Episode 30: Vendetta

Artie Solkin, a felon who recruits teenage boys for criminal acts, is investigated.

Artie Solkin: Stefan Gierasch, Tommy Marlowe: Gary Sandy, Lloyd Herman Eckworth: M Emmet Walsh, Abigail Crabtree: Ann Foster, Jimmy Shannon: Gregory Elliot, Andrea: Ginny Golden, Sergeant: J Jay Saunders. Written By: Don Patterson, Directed By: Bob Kelljan.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

“Vendetta” is one of those episodes that show how truly great this series can be, and how high it can reach. Dark, violent, complex and emotional, it is also ambivalent and compassionate, as the definitions of victim and perpetrator are shaded in gray. Again we see the scourge of mental illness, and the pitiful cluster of poor, sick, marginalized and vilified people huddled together for survival. We also see Starsky and Hutch at their finest, as compassionate and rational human beings, particularly Hutch, who must overcome a deep personal hatred (his own unspoken and unexplained vendetta) to help someone in crisis. Don Patterson’s script is also noteworthy: it’s complex, filled with tantalizing holes, genuinely scary in places, and layered with resonant meaning.

Abby tickles a sleeping Hutch with the fakest looking flower in the world. Couldn’t she just pick a blade of actual grass, which would seem more realistic? What could the set dec person be thinking, anyway?

Later, Abby complains to Starsky’s girlfriend she and Hutch didn’t get to pour the wine. Starsky’s girlfriend pouts, “We didn’t even get the cork out.” If this picnic was supposedly a prelude to an intimate encounter – let’s forget the fact it’s a double-date, strangely – the guys don’t seem at all bothered about it as they get into the Torino. Hutch is remarkably sanguine about being pulled away from Abby, leaping to answer the call with something approaching eagerness. They’re already geared into the case by the time they confer at Starsky’s car and don’t look back at all as they roar off. Work trumps both girls and time off. Why?

What does Abby do for a living that she can be at a park on a Wednesday in the middle of the day? She must have driven Hutch there, as I can see no sign of the Ford. Maybe Hutch had a premonition he wouldn’t be needing his car for the rest of the day. She’ll have to drive Starsky’s unnamed date home, too.

The first scene with Tommy staring at the bare bulb while lying on the bed is one of those scenes that’s impossible to forget. There is no other character in the series – not even Commander Jim or Sonny McPherson – who is as mentally ill as he is. The detail of looking right into a bare bulb as amaurotic transcendence is unique and memorable. Perhaps you have a different reaction, but I find it impossible to either hate this boy or even find him amoral or predatory in the same way I’d have an extremely negative reaction to someone like Jo-Jo or Don Widdicombe from “Blinbdfold”, villains who actively and consciously move into the darkness. He’s a frightening character, yes, but because he appears to have no ability to monitor himself or have any insight into his own violent behavior, and therefore becomes unpredictable. Tommy is, in a sense, an empty vessel, whatever intelligence or self knowledge eaten away by illness; he’s also, unlike Jo-Jo for example, acting out of positive impulses. He does what he does because he wants Artie to like him. He follows orders, he is trying to preserve himself. He has lost the ability to empathize or rationalize, listens only to the dull throb of impulse beating away in his brain: do what he says, do what he wants.

“Tommy? Can you hear me?” Artie says, unconsciously repeating The Who’s lyrics. I wonder if this is deliberate on writer Don Patterson’s part: perhaps he wants us to think of Tommy as that “deaf, dumb and blind kid” whose actions are governed by very little information or understanding.

Artie’s sexual involvement with Tommy – and the other boys – is all between the lines. It’s never said but the implication is always there. Tommy’s question – “you aren’t still mad at me, are you” speaks of a lover’s quarrel. Artie puts his hand on Tommy’s chest in a very proprietary way. There’s an astonishing tenderness between them, despite how sick it all is. Hutch calls Artie, “Faygeleh,” Yiddish for “little bird.” It is also slang for a gay person. Although, to be specific, Artie would qualify as more a pedophile, since all his “conquests” appear, to me anyway, as being more boy than man, plus Artie seems to want to infantilize them. Faygeleh also, interestingly, sounds like “Fagin”, the leader of the boy pick-pockets in “Oliver Twist”. Hutch’s makes reference to this when he says later: “Fagin, Faygeleh, what’s the difference, you’re vermin.”

Why was Jimmy Shannon killed? There’s no reason given for it. Artie is hired to kill or maim, so who hired him to kill a seemingly-innocent kid like Jimmy? Later, Hutch emphasizes this point when he remarks, “something doesn’t make sense … who’d want to pay a nickel for Jimmy Shannon?”
There is evidence – slight, but interesting – that Jimmy’s murder was a bit of independent-thinking on the part of deranged Tommy. “Are you still mad at me, are you?” Tommy asks Artie. “We can live with it,” Artie says grimly. This may imply Tommy killed Jimmy, possibly out of jealousy, or maybe as a way to “move up” in the Solkin hierarchy, replacing Jimmy as Artie’s right-hand man.

During their examination of Jimmy’s effects, Starsky reads out Jimmy’s list of injuries and Hutch says, “sounds like an epidemic.” “Three in thirty days,” replies Starsky. Four similar beating deaths in the same general area is a whole hell of a lot, and when we come to know Artie Solkin and his methods we have to wonder: why take such big chances in a relatively small area of the city, why the sudden influx of “clients” wanting these gruesome services, and how did Artie become the go-to person for bumping somebody off? Artie isn’t totally stupid. He’s a survivor, and survivors are good at calculating risk. Perhaps greed is the undoing of even the toughest sewer rats.

If Jimmy Shannon had no wallet, how was he identified so quickly? An answer might be hidden in the dialogue. The police officer says as the cold drawer is pulled, “Found him lying in an empty warehouse, two days before we got him.” It could mean the body was in the morgue for a long while, with the usual attempts to identify and notify next of kin before the case came to the attention of law enforcement.

When the Torino pulls up in front of the Hotel Bremin, the actors’ doubles get out and walk in even though this is not really worthy of a stuntman. Why the no-show? Day off, maybe? Or perhaps these “out of the car, into the building” shots are penny-pinching second-unit jobs.

One of the best and most interesting aspects to this fine episode is the unsaid backstory. This feeling that there’s more to the story than we’re being told allows the episode to have a richer and more complex feel than it otherwise would have. We never learn the history between Artie Solkin and Hutch but it’s profoundly there and whatever it is, it’s long and very, very bad. “Forget the history all right!” Artie shouts. We know that history is more than Starsky’s list of crimes and misdemeanors. Hutch’s revulsion for Artie is so palpable it’s almost visible, an oozing, foul presence in the room and just watching David Soul breathe life into this most abstract element of the story is thrilling to watch. When Artie comes into Jimmy’s room to speak to “the cops” he obviously wouldn’t know who those cops are, specifically. When Hutch slams the door behind him Artie freezes in horror. The title of the show doesn’t refer to Jimmy Shannon or the case at all, it refers to Artie having a past problem with Hutch: a vendetta is a prolonged private feud rather than something spontaneous or explosive. Therefore, that vendetta is Hutch’s alone.

Stefan Gierasch is incredibly good as the sweaty, scheming Artie Solkin, curled up and tense as if tormented by his own skin. He’s also costumed brilliantly in quasi-uniform, like a valet or usher. He clings to this outfit like man who desperately wants to be an air force captain or a police officer and imagines this cheap burgundy jacket will cause him to be powerful and important when he is neither.

Starsky tells Artie that Jimmy Shannon “died like a man in pursuit of happiness.” A strange way to put it, so why does Starsky choose this phrase? Irony? As usual, Starsky’s thinking here is impossible to decipher. Hutch then lies to Artie, saying Shannon had some last words, and they were “tell Artie not to worry.” Risky, but a good hunch on Hutch’s part, because Solkin believes it and you can see this idea eats away at him. Hutch’s choice of words implies Jimmy cared enough about Artie to want to reassure him, furthering my supposition that Jimmy was just getting little too close to Artie for Tommy to take. It also clarifies our hunch that Hutch understands Arnie and his foibles more intimately than is ever said aloud.

Hutch calls Artie “vermin” and “scum”. He stares at Artie an intense look of hatred that rivals his glare at Al Grossman. “You make me sick,” he says. “Right down from the rancid black grease you wear in your hair to your two-tone shoes.” Note that at this point Starsky draws Artie away from Hutch, perhaps trying to avoid a charge of manslaughter that is most certainly coming. He’s not wondering about the source of his partner’s rage. He knows exactly what it is, and his elaborate disregard of the situation that is very telling. Typical Starsky, when on high alert, he’s as casual as can be. “I can’t take you out any more, Hutch,” he says, flipping through a few magazines, “You keep insulting my friends.”

What is Starsky putting in his mouth while Hutch is asking about Jimmy’s mother in Cleveland? It looks as if he’s testing something for its illegality.

Tommy attacks Eckworth with a baseball bat, which is a symbolic match for an ex-player. Are all his instruments of violence similarly metaphoric?

Eckworth gives “the tramp” a dollar or more for a drink, which surely shows what a decent guy he is, all in all. Not so the next guy, who gives him a mean, combative look, and refuses him. Why would Artie bother hitting up the next guy, anyway? He knows Tommy has will get Eckworth in a few seconds, if that’s their signal to each other (“hit the guy I talk to, no one else”, one can imagine him saying).

Note that Starsky is parked the wrong way in front of the metropolitan police department.

There’s a lovely little detail when Hutch walks into his apartment and says, “hello, plants.”

Hutch actually completes the call to Starsky (you can see him punch in seven numbers) as the brick comes through the window. What is Starsky hearing and thinking on the other end of the line? Why doesn’t Hutch phone the police?

Also, one wonders why Artie and Tommy deviate from their methods when dealing with Hutch. Usually they break legs, a brutal yet simple calling-card. Here, it’s all menace, with no physical contact. Even the bomb has a remote, impersonal quality to it. Is Artie so deathly afraid of Hutch he refuses even to let Tommy near him?

“Why don’t you get yourself something to eat,” Hutch says to Starsky in the aftermath of the incident. “I’ve got some great new goodies in the icebox.” He does this only because Starsky is cavalier to the point of insensitivity (“nice neighborhood”, for example). If he’d been more in tune to Hutch’s fear and not trying to downplay the event with a lot of posturing, Hutch may not have done what he did. But if Hutch were better at communicating he wouldn’t have had to resort to immaturity to get his point across. Still, the moment Starsky sees the rat they’re on equal ground again.

Hutch tells Starsky he is worried about a person being able to get in his front door. Is he thinking of the key he leaves on the door frame, possibly the dumbest hiding place of all?

Hutch’s reaction to Starsky putting Eckworth at ease with his knowledge of baseball is interesting: he seems momentarily astonished – “how’d you remember that?” – then happy. Perhaps thinking, in his over-analytical way, how good it is that they have two very different skill sets. Starsky is usually better at communicating with “average” people, that is, middle-class, largely innocent bystander-types than Hutch is, he is more natural and warm. Hutch, on the other hand, excels with the mentally ill, the disenfranchised, and the lonely, and the traumatized.

It’s wonderful how Starsky uses psychology to jog Eckworth’s memory of the attack, lulling him with a detailed positive memory and then abruptly asking him to describe his attacker. Bathed in the glow of nostalgia, Eckworth starts remembering suppressed details. Hutch looks impressed and backs off, letting Starsky do his magic.

Eckworth is telling his story. “…wack and I’m looking at this ghost swinging a sawed-off baseball bat in my face”, which is exactly what Artie calls Tommy a day earlier when he throws a sandwich at him and says, “eat something, you look like a ghost.” Which infers Tommy is a ghost. He’s already dead. Later the young kitchen worker Billy confirms this when he refers to Tommy as a “The Spook”.

The explosion scene is perfectly done and never fails to make an impact. It’s fast and authentic, right down to the look of a severely burned hand and the immobility of genuine shock – neither Starsky nor Hutch do anything for the longest few seconds of the whole series. They just stand there in amazement until the pain hits and Hutch goes down.

“No private parties!” Dobey cries out. Starsky and Hutch have had these private parties for years, often acting independently and even against orders. They have done many things that would get other cops in deep trouble. Is Dobey making a request he knows won’t be obeyed? Does he even really care?

Dobey tells the guys that Eckworth remembered the two-toned shoes. It’s Starsky who says, “Grease in your hair and wings on your toes,” to Hutch, saying loud and clear that he not only heard Hutch’s menacing remark to Solkin, he remembered it wholly.

But if Eckworth didn’t want to give up the information – as evidenced by his dishonesty during a line-up – why mention the shoes?  It’s the detail that leads them definitively to Solkin. If Eckworth hadn’t said anything, they would have been stumped. Is Eckworth acting out of guilt? Or did he get frightened later, sometime between giving this tip and a visit to the station?

Why does Artie Solkin have a bouquet of fresh flowers in his room? He must buy them himself. Along with the portrait of General MacArthur, the dresser begins to seem more like an altar to American heroes than a random assortment of objects. The whole Kennedy-Jackie-MacArthur set-up is a little strange, and never commented upon.

Eckworth’s philosophical speech about not recognizing the face of the man he gave a dollar to hints at a man in the midst of an Arthur-Miller-style midlife breakdown, a sort of “what have I done with my life” crisis. As with the best peripheral characters, he’s got his own complicated story going on, only we don’t get to see it.

As the guys leave after the disappointing line-up, it’s good to see Hutch touch Starsky gently around the waist in compensation for the realization that Eckworth may not be an exemplary human being after all.

Why do the guys talk about the case with Abby, especially the scary part about the rat in the refrigerator, sure to make any girlfriend nervous? It doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, and in fact may be against police procedure. Even less logical is the fact Abby then suggests a romantic dinner at Hutch’s apartment after hearing it was the target of some maniac.

Why is Starsky fasting? It’s obviously involuntary, because he looks at Huggy’s sundae with something approaching panic.

Starsky again shows his gentle, confidential manner when he questions young Billy Ryan at the restaurant.

“It would be smarter just to kill her, right?” Tommy says. But Artie won’t hear of it, he has something more elaborate in mind. At this point in the story his obsession overtakes whatever shred of reason he may have. If Hutch had not been involved in the investigation of Jimmy Shannon’s murder Artie may have gone on for years without being caught.

What was in the little wrapped gift Abby placed on Hutch’s plate when she cooked dinner for him at his place? Hopefully not a watch, saying, “Forever Abby.”

Starsky’s finding of the JFK ’64 dollar shows again his incredible eye for detail (he was also the one to spot the gum wrappers in “Terror on the Docks”).

Thank you, script writer Don Patterson: the dialogue here is authentic and chilling, and twice as intense because of Soul’s spot-on delivery. “I’m gonna go upstairs now and give your boyfriend a shock treatment,” Hutch says in a frightening low tone as he throws Artie against the wall by his neck. “And then I’m going to come down here and talk to you. So put some coffee on and pour us a drink.”  He lets go, Artie scuttles away.

I like how Artie’s lunge for the telephone is halted by Starsky’s quiet voice. The series is always at its best when precision meets understatement, as it does very often in Season Two.

“I brought the picture back for you!” Tommy whimpers, thinking it’s Artie. It’s odd that he would snatch a trophy when he may never have before, even though he is a creature of habit. Seeing this, Hutch’s rage immediately subsides. He knows psychosis when he sees it, and finally he is able to see Tommy accurately for the first time. He may also sense Artie’s hatred of him may have an erotic undercurrent to it, as evidenced by Tommy feeling compelled to snatch a photo. This photo is an offering, a beseeching, slinking gesture, the way a beaten dog might bring a bone to his owner. Hutch then does one of the most compassionate things we ever witness: he adopts the guise of the man he hates more than any other in this world in order to calm the frightened Tommy. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. You can keep it (the photo). It’s all right.” You’d have to be made of stone not to get a catch in the throat, watching this.

Unfortunately, the tag seems rushed, an afterthought. Abby has been Hutch’s longest-running relationship (seemingly six months or more) and its ending deserves more than a quick goodbye in a public park. Still, it is interesting Abby talked to Starsky and told him her plans before she talked to Hutch as a way of ensuring Starsky is prepared to step in when the break is made.

Clothing notes: in the beginning, Hutch wears the top of green tracksuit he’ll wear in “Starsky’s Lady”. Starsky wears his cruise-worthy cut-offs and striped tube socks and a snazzy blue tracksuit top, the zip much lower than Hutch’s. Hutch wears his green leather jacket and guitar shirt, and, in the tag, changes to the bottoms of a blue tracksuit in the tag. Clothing allowance withdrawn for this episode, perhaps?

Advertisements

Tags: , ,

33 Responses to “Episode 30: Vendetta”

  1. Daniela Says:

    Hello,
    what was with the postcards Starsky picked up every time they went to the hotel, annoying the clerk?
    BTW, another excellent episode. Gut wrenching and sad one…
    And great analysis as usual!

    • merltheearl Says:

      I know, an amazing detail possibly ad-libbed by Glaser, who is always a very astute prop comic. The postcards seem to be touristy images of the city, a marvelous irony in this bleak ugly place. Surely an ironic gesture by Starsky, and not easily seen. Good eye!

  2. Shelley Says:

    I liked that “Tommy, can you hear me?” line. A symbolic note that Tommy’s in his own world. Also — I assumed Tommy killed Jimmy because he was jealous of Jimmy, that maybe he thought Artie was starting to love Jimmy better. And maybe his jealousy was making him love Artie more too . . . which would explain why he brought back the picture of Hutch and Abby — trying to do something extra for Artie.

  3. Dianna Says:

    Thank you, Merl and Shelley, for your thoughts on Jimmy’s murder, because now it makes, if not sense, at least a coherent story! What unbelievably sharp eyes Merl has to spot the doubles getting out of Starsky’s car.

    Abby might easily have a weekday morning off if she waits tables, or if she works in a hospital emergency room, or does almost anything freelance. The flower she picks looks real to me, because the leaves move in the breeze. It sure doesn’t belong in the grass, though. It is a lantana, which I’ve never seen bloom when it is less than a foot and a half tall.

    Why does Starsky prefer the elevator to the stairs at the Hotel Bremen the first time they go there? Chances are, the elevator in such a building would be revolting, and smell of vomit and urine. The door clerk calls Artie in Tommy’s room, not in his own, to send him to meet them.

    Artie is so perfectly sleazy and slippery; and Hutch is about to explode with his rage and loathing of the man.

    While Tommy is assaulting Eckworth, Artie approaches the second man in order to slow him down, so he and his date won’t witness Tommy in the act. Notice how Tommy changes the way he is moving, and hides the bat, as soon as he sees the couple. I don’t think the bat is especially for Eckworth, because he uses it on Jimmy too. I think it is simply his weapon of choice, and is probably what he used on his family, although it is not in evidence when he goes after Abby.

    I was amused to hear Starsky ask, “Wanna get a hamburg?” because “hamburg” is not (as far as I know) something they say in New York, where Starsky grew up. Instead it is a usage local to the Boston area, and reveals Glaser’s own origin.

    Why doesn’t Hutch immediately search his apartment when he finds the rat? Or even peek out the window to see who might be watching? Instead he cracks open his beer!

    The JFK coins are probably related to the American Heroes shrine in Artie’s room.

    The bandage on Hutch’s hand is not very realistic; and the positions of his bandaged fingers keep changing, which I found rather distracting. He doesn’t use it much, but he also doesn’t cradle it or protect it like it’s painful and swollen.

    Tommy looks at least ten years older than Jimmy or Billy, despite the plot suggestions that he is perhaps 6 months out of high school. My heart goes out to Billy for trying to set his life right.

    You are right that it makes no sense for Hutch to send Abby to his clearly non-secure apartment. When Abby is on the phone there, she says,”I’m gonna talk to him about it tonight.” Could this be related to the wrapped gift? In the diner she is really stressed out by Hutch’s lack of attention; maybe she is already a hair’s breadth from deciding to break up with him. His attitude has certainly changed since, “What the lady wants, the lady gets.” (in Bounty Hunter?)

    What is it with Cleveland, where Jimmy was from? The Grossmans and Gillian were from there, too.

    The way that Hutch wilts when he recognizes Tommy’s brokenness is heartbreaking.

  4. Adelaide Says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes. So dark and harrowing and written and directed with an unusual level of subtlety and implied, between-the-lines unspoken information. I really like how most of it takes place at night or in darkened rooms. The very low amount of flamboyant action and violence outside of Tommy’s attacks and Hutch’s rampage at the climax is well-suited to the subject matter of the episode, which is deeply psychological.

    Abby seems to be Hutch’s longest relationship that we see in the show, but it’s somewhat confusing that he seems to have such a passionate and emotional affair with Gillian in between meeting Abby and this episode. Probably just a poorly-thought-out episode lineup, but perhaps Hutch and Abby broke up earlier in the season, and then after Gillian died, he went back to her? On the rebound, perhaps?

    Starsky’s shades-and-cut-offs-and-unzipped-jacket ensemble is pretty…uh…let’s say eye-catching. Those legs, man.

    Hutch’s relationship with Artie Solkin is one of those things in this show that is just so fascinating that I desperately, desperately want to know more. When did they first meet? How did they first meet? Why does Hutch hate Artie so much more personally than equally despicable criminals he knows? Why does Artie hate Hutch so much as to endanger an enforcement operation he’s apparently gotten to keep going for a long time? What does Starsky know about their history together that he’s deliberately not bringing up but is clearly familiar with?

    The fact that Starsky and Hutch almost never, ever recite expository information about things that happened to them in the past to one another causes all sorts of lost opportunities to hear them explain their feelings and experiences in words (the baffling conversation about Starsky’s father with Joe Durniak in The Set-Up is another example), but it’s also brilliant: it conveys the idea that Starsky and Hutch know each other far, far, far better than the audience ever will and adds an absolutely crucial layer of authenticity and believability to the intimacy of their friendship and the idea that they spend almost every moment when they are not sleeping or with a woman with each other. This logic is something that a lot of shows sacrifice for the sake of easy expository dialogue, and I’m always delighted that Starsky & Hutch did not. Also, in my opinion, it adds to the quality of the show — it makes incidents like these so much more interesting to speculate about, and it means Starsky and Hutch’s wonderfully complex characters/personalities are built on what they do and what feelings they demonstrate, not what they explain about themselves to the viewer.

    Does anyone else find it somewhat striking just how fast Hutch makes a beeline for the beer in the fridge when he gets home? He does something similar in “Fatal Charm.”

    Starsky and Hutch both show tendencies to purposely scoff at and downplay dangerous or unpleasant issues to give themselves a psychological edge and make the issues seem ridiculous instead of scary (like when they insult or make fun of each other when they’re actually worried – as Merl mentioned in a review somewhere, it’s like going “you’re not in trouble, because if you were, I wouldn’t be acting this mean”), but I think Starsky does it more often than Hutch.

    Hutch is so wonderfully scary in this episode. He’s just so fed up and motivated and it makes me want to know what the backstory with his hatred for Artie is even more. He’s the center of every scene with Artie or while talking about Artie. By contrast, Starsky is very calm, attuned to Hutch, and controlled throughout. They usually seem to instinctively drop into this division of labor whenever one of them is abnormally pissed off – it’s rare that they both hit the roof in fury at the same time.

    The scene where they respond to Abby’s attack is a great one. It’s sadly telling about Hutch’s experience as a cop that the first question that comes out of his mouth is “did he rape her?” There’s a beautiful lingering reaction shot too, where Starsky is staring down at Hutch on the floor trying to comfort Abby with an indescribable subtly pain-stricken look on his face, and I’m sure it would be impossible for him to look at Hutch huddled over and tenderly touching his beaten blonde girlfriend on the floor and not flash back to the eerily similar scene with Gillian. Another woman harmed because of her proximity to a police officer and the grime of his job that gets all over everything it touches. Another case of grief and guilt and pain for Hutch. I’d bet Starsky knows right then that the romance is doomed, before Abby ever tells him. And so eerily foreshadowing of his own experience just a few episodes later.

    Hutch’s scene with Tommy in the dark is one of those scenes whose excellence can’t really be summed up in words, it’s so perfectly-crafted and so whole. Probably one of my top ten favorite moments for Hutch in the entire series. The way he keeps his voice level because this is all for Tommy and not about him, that look he gives Starsky when Starsky comes into the room…so good.

    I agree that the tag is rushed, which is doubly frustrating because of how good the content is. Abby’s unvarnished honesty. Hutch not wanting to acknowledge that he knows exactly why Abby’s leaving, Starsky trying to lessen the blow and then, echoing “Gillian” once again, grabbing Hutch’s arm and attention and making Hutch look him directly in the eye so that Hutch can hear that Abby still loved him from the source that Hutch trusts more than anyone else. The poignancy and honesty of the moment is unfortunately blunted by lack of sufficient time and silence to convey the feelings and meaning properly, and by the “episode ending” background music that further ushers it to a close.

    • merltheearl Says:

      That is an incredibly perceptive observation about the lack of expository conversations that both excludes us, the audience, while increasing the hermetic seal on the partnership. I prefer it too. I like the idea of coming close but never quite getting the whole picture of what they have been through in the past and exactly how they process what is happening to them now. What may seem sometimes like a lack of insight on the part of the writers is also responsible for giving us a wealth of material to work with.

    • Dianna Says:

      This is one of my favorite episodes, too, for all the reasons you describe, although it grew on me slowly! I had never thought about the lack of exposition as something that adds to authenticity, but I think I agree.

      I’ve been toying with an idea about Hutch’s complete contempt for Artie. Perhaps in his youth, someone similar approached Hutch (Or someone close to him) and tried to (or did?) take advantage of him. This might have increased Hutch’s insecurities and general mistrust of everyone except Starsky, and obviously increased his revulsion for people like Artie.

      • Adelaide Says:

        That is a great and thought-provoking theory Dianna. In fact, I recall that I’ve read an excellent fanfiction story with a similar premise. It wouldn’t be inconceivable as a source of some of Hutch’s personality traits (and Starsky’s acceptance and understanding of them), not in the least because Hutch’s entire childhood is such a big empty question mark, with almost no definite canon information whatsoever except a hometown, a vague socioeconomic class (“not poor”), and a couple references to activities like sea scouts and lifeguarding.

        Though of course there are many different (or multiple) possible motivations. Starsky and Hutch had to have worked as cops separately for a few years when they were young, before they were partners, and some of their formative cop experiences had to have also been separate things that they didn’t experience together. It’s possible Hutch and Artie have a long and bitter legal history, during which time Hutch saw many victims he couldn’t help, and Artie’s obsession with Hutch and almost complete ignoring of Starsky seems to say that their animosity is a two-way street on some level.

      • Dianna Says:

        Yes, interaction before they were partners certainly seems like a strong possibility too, although there are several episodes that hint that they’ve been partners from the beginning.

  5. Adelaide Says:

    Hmm, they never discuss, as far I can remember, any previous partners of theirs. But I don’t think there’s a police department in the country that would ever pair two rookie cops together. Correct me if I’m wrong, of course, but as far I know, I think it’s just not done. It certainly sounds like a really terrible and dangerous idea…

  6. stybz Says:

    I liked this one, although I’m not a fan of angry Hutch. I prefer his anger to be fueled by the moment, something we see occurring, rather than something vague from the past or some seething hatred from some off-camera moment. Still, I agree the balance Starsky offers helps the situation.

    That flower looked fake to me, but my knowledge of plants is limited. She didn’t really *pluck* it out of the grass. I believe the reason she chose that over a blade of grass is that her first intention was to have the scent wake Hutch, but didn’t want to traipse around and leave his side to find a really nice flower, so she plucked what was nearby. Then, realizing the scent wasn’t strong enough, she decided to just brush it against his nose. Also a flower has a softer feeling against the skin than a blade of grass. 🙂

    The first picnic, while in some ways seems like a double date, really isn’t. They knew they had to go on duty later, so they decide to hit the park together, but sit separately so that they could have private time with their ladies. No chance of intimacy later as they had to go on duty, so this was their only opportunity. As such, it’s likely that both women came in their own cars. It’s also likely that Starsky’s date was Abby’s friend.

    Despite the dark, homophobic connotations, “Faygeleh” made me laugh. It’s not every day that one hears a non-Jew use a Yiddish expression like that. 🙂

    Starsky’s line, “He died like a man in pursuit of happiness,” makes me think that he initiates what was a planned lie between the pair. He wanted Artie to think that Jimmy died a slow, painful death, struggling against the inevitable. It lends itself to Hutch’s lie that Jimmy had last words.

    “I can’t take you out any more, Hutch. You keep insulting my friends.” Sounds to me like a vain attempt at humor. 🙂 Starsky’s trying to cool him down. Maybe Artie was a snitch for Starsky at one point, but like others have said, he did something really awful in the past to piss off Hutch. I do think that Hutch would say the same to Starsky, if the tables were turned.

    As to why Hutch hates Artie, I agree it was something from Hutch’s past, probbly – as someone else said – when he was with another partner. My guess is Hutch came about a young victim of Artie’s and the idea of what Artie did to him just turned his stomach.

    The Fagin/Faygeleh link is very interesting. Artie is a bit of both.

    I agree with the question: what is Starsky putting in his mouth? He spits it out too, whatever it was. 🙂

    When Starsky starts talking to Eckworth about his baseball career, Hutch looks a bit annoyed at first, but soon realizes what Starsky is doing and is impressed. I love that.

    Starsky’s refusal for food seemed odd to me until he drooled over Huggy’s milkshake. My guess is Hutch and Abby’s meals were really disgusting in his mind and he figured he’d sooner starve. 🙂

    After Hutch leaves Artie to go after Tommy, I was afraid he was going to leave Artie alone to his own devices. I loved how Starsky just appears there. Great stuff.

    I thought it was funny that at the second picnic, Starsky’s girlfriend is carrying everything, while he’s running up with the baseball cards. Then when he tells Hutch he knew about Abby’s departure, I realized it was all a plan to distract Hutch and not let him stop her. I think the girlfriend is smiling waaay to broadly in that scene, unless she’s forcing it to hide the fact that she knew as well.

    I’m a bit confused about the episode order. On the DVD box set Gillian immediately follows Vendetta. A wasn’t sure how that would work so close together, but I bought that the relationship with Gillian was a whirlwind that happened really fast, and perhaps on the rebound from Abby, especially since Starsky and the audience meets her for the first time at the same time.

    Does anyone know the best site that lists filmed vs aired order. I realize it won’t make a different in most cases, but I’m always intrigued by it. 🙂

    • stybz Says:

      I was watching this episode the other day and realized something. I think Hutch’s anger toward Artie was an act. He might have disliked Artie, but I think Hutch was playing bad cop and Starsky was the good cop. Hutch’s demeanor changes somewhat when Artie leaves Jimmie’s room, and it’s at this time that Starsky jokes about not introducing Hutch to his friends. It almost mirrors the scene in Bounty Hunter when they’re outside the bail bonds office and Starsky tells Hutch how beautiful his eyes are when he’s angry. 🙂 It could be Starsky’s way of helping Hutch cool down and get out of character. 🙂

      And this could have been the way they always approached Artie, which makes sense. Hutch had to consistently play the bad cop every time they encountered him, and this is why Artie felt so threatened and hurt by Hutch. Hutch was playing his part so convincingly that Artie took it personally and sought revenge.

      • merltheearl Says:

        I know this is just playful supposition but to me the idea that Hutch is “faking it” negates all the power in this episode, and Soul’s beautiful performance. Besides, Starsky and Hutch have no initial reason to suspect Solkin of involvement in this crime; in fact, initially, it looks more like Solkin has been hurt by it, as one of his boys was killed. If anything they might feel as if getting him to minimally cooperate would yield better information than antagonizing him, and yet this is exactly what Hutch does. He also doesn’t beat himself up over Abby’s attack, which he would have done if he felt responsible for it; when he murmurs to her “it’s all my fault” before she’s carried away on the stretcher he means he shouldn’t have let her come up alone, considering he was under threat.

      • stybz Says:

        Sorry, Merle, I didn’t mean to imply that Hutch was totally faking it. They definitely didn’t like what Solkin was into. There’s no question about that.

        Both Hutch and Starsky are on the same page and never discuss nor argue about Solkin or Hutch’s anger toward him, so I thought that while they didn’t like what Solkin was doing, he was a weak man, and they needed one of them to ply good cop so that Solkin would be more ready to talk. So while Hutch had his feelings against Solkin, he might have been taking the “role” of bad cop to the next level without realizing that Solkin would retaliate.

        In any event Hutch has no reason to feel any more guilty for what happens to Abby, because at that point he had no idea who’s seeking revenge against him. He talks about his guilt to her and to Starsky before Starsky shows him the coin. It’s only then that they put the pieces together and they rush to Solkin’s. And even then he’s not feeling anymore guilty, only now he really, truly is incensed.

        Prior to this theory, I had trouble with just how angry Hutch was at Solkin at the beginning. There’s never an indication why he was so incensed. And Starsky is too nonchalant about it. So for me the idea of them playing the roles and having a “what if” (what if S&H’s good-cop-bad-cop routine went too far?) play out made it more interesting. It doesn’t diminish the fact that they didn’t like what he was doing to kids.

        I think Starsky would have lashed out too after Abby’s attack, but since he played good cop from the beginning, he continued it until the very end and left Hutch alone to take care of things. They did this because Solkin was more willing to talk to a “good cop” and one of them had to play that part, so it was Starsky in this instance.

        Perhaps I should look at it the other way around. Perhaps it’s Starsky who is acting, but in my mind they are doing the good cop bad cop routine.

      • stybz Says:

        One additional comment. I think that someone like Solkin might have been scared off if both Starsky and Hutch had been mean to him. And they could not afford him skipping town.

        Conversely, if they both had been nice to him, he would have tried to BS them, like he did the kids he took under his wing. And would not have sat well with Starsky or Hutch. So one of them had to be the bad cop so he wouldn’t resort to the BS or the soothing words. And one had to be good so that he wouldn’t be scared off. They wanted to scare him to be straight with them, but not scared off completely. So that’s why Starsky is the good one in the scenario.

      • Anna Says:

        I don’t think it is just a playful supposition on your part merl — it looks very intentional by the writers and Soul for Hutch to have a personal hatred for Artie. Otherwise there would be some indication, like in Snowstorm or Shootout, that there’s an ulterior motive for his actions.

        Of course, none of us care that much about intent — so I think it could be plausible for Hutch to play bad cop like this (and it’s an interesting idea for it to backfire), but in this particular instance I just can’t see why he would do it. He doesn’t suspect Artie of anything at first, and his hostility doesn’t serve to pressure or intimidate Artie into cooperating with anything, nor does Artie provoke him — Hutch throws the first stone here. He just insults him, calling him vermin and telling him how much he hates him, to no purpose. His hostile behavior to Artie doesn’t help anything, so to me this seems that his hatred for Artie is so strong it bubbles up in spite of, not in service to, his investigation.

        The idea that Starsky is deliberately on good behavior makes sense to me however, because one calm/one angry happens frequently. Like in The Committee, where Hutch probably disliked Garner just as much as Starsky, but played it cool while Starsky ranted.

      • merltheearl Says:

        Anna, thank you. I was, however, saying the supposition was on stybz’s part rather than mine. Me, I am never playful.

  7. Anna Says:

    This is a great episode. I wish more episodes of the show followed this one’s model, because the production team obviously does this style very well. It’s also an episode where the darkness is really relentless. Almost no breather moments to lighten things up, even Starsky’s wisecracks are pretty dark. The atmosphere of low-down, sleazy, scumminess that suffuses Artie’s personality and actions, and the seedy back-alley underbelly setting is perfectly depicted. This is a very un-glamorized, un-sensational look at the intersection of mental illness (on the part of both Artie and Tommy) and banal, money-oriented crime. It’s very welcome to me — I’m getting a little bored of all these new shows and movies where criminal insanity means decadent, artistic, pretentious moral philosophy. This episode is a nice change, where criminal insanity is just a grubby, sad existence, where the extent of philosophical depth is abusing others to feel marginally more powerful, or being lost and scared and alone with nothing else to turn to, and is still poignant and fascinating.

    When I watched, I figured Hutch’s hatred of Artie was his distaste for Artie’s abuse of his protegees. Perhaps Hutch tried to bust him for it and Artie got out of a conviction. That would explain Hutch’s accusations and insults. But Dianna’s wondering if maybe Hutch was targeted by someone like Artie when he was younger is thought-provoking and chilling. I think it would fit in the context of this episode, but it would re-frame some of Hutch’s character traits, like his weird need to test Starsky even after Starsky has proven his devotion time and time again. I always pegged Hutch as someone who was let down by people close to him when he was younger (all that neurotic emotional armor doesn’t come from nowhere), this would be an extreme twist on it. I prefer Hutch’s hatred being on behalf of Artie’s victims than personal projection, though. It seems more altruistic that way, I think.

    Two more little mysteries are how Starsky and Artie fit into whatever ugly history is on display here. In my opinion, Starsky knows exactly what Hutch’s problem with Artie is – not once does he show a sliver of uncertainty or questioning about Hutch’s reaction to Artie, yet at the same time he’s intent, wary, almost seems like he’s poised to step in to protect Artie from Hutch (or to protect Hutch from doing something he’d regret). I still can’t completely figure out what Artie’s problem with Hutch is, though. Deep, insecure resentment at Hutch’s contempt for him, definitely, but there seems to be something more. As merl suggests, maybe a warped sort of attraction. The way men will sometimes attack an attractive woman, blaming and punishing her for ‘provoking’ disturbing sexual impulses. A similar sort of thing happens to Hutch again with Diana Harmon. Blondie is too pretty for his own health, I guess.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you for this beautifully-written and thoughtful comment. It brings up a very interesting critical idea that has been … well, bothering me may be a bit strong, but certainly preoccupying me lately. And that is the process of adding layers to the characters we love and when it is and is not helpful to the narrative. Of course everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to a character. Once the story has flown into the public sphere it is all well and good that people use their critical and imaginative faculties to understand that character, and if it means adding a back-story or sketching elements onto it that is part of what it means to be engaged in the narrative. I’m all for free speech here!

      That said, I felt queasy when Dianna introduced the idea of Hutch being a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and I almost didn’t approve the comment. Dianna, I hope you will appreciate this and not take it as insulting or too controlling on my part, because I truly care about this blog and everything that goes into it and how it reflects on the legacy of the series. For a moment there I worried it was too easy, and too prurient, to speculate about something as incendiary as this, and I have not approved many other comments similar to it in the past. For instance I have not approved dozens of irreverent – and irrelevant – tee-hee comments about “gay” moments throughout the series. Not because I am against the idea but because it feels beside the point to me, flogged to death elsewhere, and says more about the writer’s psyche than the actual content of the episodes. My unofficial – and oftentimes ignored by me – motto is: if it’s not in the script or onscreen than forget it. But Dianna’s comment was so perceptive and nuanced I only hesitated a moment before approving, and besides it wasn’t something I didn’t wonder about already, and something I myself have alluded to in this and in one other episode. It really is a strong contender to why Hutch’s emotions run so high when it comes to Sorkin, and I absolutely am delighted to hear how you take that one step further and so poignantly suggest it is also why Hutch feels to test Starsky’s friendship time and time again to the point of actual bullying.

      I hope you don’t mind that I’m using your wonderful summation of a very difficult and masterful episode to talk briefly about my own thoughts when it comes to imaginative speculation.

      • Anna Says:

        Thanks, and of course I don’t mind, it’s your blog! I have often felt the same kind of push-pull when it comes to speculating and theorizing about what’s offscreen. One of the reasons I like your blog so much is that you so often suggest many interpretations or possibilities. Maybe it’s just how you write, but it really makes a big difference.

        People who treat their analyses of fiction as objective conclusions (this includes “professional” literary critics – in fact, they’re the worst!) irritate me to the point where I want to go for the opposite of their conclusion just to be contrary, even if I would have no problem with it if it were presented as simply a possibility. To use the example you give, it’s the difference between the way you point out how romantic that sleepy telephone scene in “The Game” seems (nice imagination and flexible thinking) and going “lol scene X is so gay” (boring stereotyping of gender and relationships). So if someone had said “the only good explanation for Hutch’s hatred for Solkin is abuse” I would knee-jerk resent the explanation for dismissing the possibility that Hutch can be that angry solely on behalf of Artie’s victims, even if it is a great explanation. Maybe it’s the distinction between “an” explanation and “the” explanation?

        Being a sci-fi fan, I like to see fictional worlds as spread out over many parallel universes, each one slightly different and many different ones equally plausible.

      • merltheearl Says:

        Yes, and until one of us can pull David Soul out from behind a potted plant to have him say, “you don’t understand my character at all” I guess all we have is speculation. (I find that those who know and love sci-fi are probably the best at the logical what-ifs.)

    • Dianna Says:

      Anna, the last paragraph of your Dec. 18 comment gave me the chills.

      Merl, I had no idea I was so close to the line for you. No, I don’t find it insulting or controlling, because anyone who writes here is in “your house” and needs to respect that. But I do hope that if you had decided not to approve it that you would have given me feedback about why. I am glad you were open to my comment, though, because Hutch’s revulsion is so deep and intense, I think it is worth exploring the reasons for it.

      (I too read a lot of science fiction and am comfortable with “what if”.)

  8. Blunderbuss Says:

    This is a great and highly perceptive post, and I love that you pointed out how grim and serious and well-made this episode is. And the comments section is amazing! I am always astonished and delighted by how thoughtful the comments here are.

    I was also riveted by Hutch’s uncontrolled and unexplained outpouring of venomous hatred for Artie. When watching the episode, I feel like there’s a whole load of past baggage here that’s under the surface. Almost as if there’s a missing episode somewhere. The number of times both Hutch and Artie reference each other in the past is really unusual. Artie says things like “he should know by now I’m the kind of guy who does his homework” and “maybe I’ll toss him a quarter, maybe I’ll walk on by” as if this has some kind of ironic relevance to something about his and Hutch’s past interactions, and refers to Hutch as simply “He” as if it’s self-evident who he’s talking about. All Starsky’s dark humor and faux-bantering with Artie shows a lot of past familiarity with him too, comments like “besides, we love ya!” and stuff. So it’s definitely a case where both of them are quite well-acquainted with Artie and Artie is well-acquainted with them and has interacted with them before in a more ugly, volatile, and involved personal level then just being hassled by them. This not just a case of them knowing and despising Artie by his reputation for sexual abuse of the kids. There’s a lot of history there, for some reason that history causes Hutch to act very differently from Starsky, and Starsky is both very aware of what this history is and is not remotely surprised at Hutch’s behavior, he expects it. There’s definitely a whole missing story, and it seems like an episode’s worth of story, not a scene’s worth, making up the foundation of this episode. It’s so layered and mysterious, yet it doesn’t make me feel like I’m missing anything or confused or like a plot hole, it just makes the world Starsky and Hutch live in feel deeper and more authentic.

    I think one theory of why Hutch loathes Artie so much and why all three of them know each other so well is that Starsky and Hutch may have extensively investigated and tried to bust him in the past, and in the process, Hutch had more personal interaction or a more vivid experience with Artie, or with one of his victims. But what’s less guessable is why Artie loathes Hutch and only Hutch with such deep, vicious, lip-licking, nervous, jittery, gloating intensity. Whatever caused Hutch to hate Artie so much more personally is definitely a two-way street here.

    I am really intrigued by what other people have suggested about Artie having some kind of attraction to Hutch, or Hutch having some kind of personal experience with a molester in the past, but even if these possibilities are taken as true, there’s definitely still even more unexplained backstory going on here. I love it when an episodes makes you speculate and ponder and remember and re-watch to look for more clues like this!

    Three different notes:

    The parallel pointed out upthread between Gillian’s murder and Abby’s attack, and the way Starsky seems to recognize and remember Gillian while looking at Abby on the floor, is perfect.

    Among all the despair and ugliness in this episode, the character of Billy and his managing to get himself out of Artie’s racket and get a legit job to support himself is a real hopeful bright spot.

    On a less positive note, perhaps nowhere more than in this episode am I as aware of how lame and irritating that funky upbeat season 2 theme is. It really undermines the tone of a lot of scenes, and feels completely out-of-place especially when compared to the dark, groaning, serious, brassy season 1 theme. I would so love to rescore so many season 2 episodes for just that reason.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you for putting into words what I could not: the sense that an unsaid backstory feels intimate and inclusive rather than distancing. And thanks also for such a gust of excellent writing. It’s thrilling to read such eloquence.

      • Blunderbuss Says:

        Eloquent! That’s a compliment I haven’t heard often about online commenting. Thank you, and thank you for writing such a great analysis of this episode to give us so much food for thought 🙂

  9. Dezrai Says:

    I am very happy I have found your blog,  as I have a great appreciation for this show. I did not see it in its first, original prime time airings, but watched it as a child in the late 80’s in syndication, mostly out of order. Complete series DVD sets are wonderful, aren’t they?

    I usually cannot find anyone whom can truly discuss the show. Unfortunately, it seems most people disregard Starsky & Hutch as being great drama (of which Vendetta is a great example.) They put it in the category of a flashy, car chasing, shoot everything in sight, buddy cop comedy instead of understanding that it is a well acted, serious drama that blends in comedy beautifully. I think most of the younger generation are going by the 2004 movie and do not consider that the original source material could be so much better. It makes them miss out on this excellent show. And it makes for a lack of people who know the show well enough to enjoy a good discussion. 

    Now I will get off my soapbox!

    I have many thoughts on Vendetta, but most of them have already been perfectly detailed in your post and the comments. I do have two comments to offer, neither of which has been discussed (I think, though I very well could have missed them, so if I did miss them, sorry!)

    First, an interesting tidbit. Someone mentioned that Tommy looked older than a teenager. This is true, as Gary Sandy (of WKRP fame which started in 1978) was actually 31 years old when this episode aired in 1976. He was born in 1945 according to IMDB. I just looked this up yesterday when I re-watched the episode because I knew there was no way he was a teenager or even in his early 20’s for WKRP. I like that show too; it’s inane humor is charming in my opinion. 

    Second, what are everyone’s thoughts on what Artie said to Tommy when they were sitting in the car right before he sent Tommy into Hutch’s place to hurt Abby? Unfortunately, I cannot remember the exact words right now. It was something about not wanting Tommy to kill Abby because he wanted Hutch to look up at him (Artie) and maybe he would throw Hutch a coin, or maybe just step on him. I understand it’s a metaphor that then Hutch would realize that Artie is a powerful man and Hutch should not belittle him, but I think it maybe goes deeper with the coin reference. Those coins pop up often in the episode as already discussed, but it seems very important in this one dialogue. Thoughts?

    Again, I’m so happy to have found your blog. I’m getting out my box set to watch the entire series again (I’ve just been watching random episodes on El Ray lately.)

    • merltheearl Says:

      Dezrai, thank you so much for this insightful comment and observation about the mystery of the half dollar coins Artie seems to cherish so much. Other than the fact that the coin was struck on the day of the assassination (remarkably fast) and is one of the most hoarded “common” denominations in American history, this personal relationship to the coin is an intriguing detail and worthy of thought. I’m sure we could draw some reasonable conclusions about the symbolism of heroism and sacrifice (and secreting away), as filtered through Artie’s complicated psychology, and draw some less convincing lines between the handsome president and the handsome detective.

      The idea that the movie would be any form of reference for anybody is too awful to even think about. Let’s all get on that soapbox!

  10. Laurie Says:

    Things I haven’t seen anyone mention:

    Among the unsaid things: What would make an honor student kid flip out and kill his family? Again, that we never find out doesn’t so much feel like a plot hole so much as it adds to the sense that there’s a lot of untold trauma bubbling below the surface of this story.

    The light bulb…as Hutch said, going through his brain with a blow torch, trying to burn out old memories. Is the blindness he achieves in the end the result of succeeding in this? (The final Tommy we see, curled up in bed in a fetal position, calling out helplessly for support, evokes more the image of an innocent baby than a serial killer.) Or has it instead all been useless? Has he blinded himself and still not succeeded in burning one frame from his mind?

    Nice catch by whoever mentioned the lyrics from Tommy. If the writer was a music lover, it strikes me that perhaps there was also some inspiration from “Doctor My Eyes.”

    Note the diminutive names (Jimmy, Billy, Tonmy) of Artie’s minions. Emphasizing the hints at creepy, unequal relationship. Artie (also diminutive)–another evocation by the writer of the Artful Dodger? And/or an indication that he himself was once one of those kids?

    There’s so much that is under the radar but I almost wonder if this was originally written as a two-parter and then condensed down to a single episode.

    Thank you to those who suggested that Jimmy was not a hit planned by Artie, but an act of jealousy by Tommy, based on his comments about Artie being still mad at him. I’m sure you are correct. The light bulb just never came on over my head, so to speak.

    Also Starsky and Hutch going so far out of their way to be puzzled by why anyone would put out a hit on Jimmy puts up a flag that we were supposed to see this as something different. It seemed odd to me that they never came up with the idea that maybe Jimmy had crossed him, or crossed someone else in their world, so Artie had to get rid of him. No, they wanted us to think of it as a weird, hard to explain situation.

    The Kennedy and MacArthur thing almost makes you wonder if this behavior was based on a real person with such a shrine. Someone who was a creep but didn’t think of himself that way, considering high class people his heroes and putting them up on a pedestal. He wants to be up on that pedestal as well, looking down at Hutch. Also nice catch whoever said that his uniform-style coat was an indication of this.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you for these great comments. At the risk of sounding like a prima donna (or a primo uomo) the three “whoevers” you mention – whoever pointed out the Who lyrics, whoever mentioned the Jimmy Shannon attack was out of jealousy and whoever said Artie’s uniform was an attempt to bolster his standing, was me. The writer of this blog.

      • Laurie Says:

        Oops, how embarrassing. Sorry about that. Usually I read what you have to say, then what everyone else has to say, then post my reactions to what was said and my own thoughts which had come up from anyone else. By then I sometimes lose track of where something came up. Thank you for your great knowledge and being “the three whoevers” and pointing all those interesting things out! 😊

  11. DRB Says:

    A possible answer concerning Hutch’s contempt for Artie may be found in Hutch’s involvement in Big Brothers. It could be that he knew or knew about a boy who was victimized by Artie. Since Artie is not in prison, we can assume that Hutch couldn’t get the necessary evidence for prosecution, but he is still enraged when he remembers it. If so, this plays beautifully in the script since Artie is the antithesis to Hutch. Their involvement with boys of the community are completely opposite. The direct opposition doesn’t stop there. Hutch’s sunny, attractive appearance, his straightforward gaze and aura, his graceful and decisive movements starkly contrast with Artie’s greasy hair and skin, his shifty and furtive expressions, and cringing mannerisms. Well done, gentlemen actors.

  12. Deb Says:

    Hi Merle,
    I only discovered your blog recently and I want to thank you so much for your work on it. I have not read all your entries, but I greatly appreciate the ones I have read. I have a thought on Hutch’s intense dislike of Solkin, which ties together some things you and others have already said. Hutch apparently had a father who had little influence on his life, although we don’t know why. Solkin seems to take advantage of this vulnerability in other boys, exploiting the void in their lives and becoming something of a replacement father figure. If Hutch’s inability to really accept and love himself has origins in whatever the backstory with his father is, then Solkin could stir deep emotions of hatred in Hutch and it would make sense. It would also fit in with the pain Hutch felt when he was listening to Pete cry the night her father died in “Little Girl Lost”. Starsky understands all this about Hutch, and thus goes to great lengths to shield Hutch from emotional pain. Starsky also understands that Hutch’s jokes and jabs, and even hurtful actions, have nothing to do with Hutch’s love for Starsky, but rather reflect Hutch’s inability to love himself.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Deb, thank you for your kind words about the blog, and for this insight. I happen to largely agree with your supposition, and the complications of the father in this series are explored further in the two-part Character Studies on the subject. I hesitate to go as far as to suggest there was actual parental abuse but we are all free to think what we like. As with other unexplained plot elements, I actually prefer to make these guesses rather to have the details made plain. It makes all this so much more fun and rewarding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: