Episode 31: Nightmare

A young, mentally handicapped woman is raped and her attackers may go free when their case may not hold up in court.

Lisa Graham: Diana Scarwid, Nick Manning: Gerrit Graham, Mitzi Graham: Karen Morrow, Mousy Loomis: Zachary Lewis, Ass’t DA Sims: David Knapp, DA: Jim Gruzalski, Al Martin: Carl Weathers, Mr. McDevlin: Jerome Guardino. Written By: Steve Fisher, Directed By: Randal Kleiser.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a compassionate episode about a rape and its terrible aftermath, and the triumph of the often fragile human spirit. It’s also a story about the dehumanizing, desensitizing nature of fundamentalism, in which rules must be followed no matter the cost (we see this in the court scenes). Both these are recurring themes throughout the series and addressed in depth in other episode summaries, so let’s investigate another long-running idea that is much less flashy and entertaining but still important: the perils of nostalgia, or specifically, what happens when we rely too much on sentiment or a rose-colored view of the past, or fear change too acutely. “Nightmare” is a wonderful example of how people are caught up in their own assumptions and ideals, even at the cost of real growth.

“Starsky & Hutch” is and was very modern in its approach. It marks a significant change in the way popular culture was presented to the masses. Brash and bold, it upturns old assumptions left and right and shows us how contemporary life (as seen through the lens of network television, mind you) has profoundly changed in the last decade, and largely for the better. The series tackles tough political and moral issues, shows men being emotional and caring toward one another, and casts a cynical eye on the once-immovable concrete foundations of the old elite – bankers, politicians, lawyers and even the police themselves. Starsky and Hutch are part of the new breed of idealistic, sensitive, skeptical heroes whose moral compass necessarily points far to the left. And as if to emphasize this point the series repeatedly goes out of its way to show us that the old ways weren’t as great as they seemed, and reliance on old-fashioned “ideals” do not work well in these times.

I would say “Nightmare” is a perfect encapsulation of this, and it begins with a beautifully-written and acted set-piece about Starsky diligently searching out an old toy store he remembers from childhood in order to find the perfect present for their friend. The two argue about memories and changing times, with Hutch calling out Starsky for his persistence in finding something that is no longer there (the scene includes Starsky doing a delightful Harpo Marx-like trailing of a pretty blonde walking down the street). Uncle Elmo, once purveyor of children’s toys, is now selling adult novelties – a fact that has many thematic ramifications. It tells us change is inevitable, and it tells us that change, whether social or biological, turns the innocent to the mature. It tells us, frankly, that change can sometimes make us queasy, or disappointed, and finally it foreshadows the angelic Lisa whose developmental and intellectual delays keep her permanently in little-girl stage while her body grows into adulthood, asking: do we accept that change, or do we see it as part of that which is queasy and disappointing? The answer, I hope, is the former.

This episode shows that change can be a malevolent force as well as a positive one, bent on destroying innocence. But it can also be a mistake – sometimes a fatal one – to continue to act as if nothing changes. “You know what they say, don’t you,” Hutch comments. “You can never can go home again.”

When Hutch suggests they go to another toy store, making the sensible remark that the owner would know Lisa, Starsky accuses him (not for the first time) of being a man without a heart. “There is a thing called loyalty”, he fumes, which of course means he’s more or less faking this display of temper, because if Hutch understands anything, it’s loyalty. (It’s also in stark contrast to the scene in “Las Vegas Strangler” where Starsky says he’s “sick” of Hutch’s extreme sense of loyalty.)

In one of the finest and funniest scenes in the entire series, we see the laundromat bust, a high-spirited, perfectly performed set piece which necessitates, to fans’ delight, Starsky undressing. “Of all the high falutin ideas,” Starsky gripes, even though Hutch’s idea to walk directly into the line of fire is a brave and practical solution to an urgent problem.

Hutch’s acting skills are showcased once again – he’s totally convincing when he walks, whistling, into the hold-up. Both guys show a remarkable willingness to adapt to the situation and adopt unconventional ideas and techniques. Note how his cowed reaction gives the thug with the gun an ugly flush of power, which is a great little detail. In fact the whole scene is filled with amazing details: the old lady with no teeth, the towel found on the clothing line, the “drop it, sweetheart,” shouted by the beat cops at Starsky. It has both brutal realism and cinematic flair.

Although nothing emphasizes how times have changed more than when Hutch goes into his pocket for his badge and the two uniformed cops do not start blasting away.

Starsky and Hutch are not in their regular beat because they don’t know the whereabouts of the toy store, and the uniformed cops don’t recognize them following the arrest in the laundromat when surely every cop in the neighborhood would recognize the infamous duo (they do in “The Fix” when Hutch is spotted running down the street by the squad car). And they’re not familiar with Uncle Elmo’s new adult book store either. But it is Starsky’s childhood neighborhood, despite the fact we are told in several episodes that he was raised in New York. This could mean Starsky was born in Los Angeles and then moved east with his family to New York at a fairly young age, perhaps around the age of ten or so – he mentions later to Lisa that when he was ten he played in his back yard. Although his tale could be either a fabrication or judiciously altered (“I played on the fire-escape/dirty stoop/grimy storeroom” not being entirely appropriate for his purposes) people tend not have a back yard in New York. In “Shootout” Starsky mentions he lived over an Italian restaurant in an apartment. My speculation is Starsky came out to Los Angeles on summer holidays, perhaps to visit his uncle’s family (“Snowstorm”, “Jo-Jo”), and got to know this particular neighborhood very well.

In this episode, as in the series as a whole, Hutch is clear-eyed and cynical, Starsky is more likely to be stubbornly sentimental. Hutch lectures Starsky on how things inevitably change, speculates the singing goldfish grew up and their voices changed. He also comments the bratty kid at the toy store will grow up and Lisa will stay sweet. “Kids grow up…the world marches on.” With Hutch, Starsky seems to revel in a certain kind of childishness. He quotes outlandish “facts” from books, appears credulous and trusting, tends to dislike change and is more conventional, sulks when upset and is cheered by silly things like ducks and toys. Hutch may act impatient at his partner’s ways (and Starsky may exaggerate for effect) but the dichotomy allows him to be the protector, the parent, teacher and sage. It also allows Starsky to relax and be himself. With his wholehearted affections and fetishistic objects, and the childlike wonderment in spite of the violent, dangerous world he inhabits, Starsky is not just a sentimentalist. He is a complicated character whose quirks and compartmentalizations are every bit as self-preserving as Hutch’s prickly exterior.

His being ingenuous, however, is somewhat dispelled by the intensity of his concentration when he plays with the trains. He really is enjoying himself, and not like a serious train-collector either, but immersively like a child. When confronted by little Tommy saying, “this is for kids. You’re not a kid. Starsky replies easily, “I’m buying a present for a kid. I’m going to a birthday party.” Amusingly, he isn’t actually buying anything: Hutch is in the background, diligently looking at proper girly presents for Lisa. One imagines a few moments before this scene opens, indulging his partner. The all right, play with the damn trains. Later the kid says, pointing, “are you with him?” Meaning Hutch. “Yeah,” Starsky says, with obvious pride, quirking a smile, as if acknowledging the question is that your dad? “He’s my partner. We’re policemen.” “Policemen” being a phrase like “fireman” or “astronaut”. A word a child might use, Starsky inhabiting, briefly, that marvelous space between past and present.

“Having problems, little boy?” Hutch says, when things go wrong. As ever providing the sarcasm (here, gentler than usual) for his own complicated reasons.

Hutch later comments that things will be all right, that by next year the boy who makes trouble for Starsky at the toy store will have outgrown both the train-set and Lisa. Starsky, who has obviously not outgrown anything, still makes an effort to concede to Hutch’s need to instruct. Who’s the adult now?

Two points of interest in the story thus far: we are never tipped off that Lisa is not a child, and for all that kid’s peevishness in the toy store, notice how he too accepts Lisa for exactly who she is on the inside.

One of my favorite little exchanges occurs when Hutch relates the doll’s attributes to Starsky, beginning with, “You punch her in the stomach she says ‘ma’”. Now, I may not know much about dolls, but punch her in the stomach? “You pull a string in the back that says ‘don’t touch me I hardly know you’”, continues Hutch, making this up. All this is highlighted by a very annoyed woman watching two men fuss with a doll. The whole scene is starting to look like a metaphor for their undercover work with hookers, junkies and abused women. The kicker is Hutch holding up a pink gingham dress. “How does this look, huh?”
“I like you better in red,” says Starsky.

Filming notes: Glaser and Soul reportedly went crazy while shooting the scene in the toy shop, putting rattlesnakes down people’s backs and having a peashooter war.

How do Starsky and Hutch know Lisa and Mitzi? The relationship seems very mature, as if they’d all gone through something together. Given their record of volunteering with youth, could be it be that they knew her through some kind of outreach or school program? And yet other cops, especially Dobey, are especially invested Lisa, and seem very fond of her. Dobey has gone to the trouble of buying a gigantic panda bear, despite his admonishing the guys about soft-hearted cops ending up broke. Was Frank an ex-cop, maybe, or one of the support staff? Heart-attack at fifty-four sort of thing?

Nick and Mousey wait for Lisa to come by. Nick seems to know Lisa because he remarks “she’s fair game, just like any other girl.” He knows she’s different and wants to capitalize on it, knows her daily routine. It seems their paths have crossed in and around the bus Lisa has ridden every day for two years, because he tried to steal the cash box from that bus before. But why does Lisa catch the bus at the lot, rather than the stop? The driver senses they shouldn’t be there before he knows of trouble, so obviously there aren’t a lot of pedestrians.

The buses in the lot say RFD but the driver’s hat says MTL.

I’ve been thinking recently about the terrible prescience of having Lisa’s rape take place on an empty bus. A bus is a critical detail here. Not only is it the one form of transport that brings together all kinds of people, a culturally and socially rich environment enabling all kinds of unlikely meetings to take place, in car-centric Los Angeles particularly it is a mode of transport largely for the poor, the disadvantaged, the very young. But it is the spate of recent rapes on buses that makes this scene even more horrible than it already is. In many countries in which women are denied the ability and the right to drive, a bus is a life saver and a death trap all in one. Women are harassed, stalked, and otherwise bothered on buses all the time; in many restrictive countries a bus is the only place a woman interacts and is dependent on her (male dominated) society. In rural Mexico, a self-styled vigilante who calls herself Diana the Hunter rides the buses, killing men who rape women on buses. As I write this, I hear on the news that a young Turkish woman was raped and murdered by the driver as she was the last one on the bus in the evening.

Back at the station, the guys are wrapping Lisa’s present, and from the sight of Starsky’s exaggerated yelp of pain when Hutch ties the bow around his finger, and Hutch’s equally exaggeratedly irritable, “Keep your finger there, will you?” this is a comedy routine that has gone on for several minutes before we join them. One can imagine the other cops’ private reaction to the undercover detectives clowning around and wasting time in the squad room. It most likely runs the gamut between “what a coupla great guys” and “fuckin think they’re movie stars”.

The bus driver picks out “Robert Emmett ‘Mousey’ Loomis” from a large mug-shot book containing thousands of photos and Hutch not only knows who he is, he knows the guy’s habits and tendencies. This is impressively knowledgeable. Both Starsky and Hutch pick up on the “they” when the driver complains about the cash box “they” tried to steal and Starsky reveals the same encyclopedic knowledge of small-time hoods because he immediately knows who Mousey’s partner is. There is a small procedural slip up though, when the driver remembers the pale curly hair and Starsky gives him a mug book with only one photo on it showing a man with similar hair, which could be seen as leading.

Hutch says it doesn’t make sense when bus driver identifies Mousy as a rapist. Hutch comments, “From what we’ve heard from the joint from the time that he spent in there, he has a tendency to go the other way.” Hearing about Mousy’s sexual preferences, at least while in prison, is fairly detailed information. How much information do Starsky and Hutch get from the joint anyway? Huggy is usually pictured as the snitch-above-all-other-snitches, but there are a lot more that we never see, which is too bad. An episode in which the detectives visit a prison would be really great.

There are seat belts in the Torino but they’re never used.

I understand the kind impulse, but that is way too much for a girl to endure in one day. I’m surprised they all thought it was a good idea, and that the doctor actually recommended it – severely traumatized, then a birthday party. All the adults involve show a great deal of emotional tone deafness to Lisa’s anguish. They are trying to jolly her out of something that should have been understood and acknowledged, which is another example of a kind of fear of change that can prove paralyzing. Lisa has changed. But no one wants to admit it.

There is perhaps no more touching and heartfelt statement than when Hutch tells Lisa they may want to hurt her attackers but they never would because it would make them no better those they detest. “We’re policemen, you know?” he says gently. Given the current state of police-related violence throughout the United States, this attitude is both heartening (fiction is always a panacea) and bitterly ironic.

I try to see each episode without what I sometimes call enlightenment bigotry, a judgmental discomfort that extends from smoking in hospitals to blatant sexism. But even so, I cringe every time I see Huggy’s latest enterprise, the sad, dimly lit pet store. I hate to think where he got these poor animals and how he can possibly adequately care for them, and what happens when he loses interest or too much money and moves on to something else. Still it’s amusing when Huggy refers to a crow or raven as an African canary. But thinking about this scene, if Huggy’s so anxious to bust the “scum”, why does he wait for Starsky and Hutch to find him? A phone call would have been quicker.

Mousey Loomis has a low intelligence and is easily manipulated. In a sense, he’s as much a child as Lisa, once can easily imagine him as poor, uneducated, probably from a troubled, violent home, with undiagnosed learning problems, kicked out of school and easy pickings for an amoral predator like Nick Manning. As an aside, I’m always astonished at the manhandling Starsky gives him – Glaser really goes to town with an exhibition of physical power here, dragging 150-lb Loomis along like he was nothing.

Loomis says Manning plans to kill Lisa so she can’t identify him for the crime. This might not have saved Manning at all, since Lisa was examined at a hospital and even in the late 1970s there was such a thing as a rape kit, with careful collection of blood, semen and other samples that could have led to prosecution. I’d also like to think Lisa bit him, which would have also been useful too. Plus there was the bus driver as witness. Later, uber-evil Assistant DA Sims suggests no jury would convict, but there is a strong possibility they would. With a mountain of psychiatric evidence, character witnesses for Lisa, plus Lisa’s own affecting testimony and the lengthy criminal record of Manning (plus his grotesque smirk, which I bet he can’t hide even under duress) I tend to believe they could win their case. I also think Mousey is the weak link here – with the proper interrogation, a few incentives, he could be the key to the whole trial. It’s really a shame trying to turn Mousey isn’t part of the story here.

Starsky holds his gun in his unusual way: palm over the top, fingers loose and high.

Lisa alone in the house: why 911 was invented.

Because rape is such a contentious and unremitting horror, it’s always interesting to see how the it’s portrayed throughout the decades. Here, we see how the victim of the crime is revictimized on the stand, with lawyers relentlessly chipping away at her dignity and self esteem, cruelly twisting truths into lies and questioning the moral character of someone who has been raped by suggesting it was encouraged or consensual. I believe the title refers not only to the act of rape but the experience of not being believed or taken seriously by those in authority.

The fact that this is a pretrial rather than a trial is an interesting one. Perhaps the parties involved are assessing Lisa’s ability to be cross examined, or maybe there are numerous issues to be resolved before trial can begin.

The role of comforter and protector are shared equally between partners, as Starsky does the dirty work during the arrest and Hutch goes to Lisa. This changes when Starsky coaxes Lisa from her despair during questioning, talking her gently about how great it is to be ten, and the “Doodletown” of his childhood, with Hutch at a respectful distance. Notice, though, Hutch’s comfort of Lisa consists of gently-administered Hard Facts (they can’t beat up her assailants because that would make them just as bad, and besides, they’re Policemen and have to follow rules) while Starsky’s consists of a distracting fantasyland that makes the real world go away.

I always find it interesting that Mitzi allows Starsky to take over the immediate care of Lisa. It shows a woman who has learned to relinquish control if necessary for the good of her daughter. She calls herself “selfish” a little later on but this is a practiced, even specious joke I’m sure she’s made often as a kind of justification for her choices. Truly, though, I think Mitzi letting Starsky take over at this moment is about as unselfish as it gets.

I love Dobey’s crooked grin when admitting that the guys could bring Nick Manning in on another charge. He’d been laying back while the whole assaulting-the-lawyer scene went on, and now he pretty well gives his blessing for anything slightly illegal the guys might do. Which brings up the issue of how Dobey views his reckless detectives and their methods.

If he isn’t calling the station but rather a personal number, Huggy calls Starsky, not Hutch, with the tip. How often does he seem to favor one over the other?

It’s nice to see a young, handsome Carl Weathers, looking like he’s about to go to the opera in both his scenes.

When a beaten Manning makes his accusation, nothing much is done about it, not even by DA Sims, who acts like he believes it’s possible Starsky and Hutch might be guilty of assault. It’s possible their hands are examined for wounds, their alibis checked, but we never see it. A serious accusation like that should have at least caused them a visit to Internal Affairs.

Oh, the exemplar of masculine power: Starsky and Hutch breezing past a secretary crying out, “You can’t go in there!”

“What do we know about law and order and graphs and charts?” Starsky says, when the he and Hutch have been left waiting over an hour, both chewing hard on gum (which, in itself, is unusual; what, was there a dusty pack in Hutch’s pocket just in case of long, frustrating waits like this one?) Which is a bit ingenuous, because they both can be very analytic and contextual in their thinking although this sentiment does drive home the idea of being outside the norm.

Is there no moment more thrilling than when Dobey says “Go get ‘em” and Starsky and Hutch burst out of the room like they’ve been shot out of a cannon? Interestingly, though, this is one case that doesn’t depend on Starsky and Hutch gathering evidence, making deductions or tracking down the bad guys. All that had been done in the first fifteen minutes of the episode. Rather, they spend most of their time hampered by regulations and made to wait.

“Fioremonte Bail Bonds” is an inside-joke on location director Gene Fioremonte’s name.

How much of Mitzi’s statement that she loves being a mommy and is glad Lisa will never grow up a real feeling or a rationalization for circumstances that can’t be altered? While nothing would be gained by Mitzi mourning the loss of something that will never happen, her speech to Hutch as they sit at the table still seems a tiny bit saccharine in an episode that is, elsewhere, very honest.

Two gifts from earlier in the episode reappear: the puppy from The Ark and the train set, which Tommy, the bratty kid at the toy store, insisted no girl would ever want. I wonder, though, if giving Lisa a puppy has more weight to it than the scene might suggest. It might imply that Lisa is in fact older now, these experiences, as horrible as they were becoming ushering in a new kind of maturity, causing her to be capable of taking care of something even younger and more vulnerable than she is.

Of the four major players in this episode – Lisa and her mother, Starsky and Hutch – Lisa herself is the only one who acknowledges that change, even unwelcome change, is inevitable. She does it when she asks Hutch if she was raped because she looks older than she is, when she cuts her hair in order to destroy her beauty, and also when she overhears the callous Sims talking about “mental deficiency” and cries out, “It isn’t something I don’t already know!” All these things point to a level of self awareness that does her credit. Instead of frankly acknowledging the dichotomy of experiencing the world as a ten- year-old while looking twenty, the adults around Lisa are intent on keeping her safe and happy and to a large extent insulated from any hint of adulthood. Understandable, even laudable, but Lisa herself is capable of handling both realities simultaneously.

You can read Hutch’s mind when Mitzi talks about the joys of having a child who never grows up. “How about two children?” says Hutch. “He’s all yours,” says Mitzi, and Hutch laughs. It’s one of the most charming tags in the series, allowing us to see just one of many sides to Hutch’s complicated feelings about his partner, in this case paternalism mixed with a kind of exasperated fondness. In his own way he is as sentimental as Starsky, only less overtly. Would he ever want Starsky to grow up? My guess would be no.

Clothing notes: of course, no clothes are the best clothes when Starsky does the take-down at the Laundromat. The guys looks great in the court ensembles, Harris tweed jacket and emerald turtleneck for Hutch, a great corduroy jacket and jeans for Starsky. They both don their iconic leather jackets in the final confrontational scenes.

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24 Responses to “Episode 31: Nightmare”

  1. Shelley Says:

    I found the scene with the closed toy store confusing because I had always assumed Starsky was supposed to be from back east, since he has such a noticeable eastern accent. Here, as you mention, he appears to have spent at least part of his childhood in California. I would think he must’ve moved to NY at a very early age to pick up the accent to that degree.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Yes, it is confusing, one of those instances in which the writers tie themselves into knots trying to conform to the script demands. Not much attention was paid to these little details – I guess they thought nobody was keeping score.

  2. phaedrablue4 Says:

    I find it to be one of my points of irritation with the writers. We know both boys are transplants from other states; but just doesn’t fit with Starsky’s thick NY accent and mannerisms that he would have come to Cali as a young child. Hutch is more the transplanted surfer dude. I can picture him and his family moving to Cali while he was a teen, surfing and soaking in the beach boys and sun. It just doesn’t work with Starsky’s history; it’s too forced at times.

    • merltheearl Says:

      I agree. However because Glaser is Boston born and bred, I always think of Starsky as more Bostonian than New York, even though the finer points of eastern seaboard accents is beyond me. These narrative inconsistencies are annoying, but they also provide a lot of fodder for speculation, which is half the fun.

  3. phaedrablue4 Says:

    I’ll go along with the Bostonian accent, I guess because we know in his history he lived in Boston. But in Targets without Badges he discovers that a woman the guys thought they ran into coinencidentally was someone Starsky new from “the old” neighborhood. Starsky finally puts it together that her name was Linda and they were friends as children. Then he was told she died in a car wreck when she was 11.

    Then Linda and her father were in the Witness Protection Program. The assumption being that WPP had relocated them to California from Boston or NY.

    This new bit of history doesn’t fit well with Starsky telling Hutch about the toy store he hung out in as a kid in I think, Nightmare.

    This is what I mean by forcing their histories for fit the story the writers are telling that week.

    Any thoughts?

    • merltheearl Says:

      You’re so right. I wonder if the producers ever thought people would care enough to think about all the inconsistencies in the backstory. I know Glaser ands Soul cared a great deal about the integrity and continuity of their characters – at least, this is what I have read over the years – but I wish the writers had the same commitment. But I’m usually okay about the holes in the story arc, because at least it gives us a lot of material to speculate about. Much like those Sherlockians, who have had a hundred years to argue about how many wives Watson had, whether Sherlock was, indeed, French, or what exactly the Giant Rat of Sumatra was.

      • daniela Says:

        I think another aspect of the issue of inconsistencies in the stories is that, maybe, when they wrote the stories, the writers probably didn’t think past maybe syndication for a few years… Maybe they were not expecting the show to be shown so many times over 40 years, giving people plenty opportunities to compare notes. And they certainly didn’t imagine YouTube, where one can see a scene with a magnifying glass over and over…
        I am just speculating, but I think the phrase “who is going to notice?” was probably used a lot… LOL

      • merltheearl Says:

        Exactly. Case in point: when Starsky says they should do a “polygram” test on Mayer in “Crying Child”. I can almost hear the editor say later in the cutting room, “oh well, who’s gonna notice?”

  4. Brenda Says:

    As a New Englander, I definitely hear Glaser’s Boston accent (like every time he refers to the Torino as his “cah”), but he plays the New York attitude well enough that I find Starsky’s NY upbringing to be believable.

    An early move to CA seems a stretch though. Based on the number of relatives Starsky’s mentioned over the years, I prefer to think that perhaps he spent a summer or two in CA with one of his many aunts or uncles, maybe shortly after his father’s death. This could have been a means of sheltering him somewhat from the nasty aftermath of that incident. Just a thought.

    • merltheearl Says:

      This makes a lot of sense to me. Especially after posting “The Golden Angel” in which Starsky mentions one of his Los Angeles-area uncles had an astonishing fifteen children, which would make a lot of cousins to run around with.

    • Shelley Says:

      That’s a good idea about Starsky maybe spending some summers in California as a kid.

  5. June Says:

    As an Aussie, I can’t really pick out the difference in Northerners’ accents, except Starsky says “Noo Yark” “I’m tarking about” and that strange Cecil/Ceecil thing the two said. I think it very irritating that, for a quick-fix script thing, the writers try to sell us that Starsky spent any significant time in California. How many “back East” mentions do they think came before (and after) this one? However, all is forgiven – and forgotten – when Starsky strips down in the laundrette (not sure about the nappy, though).

    • 37Bodie Says:

      I too can clearly hear the Bostonian “cah” and “aunt” from Starsky, because that’s how Australians say them. I just love it!

  6. Dianna Says:

    I like Brenda’s idea that Starsky spent a few summers in Southern California visiting cousins. I will guess three summers — enough to feel like the neighborhood was “his,” and not enough to lose his New York accent & attitudes. It also explains why he has not kept up with the neighborhood.

    Accent: Starsky’s accent is not Glaser’s. Online I found Glaser speaking out-of-character, and he has a generic cosmopolitan accent, saying, for instance, “partner” and “car,” while Starsky says “paht-nih” and “cah”. I guess it’s not strictly a Brooklyn accent, but it sounds more New York-ish than Bostonian to my (Californian transplanted to New England) ear. His vowels are more clipped and nasal than the classic Boston accents, but his lips aren’t as pursed as the classic Brooklyn accent. Both accents are what they call “non-rhotic,” which means dropping the final “R”, so that’s not a way to distinguish.

    In the hilarious Laundromat scene, it is odd that they talk so much about how to approach the robbers, because they rely on nonverbal communication and telegraphic exchanges in much more complex situations. Starsky probably gripes about having to strip because he wishes he’d thought of it first, so he wouldn’t be the one with “no pants” and “no dignity” (as he complained in A Coffin for Starsky). Does Hutch realize the trick he’s playing on Starsky when he starts the washing machine cycle before responding to the robber?

    Starsky’s triumphant “Hah! Gotcha!” brings joy to my heart. So do his crazy socks.

    Maybe the uniformed cops are new on the job, because in addition to not recognizing the naked armed wildman as one of their own, they don’t stop Hutch from reaching inside his jacket to fetch out his badge.

    Starsky accusing the boy in the toy store of being a chauvinist is quite a contrast to his behavior in The Specialist. Maybe getting thrown by Sally Hagen that day was his “Click!” moment. I was glad to see that he (they?) got Lisa the train set by the end of the episode.

    Lisa’s birthday party should definitely have been postponed. I kept thinking, “Get that girl to a therapist, quick!!” but that’s my 21st century mind at work. The mother’s effervescence throughout struck me as false, but perhaps that is why Lisa has such a sweet attitude. I had an aunt with similar mental abilities, but she became very bitter, and a little bit mean, and started pinching children when they started to grow past her, so maybe Mitzi is on to something.

    Mitzi certainly lives in an opulent house for a single mom. Frank’s pension would have had to be quite generous. His being a cop would explain the department’s investment in her. (BTW, not all New York residences are highrises, and some people do have backyards, even if they are tiny.)

    Lisa and Mitzi call our heroes “Dave” and “Ken,” but even when talking to Lisa they refer to each other by their last names.

    Starsky always holds his gun oddly, almost delicately, unless he’s actually aiming it, which gives me the impression that he is generally less eager to shoot than Hutch.

    The scenes where Manning goes after Lisa are harrowing, and very hard to watch. The assistant DA’s actions make absolutely no sense to me, even if he is running for office. Mitzi should just have Lisa declared incompetent, which should make any sexual intercourse with her a statutory rape, at least.

    Cars: The beige VW Bug that is in the background of so many scenes in this series, and that Abby’s brother drove in The Vendetta, is for sale at Sam Greek Used Car Emporium. The red Karmann Ghia behind it in the lot is very familiar too, from other episodes of Season 2. The beige Bug and a light blue one are both in the final arrest scene. All these VW’s are odd because the cars are provided by Ford.

    In most episodes I don’t detect Glaser’s active abuse of the Torino, but in this one, it is really blatant. I wonder if all the slamming into curbs contributed to Soul’s back problems.

    • merltheearl Says:

      This is a beautiful reading of this fine episode and I love the details about phonetics. Any more of this insightful, engaging commentary and I’m going to have to nominate you as my co-pilot, Dianna. I guess it’s impossible for me to see everything, but there are many times when I read comments from everyone here and I think, “ooh, should have seen that one.” This is no exception. Thank you.

      • Dianna Says:

        Thank you for your extremely kind comments! I have not even seen all the episodes yet, so I am in no way qualified to be any kind of copilot! I have repeatedly been amazed at how much you know about things that were going on behind the scenes, and how well you notice details like the stunt doubles getting out of the car.

        I would not see everything I do without reading your wonderful observations and questions first, Merl, plus the insights other people have. Nor could I see what I do without planning to write about it, so I am more than delighted that I found your blog, and I just can’t get enough of it. I hope I add as much to this site as it gives to me! I sometimes worry that I am writing too much, and I try to pare it down, but it always seems to get longer than I intended!

  7. Dianna Says:

    Of course, if you desire assistance, I would be more than happy to help!

  8. Anna Says:

    I have so much love for the bit where Starsky loses it and tries to beat up the defense lawyer when he blames Lisa for the rape. It’s a really stupid thing for him to do, of course, but after that horrific infuriating suffocating hearing, it was like a shot of pure concentrated satisfaction to the heart.

  9. stybz Says:

    I’m still catching up with the show but I thought since Starsky has so many relatives in Bay City and he talks about knowing places in the area, that maybe he was sent to live in BC for a time, perhaps longer than a summer. But a few summers works for me.

    I think Starsky was originally established as coming from Brooklyn. There are many homes in Brooklyn with backyards, but again it could have been either coast. 🙂

  10. stybz Says:

    I have to add that I just love the scene in the toy store when Starsky is playing with the train, only showing his head and hands around the controls. Then when the kid says trains are for boys, Starsky says, “Chauvinist!” LOL! It’s even funnier when you see Hutch’s reaction in the background. 🙂 Very cute. 🙂

    And he shows that he knows kids best when Lisa gets the train in the end, AND the dog. 🙂 And I loved how Hutch laughs when he’s told that he’s going to have to keep the kid named Starsky. LOL! 🙂

    Diana Scarwid is fantastic as Lisa. I loved her reactions to Starsky as he’s trying to cheer her up when she cries about being a 10-year-old forever. The things she mutters, and her reactions as he’s speaking to her. It’s really well done.

  11. stybz Says:

    I forgot to mention noticing something odd. Did anyone see the large, round, black box sitting on the hood/bonnet of a car that’s parked just outside the door of the bus station? You can see it just before the first bus drives by. It looks like a hat box or maybe a kid’s size bass drum? Or maybe it belonged to a member of the crew? Or maybe I’m seeing it wrong? Maybe it was a sign that looked like it was sitting on the car but wasn’t?

  12. joyce Says:

    there’s a missing scene it takes place in the hospital and it explains that lisas dad was a cop and knew starsky and hutch. Also, I believe lisa was kept in the hospital for a while, so her party probably wasn’t the same day she was attacked.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s too bad that scene did not make it into the final cut, it would have clarified things. As for the timing of the party, I said it was unfortunate they had it on the day Lisa was released from hospital, not the day she was attacked.

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