Episode 49: Murder Ward

Starsky and Hutch investigate a string of deaths at a hospital for the mentally ill.

Jane Hutton: Suzanne Somers, Freddie Lyle: Joey Forman, Miss Bycroft: Fran Ryan, Dr. Matwick: Leon Charles, Bo: HB Haggerty, Switek: Ned York, Victor: Sam DeFazio, Charlie Deek: Blackie Dammett, Albert: J Christopher Sullivan, Jackson: DeWayne Jessie, Howard: Robert E Ball. Written By: Anthony Yerkovich, Directed By: Earl Bellamy.


Very often the series perfectly reflects changing times and attitudes of the new more liberal era, never more than in this episode’s approach to the care and housing of the mentally ill. Predicated on “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, the seminal 1975 film based on the 1962 book by Ken Kesey (Skylar and McMurphy are similar types, irrepressible and ingenious), this episode carries on themes borne out of 1950s “Snakepit” fears of mind-control and isolation torture and a 1970s distaste for corporate-funded pharmaceutical management. Very often – here, as elsewhere in popular culture – patients are seen as more eccentric than ill, their “craziness” an offspring of creativity and spirited individuality, which the Evil State feels threatened by and wants to quash.

There is an unusual amount of instances in which the mentally ill are featured in this series. From Commander Jim to Larry Horvath, to the kids in “Starsky’s Lady”, to Lisa in “Nightmare”. Not to mention vampires, Satanic cult members, mass murderers, crazed scientists, men driven insane by the loss of a child. Is this a mug shot of Los Angeles? Or an accurate accounting of what really drives criminal behavior?

Other than the neat sound effects, there is absolutely no reason to bring a patient in with the ambulance sirens blaring.

It is really necessary to put a psychiatric patient in chains around his waist? Was he really that badly behaved in the ambulance? Starsky is forced to wear this extreme form of restraint until he is taken to his room and released (by Hutch, which indicates keys to the restraints are held by all the staff members).

I like how Starsky does his “crazy” hair. Also, he taps into his nearly superhuman agility, managing to outwit a nurse, two ambulance drivers, two orderlies and another nurse in the hallway. Crashing into his partner seems accidental but probably isn’t – it may be more of a happy how-ya-doing after a few days apart, an instant re-cementing of a partnership, which again shows a remarkable physical comfort level between the two of them.

Wouldn’t Skylar’s fake mustache be confiscated by the doctors and paramedics before he ever got to the hospital?

Playing disruptive is an interesting choice for Starsky to make. By running around and making a lot of noise he’s far more likely to risk being incarcerated or sedated, therefore useless to Hutch. All the guards and nurses will be forced to keep a watchful eye on this troublesome patient. And sure enough, the first thing they do is shoot him full of drugs so that he sleeps deeply for the first twelve hours. It would have been a better route to be a placid, zoned-out, unthreatening type. Far more likely to be ignored or forgotten by staff, and therefore free to roam the halls.

Is there a reason Hutch is wearing his admittedly cool shades in a dark hallway? To make himself seem more intelligent? Wouldn’t regular glasses work better?

Hutch tells Nurse Bycroft he’d been there a week. If this is really the case, he didn’t get very far in his investigation. Was Starsky recruited to get things moving?

I like when Freddie, in the guise of a Chandler-esque detective, mentions his “rod”, and Starsky involuntarily looks down, crotch-level, with an expression of dubiousness.

Every time they say “Hansen” it sounds, amusingly, like “Handsome”.

Another energetic performance by the wonderful live-wire Blackie Dammett as Charlie Deek. Hutch, who normally has a nearly photographic memory for perps he busted in the past, doesn’t recognize the man he and Starsky busted a year or so ago (later Charlie explains it’s because he looked like a “freakin’ prophet” at the time of his arrest, i.e. with a full beard).

One more note about Charlie: why is he allowed to be free at all? He’s got full access to hallways, common rooms, offices and the grounds despite being charged with a horrendously violent crime, and maybe more than one. He isn’t medicated to keep him in check, isn’t searched for weapons, and his wild-eyed lunacy is on full view. Ease of plotting aside, where is the logic in this? There are many such issues in this episode, lapses in common sense, but then again psychiatric institutions were shadowy, unreal places for many average viewers of the time. Mental and neurological disorders were not well understood and those suffering with such illnesses were heavily stigmatized, their symptoms seen as monstrous, opaque, unpredictable, often fantastical. The writers were taking advantage of this, playing fast and loose with the facts in order to present their story.

At the card game, the poem quoted is a George Dillon translation of Charles Baudelaire’s grisly and haunting “The Man Who Tortures Himself”.

Matwick seems to have a particular liking for Hutch, to the point of having a little crush, talking to him about his secret experiments when he probably shouldn’t. Hutch does his part, flirting up a storm with his sunny grins and his cogent comments about the adrenal gland experiments – pretty impossible for Matwick to resist. Director Earl Bellamy nicely plays this up by having their repartee filmed in extreme close-up, during which Hutch looks particularly fetching.

Hutch mentions “Van Kleef experiments”. This could mean Lambertus Theodorus Van Kleef, a late Victorian pioneer of radiology. Whoever he is, Matwick dismisses him with a classic narcissist’s sneer.

But the question remains: when Matwick mentions his behavior modification experiments, does Hutch make the connection with the suspicious deaths at the hospital? He should, but his behavior leads me to wonder. He seems very casual with the doctor and doesn’t press for details. He asks the question, but when Matwick prevaricates Hutch simply smiles and walks away. Perhaps this is part of Hutch’s plan, as he suspects Matwick will withdraw if he shows too much interest. But he does seem to take this golden opportunity very lightly.

The cockroach races Starsky invents must be inspired by Huggy’s Mouse Downs of shows past. One wonders if Starsky ever tells Huggy about this, reminiscing over a beer about the time he staged the “First Annual Cabrillo Cockroach Derby.”

Switek dials three numbers when he calls his drug connection from the office where Jane is hiding. It must be an extension in the building. Who is his buyer?

Where do you suppose inmates of a mental institution would get hold of beer as a prize? Nobody seems to question this.

How much is Starsky’s horror that Nurse Bycroft “murdered” the cockroach “Cabrillo Kid” acting or actual? He does seem genuinely stunned. Any why would she do that in the first place? Yes, stomping on the insect is a tidy encapsulation of the Bosses stomping on, or otherwise violently curtailing, the freedoms of those in their care, and for that it makes for potent symbolism.In reality, upsetting her patients to the point of mutiny isn’t exactly a therapeutic way to go.

Note the shadow on the wall behind Matwick as Switek asks him for the drugs. It makes Matwick look very large, when in fact he is a regularly sized person. Compare this scene to the one of Starsky and Hutch talking in the door way of Starsky’s room earlier and all you see are black silhouettes against the bright light of the hallway. Two uses of light and shadow: one to emphasize a ballooning ego, and one to illustrate depth and authenticity. In fact this entire episode is artistically lit, with shadows dancing everywhere, and stark blackness intersected with bright light (open doors from dark rooms into bright hallways, for example). One of the few times in the run of the series in which atmospheric effects play a prominent role.

The guys are, somewhat surprisingly, not threatened by reporter Jane Hutton and her own undercover work. Hutch even tells her she “wouldn’t make a half-bad cop”. They ask her for help and don’t get in her way.

Hutch takes off the bed-cover off Starsky’s face, and Starsky gives him a humorous look. Then Hutch returns it with one of the kindest, most affectionate smiles we see from him. Possibly a hint as to how difficult it is to abandon his partner in the hospital when he is forced to leave after his shift.

Starsky is endearing as he morphs into a noir detective with the help of two detective novels Orderly Handsome gives him, defaulting to his execrable Bogey impression and chomping on a toothpick (match?) like a cigar. The shocked at-last-someone’s-like-me look Freddie gives him is touching.

Starsky is immediately restrained following the discovery of Switek’s body in his room, and it’s implied the restrains will be there for at least 12 hours, as Matwick says he’ll have a “private session with him tomorrow”. Why? It must be an act of purely punitive vengeance, since Skylar isn’t at all violent. Later, in private, Hutch removes the horrible cloth bit they put in his mouth, and then doesn’t replace it when he leaves. I guess neither of them care at this point if Hutch is suspected of interference.

How come no one calls the police when they find Switek? I can accept the notion of all doctors and nurses enmeshed in an evil conspiracy against outsiders who would most certainly put the kibosh on all those Nazi-like human experiments. But the cleaning staff? The powerless orderlies? You better believe rumors would fly through the hospital, from the cleaners to the gardeners to the kitchen, even to the canny eavesdroppers like Freddie. As we see, phones are easy to access. Was Switek hated so much there was just an all-round general shrugging, as if he deserved what he got?

When Starsky explains his plan of going ahead with the case for moral reasons despite the risks, Hutch exclaims, “what am I going to do with you?!” It’s a moment of half-exasperation and half-admiration, and it goes a long way in illustrating why Hutch – rigid, controlling, acerbic and inaccessible – is in this partnership.

Hutch is taking a strait-jacketed Starsky for a stroll in the wheelchair, Starsky complains about an itch and Hutch, quite nicely and beyond the call of duty, is prepared to scratch it, which is pretty much the definition of friendship, if you ask me. But no, it’s papers Jane has stolen, stuffed into Starsky’s pant leg. Put there, one assumes, by Freddie himself, because it’s doubtful Starsky would be free of restraints at any point. So what’s the excuse Starsky uses on Freddie to get him to put the papers there since it’s obvious he won’t be getting to them any time soon? Does he know Skylar has a compatriot somewhere? Or did Starsky just say, “I’ll read them later”?

But how does Freddie know it was Jane who dropped off the papers in his room? It appears, from his position in the bed, that he never sees her clearly. But it’s possible, given his later accurate suming-up of Switek to Starsky, that Freddie already guessed Jane was one of the good guys, out to help things at the hospital. Despite his cherubic demeanor and difficulty telling reality from fantasy, he has both intuition and intelligence.

Jane has a barbiturate poisoning, enough to send her into a coma. And yet she seems to recover pretty quickly, and with no ill effects, if we guess that the time between the attack and her arrival with the birthday cake is about four to six weeks. This seems improbable, since such a powerful dose of poison would likely have lingering neurological effects. Matwick tells Starsky he “discovered” she was a reporter – but how? Charlie Deek tipped him off to who Starsky and Hutch were, but who told him about Jane? Did she stash evidence of her identity in her room, perhaps?

I like how Matwick’s badness is emphasised by his refusing to use shortened forms of names. He calls Charlie Deek “Charles” and Rudy Skykar “Rudolph”. It’s a stiff formality that makes him seem impossibly dweeby, as well as nasty.

When will the bad guys learn that Hutch does not go down easy? Matwick gives him enough poison to knock off a horse and Hutch still makes a valiant run for it, much the same way he kicked the car door open in “The Fix”, stayed alive following a horrifying car accident in “Survival” and kept the masquerade going in “The Game”. Now, even semi-conscious, he manages to help Starsky take down a gun-welding homicidal maniac.

When he initially runs right into the path of a tied-down Starsky, should this be considered coincidence or fate? He had no idea Starsky was in danger, at the time. And it’s a big hospital.

Nurse Bycroft has a wonderful moment when she approaches Starsky, hog-tied on the table. She puts down the syringe. She then runs her hands through his hair. Then says to herself, “It’s gone too far.”

Cabrillo has loose security. Patients wander the halls at all hours, wander the parking lots, make fake phone calls to staff, enter unlocked offices and apparently do as they please.

Who killed Switek? And who attacked Jane? Was it Matwick, or maybe homicidal maniac Charlie Deek? Matwick had access to barbiturates for Hutton while Deek was armed with a knife and would likely kill Hutton rather than medicating her. Matwick does complain about Jane being a reporter who needed managing: “She was a reporter I discovered. She would have caused all sorts of trouble.” But these are guesses only; nothing is ever explained. Matwick was enraged that Switek was blackmailing him, but he never mentions it and the case remains a mystery.

Tag: Hutch comments that it’s Babe Ruth’s one hundred forty-sixth birthday. Actually the Babe was born in 1895, making it his eighty-second birthday. His comment is more of a joke than an informed guess. Still, one wonders why the guys came bearing a birthday cake with decorations and “three dozen woofahs and tweetahs” if they really didn’t know whose birthday it was. Did the bakery only have a birthday cake left, and they thought, well, who cares – we’ll make something up? Or did they know it was Bo’s (notice how they give him the special hat, and he grins) and Bo himself is just too shy to say anything?

Of course, Hutch has to blow something in Starsky’s face.


19 Responses to “Episode 49: Murder Ward”

  1. Shelley Says:

    This episode turned out to be better than I was afraid it would be when it first started up. Do you find it distracting that they cast the same actors who previously played different roles in the show? Like Suzanne Somers here. And when Nurse Bycroft first appeared, I expected her to snarl, “Now what the hell would I be doing with blueberry pie?”

    • merltheearl Says:

      I make the comment in “The Committee” and elsewhere to that effect. I’m not sure what the show’s creators and producers are thinking when familiar faces pop up in different episodes – did they really believe viewrs wouldn’t notice or care? Both Suzanne Somers and Fran Ryan have three appearances over the course of the series.

    • King David Says:

      I just had a thought, and I expect everyone else already had it: Skylar = Skylark. And he does.

      You make the interesting point, Merl, that it would’ve been more productive logically for Starsky to be invisible, but we would’ve missed all that physicality and scenes with him trussed up. (Imagine how Hutch must’ve felt knowing how Starsky was being treated.)
      Movies and shows of the era always had medical staff in such prissy white, and it looks so artificial these days. Starsky has a huge split up the back of his shirt…easy access for what? At least it wasn’t freezing cold in there.
      Chained, restrained, straitjacketed, how uncomfortable must his stay been for Starsky? Hutch had it easy with liberty to roam.
      Nurse Bycroft running her hands through Starsky’s wild hair was a little creepy, but I appreciate that she must’ve thought at the moment that he was a headcase, and was being soothing. Or that she had an instant of human compassion at the last moment.

      I too dislike the recycled actors, but it was a commonplace; some actors were always villains, and some always the pretty face. Some lucky ones got to be all sorts.
      Re the birthday cake: it’s bound to be someone’s birthday in there.

  2. June Says:

    I love this ep: it’s small and stylish. Merle, you have re-written my viewing of my favourite ever show. The lighting? I didn’t get it (Matwick’s ego, etc). At the time (Strike, I can remember this long ago!!!), the wags wrote something to the effect that we all knew that Starsky was only one step away from the looney bin and now it’s finally happened. Ha, ha, ha and all that. Or, given the era, should I say, “LOL”?

    • merltheearl Says:

      I hope my rewriting the show has increased or enlarged your viewing of the episode rather than diminishing it! This is always my aim. “Small and stylish” is a perfect way to describe this episode. I always love it when Starsky and Hutch are taken out of their roaming grounds and confined to a new – and confining – space. I had to smile, thinking of the advertising tag line you remembered. I mean, really? If anyone was slated for the loony bin, it’s OCD Hutchinson.

      Thanks again, June, for reading, and also taking the time to comment.

  3. Dianna Says:

    “Small and stylish”? More than that — this episode was artfully claustrophobic, as Starsky gets squeezed into tighter and more restrictive situations. The drugs, the injections, the bindings… enough to drive a person right over the edge.

    Lying in bed straitjacketed, feet bound, gag only just removed, and with the threat of Matwick’s “treatment” hanging over his head, Starsky evades the question, “How do you feel?” because if he answers it, he might break down. Listen for his quiet shuddering gasp when Hutch starts to walk to the foot of the bed. He is right on the edge of panic, but needs to convince Hutch not to break off the investigation. (His argument is not unlike his argument to continue with the plan in The Specialist: someone needs our help! He has a great and compassionate heart.) He is practically hyperventilating and his voice goes all rushed and flat with the effort of maintaining control.

    Meanwhile, Hutch is waving his arms and complaining about being trapped by his schedule! Yikes!

    After Hutch’s question, “What am I going to do with you–?” a silence hangs in the air that in other circumstances might be filled with the words, “– have you committed?” or, “Are you crazy?”

    When Hutch leaves, Starsky looks like he is about to start crying. I bet he can’t suppress the tears all night.

    This is an amazing scene, despite — or maybe because of — the fact that Glaser had so little to work with. No body language this time! I think it belongs in the Glaser’s Greatest list.

    The scene also supports my thesis that Hutch may look bossy, but it’s Starsky who is in charge.

    Mental illness:

    Thank you, Merl, for pointing out that eccentricity and mental illness are two different creatures, so I don’t have to bang that drum here!

    But I do have to mention that patients in a mental institution would not be allowed shoelaces (Starsky), safety pins (Charlie Deek, on his shirt), necklaces (Freddie and Bo), matches (Starsky, and on the table during a card game). There would not be wires hanging loose all over the recreation room. Offices and supply rooms would not be left unlocked when unattended, especially when there are pointed scissors casually left lying on a desktop, and a desk drawer is full of barbiturates.

    Patients would be restricted to certain areas and not allowed to wander at will. Starsky’s joke to Jane about being a sex maniac is an example of why men and women probably would be locked in separate wings. But here Jane is even able to go into Starsky’s room unnoticed! Since these patients (at least “Skylar” and Charlie Deeks) have been committed against their will, there should be a fence to keep the inmates from wandering into the parking lot. In Lady Blue, Starsky and Hutch visit an institute for the criminally insane. Why isn’t Charlie Deeks there, instead of at this unfenced and unguarded facility?

    And what doctor schedules a treatment for midnight? The only one I can think of besides Dr. Matwick is Dr. Frankenstein.

    Costumes: Throughout the episode, Starsky wears the same unlikely-but-fetching bandanna and the ripped-up shirt and pants he came in with. It seems to me they would take his clothes and launder them before letting him wear them. Bo has all kinds of rope and braid on his vest that would also be prohibited because they could be used as weapons or for self-harm. Hey, Merl, you didn’t include any clothing notes this time, so I will take this opportunity to mention how fine Hutch looks in that white uniform.

    Speaking of the uniform, is he supposed to be a nurse or an orderly? His is the same uniform as worn by Switek, who is referred to as a nurse, and it would be really strange for a mere orderly to question a nurse’s decision, but it would be really dangerous to put a layperson into a nurse’s role, even if he is experienced in first aid. Not to mention that a nurse would have interned in a mental institution before getting a job in one, and he admits he’s got no previous experience. (He doesn’t even have enough experience to know how to handle a wheelchair, which makes the “week” doubtful!) Maybe he is posing as an intern? When he’s chatting with Matwick about the mice, he references something he learned “in medical school.” Nurses do not go to medical school; they go to nursing school.

    Amusing prop: Freeze the screen when Jane is looking at the newspaper, and notice how meaningless the story about Dr. Matwick is. Then look around on the page to see how many of the paragraphs in the story are repeated elsewhere on the page!

    Continuity: The other newspaper that we see up close features a photo of Charlie Deek, clean-shaven and with short slicked-back hair, even though he tells Matwick that our heroes didn’t recognize him because he’d had long hair and a beard at the time of his arrest.

    Beer: Maybe the prize for the cockroach races is pretend beer, not real beer. The drinks Starsky, Hutch, and Jane bring at the end of the show, are soda, not beer, and they mention soda it like it’s a real treat.

    Side note: I should mention that I couldn’t figure out what the detective novels were for till Merl mentioned it. I also hadn’t recognized the connection between Dr. Matwick’s shadow and his ego. Terrific comments about the lighting effects!

    I can’t figure out: How did they subdue Starsky to get him into a straitjacket? He seems perfectly lucid. When Matwick is waving a gun at him, why can’t he figure out a way to overpower him and get the gun out of his hand?

    Characters: Freddie was a lot of fun. But what does Nurse Bycroft know about what Switek is up to? What are her motivations? It seems like her role in this scheme is a lot like that of Belle in Hostages, except that we don’t get to see anything of her thought processes.

    Actors: I didn’t pick out Fran Ryan as the same person who played Stella in Jojo, but I did notice that Suzanne Somers sure has a lot more range in her three guest appearances in Starsky and Hutch than she had in the entire series of Three’s Company. Maybe the bangs stunted her acting ability.

    Despite my issues with the way the mental hospital is presented, I found this a quite effective and scary episode. On my second viewing, I was interrupted at the point where Jane is rummaging around finding papers in the office, so I had to pause a while. Even though I had already seen the episode to the end, my stomach was in knots till I was able to return and watch the resolution.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you again, Dianna, for your insightful observations. As for Hutch’s undercover persona, A few extra lines to the script would have clarified things. I wish Matwick could have put an arm around Hutch’s shoulders, murmuring, “You know, Hansen, you should really go back to medical school and leave all this orderly business behind you. If you like, I could tutor you myself a few nights a week.” It would be great to watch Hutch squirm his way out of that one. I also like your comment that it’s probably imaginary beer offered as a prize – I can imagine there were a lot of imaginary luxuries conjured by these poorly treated – or, more specifically, untreated – inmates. Like actual therapy.

      • Dianna Says:

        Ooh, beautiful line, and it would have answered multiple questions at once! Maybe something like it was filmed, but landed on the cutting room floor.

        As bad as institutionalization was, it may be better than what the mentally ill get these days, which is jail. I was just listening to an NPR podcast about LA’s Twin Towers jail, and how they deal with the mentally ill there. Very depressing.

      • merltheearl Says:

        Yes, I agree completely. In my city, the government shut down the only residential hospital for the mentally ill a few years ago, and two thousand patients flowed into the street, homeless shelters and prisons. Sad.

  4. Grevy's Zebra Says:

    While acting really crazy and hyper definitely does bring more attention to Starsky, it’s also probably safer — if anyone caught someone like Skyler snooping around in places he shouldn’t be, no one would think twice about it. If someone found a supposedly dead-eyed silent patient competently snooping around, they would immediately realize that he was faking it.

    I love that scene when Starsky insists that Hutch not call Dobey to pull the plug. His specific concern that another patient might die while the police are setting up another job and empathy with the patients as real people who don’t deserve to be risked is so well-written and acted, and the fact that he does it when he’s so obviously terrified out of his mind makes it all the stronger. There’s definitely no job-pride or desire to bust Matwick present in his desire to stay on, it’s only the concern that someone else might die if they delay that keeps him from running screaming out of the place as fast as he can.

    Also, that silhouette scene. Damn! There sure aren’t many scenes directed that way in this series. It’s also some really good acting and directing that their body language can convey as much nuance and substance with only their outlines as they usually do with their whole faces.

  5. Adelaide Says:

    Okay, so while I legitimately like this episode for non-shallow reasons, and the directing is especially creepy and atypical, I have got to admit the main reason I rewatch it so often is because of all the scenes of Starsky looking absolutely drool-worthy. That crazy hair, the bare legs, that shirt hanging open to the waist and always getting pulled way up to show his whole back during all those wonderful graceful crazy-guy acrobatics, the beautiful camera shots, the repeated bondage…mmmm.

    From what I’ve seen I guess you don’t talk much about the shallow stuff, but in my opinion there’s something un-shallow to be said for it…like, how much were the actor and director conscious of how women react to these specific things, and how hard did they play it up on purpose? It always seemed to me that female gaze in things not directed by a woman or a gay man was kind of erratic back then, I guess because the film vocabulary of things that turn women on wasn’t nearly as commonly-known as things that turn men on.

  6. Mary Anne Says:

    The Law & Order franchise recycles guest stars like there’s no tomorrow, so I guess Starsky and Hutch was ahead of it’s time. It is distracting for me, though.

    I thought David Soul actually needed glasses in real life and that’s why he wore them indoors. There are quite a few episodes wear he is wearing glasses and seemed to really need them.

    I loved when Starsky got all Sam Spade with Freddie. I thought that was pretty cool.

    I did get The Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest vibe from this episode, but it did not bother me like I thought it would and actually, it holds up pretty well.

  7. Anna Says:

    I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly why I liked this episode so much (since it’s not mind-blowingly amazing or focused on a major partnership crisis) until I read this review and these comments and got my brain going. It’s the sheer joie de vivre of Starsky’s undercover persona and his personal connection with and influence on the patients and staff, Hutch’s hyper-vigilant protectiveness towards Starsky, the very effective way the connection of the two partners is emphasized amid their loneliness of being isolated from the outside world in the hospital, the thoughtful directing, the fun side characters, and the simple yet well-utilized setting, very different superficially and visually from the mean streets Starsky and Hutch usually patrol, yet quite similar thematically. They’re still navigating unfortunate, tricky-to-deal-with people who are difficult to differentiate between the dangerous and the merely disadvantaged, but who are all largely victims and tools of a more powerful, more nefarious, more dishonest exploiter, and getting some members of the former type on their side through empathy and sensitivity.

    Starsky’s scene when he’s tied up and helpless and obviously terrified, and has been abused, mistreated, wrongfully targeted and endangered with death or worse, and still refuses to let Hutch pull the plug on the investigation because he won’t leave the other people in danger is probably among my favorite scenes. Dianna describes that scene perfectly, so I won’t bother going over it again, but I totally agree that if you ever do two more “Another Five Great [actor] Scenes” posts, it belongs on Glaser’s list. Maybe I was abnormally emotionally affected by this whole fairly simple little story (even though I HAVE seen and read Cuckoo’s Nest), but in my opinion, this whole episode is pretty well up there on Starsky’s list of best moments as a human being. I guess everyone has their pet episodes where something just clicks with them really well, for whatever reason.

  8. stybz Says:

    I agree that despite all the holes Merl has mentioned this is still a great episode. I loved both Starsky and Hutch in this and there are moments that make up for all the loose ends.

    I have a feeling the ambulance guys were in on the whole act with Starsky, including the use of the restraints. They didn’t restrain him well enough, though, considering that he could still reach the mustache on his face and plant it on Bycroft’s. I agree the siren was wrong, but it added to the fun entrance. Anyone know what song Starsky was “trumpeting” when he stepped out of the ambulance? It sounded like “Climb Every Mountain”. LOL!

    I didn’t like how close the two orderlies/nurses got to Starsky when he first runs down the hall, but soon after he’s seen skipping toward Hutch with them far behind him. 🙂

    They probably planned it for Hutch to be at the hospital long before Starsky arrived to get a feel for the place so that when Starsky got there he’d have an idea what to expect. I doubt they would have had one of them in there alone, so even if Hutch did find something, he’d probably have waited for Starsky to arrive before taking action.

    Along those same lines I had a problem with how they got the evidence. I don’t know about the laws back then, but I would think it fell along the lines of illegal search. How on earth was anything they find going to hold up in court?

    I loved the discussion between the pair when Hutch first gets Starsky into the room and settled in bed. As the sedative slowly takes affect, Starsky gets second thoughts and tells the funny story about the movie where the guy goes “bananas.” Then Hutch tells Starsky everyone at the place is “quite normal” with the most amusing looking false reassurance on his face that is so comical. Starsky’s reaction to it is funny too. “Don’t do that.” LOL!

    Hutch seems so reassuring to his partner, but it’s obvious he’s worried. Look how tense he is in the coffee room. He’s breathing heavily long before Jane arrives and startles him.

    I thought Starsky was chomping on a lollipop stick, but I can’t be sure. It looks long and thick enough, especially in the hallway.

    It took a long time to find Switek’s body. What would have happened if it had been Starsky or Hutch that found the body? What would they have done?

    When Starsky tells Hutch about Jane leaving the papers in Freddie’s room I wondered if it was Starsky who deduced it was Jane and not Freddie. After all, it was Starsky’s idea for Jane to get the papers, and they knew it was papers she was getting for them. And Freddie’s room was nearby.

    I feel like something was cut from this episode. When Starsky helps Hutch up the stairs and out the hallway, he tells Hutch he’s going after “that guy”. He then rushes back into the stairwell. Wouldn’t that mean that Starsky was going to another floor, especially since both Starsky and Hutch came upstairs. And yet, Hutch just goes down the hall and intercepts Matwick as Starsky is chasing him. How did they wind up on the same floor as Hutch?

    I used to have a problem with recycled actors until I learned something about why shows use them. In many cases if the guest star gets along well with the cast and does a great job, then they’re asked back to do another part. The creative team doesn’t always see it the way the audience does. They see it as giving a good actor another go at a good role, and if that actor works well with the leads, it makes for a fine piece of television. So I’ve come to forgive the recycling as most shows do them even today. 🙂

  9. Becki Says:

    How exactly was Switek going to get “a fortune on the streets” for lithium? Lithium is not a narcotic. It is not an Upper or a Downer, and would have no effect on one who did not have bipolar disorder–except to give them lithium toxicity. It’s not a recreational drug! There are numerous drugs used to treat mental illness that are “street drugs” (Clonazepam, for instance). Why on earth would the writers choose lithium as the drug he was blackmailing for? I know the writers on S&H have never been known for their attention to details, but this just strikes me as blatant laziness. And it’s truly annoying to me, because it makes me think that Hutch is a complete moron for thinking there’s a recreational market for lithium. I was able to suspend disbelief about a lot of things in this episode. I know there’s going to be a lot of license taken in order to make this story work, most of which has been discussed in previous comments. But this is just too glaring an error for me to ignore. It’s probably because I have had personal experience with the effects of lithium poisoning while being used as prescribed that I just can’t get past this.

    Rosie Malone jogging bra-less was easier for me to accept.

    • merltheearl Says:

      I never noticed this detail, Becki, and thank you so much. I should have caught it myself. Just like Hutch eating soup of the can in “The Game”, this is the sort of thing requiring only a small edit in the script to make it work. I appreciate your wise and heartfelt comments, and agree with them. Sometimes this loose attitude toward continuity, fact, or detail can be a kind of freedom to the contemporary viewer, and sometimes it can really irk. This is irksome.

    • beetle Says:

      I certainly noticed it, but made a deliberate choice to think of it as an editorial decision to not suggest any psychiatric drugs for resale, so that it wouldn’t annoy me so much. You’re right, though, it’s probably just laziness, because if it was a decision with an actual *reason*, they could have just made up a name, like “psyciatrizine.”

  10. Kerrie Brand Says:

    This is one of the episodes that i dont think my regional TV station aired in tbe original run. Apart from season four of course that wasnt shown in Austraiia at all. I personally dont have any problem at all with actors guesting more than once. Apart from the fact that tfor example, a British show called Midsommer Murders does the same thing, i just think if Starsky and Hutch dont recognize their faces then i wont either. IStarsky is trumpeting Climb every mountai when he is in the ambulance and the as hes getting out of the ambulance he changes to Somewhere over the rainbow. I dont know who killed Switek, but i think Matwick arranged it after all he insisted that Switek check on Starsky, even though he (Matwick)mustve known that Starsky had been sedated. Switek’s death made a perect excuse for Matwick to give Starsky a private treatment, (Matwick for some obsecure reason seems to have it in for Starsky from the start. Starsky/Skylars file and photo was on Matwicks desk after Matwick talks to Hutch.) and get rid of his blackmailer to boot. Starsky was sentenced to the straightjacket before Charles Deek came to him with the information that Starsky and Hutch were cops. Did anyone else think that Deek may have supposedly been Marcus from Bloodbath with Deek saying he had wild hair and a beard like a prophet when S&H arrested him? When the body of Switek was found Nurse Bycroft said that she didnt think Skylar would do something like that or words to that effect and Skylar /Starsky hadnt reacted with anger when she stomped on his racing cockroach, he just walked away dejected and sad. A person who was violent would have reacted with anger. i think that is why she said it (meaning the experiments)had gone too far, she knew Skylar/ Starsky wasnt a physcopath like the other patients Matwick had obviously tried his treatment on, I think her running her hand through Starsky’s curls was meant to be comforting, letting him know she wasnt going to hurt him. She did seem quite stunned when he kissed her and told her she was beautiful. I agree with you Merle that the patients did seem to have a lot of freedom to wander the corridors but maybe if you werent on the troublemakers list they ignored the fact you were there. Hutch did make a remark that most mental facilities across the States were understaffed.

  11. DRB Says:

    “When will the bad guys learn that Hutch does not go down easy? ”

    I think bad guys can’t see past the blond surfer good looks. They expect Hutch to be the poster boy of superficiality without taking time to discover that the sweet smile and disarming approach are used to mask an impressively strong will. They are judging the book by its cover and proving once again that criminals are basically stupid!

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