Episode 48: I Love You, Rosey Malone

Starsky becomes involved in a relationship with gangster Frank Malone’s daughter, Rosey, while undercover.

Rosey Malone: Tracy Brooks Swope, Ed Chambers: James Keach, Bill Goodson: Paul Jenkins, Frank Malone: John P Ryan, Ray Shelby: John Dullaghan, Jogger: Theresa A Fagundes, Secretary: Mary Mercier. Written By: Tim Maschler, Directed By: Rick Edelstein.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a tightly focused and well-written episode that allows the personal to overtake the procedural, and perhaps not for the best. Here, Starsky develops strong feelings for the girl he is trying to extract information from, a trope we will witness several times throughout the run of the series. “Starsky & Hutch” works best when emotions serve – and drive – the search for justice. We see this very clearly in “Vendetta” and “Lady Blue”, when visceral responses, revulsion in one and grief in the other, are used like a fuel to launch the action. Less successful are those episodes in which emotion becomes sticky and muffling, like a quicksand. It’s a credit to Starsky that he has these gentle, protective feelings and Rosey herself is an attractive and vulnerable character in many ways, and Swope is a very interesting actor to watch. But I do have an issue with Starsky becoming mired in those romantic feelings, distracted by them, and interpreting his role in the prosecution of Frank Malone and his empire as an impediment to rectitude rather than the fulfillment of it. Despite the fact that the government and its agents are depicted as heartless and cruelly expeditious, they were ultimately correct. I would hope Starsky himself would eventually come to this same conclusion.

The title of this episode is a bold statement indeed. Starsky never says the word “love” and I’m not even sure he feels it at all, even at the end when he is fighting to keep her in his life; it seems to me, with a relatively cautious, private person such as Starsky, love is a gradual state of mind but once it’s there, it’s there forever. Another interpretation of the title could be this is a statement of father, not boyfriend. It could be that Rosey has a way of inspiring strong feelings wherever she goes.

The first scene has the detectives jogging, a relatively new fad of the times and one Hutch has taken up with enthusiasm. As usual, he manages to turn this into a pedantic moment, telling Starsky “the whole point of this is to expand the alveolus”, which may be one of the (albeit unintentionally) funniest things he ever says. Starsky complains of being tired. He seems convincing, but Hutch says genially, “You’re faking. You’re in great shape.” And so he is: Starsky straightens up and drops the act and admits he isn’t tired at all, but bored. Unusually enough, Hutch isn’t surprised or derisive but rather accepting of his partner’s insistence that the pursuit of pleasure is the only intrinsic good in life.

Rosey is wearing an “eagles” t-shirt. The band, or some sports team? Also, she is totally not wearing a proper bra for running.

Again, Starsky and Hutch are mistaken for each other by Ed Chambers, one of the unctuous feds.

Chambers and Goodson come across as aggressive, myopic, rule-following douchebags. I’ve made the point before about this series specializing in suit-and-tie-boorishness versus jeans-clad integrity, but this is perhaps the worst case of it (a close second could be the two Feds in “Groupie”). The bad attitude of Chambers and Goodson does nothing but antagonize the two detectives they have come to enlist, so why the suspicion and the patronizing attitude? And why attack Starsky’s professional integrity with such ferocity, in advance of the facts? And it’s not only official business, but it’s oddly personal too: when Hutch tells Chambers Starsky struck out with Rosey, Goodson can’t help but smirk, “figures”.

Look at how frighteningly silent Starsky becomes as each insult is heaped on him. Conversely, Hutch becomes increasingly active as this scene progresses. He answers questions put to Starsky while moving in to both physically block and distract, mediating through fast repartee and attempts at humor. He’s telling Starsky I can handle this, I can do the heavy lifting, even though this isn’t his fight, this isn’t his honor being questioned. It’s a lovely partnership moment and very subtly done.

I wonder why Starsky agrees to pursue Rosey at the request of the two lawyers. He doesn’t seem to have thought through how manipulative this kind of investigative tool is when he says vehemently, “she’s mine.” It’s not competitiveness (after the suggestion Hutch might be a better candidate because “she might like blonds”). It’s because the feds have misconstrued his wry comment about Frank Malone living “happily ever after”. He wants to prove his incorruptibility more than he wants to protect this pretty girl. And so he gives an emotionally-driven, ego-driven (and completely understandable, even laudable) decision he comes to regret.

Starsky tells Rosey, “Don’t typecast me. I like pizza and I like filet mignon. I like Stevie Wonder and I like Mozart.” If this is true then he’s been playing dumb with Hutch for years, pretending not to know anything about the symphony (in “Targets Without a Badge”) or caviar (“Bust Amboy”) or art films (“Stage 17”) or any other of the hundreds of highfalutin things Hutch likes to think he’s an expert in. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s just lying or exaggerating to Rosey. She does say, “are you putting me on?” and in response he just smiles and says nothing. That smile, to me anyway, has just a smidgen of desperation behind it, Starsky acknowledging to himself he has just stepped over the edge of seduction and there’s no turning back now. He has just combined the truth (his catholic tastes) and falsehood (his romantic interest in Rosey) to create a believable persona. In “The Plague” Hutch makes a remark about Starsky being a good liar only when undercover, and a really good liar – like Starsky – always has a little truth behind the lies.

It’s one thing to say you are familiar with Huichol Indian art but seems pretty risky to say you have been somewhere you haven’t, especially around an expert. The Sierra Madre Occidental range in western Mexico is very desolate and few people have been there. Rosey, pointedly, doesn’t question him about it, or challenge him about much of anything. One can speculate that at this point she’s blind and deaf to all but Starsky’s charm. She gives every impression of being the awkward, spindly, nerdy girl who never caught the eye of the handsome boys, and now a long-repressed high school fantasy is coming true, and she doesn’t want to blow it with a lot of questions.

On that note, it’s interesting that Starsky isn’t more prepared for this undercover operation. Not only is a federal indictment being sought but it’s the final push by Starsky and Hutch, and probably a fair number of other police officers and officials all the way to Washington DC, to crack the LA branch of Malone’s criminal operations. Neither Dobey nor the lawyers seem to have prepared Starsky with a believable cover story. Instead he’s left hanging, hoping to gain time through stalling, which is probably not the most professional way to go.

Rosey’s business plan for the Huichol people is certainly ahead of its time, predating the fair trade coffee and chocolate growers which is now the gold standard of business practices.

“How come you haven’t asked my name?” Rosey says when they’re at the gallery. Oh, good one. Starsky gets a shock but recovers smoothly enough. His seduction technique throughout is awe-inspiring: intense without being suffocating, confident without arrogance, amorous without the icky. This should be compulsive viewing for all men between the ages of 18 and 25.

“She might go for blonds.” It would be interesting to observe Hutch in this same situation. How good would he be gaining Rosey’s confidence, and how would his methods differ from Starsky? It would probably involve tripping and breaking the pottery, for a start.

The longing look Rosey gives Starsky during their dinner date – naked, raw, needy, fundamentally shy – makes his actions seem even more lamentable. What’s he thinking when she looks at him? Committed to the job, feeling a twinge of guilt, letting the stirring of romance put all those things on the back burner? On the way home she asks him what he does, and he says, “I’m a dentist.” This fabrication comes awfully easily considering it’s around the time she’s telling him about the grief she feels about her mother’s death.

When Rosey turns off the radio and says she hates the news because it’s “so depressing”, is she indicating she knows all about her father’s criminal activities, despite the fact Goodson and Chambers told Starsky she thinks her father is “clean”? (for the trivia-minded: the uncredited newscaster here is the same one in last season’s “Survival”)

Starsky certainly memorizes Rosey’s home number quickly: he dials it from memory from bed that night.

Why does Starsky ask Rosey what she’s doing for the next twelve years? Does that sound less oppressive than twenty, and more serious than five?

Rosey knows Starsky isn’t a dentist. When she challenges him, he says he’s a plastic surgeon. They both laugh, but you’d think being the daughter of a reputed mobster (and it’s obvious to me that she does know this on some level, even if she thinks he’s being unfairly prosecuted) shouldn’t she be on alert? Even girls with Episcopalian minister fathers would be disconcerted by these obvious lies.

In “Deckwatch”, later on in the series, Hutch gives Laura a silly list of jobs he would do if he stopped being a cop, which is his way of saying he has no intention of leaving the profession. Starsky gives Rosey a list of silly jobs too. Dentist, masseur, and, amusingly, research analyst for the Book of Records. Later Starsky tells her he has no more intention of quitting the force as she does of quitting being her father’s daughter. How can Starsky and Hutch’s dedication to their job be as all-consuming of that if both of them, in different episodes, were ready to throw away their careers at a moment’s notice (Hutch in “Targets Without a Badge”, Starsky in “Golden Angel”)? And are they as dedicated to being partners with each other, regardless of the job? If Hutch left to become a sushi chef, as he says in “Deckwatch”, would Starsky be right there beside him flaying a tuna?

Frank and Starsky immediately size each other up, and not the for the better. Starsky is too intense for Frank’s liking, and Frank is too genial for Starsky’s liking. It’s a case of simultaneous antipathy, laced with a something vaguely incestuously alpha male. Perhaps Frank can smell cop as accurately as Starsky can smell con. Also disconcerting is a grown woman calling her father “Daddy”. It adds an element of dependence and immaturity that Starsky, months later, probably reflected upon and thought, yeah that was the clue.

Starsky doesn’t immediately tell Hutch or anyone else that he’s been outed by Rosey; why? Surely this is germane to the case.

Hutch tries to talk to Starsky the way he did in the aftermath of Gillian’s murder, saying, “we’ve got work to do.” Now he says much the same thing: “Okay, you’re in pain. That’s gonna pass.” Good solid advice, but how does Starsky respond? Throws a tantrum, punching books off the shelf and yelling at his partner. When threatened or defensive, Hutch often goes witheringly cold and Starsky often volcanic; neither works. An odd turnaround in this is during a later episode “Starsky vs. Hutch”, in which Starsky is paralyzed by threat and Hutch hotly provocative, but then much in the Fourth Season is topsy-turvey.

The ghost of a wink Hutch gives Starsky at the apex of their argument over Rosey is among the best moments in the entire series. Subtle, amusing, loving, ironic, it manages to be both a character giving another character a moment of solidarity and affection, a “I know what you’re going through” gesture of camaraderie, and an actor giving another actor a “can you believe they’re paying us for this?” moment of pure joy. There’s really nothing else like it. Play it once, or a hundred times – it never loses its magic.

What does Starsky make of this wink? He seems calmed by it, somehow.

It takes a powerful individual to change years of paranoia, but this is what Starsky does with Rosey when he convinces her his love is real. And minutes later, to some degree, he does the same thing with Frank Malone.

In Starsky’s tangle with Goodson and Chambers, he twice attributes their worst attributes to their being “civilians.” Does he really feel this way, or is that an insult specially designed for big-picture lawyers?

”You sad excuse for a Romeo,” Hutch tells Starsky, “Now go cuddle with your lady, just tell me where you are.” This after Hutch has just stood up as Starsky’s only friend and defender in a world of evil. What does Starsky do? They’re standing, nose to nose. Instead of thanking him, Starsky says, “If you’re lucky.” And then leaves. And yet Hutch seems okay with Starsky’s blowing him off, perhaps recognizing an immature insult is Starsky-code for “I’m okay now”.

Hutch is truly scary when riled. And Starsky enjoys this display in the feds’ office.

Speculate on the mental health of a young woman who chooses her father over David Starsky.

Starsky says: “A thousand years ago, I used to believe I’d fall in love, get married, have a kid or two, and live happily ever after. And then I grew up.” What exactly does this mean? That a happy marriage and fatherhood are incompatible to life as a police officer, or is Starsky admitting he no longer wants these things? He certainly acts as if he still believes this is possible, as he somewhat naively assumes he and Rosey will continue their relationship after Frank has fled to parts unknown. Compare this to the final moments of “The Fix”, in which Hutch not only understands he can never have a future with Jeanie Walton but in fact gives her a little push to expedite her leaving. He does it not because he wants to but because he knows their union has been poisoned by circumstance. Starsky should feel the same way. He has not been punished or wounded by Frank Malone, he has been freed by him.

The sincere, touching final scene is diminished somewhat by the Muzak saxophone burbling in the background (and in the foreground).

Tag: the tag is unscripted, which gives it a wonderful spontaneous quality.

Clothing notes: Starsky wears a variety of excellent athletic clothing, including his tiny cut-offs. Hutch wears the identical outfit from Gillian: forest-green t-shirt, green leather jacket. Starsky wears the great brown leather jacket.

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7 Responses to “Episode 48: I Love You, Rosey Malone”

  1. King David Says:

    Rosey has nice hair, but I always want to slap her. She is way too old to be saying “Daddy”, and Starsky should see big red flags here.
    How duplicitous must they feel each time they have to lie to someone, gain their trust, and risk being found out. At least we know they couldn’t lie to each other for long and get away with it. (I am sure they could tell brilliant lies to each other, and really well, too, but they are each so perceptive in reading the other that sooner [rather than later] the jig would be up.)
    Does “Daddy” have someone in mind for his little girl, and would she be the sort to go along with his choice, or perhaps Daddy has it in mind that she stays single all her life. A man like Starsky would look very attractive if your life has been short on romantic attachments with regular blokes.

  2. merltheearl Says:

    Thank you, King David and Lynn, for contributing to the discussion. I especially like it when commenters talk to each other; it’s akin to inviting strangers to a cocktail party and everyone gets along.

    I’m interested in this take on Rosey, and intrigued too, because I quite like her and always have. She’s passionate about her hobbies and beliefs (and I put the gallery in her list of hobbies, rather than a profession; I believe quite strongly her father set her up in business to give his little girl something to do, both to funnel her energies and to distract her from the cold fact she’s basically indentured to the criminal life). She’s kind of a nerd, easy to imagine in glasses and braces in the not-too-distant past. But she’s terribly naive and immature – this also the fault of her upbringing, whisked from city to city just ahead of the law, never making friends or allowed to have her own life.

    Hmm, maybe my spirited defence of Rosey means I’m not quite done with this episode.

  3. King David Says:

    Hello Lynn,
    I viewed this again yesterday, and I too have grave misgivings about the basis of their relationship. Were I in her shoes I think I’d always be wondering, and even though I too am hugely swayed by Starsky’s charms, I think I’d feel cheap. Plus,being divided between ‘Daddy’s’ world and Starsky’s world would be too much to live with. I can imagine the arguments down the track.
    Starsky must have been really bored that day…open to tingly diversions.
    Just read your comments, Merl, and perhaps I am being unkind to Rosey. I have never thought about her life to this point, because my allegiance is not with her. I still don’t have any great affinity with her, but perhaps I could ease off the antipathy….no, who am I kidding? She’s pretty, and probably quite intelligent, has a strong sense of family, but she just somehow doesn’t gel at all with me. Starsky falls way too hard too quickly; that too I find pushing the credibility boundary.
    And, all that bouncy hair running around the park – tie it back, woman! And wear decent foundation garments.

  4. Lynn Says:

    King David,
    LOL X 10 on that one. Who jogs with their hair and the girls flopping in the breeze like that. I also agree that Starsky fell too hard and too fast to make any of it believable in any way. Maybe skinny girls jogging with their hair a mess is his Achilles heel.
    Thanks for the chuckle.

  5. Dianna Says:

    I am surprised at Lynn’s and King David’s negative comments about this episode, because I liked it!

    Falling in love: While I agree that Terry was Starsky’s equal, I don’t have a problem with his falling in love with Rosey, because I thought they had real good chemistry. I think the turning point is when she describes her ahead-of-its-time business, and Starsky says she’s beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. This fits with the idea that her father kept her away from his business. I’ve seen this happen (although the parent was a tobacco exec, not an overt criminal).

    Daddy: I have a couple of theories. First, I know a capable, independent woman who called her father “Daddy,” till he died, when she was in her early forties. He had abandoned the family when she was 12 years old, so their relationship never really had a chance to mature. Considering that the lawyers say that Rosey thinks her father is clean, perhaps Daddy Malone kept his relationship with Rosey stunted, so that she would not examine it critically. If this is the case, then she turns off the radio because she thinks that bad people are saying mean things about her saintly father.

    Second, up to this point in the series, we have only seen two father-daughter relationships, and in both of them the daughter calls her father “Daddy” (the other one being The Psychic). Maybe the showrunners have a need to infantilize daughters. (We’ve also seen one mother-son relationship, in Gillian, where the mother was addressed as “Mommy.” And it seems to me I once heard Starsky say “Mommy” into the phone.)

    Huichol: Amusingly, when I looked up Huichol art, it does not look a bit like what Rosey sells in her store. It is extremely colorful and involves lots of beads.

    Trust & choice: I agree that Starsky was able to regain her trust too easily, but — and here I disagree with Merl — note that she was smart enough not to throw away her surviving parent for the sake of a guy she had only know for a few days and who had begun their relationship with deceit. We all know what a wonderful guy Starsky is, and many viewers with an attraction to men would run off with him in a minute, but we have known him intimately for lo these 48 episodes (2 years of TV time is what? 10 years in the real world?), while Rosey has only known him 2 or 3 days, maximum a week. King David is right about the inevitability of certain relationship problems.

  6. Adelaide Says:

    Hmmm…I don’t think the incident in Targets Without A Badge was really quitting at a moment’s notice. It was more like quitting after several years’ notice, with a final straw that broke the camel’s back. (And I always thought Starsky wasn’t actually serious in Golden Angel). The tension between their love for and their alienation from their jobs has existed at least since the Pilot, when they realized that their own department might be trying to bump them off and they couldn’t rely on anyone.

    In fact, the reason they quit in Targets was precisely BECAUSE their job really was that all-consuming and important to them — they were so dedicated to doing what they signed up for, keeping people safe from powerful criminals, and they were prevented from doing that because the higher-ups cared more about getting a big win by nailing McClellan than about the life of some useful but powerless little nobody. If they didn’t really care about their jobs so deeply, they could have easily shrugged it off as just one of those inevitable losses rather than an unacceptable stain on their own personal integrity and beliefs.

    But yeah, if Hutch ever did quit to be a sushi chef, Starsky would be flaying tuna beside him, and vice versa 😉 I honestly have a very hard time imagining that, by the time of season 3 or 4, either of them would be willing to remain a cop if the other one quit (or was forced to quit).

  7. stybz Says:

    I liked this episode and thought the romance was very nice and well played.

    The whole daddy discussion is interesting. She doesn’t refer to him as daddy when she talks to Starsky about him. She says, “My father.” That makes a difference to me.

    My older brother came up with a nickname for my father when he was very young. To the unfamiliar it sounds quite childish. My father never liked it, but tolerated it. I was taught to call him that when I was very young. I’m not sure I even ever said daddy or dada. 🙂 My mother calls my dad the nickname when she talks about him to us, and we still call him that occasionally. Rarely do we say, “Dad” to our mother or to his face except in front of company. 🙂 The nickname is similar to daddy, but not quite, but it’s stuck with him through the years, and he’s accepted it. 🙂 My brother and I are mature, independent adults who are in our late 40’s to early 50’s. 🙂

    Somehow considering how open and trusting Rosey is in her relationship with Starsky before and after she finds out about him, I’m unsure if she was ever paranoid about relationships. Standoffish, maybe, but she never seems fearful because of her father’s occupation.

    I thought it was funny that Starsky drives her around in the Torino. He’d have to remove the police radio in order to keep the cover going. I guess it’s easier than I think. 🙂

    I think Starsky is too depressed to think straight when Hutch finds him in his house lying on the sofa. This is why he didn’t come forward right away about his cover being blown. His anger probably also clouded his common sense as well, probably thinking of taking down the person who blew his cover on his own. It’s probably one of the reasons Hutch gives him the “pep talk”. Among other things, he needs Starsky to remember who he is and not to do anything he’d regret.

    I’m wondering if the line, “If you’re lucky,” is a joke alluding to something a bit more sexual in nature. Hutch smiles after Starsky says it. “Tell me where you are” is straightforward enough, but maybe Starsky is having a bit of word play, saying, “I’ll tell you where Rosey and I will be but not where I AM at that point in time.” 😀

    The body type and hair on the girl in the tag is different enough to tell it’s not Rosey, but I guess Starsky is still too overcome with emotion to realize it. I liked the very end of the scene.

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