Episode 28: The Specialist

Alex Drew is portrayed as a loving, attentive husband. When he insists that he take his wife shopping for clothes she doesn’t need and doesn’t want, is this a loving act? He practically pushes her out the door.

Drew tells his wife – sharply – that he will put his suitcase in the closet. We see later this suitcase is an assassin’s arsenal, with guns and other deadly paraphernalia packed neatly in custom foam inserts. A few questions arise here. Does Drew’s wife not know there are weapons in there, and if not, why wouldn’t he tell her? Why bring such an elaborate weapons stash, and why hide it from his wife? What exactly are they doing in Los Angeles anyway? The trip lasts a rather unusual three weeks, and Drew’s wife is returning to Washington on her own. What reason does Drew have to stay behind, and does it have anything to do with those guns? Given that we discover later he has been “forcibly retired”, and has suffered a breakdown of sorts because of it, is revenge on his mind already? Has he traveled to California on some kind of crazy mission to get his job back or exact revenge on the person who downsized his department? And now that Alex Drew is a regular citizen like everybody else, how on earth did he get that suitcase past airline security? Things weren’t that lax in the seventies.

Starsky always gets the best parking in the place – right in front of the building.

They’re in the locker room, changing from what is probably a workout, and Hutch is worrying over his hair in a way you would never see Starsky doing. Starsky is not fussy about his appearance, Hutch is, or appears to be.

Hutch of course enjoys needling Starsky, who says he’s “thinking”. “Well, we all want to wish you beginner’s luck,” he says, and smirks off to the side as if he’s got a rapt audience for his witticisms. Starsky proceeds to blow Hutch’s mind with a series of what-if questions, and it’s fun to watch Starsky’s intense, blue-eyed gaze at his partner as he weaves an absurd alternate universe. It looks like a cobra-charmer at an Indian market. Hutch, the cobra in this instance, can’t look away. For a moment there, acting or not, he is stunned by the absurdist leaps in logic Starsky makes. When he says, in response to Starsky’s admonition that they’re going to be late, “what if we were?” we can see how much he has been secretly enjoying this conversation, and is willing to play along.

Where is Hutch’s gun? Starsky has his on. Hutch dresses in the locker room but is gun-less.

It’s ridiculous there is a gun battle in the middle of a busy street. No one shouts a caution, either, even though there is a big point made of this necessity in “Pariah”; the police simply start shooting wildly into the crowd. Only Hutch is seen trying to get people to safety. Property is simply not worth killing over, jewelry or not, a point that seems lost in this episode and every day in actual life too.

Exactly whose bullet killed Alex Drew’s wife? It’s never revealed, although it would be easy enough for ballistics to tell. The beat cops probably use .38s but Starsky and Hutch have very different guns. My money’s on Carl, rather than Mac. He’s portrayed less laudably than his partner and seems sloppier somehow.

Drew wants to bring his wife’s body back home. Dobey seems anxious to help, but then he asks Drew to not only book the flight himself, but to then report back with the airline, flight number and time. It seems like an awful lot for a bereaved husband to do, a husband whose very bereavement is due to grievous police errors. It seems to me there should have been more done by the department. A ride to the airport isn’t enough.

Do Dobey, Starsky and Hutch know that Drew is a government agent during this initial meeting? Common sense indicates they would, considering the flurry of paperwork following the shooting, but it’s never said one way or the other. When Drew makes his angry call to Washington, commandeering a plane, nobody looks shocked by that display of political pull or asks who the hell he is, making a call like that. But then, on the other hand, no one says, when Drew storms out, “I wonder if this shooting is going to get us in trouble with the feds.”

It’s neat that Starsky’s what-ifs continue in Dobey’s office. Since the whole show is about the vagaries of fate, the fact that Drew had the two other officers files ahead of Starsky and Hutch’s is the Big Coincidence never directly addressed by the show.

If Alex Drew was downsized or fired from the CIA, as we find out later, then how can he command a special flight for the return trip to Washington so easily? He barks out the order, fully expecting to be obeyed without question. It’s not that the people on the other end know about the killing, either, and so are acting out of pity. It’s before anybody knows the circumstances of his wife’s death.

It may be correct procedure for the time, but it strikes me as odd that an old-fashioned hearse is coming for Mac’s body after the explosion. Even if it is a coroner’s wagon (although we see no official insignia) one would expect to see an ambulance, even if nothing is left of the poor man but cinders.

Mac Senior sits on the fire truck after his son’s murder. The truck is a Mack truck, which is a nice detail. When Mac Senior tells Hutch that he told Mac Junior his job as a policeman would make him come to a bad end, could he have possibly imagine this circumstance? This lovely, quiet scene shows that Hutch is unafraid of the sensitive, unpleasant jobs demanded by his profession. He has an easy and gentle way with people belied by his sarcastic, prickly exterior.

Starsky’s behavior toward Hagen, and later to the officer who delivers the files, is truly reprehensible. (Later, he has slaps another female officer’s behind rudely with a file, and looks disappointed when she doesn’t react). Hutch, on the other hand, is elaborately respectful, but only in an attempt to make himself look good beside his partner and not because he believes in women’s rights. (In the tag he’s as bad as Starsky, and they both call her, at different times, “child”.) This scene contains another interesting example of how Starsky deliberately sets himself up for ridicule: he says to Hutch, “have you ever wondered, Hutch, what would have happened if you’d been born charming and handsome, and I’d been born a dullard?” Of course, Hutch predictably takes the bait. “Well, Starsk, there’s just some things in this world that you don’t have to wonder about.” Is this an altruistic gesture on Starsky’s part? Is this a role he has willingly signed on for?

Ollie the mystical teddy bear is sitting on file cabinet in squad room. He’s glimpsed briefly as the guys look for suspects in Mac’s murder. There seem to be a lot of other toys around too, a Mickey Mouse doll and a plastic horse, among others. Plus the plastic piggy bank which has lived on Hutch’s desk for the whole series.

Invigorating: There are many fine moments during the Flashy Floyd sequence, and it’s one of the great strengths of the series that we get these glimpses into the eccentric debauchery of the sex trade. Of course it’s all a harmless bit of fiction, devoid of the true horror and violence, but it’s creative and enjoyable nonetheless. When they pull up to the Temple of Bodily Invigoration Hutch explains, “it means they probably appreciate a well conditioned body.” And then, with a comic’s timing, he says, “what are you looking at?” There’s a joke about the variety of customers, including a 90-pound weakling who is terrified of what’s being offered to him, and the guys make fun of the décor (Hutch says it’s “Early Nothing”) when in fact the room displays the kind of energetic set dec a viewer waits for. The striped super-graphics are mod, the clash of seventies modern with faux-Napoleonic are great. Starsky says, following the coin toss, “I’m in the mood for tails”, it could be an off-color joke.

Also, the collapse-and-drag is a great trick to getting into rooms. The whole thing has a wonderful choreography to it, and performed with such practiced ease we know this something they’ve done before. (Filming note: When they filmed the fake-collapse scene, Glaser’s shirt rode up and an assistant dashed over to tuck it in, but Glaser’s so ticklish, he collapsed for real, laughing. The rest of the day, Soul had to just wiggle his fingers at Glaser and he would burst out laughing.)

“You cops don’t even look like cops any more,” Flashy Floyd says, ingratiatingly, which is a long-running point of pride in the series and repeated fairly often.

By the time we get to the end of the sequence, and the cute pinch Starsky gets – apparently this temple is staffed by happy-go-lucky hookers – it’s difficult to remember why we’re here in the first place. The brutal murder of a police officer is nearly lost in all the fun and games.

Alex Drew changes his method of killing, deciding to poison the next one instead of rigging his car with explosives. This aggressive ingenuity, while cinematic, is exhausting and inexact. Drew, an experienced agent, should have just followed each man home in the dark and placed a quick bullet in the back of his head. Boom, over. However, logic has relatively little to do with story-telling. On a more superficial note, he shaves his moustache off and looks ten years younger, which should be a lesson to every man.

Could that be the glass that poisoned Carl Hutch is holding – sans gloves – at the bar? It better not be. And on the subject of fingerprints, Alex Drew is mighty careless when he leaves without taking his own glass with him.

Hutch shouldn’t look so surprised when it’s revealed Drew has their personnel files. It’s obvious he’s after them too, as both detectives discussed this at length following Carl’s murder.

The aptly-named Charles Cyphers as Cole, the CIA operative, has an unforgettable scene in which he is forced to explain a few Unpleasant Facts about Drew’s capabilities. He seems to pop out a sweat bead with each reluctant fact. He’s mesmerizing, as is Hutch, who goes head-to-head with him, trying to make him see the human cost of bureaucratic operations. Starsky, as usual, is phlegmatic and understated.

How often is the Torino in the shop? In other episodes Hutch makes a few disparaging comments about its continual need for tune-ups. When they both get into it, there’s a lovely moment of synchronicity when they look at each other, each thinking the same thing. “Care to take a little stroll?” Starsky says.

Fernando Lamas, the handsome “Latin” star of the 80s, cut his teeth doing some pretty inventive directing. Here, there’s a rare “swipe-edit” cut between the guys sitting in the Torino and the bomb disposal people carefully lifting out the explosive. They transfer it to the truck while the voices of Starsky and Hutch are barely heard is very creative and unusual. We join them in mid-meeting.

Neither detectives accept that Dobey is in charge of the case. “We’re living in a regular democracy, aren’t we?” is Hutch’s parting shot as they walk out of the meeting. Well, actually, it is not a democracy, and both Starsky and Hutch are naïve to think it ever was.

At the dingy motel, Dobey nods to the two undercover detectives scrubbing the pool. This is far more likely an undercover role than the cruise ship operators, country music stars and dancing instructors enjoyed by Starsky and Hutch.

Hutch looks very dubious reading from the Bible in the hotel room, as does Starsky, in his dramatic legs-on-each-bed pose, watching a typical shoot-em-up TV show. Apparently both versions of reality call for a fair bit of skepticism.

Talking to Dobey, both men show tremendous humanity when saying Alex Drew is a victim like all the others.

It doesn’t seem possible Hutch would have missed Cole sitting in the corner of the restaurant, especially if he is being extra-vigilant. However, it does give Starsky the opportunity to call him “Mr. Personality”. At this point we start to wonder about the logistics of this operation. Obviously they have checked in Starsky and Hutch into the motel to draw Drew away from … from what? Populated areas? The motel is fully booked, if the restaurant is any indication. And what do they think Drew is thinking as he tracks them to this place? Starsky and Hutch wouldn’t be the only ones thinking they were like a “duck in a barrel”. Alex Drew would know for certain this was an elaborate set-up, and would plan accordingly while keeping to their daily routines might have lulled Drew into a false sense of security, enabling an arrest without endangering more lives. The only explanation for this would be if they thought it looked suspicious not to go into hiding.

Soul has the best sad laugh in the business, a sort of gentle exhale. He does it when Hagen gives him the endless series of choices at the restaurant, and when Starsky compliments her on her waitressing.

It appears Hutch ate Starsky’s plain baked potato, as he mentions the two Irish plums he consumed. (The plain potatoes they both order is a weird detail – they both say they’re “counting calories”, which is so not true. There’s really no reason to eat a plain potato.) But Starsky pays him back by hogging all the pillows in room 39 at the Country Squire. Hutch has to make do with some sort of upholstered cushion. Uncomplainingly, apparently. The Nasty Hutch Game has been retired for the evening.

“Don’t scream,” Alex commands. “There’s nobody around to hear you.” But there are. Cole and Dobey are just steps away, and the kitchen must be full of staff. Alex Drew is good, but good enough to incapacitate ten, fifteen people?

Why does it apparently take at least four hours for Dobey and Cole to discover Officer Hagen’s kidnapping? It’s interesting to speculate. Perhaps Cole has talked Dobey into trying to solve this by themselves without the help of the two detectives. Cole seems to genuinely despise them in the tradition of all suit-and-tie bureaucrats who take an instant dislike for no discernible reason. Jealousy, maybe? Imagine the scene where Cole and Dobey try unsuccessfully to bring Drew in, hammering on doors and trying to get a fix on strange cars in the neighborhood and talking to frightened kitchen staff. Imagine Dobey’s growing frustration, and Cole’s unwillingness to concede defeat. Imagine when the phone rings and it’s Drew, wanting only to talk to Starsky and Hutch.

Despite all the gunfire, only two innocent bystanders are shot in the series. Both are women and both shootings involve Starsky. (“Photo Finish”, “Specialist”).

Why does Alex fire at the van from so far away? All he does is alert them to his position. An expert like him, he could have waited until they got closer and then fired from close range. We can blame is mental disintegration for all the odd choices he has made throughout.

There are more excellent climbing and high-wire acts from Hutch. Starsky draws fire not unlike how he distracts Father Ignatius at the movie theater in “Silence”; is this what Starsky is talking to Hutch about when he comments about feeling like a carnival game when he and Hutch walk along the balcony at the hotel on the way to dinner? It is an incredibly selfless and brave thing for him to do, and shows a great faith in his partner’s abilities.

Hutch asks Cole what’s important to him. He replies, “the continued strength of our nation.” (Off-camera, an exasperated “oh boy” from Starsky.) Cole adds, “And it should be important to you, too.” “Oh it is,” Hutch says, “but not at your prices.” This conversation is even more relevant today – Cole would have been in Homeland Security.

Tag: Everyone is laughing and joking about Sally Hagen, which seems mean and unfair. When she shows up, she’s subjected to even more flirting and grabbing from the guys, who pass her between them like a trophy. The tone of this scene isn’t vindictive – again, like the scenes of Flashy Floyd’s place it has very little to do with the actual She asks them for “research” as she’s starting in Vice.
“There’s two of us,” Hutch says, taking her around the waist, “and only one of you.”
“I thought about that a lot,” Sally says, “but I think it would more fun with the both of you.”
Now, at this point, given the whole threesome innuendo, the thing to do would be to laugh it off and refuse her offer. But what do they do? Cut to Hutch’s apartment. The guys have actually agree to meet her, and Hutch has obviously added, “let’s go to my place.” Thrown hard on the floor, they groan in pain. “I don’t know about you,” Starsky says, “but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
Oh? What exactly did you have in mind, Starsky?

This tag makes the later “Starsky Vs. Hutch” war even odder, since the guys seem to have no compunction about sharing.

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17 Responses to “Episode 28: The Specialist”

  1. King David Says:

    Didn’t Starsky shoot Kim Cattrall in “Blindfold” also?

    I don’t mind the bit where the female officer ignores Starsky’s file pat on the rear; I imagine she isn’t bothered by it, because he probably does it other times. I hope for the sake of decency that if she did mind it and spoke up to him, he’d be chastened and desist at once. He is basically a decent guy (especially for his time) so it may even be something of a cachet for her as it says he regards her as able to take it. (Yes? No? Sorry Starsky, I tried…)
    Poor Sally has to wear frilly knickers as her uniform. That was far worse, in my opinion. Kudos for setting them up for disappointment at the end.
    I like how Starsky hogs the beds.

    • merltheearl Says:

      My comment about “innocent bystanders” being shot doesn’t include Emily Harrison because she’s actually not innocent at all, but rather part of the criminal plot. Starsky also shoots teenage hoodlum Lonnie Craig and Gary Prudholm, George’s son, two terrible shooting deaths precipitating the action in “Pariah”. Of the two, Starsky has a worse record than Hutch for tragic killings.

      And as for fanny-slapping, yes, regrettably I’m sure it happened all the time! Wouldn’t you like to be the one to turn around and snap, “stop that, or I’ll shove this file right up …” Okay, perhaps not.

      • King David Says:

        I hadn’t thought of it this way, but it’s a valid angle. I was thinking in terms of intent. I wouldn’t include Lonnie Craig either, as Starsky had formed the intent, albeit a microsecond beforehand, to shoot. And, he always looks affected by it, and gutted in Blindfold. This attitude was a break from the usual TV cop shows, I remember, looking back from today at their mad displays of free-for-all firefights, (how accurate was that?) they look as though they regret having to draw weapons and fire, and any negative outcomes from their actions.

  2. Dianna Says:

    Wow, this is a tense episode!

    And the way Starsky kept treating the women made me even more tense, but not in a good way. I found myself irritated with him (and with Hutch, too) in a way I did not like, so I was glad they got their comeuppance at the end! I also appreciated Merle’s commentary on the topic.

    Why Drew couldn’t fly home with his wife in the opening scene? She thinks he’s on vacation, not unwillingly retired, as Cole later claims. Did Drew lie to his wife? Or did Cole lie to Starsky, Hutch, and Dobey? We know he initially lied about Drew’s access to weapons. This would also explain how Drew could call Washington and expect an immediate response. (But why would he flaunt his special agent status in front of the lowly cops? To show off his superiority?)

    Janice Drew’s body language when she is walking with her husband clearly shows that she is quite fond of him, so maybe what looks like reluctance to go shopping is part of their secret couple language.

    It is strange for her to look up, curious and relaxed, when she hears gunshots. Why doesn’t Drew — with his experience in violent events — pull her down? Hutch is almost cold to Drew when he rushes to Janice Drew’s side, and Alex Drew is strangely passive when Hutch tries to push him away. One would expect him to say, “She’s my wife!” or to be the first to check for lifesigns. Maybe he freezes because he’s busy formulating his conspiracy theory.

    Hutch tries to cradle Mac’s dad, pulling him closer, the way he would comfort Starsky, but Mac Sr. doesn’t let him.

    Mac Sr. says, “You ask why, Ken? He was a policeman! He was a cop!” But a moment later, Hutch asks Starsky why anyone would go to such trouble to kill “an ordinary street cop.” Is this a bit of the department hierarchy showing through? Or is Hutch alone in feeling superior to the uniformed officers? In the other episodes I’ve seen, he is more likely to yell at them, and Starsky is more likely to call them by name.

    At the Chapel of Bodily Invigoration, I was amused by the coinless coin toss. Merle’s commentary on the entry to Floyd’s office makes a delightful scene even better! However, when Floyd refers to the slain police officer by his nickname, “Mac,” the familiarity is a bit jarring.

    Carl is assigned a rookie partner the same day as his original partner’s horrifying death. That is inhumane, and I certainly hope it is not realistic!

    If Carl drank “enough poison to kill an elephant,” it does not suggest that the assassin “knew exactly what he was doing.” Less poison would have been just as deadly.

    The repeated mentions of elephants and ducks in unlikely places — why?

    It must be very painful for Starsky to suddenly be suspicious of his beloved Torino. The “what if?” theme leaps into bold relief when Starsky drops his keys and sees the plastic explosive!

    Real bomb squad suits look like space suits, not so flimsy, like a welder’s outfit. And the entire building should have been evacuated when the explosive was discovered.

    I tried (but failed) to find video of H.R. Haldeman, to compare his speech patterns to those of Agent Cole, because their visual similarity, so soon after the trauma of Watergate, could not have been coincidental. There is a lot of post-Watergate Bicentennial era angst in this episode: Drew’s toast to our great country, Cole looking like Haldeman, the statement, “We’re living in a regular democracy!”, Cole’s concern with “the strength of our country,” and Hutch’s retort about the price of that strength.

    Starsky is the deeper thinker in this episode, starting with his little “What if” game. His perception of and empathy for Drew’s situation is magnificent (and ironic, considering his disregard for the women’s situation!)

    In the hotel room, Starsky is the one who has been consciously thinking about Drew as a person, and I don’t think the pair has discussed it aloud before Dobey enters and turns off the TV. This scene is filled with so much nonverbal communication that the glances between characters are almost more important than the pivotal dialogue. Brilliantly done! And well worth the effort of watching it repeatedly in order to decipher who is looking at whom and what is being communicated second-to-second.

    Hutch is reading the Bible just past its midway point. The Book of Wisdom, perhaps? Is he looking for help dealing with the issue of Alex Drew? He is the one who tells Dobey they have to go through with this, but when Dobey asks why, he gives Starsky a sharp glance and lets him do the talking. Perhaps Hutch has a gut feeling but is not ready to articulate it. He listens to Starsky so intently that I don’t think he understood *why* they have to go through with it till Starsky points out that Drew is broken. Dobey can see the unanimity between these two even when only one does the talking, so he withdraws his suggestion that they call it off, even though his distaste for Cole has grown as strong as theirs.

    Why was Starsky lying on the bed with a box of Kleenex before they head to the restaurant? Has he been crying? Is it because he is thinking about Drew and/or the fate of a democracy that turns a person into a tool? When Hutch snatches his kleenex in midair, he covers his face with a towel, and when he removes that and stands up, he looks positively stricken, not merely tense. Hutch is wound tight as a spring, and snaps at Starsky when they uncharacteristically bump into one another outside the hotel room door, and is the first to reach for his gun when a car screeches around the corner.

    The identical restaurant orders are interesting. I bet the plain baked potatoes are a result of the conversation about physique they had before entering the Chapel of B.I.; and “counting calories” is a statement that they expect to be alive tomorrow.

    Dobey and Cole obviously knew that Hagen was missing long before they barged into the curiously unlocked Room 39 and almost got themselves shot. Merle’s thought experiment about the interaction between Dobey and Cole overnight is right on the money.

    We see Hutch’s bullet-proof vest clearly. Starsky takes off his shirt, but we never actually see whether he dons one as well. During the shootout at the oilfield, you can see the curve of his back, so I don’t think he is wearing it. (Oddly, the meticulous Hutch is wearing the same green t-shirt he put on in the locker room the previous day.)

    At the refinery, Cole fires from a distance in order to taunt his targets. He gloats about how easily he has been outsmarting them. Hutch also comments that, “He’s playing with us.”

    It is not chance that Drew has left these two for last. No “what if” here, because he knows they’re the smart ones — they’re the detectives — and that gives him more challenge, more chance to feel superior, and possibly more possibility of “suicide by cop.” He may also feel that they are more likely to be the people in charge of his theorized conspiracy, so they deserve to feel more dread before they die.

    Hutch tells Hagen, “You look like a cop,” and then the camera crew gives us a fine view of her cleavage. Is that what a cop looks like? What an interesting contrast to the constant commentary that Starsky & Hutch do not look like cops.

    Does Hutch leave her tied up because a woman would just get in the way? Or because she’s inexperienced and would be unpredictable in the tight-but-ad libbed S&H choreography?

    For once the tag ties off an unresolved issue. Well done. I think this will become a favorite episode.

    • McPierogiPazza Says:

      The post-Watergate vibe is strong in this episode. I’d add post-Vietnam too. And Cole and Drew were likely to have been involved in truly nasty business. The CIA was doing horrible things in Latin America in this period.

      Unhappy Starsky sitting with a foot up on each bed — he looked like someone really dreading a pelvic exam.

  3. Wallis Says:

    I don’t know exactly why, but both the guys look fantastic in this episode.There’s a number of “hit pause and just drink it in” shots, especially the close ups. Must be the lighting and directing, since the clothes are normal.

    The “what if?” theme is really well done. Most episode themes in this show seem accidental or subconscious, but this one is not only deliberate, but pervades the whole episode, in multiple scenes. Excellent. Also, thank you, Mr. Lamas, for that foot-on-each-bed scene. You anticipate my needs so well.

    Starsky’s treatment of women in this ep really bugged me too, but it does seem that it’s more an ignorance problem than anything. When that lady in the Chapel of Bodily Invigoration smacks HIS ass, and cheekily owns it, Starsky just grins and remarks “keep up the good work!” not minding at all, so he very likely assumed, poorly, that the policewoman whose ass he smacked earlier didn’t mind either, not seeing the difference. I can’t imagine that either Starsky or Hutch would ever harass a woman if they actually realized they were making her uncomfortable or were told to stop. They’re just morons with the blindness of male privilege, and would shape up if they get enough good shakes (something that unfortunately a police force, with all its machismo and low female representation, and lack of contact with successful women who are good specimens of humanity, isn’t a great supplier of.)

    I (unfortunately) have a hard time getting worked up about their calling Sally Hagen “child” since, until the tag, she seems naive and silly enough to almost warrant it if it weren’t for the sexist overtones — a rookie, perhaps, being hazed in a way that Starsky and Hutch probably think is all fun and games. Like, I intellectually KNOW it’s bad, but it never sparks any anger in me, which makes me feel guilty.

    I love the way Starsky bluntly says “I think you’re lying, Mr. Cole” when Cole says Drew didn’t have access to weapons. No beating around the bush at all.

    The scene after the car bomb is discovered when they yell at Cole, and the hotel scenes afterward, are really good. You can feel the guys’ frustration and resentment mingled with trepidation and wondering pouring off them. Their silence seems very deliberate, and they both seem lost in their own worlds, probably wondering “what if?” Great directing and acting.

    Thanks, Dianna, for pointing out the kleenex/towel scene with Starsky. Very obvious and odd, certainly couldn’t be there by accident. Was there a missing scene? I don’t think the scriptwriters would have had him crying, since men crying is the one bulletproof violator of the macho-kosher rules in all scenarios not involving romance, but perhaps an off-the-cuff director’s choice would have been more lenient.

    I must say that the restaurant scene with them and Sally Hagen feels like it’s just dripping with innuendo even though there don’t actually seem to be any actual double entendres. Maybe they just have the gift of making any phrase sound dirty if they want it to, just with the subtleties of their body language and intonation.

    I love their lightning-fast reaction when Dobey and Cole burst in.

    Man, the scene where Starsky gives Cole the what-for (“It’s people like who make us ashamed to wear our badge…”) and reduces him to a hangdog, squirming, fidgeting, pathetic little toad without even raising his voice or standing up is show-stopping. It’s not the first time I’ve been impressed with how incredibly intimidating Starsky can be with very little fanfare.

    I love Hutch’s disgust during the handcuffing and the debriefing. He can wield disgust like a knife to the face. The blunt pessimism of the way this plotline closes is just really well done, nice and unflinching. ‘Course the tag is all lighthearted again, but at least the guys get their comeuppance.

  4. Anna Says:

    Most of this episode is, in my opinion, the boys at their finest and most unique — compassionate, straightforward, take-no-bullshit, thoughtful, mature, competent, quietly righteous without being self-righteous, and best of all, with a palpable dangerous aura that I can’t figure out how to describe, it’s so good and feels so right — an aura of bubbling, deadly serious insubordination, unshowy rebellion, and disgust for authority and the institutional structures that uncaringly perpetuate the wellsprings of the ills they fight against born of long hard first-hand experience; by the hotel scenes they’re so quietly, privately steadfast in their fed-up-ness at the situation that they seem possessed by an almost lazy-with-contempt malaise that could at any moment embody itself in brutally efficient violence. And throughout it all, they are united in this captivating, dangerous aura as if telepathically linked the entire time. The peak of this vein of Watergate-tinted disgust — when Starsky calmly crushes Cole underfoot with nothing but soft words and charisma when Cole tries to discard Sally and send in the cavalry — is nothing short of electrifying.

    Of course, this unfortunately makes the sexual harassment subplot, which may have been fascinating in another episode, feel really jarring. Maybe if I think about it some more I will eventually hit upon an interesting way it can be thematically meaningful to this episode?

  5. Sharon Marie Says:

    Not sure I would call Starsky gullible, but he sure is one to consider conspiracy theories or strange coincidences, always leaving Hutch with food for thought. He tends to blow off what Starsky is pontificating, but at some point Hutch has a moment of wonderment almost as though Starsky was just on the bubble of convincing him but not quite! It’s great character continuity from one episode to the next.

    At what point did the location of the show stop being in the fictitious Bay City…. or did it never stray? I notice on S & H’s department records that they both resides in Los Angeles. I’ve noticed in some film locations signage that said things like “property of the City of Los Angeles”. Did they stop using Bay City as their department jurisdiction? And I thought they have remarked in the show that Hutch grew up in the Midwest. I notice on the same record his place of birth is Salem, Oregon. Just an interesting observation.

    By the time this was filmed, Soul had two children from two different failed relationships. I wondered, as I watched the scene with Hutch consoling the dead cop’s father talking about his (now deceased) divorced son getting to see his child on Saturdays and every other Wednesday, if this pinched Soul just a little bit. He is so good at these soft, emotional support scenes. The elderly man calls him “Ken” showing that there is a relationship there, at some level. They had at least met and talked prior to this.

    Officer Sally’s feathered hair…. I remember how we young teenage girls worked on our hair all day to look like that back then! And used lots of hairspray. School bathrooms were foggy with hairspray and probably could have blown with the lighting of a match!

    Starsky whacks the female officer on the butt with a file and she never reacts!

    Funny how during the collapse-and-drag Starsky catches the door with his foot and pushes it shut.

    As they were coming out of the hotel room wearing the bullet proof vests I couldn’t help think that someone trained to kill would go for one clean shot to the head, not the chest.

    Hutch…. you left her tied up??!

    Cole’s goal of “…the continued strength of our nation…” I think, today would have been worded as “… to be a patriot…”

    Just an observation… at the beginning in the locker room looking at David Soul’s chest (you betcha), I see he has a mild pectus excavatum where the sternum and ribs form abnormally and leaves the person with a ‘caved in’ appearance at the base of the sternum. My son has a much more severe form of it shifting his heart to the left. Not sure I would have seen it on Soul if I hadn’t had personal experience.

    • Anna Says:

      Yeah, they do say Hutch grew up in Duluth, Minnesota in Murder at Sea, but I guess it’s possible his parents were vacationing in Salem Oregon when he was born 😉

      I can never figure out Bay City. It has it’s own police department, not the LAPD, since I have definitely seen the BCPD aconym used, and its mayor and other higher-up officials are fictional. I tend to view it as being something like Gotham City or Metropolis — the whole show takes place in a parallel universe in which the main difference between our version of California and their version of California is that there is this mid-sized drug-syndicate-infested, ultra-violent, mob-strangled city stuck to the edge of Los Angeles like a great big annex — very similar culture and location, but different set of institutions.

      This is a really interesting comment — I’m always jealous of people with such an eye for detail.

      • merltheearl Says:

        I’ve always thought of Bay City as a large suburb of Los Angeles, large enough for its own designation for the police force and other civic amenities while inextricably tied to the city itself, with its reputation for glamour, complex socio-ethnic issues and easy violence. In my mind on the map it sits next to the notorious South Central, but of course it contains part of the marvelous canal system. I suppose we are to see this as kind of a metaphorical locale, specific enough to hang your hat on, but general enough to encompass the wilds of the imagination.

      • Sharon Marie Says:

        I saw the series as a teen and am now watching the DVDs as a 51 year old! Watching on a laptop with the ability to pause is fun. As for Bay City I notice halfway through season two so far that it looks like there are distinct neighborhoods: The warehouse districts, a seedy downtown with seemingly lots of strip clubs and blue collar bars, the canal areas and lower middle class neighborhoods. Oh, and that one big mansion they use a lot for the token mob boss out to get S & H! Only once in a great while do they pan to a large high rise building and it looks out of place! When I think of LA I see lots of tall high rises, high end shopping, schools, higher end clubs and restaurants, and exclusive neighborhoods – all things not Starsky & Hutch… at least this far in my re-viewing. They mention ‘Bay City’ here and there through season one. I will keep my ears open as I finish the series to see if the fictional city continues being used or if they eventually allow the name to be extinguished.

        As for Hutch’s birthplace…. We always told our oldest son he is Canadian. He was *born* in the US but there was a trip 9 months previous to Canada…..

  6. stybz Says:

    I liked this one as a whole. There are some issues with it, but I thought it was a good episode overall.

    What woman doesn’t want a new wardrobe? LOL!

    Merl, you raised some great questions about Alex Drew and his arsenal. My theory is that Drew might have been on assignment in Los Angeles/Bay City just before he was let go. Then maybe he invited his wife to come out to join him for an extended vacation. So the reason he doesn’t want to go back to Washington is because either he can’t because he still has paperwork to finish, or he has other unfinished business in LA, like a bad seed he wanted to go after. That would explain why he had the arsenal. If he had been in LA on assignment before being let go, he might have had the guns already, either bringing them over on a private flight or acquiring them while working in LA. This could explain why they were not confiscated by the agency, never noticed by his wife, nor checked by airport security.

    I get a kick out of Starsky’s convoluted logic sometimes. I think Hutch actually enjoys it when Starsky waxes philosophical, and finds fodder from it either to tease him or go along with it as he does later. 🙂

    As to where is Hutch’s gun when he leaves the locker room, I think Hutch is carrying his holster out of the locker room with other items.

    I also thought it was a bit odd that Drew didn’t make the connection with the gunshots at the shopping center, and that his wife upon seeing people fleeing steps right out into the open.

    I do think that when Drew made his call to Washington from Dobey’s office, it did surprise the cops listening in. Eyebrows were raised during that conversation.

    As for how Drew could have commandeered a plane after being “fired” from the agency, Cole says later that Drew was going to be receiving a salary for the rest of his life, so he still held some sort of clout with the agency. He held top secret info, so he probably was still considered a valuable asset. Had they let him go flat, he’d be a liability with the secrets he has. He just had no real job with them anymore.

    The gray in Drew’s hair looks too fake. Some of it starts in the middle of his hair instead of by the root.

    I loved the dragging scene in the “temple” from the point when Starsky said that he preferred tails and Hutch said, “You got it,” right to the end of the scene in the office. 🙂 I just love it when they’re on the same page and thinking alike.

    I wonder if Drew’s fingerprints are on file anywhere, given his clout with the agency. Even if they hadn’t suspected him after Carl’s death, they might not have gotten any leads from his fingerprints.

    In the hotel room I don’t think either one is paying attention to what they’re doing. Starsky lays on the floor, seemingly relaxed, but he’s not. His gun is on his chest and when Dobey switches off the TV, he doesn’t protest. Hutch meanwhile, looks like he’s reading the Bible, but I think he too is not really paying attention. He’s just trying to find a distraction.

    I hate to break it to you, but I think boredom, stress and cabin fever were the reasons Starsky had the box of tissues. From the way that scene played out, it looked as if he had been blowing tissues in the air for quite some time before the phone rang. He was probably restless, having watched TV all day being cooped up in that room, itching to get this over with. When Hutch caught the tissue on the way to the phone it was a seamless act. And it was Hutch who tossed the towel on Starsky, not Starsky doing it to himself. Hutch had just gotten out of the bathroom. He snatched the tissue, got the message, then as he was telling Starsky that it was time to go, he tossed the towel on to him as if to say, “Try blowing on that.” 🙂

    When Starsky told Hutch he looked like an animal on a shooting range, Hutch replied, “I hate to tell you Charlie, but you do as well” or words to that effect. Anyone know who Charlie is a reference to? I’m thinking Charlie McCarthy (as in Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy). Does anyone have a better idea?

    Hey! 😀 I eat plain baked potatoes. I never eat them with sour cream or butter. LOL! I do salt them, though. 🙂

    Why didn’t Hagen run out with Dobey and Cole when they found out that Drew was spotted? She’s a cop after all, not a waitress.

    I loved the scene in the hotel room when Hutch and then Starsky argue with Cole and Starsky tossed the receiver. It’s a nice scene. Paul handled the bouncing receiver well, snatching it behind his left hand until the end of the scene when he tried to thrust it against Cole’s chest then tossed it aside when Cole didn’t take it. Nicely done.

    Diana said that we don’t see Starsky wearing a bullet proof vest at the oil refinery, and we don’t see him put one on in the hotel room. However, we do see Starsky pulling the bulletproof vest toward him on the bed and then tugging at the velcro straps just before he snatches the receiver from Cole’s hands. This is why he takes his shirt off. He’s putting the vest on. Even if Paul didn’t wear it himself, I think we’re supposed to assume Starsky did. I’d have to go back and check that scene to be sure, as I didn’t really look that carefully.

    The tag is interesting. Either Hagen learned to defend herself between the time she was rescued and that night at Hutches, or she was just inept at the restaurant.

    “I was worried about this guy,” Hutch said to the uniformed policeman at the station, indicating Starsky. 🙂

    • Adelaide Says:

      Great comment! This is one of those episodes where every time I see it or think about it or read someone else’s notes on it, I manage to like it even more than I liked it before.

      I never noticed that use of “Charlie” before. It’s likely just one of those weird all-purpose/non-specific nicknames like calling someone “Buster” or “Jack,” but in context it’s also possible that it’s a reference to the Vietnam War-era use of “Charlie” as US slang for an enemy fighter.

      • stybz Says:

        Interesting. I wonder, though, since Hutch says, “Ok, Charlie” to Starsky in Tap Dancing as well. I’m not sure he’d be calling Starsky the enemy. 🙂

  7. Sharon Marie Says:

    As I read this last bit from Stybz I was watching “The Set Up” from season 3. Literally, as I was reading the “Charlie” discussion, Kristy McNichol refers to Starsky as the “Charles Bronson type”!

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