-night party animal. This is definitely not the Hutch who jogs, eats a macrobiotic diet, listens to blues records, wears a serape and talks to his plants. Has Hutch rebuilt himself since moving to Los Angeles? What prompted such a profound change?

One more comment about Starsky’s urgent bladder: this makes three (“Bloodbath”, “Shootout”). Starsky, generally, is more earthy in his needs, desires and actions. He is also more likely to be greedily anticipating food, or sleepily recounting marathon sexual activities from the night before.

Hutch’s dash to intervene when Starsky pushes Vicky’s ex-husband into the pool culminates with an impressive 20-foot running dive. Lifeguard? Oh yeah.

Ace the landlord/maintenance man mixes up Starsky and Hutch, calling Starsky “Henderson.” To which Starsky politely corrects him: “I’m Starsky, he’s Henderson.”

Vicky has Starsky drive her all the way to Boulder City to see her daughter, but then tells him she will “only be a minute” when she goes up to the house. Of course it’s more than likely that she, the child and Starsky spend the day together, but it does seem that she is just dropping something off. Changing a word or two in the script would have greatly clarified things. Vicky’s daughter has some physical challenges, she needs expensive medical care and a sick child is vulnerable to feelings of abandonment and anxiety, especially if her mother does not live with her. Vicky works two jobs and lives a chaotic, complicated lifestyle. Is there a better way?

For a woman who’s just met an available, sexy man in a town full of married losers, Vicky is awfully comfortable with ordering Starsky around, getting him to be a chauffeur, buy her sundries. Overly confident?

Vicky buys six pairs of pantyhose. She takes one with her and has five delivered to her apartment. Later, there only four packages. Either Mrs. Pruitt is dishonest as well as being thoroughly unpleasant, or Eugene used one pair as a weapon. Also, why does she bother having this small package delivered? She could have easily taken the bag with her.

How does Vicky know that Ted Cameron is lead on this investigation? She gets Iris to talk to the guys, tell them about her friend, who was dating Jack, and before that Ted; and although Starsky and Hutch are genuinely shocked at the lieutenant’s involvement, it’s Vicky who has a knowing look on her face, as if she already understands the case.

The guys have ditched their costumes by the second hour of this episode as the novelty of the trip wears off; Hutch wears his trusty guitar shirt.

The bevvy of Las Vegas cops have the Stranger apparently trapped on the casino roof. And yet here they are, standing around talking about it, in no hurry to catch the guy. Does this indicate fear, or is it laziness? The officers have no compunction about Starsky and Hutch going after him, pointing genially in the right direction and offering no help at all, despite the fact they’re out of their jurisdiction and have no official standing in the case. Are the local officers waiting for Cameron to show up and tell them what to do, or what?

On that topic, just what are the jurisdictional rules regarding two Bay City cops working in Las Vegas? The FBI are called in when state lines are crossed in the commission of a crime, everybody knows that, so why are two police detectives allowed to commandeer this case? We also see this in Season Four’s “Targets Without a Badge”, when Starsky and Hutch pursue a drug shipment leaving Las Vegas, intercepting it in some dusty intersection around Sacramento.

The two pieces of art that figure prominently in the hospital scene reappear two more times in the series: on the wall of one of the offices in “Vampire” as and in the hospital room in “Partners”.

Starsky is so deeply asleep on the couch he doesn’t wake to the doctor coming in and telling Hutch about Jack’s brain tumor. And yet he’s so in tune to Hutch’s feelings that he wakes out of exhausted sleep when Hutch says quietly, “Oh, damn it.”

One of the most interesting aspects of their complex relationship is how fast Starsky and Hutch reconcile with each other when circumstances demand, and with no lingering resentment. Often they go from infuriated to supportive in seconds, the previous bad feeling not only forgotten by entirely negated, as if it never existed at all. This is in stark contrast to the rest of us who slog through life endlessly rewinding old arguments, betrayals, and lies. Starsky, who by this time hasn’t slept in forty hours, finally snaps and says he’s sick of an optimistic view of life, and then, when Hutch attempts to defend his friend Jack: “I’m sick of your stinkin’ loyalty to your friends!” Hutch retorts, “that present company included or excluded?” But the moment he hears the whole story Starsky immediately changes his tune to one of acceptance and encouragement.

If Eugene has a gun, why doesn’t he shoot his victims? Is strangling a sexual thing with him?

He then switches his murder weapon of choice to a rifle in order to inflict maximum damage. Here, his motives are interesting. Perhaps this particular murder required extra firepower to correlate with his escalating rage, or perhaps he couldn’t stand to put his hands on his own mother. Perversely, it’s a relief to see actual gore in this series. There are far too many instances in this series and others of its time of victims falling quietly to the ground without a hint of blood. The act of killing can feel superficial or comic, and decidedly unscary. An occasional bit of realistic carnage is therefore welcome, and here the splattered windshield has great visual power. I can well imagine the frustrated director arguing with the stiffs at the network. “He’s killed his mother with a shotgun. At close range.  This is what happens.”

It is Starsky who keeps his mind on the case and makes all the connections, from the fight he has to start in the hotel, to the mirror in the holding cell, to the nut they arrest at one point (another example of Starsky’s good psychological intuition), to figuring out who the murderer is. Both have their personal interest in the case, Hutch with his loyalty to his old friend and Starsky with his seemingly sincere feelings for Vicky, but Starsky’s the only one who seems able to keep those feelings in check. He’s the one who sees the connection between the drug store deliveries and the murders. “There’s something here, Hutch,” he says as they tour Vicky’s apartment. “I can feel it.” Time and time again the series seems to be making the case that emotional involvement is bad for police work. Here, Hutch is distracted by Jack in the same way he is distracted by Anna in “Body Worth Guarding” and Luke Huntley in “Birds of a Feather” to name two examples. And yet there are also times in which both Starsky and Hutch can turn tremendous emotion into a kind of laser-like focus, causing them to ascend to superhuman strength: look at Hutch’s rage following Gillian’s murder, in which he could probably tear apart walls to get to Grossman, and his fiercely unrelenting focus during Starsky’s near-fatal illness in “Coffin”. It seems to me there is a certain threshold of pain that must be crossed to access these powers. Jack’s involvement, while perplexing and frustrating, is too low on the meter. Hutch is stuck at distraction, he has not been thrust upward into resolve.

Let’s not question the fact Starsky knows the number of the dance studio by heart.

This is a long chase scene through the main floors of Circus, Circus, through its main thoroughfares, up stairwells and across hallways. The two guys are remarkably graceful throughout, fast and assured, taking turns through doorways, dodging bullets, communicating silently throughout. Is this the longest chase on the series, other than the chase for bombs in “Murder At Sea”? If so, it may be the best.

“You know I’m afraid of heights!” Hutch calls out to Starsky, as they hover over the wires, So patently untrue: Hutch swings from ropes, climbs rickety fire escapes and radio towers, is always the first one to go for the rooftops. Why the contradiction?

Filming notes: Soul, as ever, did his own stunt-work with enthusiasm, while Glaser was petrified; Soul had to coax him down from the net at the end.

What is Hutch referencing when he says, “Quinine, the bitter dose”?

It’s a shame that Jack’s death isn’t shown or commented on. A successful doctor derailed by a terrible illness and fixating on a classmate from the past is as interesting as the serial killer angle, particularly when it comes to the unpredictable, self-destructive actions precipitated by the brain tumor. It’s worthy of an episode in itself and a missed opportunity by the writers, who simply drop Jack out of the story like a rock.

Tag: Dobey complains that $23,000 is missing from the coffers, and Starsky and Hutch say they lost it gambling. They appear to have come up with a story on the fly, which is strange considering a large sum of missing money in a police investigation is a serious breach and one that will be investigated thoroughly by Internal Affairs. Dobey, too, appears to take the whole thing lightly, threatening the two with all the menace of a Scooby Doo cartoon. Of course the money has gone to a very good cause, and we see Vicky receiving the “gift” – another instance of testing the viewer’s credulity, as mailing a huge sum of cash in a not-very-secure envelope seems slapdash (and with an incriminating letter too, which would be troublesome if an internal audit is even remotely competent, and investigators find their way to Vicky’s house). Starsky and Hutch do not make very good criminals.

Clothing notes: despite the jokes made at the guy’s expense, they look awesome in their pinstripe suits and fedoras. Hutch wears his guitar shirt later. Starsky wears some great rainbow suspenders in several scenes (with a belt, which is charmingly redundant).


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10 Responses to “Episode 23: The Las Vegas Strangler”

  1. Dianna Says:

    A new season — Why the new theme? Lalo Shiffrin’s music was so much more exciting. I am amused that the second season intro still uses the skid-into-the-parking-lot scene from the pilot, with all the skidmarks on the pavement from the previous takes. And why the new squad room with the skimpy desks?

    This is not my favorite episode. The killer’s shoes are sometimes cleanly white, and other times look like a sloppy job of smearing white shoe polish onto dark shoes. My first time watching, I thought that might be a clue, but it was just a continuity glitch. However, I do like how the episode keeps us guessing about who the killer is.)

    Except for the very last attack, the strangler always comes at his victims from the front, giving them plenty of time to scream in terror and (if they had any sense of self-preservation) fight back or run, so he will have to turn them around to strangle them with the panty hose he is fond of.

    Dobey yells at Starsky for kicking the office door shut: “How many times have I told you about that!?” Well, zero, actually Captain, now that you mention it.

    Cameron tries to be witty, but it falls very flat. Dobey is also clearly impatient with Cameron’s wordiness.

    It seems that Hutch drives when they go undercover. And Starsky puts his feet up, wherever he is. Hutch does not seem to object to Starsky reading from his book till his joke about the AC repairman fails to amuse.

    This episode is the first where they don’t spend almost the whole time wearing jackets. Maybe that is because of their shoulder holsters, which I notice are missing the first time we see the back of the guitar shirt.

    “How can you have a feeling for a machine, Starsky?” Well if anyone is going to have a feeling for a machine, it would be Starsky.

    Hutch’s initial disdain for gambling seems to be overcome by his surprise jackpot at the car repair place, which, together with Merle’s comments about Hutch’s need for control, leads me to a theory: Perhaps Hutch has to be tightly controlled (controlling?) because by nature he really goes overboard when he loses control of himself. Starsky — in some ways his alter-ego — displays something Hutch cannot find within himself: the ability to be free and spontaneous without getting out of control.

    Maybe he is secretly attracted to many of the things he makes fun of in Starsky, and controls his own impulses by pointing out how absurd they are when he sees them in Starsky.

    On the other hand, maybe his party animal behavior in this episode just shows how thoroughly he “lives his cover.” After all, he was high school valedictorian and Most Likely to Succeed.

    At the casino entrance, we hear a lot of laughter, but we don’t actually see anyone laugh, and if people are staring, we don’t actually see it.

    When Hutch sees Jack in jail, why on earth does he immediately attract attention, potentially breaking his cover? For all Hutch’s loyalty to his old friends, he sure tends to lose track of them and where they are in their lives. I was relieved when I got to the scene where Starsky says he’s sick of Hutch’s loyalty — and Hutch’s explosion was perfect and appropriate and heart-rending. The best exchange of this episode, by far, and it sums up so much.

    The landlord’s crazy wild hair makes his claim of cutting other people’s hair sound really absurd.

    The scene where Vicky tells Starsky he’s blushing is really cute and endearing. Starsky’s affection for her does not seem to be part of his cover, but the relationship seems to end with no explanation at the end of the episode. (I have not watched further than this, in this lifetime, so maybe she’s mentioned later on?)

    I certainly agree that it is a bit jarring to have Vicky say it will only take a minute when she goes to greet her daughter. Perhaps she means it will only take a minute to pick her up and then they are all going to go have a picnic in a nearby park. Is she a good mother? She’s got a difficult situation, and she’s almost certainly doing the best she knows how to do, supporting two households and shouldering lots of medical bills.

    That said, why does she have such a large comfortable, well-appointed apartment if she only keeps it so she won’t have a long drive at night after work? The well-stocked spice rack suggests a lot of cooking going on in this one-person household. (If she has roommates to share the costs, they are nowhere in evidence.)

    Someone being attacked by a known person would scream their name: “No Lloyd! Stop!” Not just a generic “Help!” Also, if Vicky’s ex-husband regularly attacks her, why isn’t she in the habit of having someone with her when she walks home?

    Those gauzy flowing sleeves near the open flame of her gas range made me cringe. (And don’t tap on the fishbowl, Starsky. It hurts the fish.)

    After searching Cameron’s office, Hutch, chin jutting out defiantly, faces off with Cameron, while Starsky lounges expressionlessly by the filing cabinet. When Cameron tells them to pack their bags, Hutch turns to Starsky, who gives permission and advice with a tiny headshake and a wave of the hand: “Tone it down. But whatever you want; I’ll go along with it.” Assured of his partner’s support, Hutch immediately calms his voice and states the case for the two of them staying on, but Starsky actually gives the strongest argument. As you pointed out, he seems to be the one that really connects the pieces in this episode, despite his seeming distraction with Vicky.

    Thank you for the insight about Hutch’s level of pain vs. his focus. And yes, David Soul is one of the greatest actors around.

    Why does Eugene steal a pair of stockings from Vicky’s room? He works in a store that sells them. Or does he always use his victims’ own stockings?

    I think Vicky has the things delivered to her house because delivery is free, and she is on her way (after a detour) to work.

    The “bevy of cops” at the casino are actually security guards, “waiting for the city cops,” and I don’t see guns on them.

    Is the ER surgeon Jack’s regular physician? Strange coincidence, but I suppose Hutch could not have found Jack’s physician to discuss his case otherwise. (But I note that a doctor would not go around discussing someone’s case with a non-family member without explicit written permission from the patient, or an order from a judge.)

    The hospital hallway seems to be the same set where Hutch harangued Starsky about his “equally crummy blue jeans” in A Coffin For Starsky.

    If Jack were “90% paralyzed” on the right side side, he would not be walking, period, let alone grabbing Vicky with his right hand in the car and then clapping his right hand over her mouth! Besides, right side paralysis goes along with aphasia — inability to talk. Left size paralysis goes along with irrationality, which is a little more in tune with Jack’s behavior. (I don’t know where the brain locus is for impulsive behavior, but knowing you were going to die in a few months might lead some people to act wild and crazy if they felt healthy enough.)

    At Eugene’s house, it is suggested that Eugene’s problems are all his mother’s fault, especially since they are Catholic (which was a minor issue in Terror on the Docks, another episode that dealt with a childhood friend). The sound of nearby church bells suggests that they should be walking, not taking the car, to church.

    I too am bothered by Eugene’s odd change of M.O., not just with respect to his mother’s murder. I like your hypothesis that he couldn’t bring himself to touch her, but he also changes his methods to get at Ginger, baiting her instead of waiting in the darkness in a parking lot.

    I agree about the gore. The absence of blood, especially in “Shootout” is downright distracting, and affect my suspension of disbelief. But in this episode, it is perfect. When Hutch discover’s Eugene’s mother’s body, he really looks like he is going to be ill.

    During the long chase scene — it had to be long in order to fill up the 2nd hour of this story! — why didn’t Starsky and Hutch yell, “Police! Get out of the way!” or “Everybody get down!”

    If Hutch is the one with the soft spot for broken people, is Starsky the one who is better at sounding empathetic to the truly crazy people, as here and in Lady Blue?

    The guys would certainly have worked out a smoother delivery for their cover story before being questioned by Dobey about the missing money.

    • DRB Says:

      The entire scene at the filling station one-armed bandit is quite entertaining. After haranguing Starsky, Hutch approaches the bandit so-o-o casually and saunters away at a snail’s pace while listening intently. Merl did a great job of describing his expression when he hit the jackpot. Additionally, I was quite amused to notice the wide berth he gives Starsky when carrying his ill-gotten gains to the cab. Starsky is giving him the all-purpose grim look; I expected him to point out that the winning quarter was his, but he is content to let Hutch win at this point. (Might have been different after Hutch was so “mean” to him at the craps table.)

      And a final giggle: Hutch’s fatalistic reaction on hitting the jackpot again at the slots as their winnings continue to grow.

  2. Wallis Says:

    I’m not sure if this attitude was rare or not in the ’70s since I’m not hugely familiar with the decade, but I personally was very surprised and pleased at the fact that her being a stripper causes no barriers or hang-ups in Vicky and Starsky’s cute little romance. Neither Starsky or the writers dismiss her as not being girlfriend material, or portray her as an enthralling prize, or push her to change, or pity her.

    Also, I loved that shootout with the crazy guy on the casino roof. The slow, suspenseful pace, the darkness, the surrealist landscape that the roofs of tall buildings always supply, the bright flashes of the gunshots, the bird’s eye view, the relentless relay race of the telepathically in-sync partners patiently bearing down on the shooter until they corner him. A standout action scene for me, very memorable.

    • merltheearl Says:

      That is a great shoot-out chase scene, one of the best in the series, and maybe the only genuinely suspenseful moment in the whole two-hour episode. As for Vicky, she is a showgirl and not a stripper – even if part of her show was topless (and it might or might not have been) a showgirl is an honorable, even wholesome profession not related to the sex trade. That said, if she had been a stripper or something less laudable, you’re right, she would have received the same level of respect from Starsky and Hutch. This show has a good record of treating marginalized women with dignity.

      • Wallis Says:

        Ah yes, I suppose that is a significant distinction!

        I find it kind of weird that this show has a pretty lousy record (well, by modern standards anyway) with treating “normal” (i.e., white middle class with respectable careers and hobbies) women with respect and interest, yet does so well when it comes to people on the margins, male and female. I suppose it ties into the general “the two of us against the world” ethos of the show, where in order to ensure that Starsky and Hutch are utterly alone in the world, and can rely on no one but each other with no one else who they can always turn to, every other character must be in some way found wanting, either through having unpleasant or villainous motives, or simply through the powerlessness of being stupid, ignorant, lied to, untrained, ineffective, or rendered inert through death, victimization, or oppression — this last one including the people who are already marginalized and attacked by society. And I suppose portraying a lot of non-marginalized women (well, non-marginalized relative to other women, at any rate) in sexist ways is one of a whole raft of narrative tools used to (both sympathetically and unsympathetically) strip all characters who are not Starsky or Hutch of their effectiveness.

  3. Anna Says:

    I was also very interested by their fight in the hospital over Jack’s innocence. It’s actually a pretty heated fight, and briefly gets kind of nasty on Starsky’s side of things, yet as you say, it dissipates so fast, and they make it believable that it would dissipate so fast. Like they understand each other so well they can achieve almost perfect empathy and let their frustration and resentment at each other go very sincerely and easily.

    Still, I was rather surprised to hear Starsky say a line like that “I’m sick of your stinkin’ loyalty to your friends” one. I know, he’s severely sleep-deprived, but it was still a bit of a shock to hear him say something like that, because it feels like there’s more going on under the surface. Makes me wonder if he was a bit jealous of Jack, a bit insecure about his place here and how to deal with this piece of Hutch’s past that he wasn’t a part of and can’t relate to because of the cultural and experience division, and the stress of the case and Vicky blew those feelings out of proportion?

    I do wish there had been an episode somewhere in the show that talked explicitly about Starsky and Hutch’s differences in their background/socioeconomic class. It would be so interesting.

    • Wallis Says:

      I didn’t think about Starsky’s irritation at Hutch over Jack as being jealousy, but that’s an interesting perspective. I would have to watch it again to see if there’s any other moments that might suggest this in other parts of the episode.

      I don’t know if Starsky really has anything to be jealous about, though. I don’t know if he would be the jealous type. Or would he? I can’t think of any examples from episodes, but I think that in general, self-confident people tend to be less jealous. But maybe more possessive?

  4. Patricia Ackor Says:

    Just as aside here about sets and wardrobe. Vicky’s apartment was also the one occupied by the armored car guard that was killed at the beginning of “Hostages.” And that lovely apricot ensemble Vicky is wearing was first worn by Dewey’s girlfriend in “Kill Huggy Bear.” (It looked GREAT on both women!) Speaking of recurring sets, the apartment that Cheryl lived in in “The Bait” was the same set used as the blackmailer’s apartment (Ginger’s friend who got her killed, her name escapes me right now) in “Death Notice,” and one other episode from early in Season 1. (The white spindled room divider at the front door is a dead giveaway.) The producers did not spend one extra cent when they didn’t have to (something the boys fought for four years). And “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” hadn’t even been coined yet. Go figure.

  5. Jay Says:

    Just two words: Lynda Carter. I truly didn’t care about the plot of this particular as a 9-year-old who loved Wonder Woman. I love being about to re-watch these shows being able to actually listen to the dialogue.

  6. DRB Says:

    Oh, the “little things.”. When Starsky finds the clue that cracks the case wide open, Hutch is feeding Vicky’s fish😊

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