Episode 46: Murder on Voodoo Island

Starsky and Hutch go undercover to a tropical island to investigate a billionaire recluse whose cohorts in business are mysteriously dying. But when a federal agent is apparently killed by voodoo, even Hutch begins to believe the superstitions that have Starsky thoroughly spooked.

Charlotte Connery: Samantha Eggar, Walter Healey: Craig Stevens, Janice Regan: Joan Collins, Inspector Godfrey: Roscoe Lee Browne, Papa Theodore: Don Pedro Colley, Philippe: Tommy Madden, Johnny Doors: Paul Picerni, Phil: Dave Madden, Jerry: Louis Nye, William Thorne/Bert Regan: Lane Allan, Magic Minnie: Jinaki, Pussycat: Patricia L McGuire, Silky: Anitra Ford, Easy: Dana House, Meghan: Linda Thompson, Debbie: Debra Feuer, Baron: Jophrey Brown. Written By: Ron Friedman, Directed By: George McCowan.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a fairly campy, one-note double episode and everyone can agree that it is not among the series’ finest. Personally, I could watch Glaser and Soul read the phone book and be entertained and no doubt enlightened to some degree; but that said several points in this ambitious, confounding and confusing double episode try even my patience. But my mission is not to pick and find fault and dismiss or demean any episode of the “Starsky & Hutch” canon, but to take the clay and wrest something joyous and affirming, no matter how hard I have to work. And sometimes it is hard work. There are haters in this world and there are those to whom pettifogging is a sport and a pastime; I am neither of those. The best thing I can say about this episode – and it is a rather glorious legacy – is that it so perfectly captures its cultural era. That briefly giddy, unabashedly hedonistic, sexually-charged, recklessly apolitical offering to a public desperate for escape and still naively believing the good-humored sun-drenched idiocy of this world is both reachable and something worth reaching for.

Some filming notes: Soul jumped into the moving car himself in the final scenes involving the rescue of Bert Regan, but the crowd that had gathered to watch kept applauding and ruining the take. In the beach scene the waves were supposed to wash over Starsky, waking him up, instead they began to wash him out, much to his and Soul’s amusement. Mishaps occurred while filming, including Soul wrenching his back while jumping from the boat, the car windshield shattering during the stunt dive and cutting Charlie Picerni’s hand badly, and a jeep overturning and injuring two stuntmen.

Opening scene, and the guys are off-duty and heading to, of all places, The Jungle Club, the stripper bar from last season’s “Bounty Hunter”. Here we are, on a cold wet night a year later, and the place appears to have changed ownership: what was all tiki and titillating is now low-key and verging on classy, with not a stripper in sight.

The Master At Work: It’s a joy to watch Hutch listen to his partner’s soliloquy on the joys of camping to the pretty waitress: his face veers from sarcastic to amazed to infuriated.

Well, it turns out the waitress is a lure, leading the boys back to her place where Dobey and Healey from the Justice Department are waiting – in an incongruously glamorous, expensive hotel room. Hmm. Was all that really necessary? Dobey says the decoy was crucial to protect their safety, but why not have a messenger slip them a note as they sat at the bar? The fake waitress must have had to keep up the charade during the twenty-or-so minutes it took to drive to the hotel, ramping up the sexual tension to ensure their willingness to comply. Both boys must have arrived at the location in a state of what could be mildly termed as anticipation. All for naught. The guys recover admirably, but when Hutch says reasonably, “what’s going on?” Starsky starts laughing. A rare Glaser break in character, or is Starsky thinking of something else?

If the Justice Department and the FBI can’t breach Thorne’s security, why do they think two local detectives can do it? As amazing as they are, what do Starsky and Hutch have at their disposal that these more outfitted and capable teams don’t? Considering the murder has connections, superficially anyway, with African-Caribbean spiritual practices, why not engage the help of detectives more familiar with such things? It would contribute mightily to this episode’s believability if some link between Starsky and Hutch and this case were made in the first place.

Healey’s droning on about Thorne’s mansion overlooking the Island Hotel, which he also owns. Starsky slyly says to Hutch, “Sounds kind of familiar. Ha. Ha.” He looks at Hutch as if Hutch knows just what he is talking about. What are they referring to?

The SLOBs are singing drunkenly in the hotel lobby, Starsky and Hutch turn away from the thought of a twelve-hour flight in a very small, very smelly, very noisy airline cabin; Starsky looks at Hutch and groans, “I’m sorry.” It’s a small, lovely moment and one can only imagine what Starsky is apologizing for: his singing, his intention to hog the in-flight peanuts, his insistence that they take this stupid undercover assignment in the first place? All of the above?

It’s nice to see our friend Anitra Ford as a too-smart-for-this-job Playboy hostess, barely tolerating the grinning company of Fred Night and Ed Day.

Why, with all the security for Thorne’s estate, is there an unguarded road at the back of the property?

Healey is accosted by a well-approximated version of a Papa Legba, the Vodou intermediary between the spirit world and the mortal world. He’s usually depicted as an old man with a cane, a straw hat, a pipe, and sprinkling powder or water. Back in Los Angeles, Healey said devil dolls were given to the victims sometime before they died, yet Papa Theodore lays Healey’s doll on his dead body. This slip seems to mean all the “voodoo” in this episode is made up on the spot.

What sort of place is Playboy Island, anyway? The signs are in Spanish, the Inspector speaks French and has an English accent, and everyone else seems to be vaguely Bermudan or Dominican. The Vodun depicted is Hollywood-style voodoo rather than Haitian or coastal West African. And yet the island resort appears to be owned by Hugh Hefner.

Both the words “fakir” and “bokor” have been used by Starsky and Hutch to describe Papa Theodore. The word “bokor” is correct, as it refers to a houngan (a male Vodun priest or sorcerer). The word “fakir” is a Muslim or Hindu ascetic. In any case, since “Voodoo” is a Hollywood invention based on the Western African religion of Vodun, the whole point is a little moot.

One thing this episode does get right is Minnie as a “griot,” a storyteller. The jury remains out on her “lucky charms,” “hexes” and “love potions.” The protection amulet she gave Starsky didn’t work that well – he is just as susceptible to danger as anyone else, maybe  more so.

Do the guys really have to be that obnoxious in their undercover identities? Is this some mutual acting-out they’re doing or is all this Hutch’s invention, a kind of homage to the late-and-lamented Hack and Zack? One has to wonder how much hidden tension is released through bad clothes, vulgar jokes, rude behavior, fanny-slapping and inappropriate laughing.

“Sterling Amadeus Godfrey”, Chief of Police on the island (played by the always elegant character actor Roscoe Lee Browne in ascot and pressed khakis) is the sort of more-English-than-English performance he specialized in during his long and distinguished career. It’s an odd, funhouse-mirror stereotype of the African man that, to me anyway, is as provocative as any yes-massa cliché.

In keeping with the tradition, Chief Godfrey mixes up who’s Day and who’s Night.

Hutch plays golf well. Starsky doesn’t. Hutch tries to teach Starsky golf, but is interrupted by the two goofs they traveled with, Phil and Jerry (played respectively by Dave Madden of “Partridge Family” fame and hard-working character actor Louis Nye); both veteran actors seem to be having an inordinately good time, and why not? Easy gig, hotel paid for, all the umbrella-drinks you can drink. The only thing missing from this scene is Starsky getting a hole-in-one on his first swing – his beginner’s luck with Hutch as the long-suffering teacher is one of the series’ most treasured jokes (“Las Vegas Strangler”, “Iron Mike”, “The Game” “Satan’s Witches”).

You just don’t see blackface in the latter half of the twentieth century, especially on a show espousing the ignominy of race relations in contemporary society. Ron Friedman, what were you thinking? How can anyone possibly justify this? At the script read-through, didn’t anyone at the table raise a tentative hand and say “um, guys …?” It might have been someone’s stupid idea as a way to sneak unnoticed into the party, but wouldn’t a couple of guys in grease-paint stick out more than if they hadn’t had the “disguise” in the first place?

Starsky doesn’t even know he, Huggy and Hutch were supposed to sing – why in the heck does he think he’s in blackface, anyway? Fashion statement? Improvisational sunscreen? The choice of “Somebody Bad Stole the Wedding Bell” as a song nicely foreshadows the bogus marriage between “Thorne” and Charlotte Connery, which is a good detail but frankly it’s a wonder why nobody at the party, not even gangster Johnny Doors, is alerted by the weirdness of two white guys doing unrehearsed Calypso. When they’re booed off the stage it’s only because they don’t know the words to the song and not because they’re uninvited guests. They manage to avoid being tossed out on the street with a rousing limbo (Starsky is very flexible).

Healey had the narcotic powder flicked into his face and it seems as if it took over an hour for him to succumb to its effects (the same with Johnny Doors, later). But Starsky and Hutch are immediately overtaken by it. This may be a plot divergence one should probably forgive for the sake of narrative trajectory, but still the question remains: what exactly is in that powder, anyway? It appears to be a narcotic, a hallucinagen and some sort of willpower-crushing stimulant. I’m not saying such a magical powder doesn’t exist – there are many mysteries still in tropical narcotics – but it still is conveniently all-purpose. And while we’re on the topic of magical things, I’m always amazed at the good-natured effort both Glaser and Soul – trained, serious actors – put into the overcome-by-poison scene. They throw themselves gamely into the silliness, jerking and twitching on the floor, ego be damned. Good for them!

Part Two:

Let’s try to ignore the uncomfortable prostitution vibe throughout this double episode, particularly when it comes to the “spa” scene early on with hired girls escorting the largely older middle-class men in and out of the steam room. Why Janice the photographer has to meet the guys while wrapped in a towel is beyond me. Surely there are other, less nude-inducing, rooms to meet in (and safer, too, maybe somewhere away from the hotel, perhaps?)  This scene reflects the series’ producers understandable preoccupation with the physical beauty of their two stars, which makes me wonder why every episode doesn’t just start with the guys getting out of the shower in the morning. Here, Starsky is obliged to ditch his shirt in the steam heat, which makes it worth while, to Janice anyway.

“You saw what happened in the square today!” Johnny Doors exclaims to Starsky and Hutch. He’s referring to having Papa Theodore throw the powder in his face and declare he’s now a dead man. How does he know Starsky and Hutch were in the market that day? He couldn’t have seen them.

What is the rational explanation for the Papa Theodore’s performance with the likeness dolls, resulting in Starsky attempting to strangle Hutch? Is there one? The episode flirts with the idea that something genuinely supernatural is going on, yet the whole oeuvre of the series is that of practical, hard-headed realism. There have been many cases throughout exposing various psychic charlatans: prophesying Simon Marcus, crystal-ball seer Madame Yram, full-time thief and part-time satanist Ezra from “Terror on the Docks”, ballet-teacher-turned-vampire Rene Nadasy, all of whom are revealed to be quacks; the sole exception is reluctant-psychic Joe Collins. Could this incarnate of Papa Legba actually be the real thing? Starsky really is under a spell of some kind, it’s the source that remains a mystery. Papa Legba could be simply a talented herbalist, but if the explanation is as simple as a tropical hallucinogen, how powerful and purposeful can a drug be that would compel Starsky to attempt to injure or kill his best friend?

Theodore is obviously financially gaining from his participation in the criminal scheme, because there’s no other reason for him in which to participate. Helping the rich white man on the estate out of the goodness of his heart seems highly improbable. Therefore, he is not a spiritual man but a mercenary one, and the worst sort too: one with access to, and talent in, hallowed rituals. His chant commands Starsky to attack Hutch with “two hands” (“deux mains”), and includes a warlike anthem of the Caribbean, one the natives sang about attempts to ward off the Spaniards (“lama samana quana”). Starsky has a corresponding dream in which he pricks his thumb, part of the curse. Post-hypnotic suggestion might work as an explanation for his extraordinary behavior, and yet there was no opportunity for Theodore to hypnotize Starsky.

It becomes obvious, when climbing the rocks following being washed up on the beach, the blond half of the partnership has suffered a pretty brutal sunburn. Take after take in the hot sun, and one imagines there wasn’t a lot of sunscreen lying around. Or if anyone knew what sunscreen was.

It’s genuinely horrifying to see Starsky attempting to murder Hutch, and silently too, which somehow makes it seem worse; fortunately the two are evenly matched and only manage to throw each other off the cliff. Good thing they don’t dash themselves on the rocks below. What is it about the water that manages to break the spell? And yet it does. Or else Starsky breaks it himself, with his own strong will. Voodoo, it seems, is no match for this relationship.

For his part, Hutch puts the whole murderous episode behind him, and very quickly. For his part, Starsky doesn’t even express regret, apologize or anything, although it’s warranted. Both under a spell, perhaps? Or motivated, for the sake of both friendship and ongoing case, to put the whole matter aside for the moment?

Why invite Janice Regan to the wedding at the estate? What possible point would it serve? Without her, the fake ceremony could have gone unchallenged. Janice could have spent fruitless years looking for something she would never find. For an international collection of criminals, and occult practitioners as well, this whole affair is shoddily managed.

The fact that many of the hookers – excuse me, hostesses – were in on the plot against Thorne, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe yours, too. There’s nothing in it for them, except perhaps a small payout, and people have died horrible deaths. Including law enforcement officers. How much was there to gain, anyway? Or is this more of Papa Theodore’s hypnotic doings?

A little person in a white suit, a topical island, a mysterious denizen with power and money. Sound familiar?

Nothing is overtly made of actor Tommy Madden’s turn as a loyal servant, but it does beg the uncomfortable question of just why writers are using people with dwarfism, as well as practitioners of “voodoo”, as threatening, mysterious, and unfathomable. Why not throw some giants and white tigers into the mix as well, while you’re at it?

“Someone’s getting married,” Starsky says, hearing the distant organ. “Well, it ain’t us,” Hutch replies. Rim shot, please.

Led away under a pointed gun, you can see the two start to think about ways of escaping their predicament. Starsky is the first to throw out a clue: “Of all the rotten luck,” he says. Hutch picks upon this and says it “makes me sick”. Starsky then goes for it, throwing himself on the ground in a mock voodoo attack hoping to surprise their captor into making a mistake. Of note are the interesting things Starsky calls out in his “seizure” which proves his surprising knowledge of Vodou: “Papa Legba” (primary intermediary between the loa and mortals), “King of Voodoo”, “Oh Damballa” (the most important of the loa, often depicted as a serpent), “Big bad hoodoo” (African-American folk magic), “With horn of toad and eyes of dummy” (recipe for a hex) “Oh tall blond man, distract this dummy” (a plea, obviously, to the Nordic god, always in the vicinity).

How did Huggy and Godfrey know to be waiting in a motorized boat at the exact right moment? An incredible coincidence, and one that lessens the impact of the genuinely scary, messy, dangerous-looking car chase.

Clothing Notes: Dobey is sporting a stylish goatee in the early scenes before the journey. The guys are able to be in a state of semi-undress during their time on the island – diving, swimming, climbing rocks, etc.

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15 Responses to “Episode 46: Murder on Voodoo Island”

  1. King David Says:

    This episode arc sinks to the realms of TV froth. How much better, if they’d had to have some weird ‘voodoo’-type plotline, to have had it in Bay City, in an ordinary setting, with everything looking everyday? That’s where the real scariness comes from. (The secrets hidden in suburban neighbourhoods…)
    Anyway…it’s a credit to the pair that they are so well thought of that only they can solve the mystery of what’s happening. Some strange costuming going on, but any excuse to see more of Starsky than usual is to be applauded. (Those striped cut-offs are very low-rise…)
    Why the pricking of the thumb? Something wicked this way comes?
    I like the fight scene on top of the cliff, but deplore the dreadful editing whereby we see the doubles, and an obvious set. Why waste the actual location? I like the bit at the bottom of the cliff, too, with the cigarette, and the closeness.
    With reference to the unguarded road at the rear of the property: the barn in Trap had an unguarded rear side and they missed that as well.
    I too would’ve expected Starsky to score well on his maiden outing on the golf course. It takes a long time and some talent to play golf well; where did Hutch find the time to get his game up so nicely? (I could see an episode where they were undercover at a golf resort, in the City, and all the associated lecturing, demonstrating, posturing and manipulation this would mean for the partnership. And it would involve some Bad Men in Suits and illegally-gotten gains and panelled offices.)
    Not one of my favourite episodes.

  2. Dianna Says:

    What a waste, especially since people were injured making it. With episodes like this, I can understand why Glaser wanted out of his contract.

    The intro scene isn’t bad, but frankly, the best thing about this episode is King David’s suggestion that it would have been better if it were set in Bay City. And “any excuse to see more of Starsky than usual”… you are too funny!

    I’m also impressed by Merl’s knowledge of actual vodun. Thank you for the parts I didn’t know.

    I have resolutions to only two of the questions Merl and KD raised:

    First, maybe Papa Theodore has different kinds of powders to throw at people, for different effects. (Which begs the question of why he didn’t just throw something lethal at our heroes, and/or why his potions & spells are only partially effective on them.)

    Second, Starsky is clumsy at golf because he is playing right-handed! Either Starsky is doing this as part of his cover, or Glaser-the-astonishingly-graceful is a good golfer and couldn’t manage to look like a klutz golfing left-handed, so he switched hands for comic effect. Or a bit of both.

    But oh, the problems with this episode! In addition to the things noted by others:

    Hutch looks astonishingly bad in a low flat hat, though that may be part of his cover.

    Isn’t it convenient that the island where they are being sent undercover just *happens* to be where Huggy’s family lives?

    Nearly nekked porters in high heels = a recipe for workplace injuries.

    Why do the guys trust Charlotte the instant they meet her?

    And yeah, blackface. Really? (Already discussed, I know, but it is so egregious that it deserves another mention, even though I really have nothing to add.)

    Why are they surprised that someone knew they were cops as soon as they landed, when Inspector Godfrey obviously knew as soon as they landed? How is it that they didn’t check the sauna for bugs, or suggest to Janice Regan that she get dressed so they could have their conversation while walking outside? Oh, right. the recurring theme for this episode is nakedness and near-nakedness, so it would spoil its artistic integrity to have her get dressed. No?

    How did it escape the multiple investigators’ collective notice that there was an upcoming wedding with lots of high-profile guests?

    So many plot holes. So much corny nonsense. So many inexplicable unlikelinesses. So little chemistry or charm. No electric glances. No nonverbal communication at all. No endearing or witty dialog. No bursts of insight. No subtle acting.

    After watching the first half, I almost felt like crying, and it wasn’t because I was afraid their dead bodies would be washed out into the ocean. After watching the second half, I only felt a little better.

    At least Huggy Bear and the Turkey had the excuse of barely having Starsky and Hutch in it at all.

    • merltheearl Says:

      This comment was extremely amusing. I share your frustrations, and could have written a much, much crankier essay but figured it wouldn’t be that fun to read. So I settled on measured disdain and hoped for the best.

      • Dianna Says:

        And your comment made me laugh! “Measured disdain,” indeed!

      • King David Says:

        I, who normally notice all things Starsky-related, missed the golf right-handedness! (Have had stern talk to self.) The possibility that PMG is a passably-good golfer left-handed and therefore switched hands is a plausible suggestion. In my defence is the fact that this is such a waste of talent on a pathetic story; I missed something noteworthy in my groaning and eyeball-rolling.

        Most fortunate that the Huggy Bear family lives on this island; tenuous, but fortunate.
        Guests gathering for the wedding should have been remarked upon by law enforcement; aren’t they supposed to be aware of what’s going on?
        My most scornful barbs are directed at the absolutely woeful editing-in of the clifftop fight scene; only blind Freddie wouldn’t know that some of it is location-shot and some studio-shot. Why couldn’t they just have had all location-shot footage and kept some credibility from a plot that was leaking credibility as badly as a colander.
        On another site which reviews S&H episodes, under a still from the scene where S&H are lolling about half-drowned on the beach as they are soaked to the skin, the site owner has written “Have you seen where the plot went?” so I always view this episode, and this scene especially, through the prism of satire.

      • Dianna Says:

        You notice all things Starsky; I notice all things left-handed (including, of course, Starsky)! I admit I feel a it smug when I notice something that none of the keen eyes on this blog have yet noticed.

        You, however have shamed me by finding a S&H website that I have evidently not located. I don’t read fanfic, but you said it is a site that reviews episodes, so please divulge the URL!

      • King David Says:

        My dear Dianna,

        I cannot in all good conscience direct you to a site which is so wall-to-wall full of disreputable x-rated fanfic such as would make you wonder what the world has come to. I will say, however, (having viewed all the genuine episodes), to read on the site a brilliant take-off, with the addition of stills, the creators’ send-up and analysis had me laughing to as to split my sides. The creators were very perceptive and amusing, and if you can bypass the lurid fanfic should it not be to your taste, the episode reviews, listed under Miscellaneous Junk, are witty. You yourself know the episodes inside out, so you will know all the references particularly well.
        Merl’s site here is serious review, and the best I’ve seen anywhere, but if you, or anyone with a broad mind wants to see a different take, put the words “rebelcat, Starsky and Hutch” and “tripod” into your search engine and it’ll be right on the top.

        Please everyone, I am just passing on the info.

        PS: I enjoyed it. I am a sad case.

      • Dianna Says:

        And now I am choking to death laughing, King David!

        I found the reviews/send-ups, thank you. Nothing can beat what Merl has created for us, but the captions at that “other” site are pretty funny.

      • King David Says:

        I revisited that site after replying to you, Dianna, and the only shame is that not all episodes are featured. I laughed all over again, BUT! I was able to read the reviews from the lofty perch of Merl’s insight, coupled with analysis from yourself and others.
        The Other Site (TOS) has been spot on with inconsistencies, incredibilities and 1970s issues, but viewed entirely from the standpoint of satire.
        You can see why, after having read TOS, then coming to The Ollie Report, I value the review here through serious eyes as if the world of Starsky & Hutch was as we are meant to accept it, not as we cynically see it from 2013.
        Together, they are a perfect fit (for me, anyway).

    • stybz Says:

      I’m catching up on some old articles on the web when I found one today and it reminded me of Diana’s comment on Paul’s golfing ability. It seems he didn’t know a thing about golf during his years on S&H, so it’s very likely he really had no clue when he filmed the scene. 🙂 According to the article I found (see below), he knew very little about the game in 1983, but went to South Africa to play in a celebrity tournament. 🙂 My guess is that’s when he got hooked. 🙂

      http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2199&dat=19830112&id=xqoyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eugFAAAAIBAJ&pg=3044,2172425

      And here’s an image of him at one of the EGPIA Golfing events and while his form is obviously much better, he is a right-handed golfer in real life. 🙂

      I’m a lefty too, but I do some things right handed. I find most lefties do. 🙂 Paul plays guitar righty too. 🙂

      • Dianna Says:

        Thanks for doing the research on PMG’s golf!

        Yes, I should know that people do small motor things with one hand and large motor things with the other. (Shame on me!) And all lefties certainly have to learn to do a lot of things “wrong-handed” just to get by!

  3. Monica S (@Stybzster) Says:

    Hi,

    I’m just joining in thanks to S&H being on Cosi TV. I love this site and all its tidbits and commentary.

    I wanted to chime in on this topic to briefly comment on the blackface. As a kid growing up in the 70’s, as offensive as it was (and it definitely is, no question), I do recall seeing it being done on TV a few times during mid-70’s. By the 80’s it stopped altogether as people became more and more aware of how offensive it was. In the 70’s I do remember seeing shows where people put on blackface, plus they often played that now infamous Al Jolson routine with him in blackface singing Mammy.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning the practice and I am glad it’s not done anymore. Watching this episode recently and seeing that scene did make me uncomfortable, but I do have vivid memories of it still occurring on other shows during that time.

    Thanks again for this great site. 🙂

  4. stybz Says:

    I’m going out on a limb here and to say that I didn’t hate this episode as much as I thought I would. I finally watched it in full the other night after seeing cringe-worthy snippets from it, and I actually found it watchable to some degree. I have seen far worse episodes on other TV shows that I cannot even bring myself to watch again. This one is actually tolerable. 🙂

    It helps to read enough bad reviews of it beforehand. 😀

    Merl, I find your analysis of Voodoo vs the episode fascinating. 🙂 Thanks for that.

    So why did I tolerate it? Well, I had to transport myself back into the 1970’s for the answer. As a kid I never believed anything my fictional TV shows displayed, and rightly so, especially when in my early years I was exposed to Lost in Space, Gilligan’s Island and programming like that. I always thought that any magical or scientific thing was invented or altered for entertainment purposes and never took them seriously, especially shows from the dawn of TV until the early 1990’s. And even then I didn’t believe everything I saw. 🙂

    There were exceptions of course, but it all depended on the show. 🙂 I’m still amazed at the accuracy of some shows from the past, but some faked it quite often. 😀

    So while the Voodoo was doctored up (excuse the pun) for entertainment purposes, I was still entertained by it. I’ve seen much tackier scenarios played out.

    Yes, there’s the question of the powder and its differing effect on Healy and Doors vs Starsky and Hutch, but do agree that there could have been something different about the powder given to Starsky and Hutch. It’s likely that Papa Theodore wanted them out of his lair as soon as possible so he mixed something into the powder to render them senseless. He did seem to be mixing something together before he tossed it at them.

    The episode definitely has a lot of holes and questions, as were raised here. My only answer to the question of why assign Starsky and Hutch to the case is that maybe they’re the only guys crazy enough to do it. LOL! That doesn’t explain away the far-fetched storyline, of course.

    Okay, so what does SLOB stand for? LOL! I think Starsky apologized for coming up with the idea of them being a part of the convention. I loved how he said sorry so openly rather than making his usual shoulder shrug and guilty face. 🙂

    I talked about the blackface in an earlier comment, but I want to add that in some ways it worked for them, as it served a dual purpose. Black paint was often used by people sneaking around int he dark. So they had that to their advantage, although it would have been more helpful if Hutch wore a hat. 🙂

    I think they were the expected entertainment at the party. I thought I heard Huggy tell them so before they went on stage. That wasn’t a last minute decision. It was planned all along. The only people who didn’t know were Starsky and Hutch themselves.

    My favorite part has to be the scenes at the cliff. Notice Starsky’s mood and actions (even prior to arrival, but mainly) when they’re first walking along the rocks on the shore. He almost reaches out for Hutch, but doesn’t. He doesn’t touch him at all. I noticed that immediately. He snaps at Hutch, who catches on pretty quickly that something is wrong with his friend. Even Starsky saying the climb will be a “piece of cake” while facetious, almost sounds convincing, which is not normal for him. He sounded too confident about it.

    The fight was well done. I wish we could have been shown where the dolls landed when Starsky tossed them. They were far inland, but what if he had thrown them far enough to fall into the sea? The dolls always wound up near the bodies of the victims. If Starsky threw theirs out to sea, then that could by why they survived. Well, that’s my theory. LOL! 🙂

    When they surface, Hutch tells Starsky that he tried to kill him. Hutch adds, “It’s okay. You didn’t hurt me.” Hutch knows how broken up Starsky would be if he had. But I’d like to think that while Starsky doesn’t show remorse on camera, he’s definitely feeling it. The scene cuts away and we’re shown a few other scenes before returning to the two men on the rocks. And that’s when it’s really great. Starsky gripping Hutch. He can’t let go of him. For the remainder of the climb back up to the scene at the fort, he’s constantly holding on to Hutch. There’s many messages there. “I’m sorry.” “Are you okay?” “I’m here.” “I wouldn’t hurt you.”

    And given that Starsky’s the emotional type, I wouldn’t put it past him having a sleepless night coming to terms with what happened. He might have shed a few tears at the thought of nearly killing Hutch. He may have been afraid to sleep, worrying if Papa Theodore might still have some powers even in his prison cell. Then Hutch would have woken up, sensing something wasn’t right and was there to comfort Starsky and tell him to forget it. I’m sure there’s plenty of fanfic about that one. 🙂

    In case anyone is wondering why Hutch didn’t notice Starsky’s agony the previous night, I suspect he was under a spell too, since Papa Theodore was waving the Hutch doll over the candles during his incantation as well. So Hutch was probably in a deep enough sleep that he didn’t hear, nor detect that Starsky was suffering.

    As for Huggy’s Aunt Mimi’s powers, I suspect she’s an apothecary and does not have the potions that can thwart a man like Papa Theodore. She has trouble saying his name. It could be she has struggled against him and oftentimes finds herself unable to come up with herbs and potions to stop him. The pouch she gives Starsky may not have been enough.

    • stybz Says:

      Amending my reply with a minor change and two additional comments. 🙂

      After Starsky and Hutch fall from the cliff into the sea, and Hutch tells Starsky he’s okay, I thought they went to another scene, but what the editor did was dissolve the shot of them in the water to them walking along the rocks. The dissolve still serves as a time lapse. So there could have been more said between them about the incident which is partly what prompts Starsky to keep in close physical contact with Hutch for the remainder of the journey. Not that he wouldn’t anyway, but to me it still speaks volumes. 🙂

      As I was rewatching scenes last night, I realized that Aunt Mimi tells them to “Draw a circle around yourself and kiss the bag three times.” We never see Starsky do either, but the cord from the bag is wrapped around his neck three times. He’s usually a quick and eager learner, but I wonder if he misheard her advice. 🙂

      Also, Starsky is not wearing the bag when he’s placed under the spell. So this could be why he succumbs to it. It’s too late when he puts it on that morning. He’s already under Papa Theodore’s power.

  5. McPierogiPazza Says:

    Just a thanks to Merl and commenters for not ignoring the problematic parts of the episode in terms of race, gender, culture, etc. I often get told that I take things too seriously when I raise these issues in terms of popular entertainment, but they do matter. Television both mirrors and helps shape popular attitudes. In this case, we’ve got some real wowzers!

    I love the discussions here about storytelling, performing and other elements of S&H. It’s fun to delve into a show at that level. I noted on Facebook recently that “happiness is finding a blog that uses the term ‘Chaucerian’ to describe an episode of ‘Starsky and Hutch’.” A number of my friends “got it” — yep, we’ve got degrees in English!

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