Episode 56: Manchild on the Streets

Starsky and Hutch must keep Junior, the son of a friend, from avenging his father’s death at the hands of a racist rookie cop.

Junior: Brian Whitley, Jackson Walters: J Jay Saunders, Dr. Sammie Mason: Sheila Frazier, Mrs. Walters: Dorothy Meyer, Maurice: Maurice Sneed, Officer Raymond T Andrews: WK Stratton, Vivian Fellers: Helen Martin, Dewey: Fuddle Bagley, Mrs. Hong: Shizuko Hoshi, Clayborne: Chuck Hicks. Script by: Rick Edelstein & Steve Fisher, Directed by: David Soul.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This is a brilliant episode and in my top five, if I had a list. Fearless, angry, gentle and humane, it attempts to tackle huge subjects with grace and economy. It’s also one of those episodes (in fact, every episode that deals directly with race in America) that is a bitter reminder of how little has changed over the years. It’s with a sense of weariness and unease that we watch this episode, each anguish leading to the next, and the next. Inevitability makes this a tragedy in the classical sense; Starsky and Hutch can only make small alterations and corrections, trying their best against a boulder that is tumbling down a hill taking everything with it. The fact that they succeed even in these small ways is truly heroic in my books.

The harmonica soundtrack is courtesy of Andy Kulberg, Soul’s friend and bandleader.

The basketball game: surely one of the most joyous scenes in the entire series. All participants playing as hard as they can, the guys are especially good, with the physical grace actors often have. Notice how Hutch grabs Starsky around the waist to hold him – illegally – while the ball is in play. Notice too how it’s Starsky and Junior against Hutch and Jackson: the kids against the adults.

Soul’s direction always maintains a viewer’s interest. He has a very active, personable style, never bland or stodgy. The scene in which Andrews shoots Walters is thrillingly direct. The shocking events unfolding quickly, cleanly, with minimal editing. There’s no rushing here, the scene takes its time, and it’s easy to see this director has a fellow actor’s empathy with all the players.

Maurice’s actions in the beginning of this episode shows that often it’s stupidity rather than malice that creates so much suffering. Maurice Sneed’s performance is great, full of nuances so fresh and immediate it seems improvised. Look how he pretends to have a chauffeur as he pulls up, and blows an elaborate kiss to Mrs. Hong. He’s a fantasy rich man with the world at his feet, intoxicated as a way of muffling feelings of hopelessness, boredom and despair. He’s so rubbery and giggly he’s almost funny, but not quite – there’s more than a hint of cruelty and racism as he shuffles his way through the grocery store. I’m going to take a sidebar here and comment that racism is not the sole province of one group of people or another, everyone is afflicted by it to some degree, and here Maurice’s antagonistic and ignorant treatment of Mrs. Hong is evidence that this is a complicated, frustrating, and pernicious evil that knows no boundaries. And so, too, with the incendiary n-word which will later detonate in the tragic scene of murder; Maurice will later casually use it to his fellows at the bar he frequents, reminding us that language is racism’s handmaiden, benign to some and malevolent to others. Okay, let’s get back to the action, and oh-so-high Maurice’s stumbling takeover of the Chinese-owned corner store. And the victim of the car-jacking that leads to the terrible event? He’s drunk too! (The clueless Dewey, played by the marvelous – and marvelously named – Fuddle Bagley). Rather than wrong or right this whole situation is just plain sad. Dewey doesn’t realize his car was stolen. Maurice doesn’t even think he stole an actual car. Maurice uses the banana he stole as the “gun” in the robbery – absurdity piled upon absurdity.

Funny how Hutch introduces himself to Sammie as “Hutch”. Not Ken. He uses his nickname almost as a pseudonym, a way of disguising or reinventing himself. “David” is used way more often than “Ken” regardless of the speaker. It’s a stretch but not a long one to imagine Hutch is using this nickname to divest himself of his past, for whatever reason.

Jackson and Junior have a shouting match over the pills and it gets violent. Jackson makes the fatal mistake of not cooling down before accusing his son. Starsky pulls Jackson’s arm, says he’ll talk to Junior, and Jackson lets him. Allowing another man to father his son means he has a very high regard for Starsky. Is this because he fears his own temper, is really bad at the paternal dialogue thing, or does he trust Starsky that much?

Given the cultural and economic divide between Walters and Starsky, it’s likely they met while serving in the armed forces. Long boring hours in training, away from familiar territory, and for a uniting, if nebulous, cause, explains how two very different people become friends. They certainly didn’t meet recently. Starsky and Hutch don’t have a lot of time for friendships outside the job, and this one has a mature, complicated feel as if it has gone on for years.

Of the two, who’s closer to Jackson, Starsky or Hutch? Jackson talks to Hutch first about the drugs, but lets Starsky confront his son. My theory, without proof, is that Starsky is the social glue here. He knows about Sammie before Hutch does. He flirts with Mrs. Walters. He’s at home enough to insist, amusingly, on chocolate ice cream rather than vanilla. Junior’s insolent with him, which suggests a high degree of familiarity. And it’s Starsky who spends time with Mrs. Walters in the aftermath of the shooting, giving support.

There is some interesting early tagging on the wooden gate at the Walters place.

On his way to his ride, does Jackson call Starsky “Sarge” or “Starsk”? It sure sounds like Sarge, which would give credence to my met-in-the-service theory.

Note how the Jackson home is in the shadow of a giant industrial building. It gives a surreal in-between quality to the neighborhood, the impression that things are about to change, and not necessarily for the better, and that the Walters family are living on borrowed time. Nicely done, location scouts.

Andrews and his partner are “Apple Three” when responding to the car involved in the grocery rip-off: literally and figuratively they’re as far from “Zebra Three” as it’s possible to get.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the camera takes inventory of the ethnic, economic, and social diversity on the assembled faces, while showing how a blank, disbelieving horror has united them.

The confrontation between Starsky and Raymond Andrews, with its brutal and innovative twist, is a pivotal scene in this episode and metaphoric of the series as a whole. At the time of its initial airing, I had never before seen a man slap another man and I bet you hadn’t either. Slapping is much, much different than punching. For one thing it takes a shorter preparation, and seems more personal. It’s less about strength and more about emotional outrage. In a way, it’s a feminized act of violence, more social condemnation, or protest, than any other form of violence. A punch just stops you cold, a slap instructs. “The nigger’s lying,” Andrews says and Starsky slaps him BANG without any warning at all. Hutch looks shocked and puts his hand on Starsky’s inner arm, the other hand covering Starsky’s hand and starts to pull him away. “You,” Hutch says with undisguised hatred to Andrews, “You wait here.” And then puts his arm around Starsky’s waist and literally drags him from the scene, Starsky’s eyes shooting daggers the entire time.

When Starsky and Hutch load Jackson onto the ambulance, they turn around. Beautifully staged, Jackson’s hat is pitifully in the foreground. All the witnesses – a motley collection of down-and-outs, the disenfranchised, the poor and ignored – stare at them. Judged for their failure to prevent a social injustice, Starsky and Hutch exhibit no defensiveness. Rather, they shoulder the responsibility. “You gonna kill him too?” Mrs. Fellers says to Hutch as he leads Dewey away. Hutch humbly accepts the shot.

My interpretation of Andrews’ partner is that he is stolid and unimaginative but pretty decent, stuck mentoring a young officer with grave defects and determined to stick it out. He viciously kicks aside the impediment to his car as they prepare to leave the scene and my view is this anger is directed against Andrews, who has royally f–ed up his day and doomed them both to weeks of paperwork and desk duty. It’s a nice character study and worthy of note, even if it isn’t flashy, although other viewers may have a different take on the character.

Interestingly, neither Andrews nor his partner are seen again. They vanish into irrelevance as the story shifts to the consequence of the shooting. The episode makes its point about institutional racism and leaves it at that.

The patrol car honks at Starsky to get out of the way and he deliberately doesn’t. Look how long he waits before moving out of its range. It’s one final act of loyalty to Jackson Walters – Starsky is telling Andrews he is going to be an impediment for awhile yet – and quite touching in its simplicity.

Hutch is talking to Dobey. He says, sensibly, “unless Andrews is suspended, publicly – and I mean in the press and on the tube – you are going to have trouble on the streets.” An accurate observation, especially as of late, with the beleaguered LAPD suffering so many PR nightmares. Although Hutch is correct, Dobey is also convincing when he argues the other side.

Because David Soul is directing, the camera naturally focuses on Starsky. There are some lovely shots of him sleeping in the hospital while they wait for word on Jackson. The whole death scene is filmed without any words at all. When Starsky and Sam leave to go back to the house Hutch tells Starsky he’ll talk to Andrews, and Starsky does an incredible thing. He touches Hutch on the back of the head, his neck, ruffling his hair. This is not a gesture people normally make, not even very good friends. As with many scenes in this episode, it’s in no rush to conclude, lingering as Hutch stands alone with the shadow of the swinging door on the wall.

The whole show is filmed in the midst of junk, slapped-together fences, broken appliances, old couches. Big rigs and skyscrapers, and Halloween jack-o-lanterns strung up on spindly trees.

When Mrs. Walters sees Starsky and Sammie on the porch, she says cannily, “have you two been out on the town?” and you can tell she has harbored a fantasy of the two of them getting together, which makes the whole scene even more poignant. Sammie is an interesting character: educated, driven, polished. Even though she calls Mrs. Walters “Mama”, she isn’t a relative, as evidenced by Maurice calling her “that lady” who “rents a room” in Junior’s house.

Hutch has a very funny silent-movie scene with the pushy Mrs. Fellers looking over his shoulder as he types the report.

When Mrs. Fellers attacks Dobey for propping up the white man when he insists justice will be done, one can see the continual difficulty Dobey is in, stuck between black culture and the mostly white world of management. He’s uncomfortable but not especially good at dealing with his discomfort, tending to bluster, lose his cool.

Maurice does a repeat of his garrulous, loose performance when he saunters into the local bar: laughing, wobbling, trying to steal a beer. He can’t possibly know his part in the death of Junior’s father when he sees Junior there – he’s inept and maybe tragically foolish but he’s not a psychopath, and if he knew he was involved, even peripherally, he’d go into hiding or at least avoid Junior. There must have been a lot of gossip in the neighborhood, the murder of a good man at the hands of a racist cop, but no names, no specifics, and so Maurice doesn’t even think he’s part of the equation.

Strikingly, as Maurice does his complex moves through the bar, he casually uses the dreaded n-word as he greets his cronies. It’s slipped into the dark, jumbled atmosphere like a little moth, seeming to belong even if it causes (in me, anyway) a frisson of unease. This is indicative of the ambitions of this episode: it means for us to think hard about how language shapes culture, how it frees and imprisons, how it wounds and who is in power and who isn’t.

There’s Ollie the teddy bear, rented out for this scene and sitting in judgment in Sammie’s room when Junior steals her keys. His right arm is raised, as in alarm.

“When your daddy dies,” says Starsky, “it’s awfully hard to see straight.” This from a cop about to bust someone for stealing drugs – a very sympathetic view and not necessarily shared by other cops. Later, he asks Sammie not to phone the authorities when they go in, another gesture of solidarity with the Walters family.

There is no tag in the traditional sense in this episode. It ends with a meeting with Junior, who is told Andrews has been sentenced to 90 days suspension without pay for the shooting death of Jackson. That means the police board found him innocent on the most serious charges, probably charging him with minor procedural irregularity. Despite numerous witnesses, he got away with it. “That’s jive,” Junior says quietly, which is an understatement.

Clothing notes: Starsky wears his great orange shirt with the white placket. Hutch wears his moon and star necklace, plus the green t-shirt and green leather from Gillian, and worn throughout the second and third series.

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38 Responses to “Episode 56: Manchild on the Streets”

  1. Nadine Says:

    Hi
    Thanks for this great website – I watched the show in the 70’s and now am enjoying watching the DVD’s. Your detailed insight is much appreciated. I first watch the show, then read your blog and then re-watch to catch all the details. Too bad there were only 4 seasons.

    Did Paul Michael Glaser sprain his ankle in the running scene with Junior? Seemed like he was struggling with his left foot in a couple of scenes.

    Looking forward to more season 4 updates!

    • merltheearl Says:

      Hi, and thanks so much for the comment and feedback. The series is under-appreciated for its subtelty, hilarity and complexity, and I’m happy to start the conversation. Feel free to chime in if you feel I’ve missed anything!

      I haven’t read anything about Glaser hurting himself, but he does seem to be in discomfort following that chase scene, temporarily hopping on one foot. He already broke or sprained his ankle following a chase in “Velvet Curtain”, Soul broke his in “Little Girl Lost”, so it seems to be there were a lot of injuries on this show. Youthful high spirits, maybe?

      • Laura Says:

        In the scene where Starsky is chasing Junior, he first appears to be moving at full speed. When he starts hopping/limping, it’s clear he’s desperate to catch up with him, and won’t give up despite personal pain. I thought that this was an allegory for Starsky struggling to deal with the situation that must have been doubly-hard for him, considering the death of his own father. I wondered if it was a wonderful script detail, a Soul direction, a Glaser adlib, or if Glaser simply hurt himself a bit when filming the scene and it was kept in.

  2. King David Says:

    I immediately thought of “The Set-Up” and how we learn that Starsky’s father has been gunned down, when Starsky says it’s awfully hard to see straight when your Daddy dies…how hard was it for him to see straight back when?
    I adore that hand-on-the-neck-hair-ruffling gesture, and as in other scenes, the depth of the closeness and emotion such a gesture reveals is diluted by the way that Starsky is looking away as he does it. It balances the touch.
    The slo-mo death scene was well directed. Intense. What this show needed a lot more of.
    Junior was a great character, and the young actor did him justice. I hope he went on to greater things.
    Ambulances in TV shows don’t do anything at accident scenes; in reality they are on site for ages in many cases. There’s no need for a siren and speed if the person is deceased. And they don’t collect deceased persons.
    I too thought Starsky had issues when running after Junior.
    Considering how often we see that the doubles subbed for the leads, I’m surprised they suffered so many injuries. What came first – the doubles doubling in case of injury, or the doubles doubling because of the injuries incurred to that point?

    • King David Says:

      I must just add a PS:

      I watched again this episode, with an eye on the slap scene, and it really is powerful. Starsky’s right (yes, right) hand comes out of nowhere, his facial expression barely alters, and wham!
      Again, when Hutch grasps Starsky with an arm around the midriff, the intimacy is lessened because Starsky doesn not make eye contact with Hutch. The high emotion which caused Starsky to react keeps his gaze locked onto Andrews’ face, and keeps the tension.
      One of the best illustrations of the power in the Starsky package is when he says to Andrews “Well you take your Raymond T…..move.” That “move” is menacing. It is palpably frightening. And so quiet. Andrews, you are in a ton of trouble (at this moment.) Look at it from his POV: rookie, out of line, and here is a respected senior detective with years of experience, decorated even, and he’s got you marked – how worried are you likely to be? I don’t feel the same level of restrained venom when Hutch says “you-stay here.” But Andrews will be very aware that he’s got them in stereo. I feel scared for him at this juncture every time, even though I know he subsequently gets off leniently.

      Footnote: my rewatching reminds me that Jackson was still alive when the ambulance took him away; otherwise how would we have had that gorgeous hair-ruffling scene in the hospital later? Still, TV shows do (did) show ambulances taking away deceased persons from crime and accident scenes.
      And, thanks to Merl’s keen eye, I have looked very carefully at episodes directed by Soul and Glaser, and they really do focus pointedly on, and frame lovingly, the other.

  3. Dianna Says:

    Such a wonderful, sad episode. No one (with the possible exception of the petty crook Maurice) gets what they deserve. The innocent are hurt; the malevolent barely slapped on the wrist.

    It is, quite possibly, the most woman-affirming episode in the series. All four female characters are drawn with respect, and every one of them is smart, assertive, strong, and admirable in her own individual way. Mrs. Hong chases off Maurice; Mrs. Walters is warm and caring and holds her family together during tragedy; Sammie is the only one with significant education, but cares for her little foster “family” quite deeply; Mrs. Fellers won’t let anybody push her around and has a fierce sense of justice. Every one is inspirational in her own way.

    I note that the character of Mrs. Hong is evidently Chinese, by her name, but the actress portraying her is Japanese. Casting for Asians was evidently pretty random.

    The scene that King David lovingly describes is another beautiful demonstration that the love between Starsky and Hutch, which we love so much, spills out onto the community. They really love human beings, and will do most anything to protect the downtrodden.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Yes, you’re absolutely right, this is a great episode for strong female characters. I just love Mrs Fellers – her scene with Hutch at the station is a comic gem and much needed in this tragic episode. An echo of the troublesome witness was seen in “Kill Huggy Bear”, with the initially-helpful woman who quickly turns into a parsimonious dime-scammer; David Soul is perfect in both scenes.

      • Dianna Says:

        I too love Mrs. Fellers best, because she is directly standing up to authority, and will not be denied. But each of these women shines with her own pure and steady light.

        Captain Dobey, on the other hand, seems downright cowardly in contrast, as if he is afraid of losing the privileges he has earned.

  4. Louisa Says:

    I don’t know if this has any relevance, but several years before this episode aired, David Soul guest-starred in an episode of “The Streets of San Francisco” (another cop show) as a racist cop himself. I wonder if that had any influence on his directing of WK Stratton as Andrews, and this ep in general? (It’s been a long time since I saw that episode of so I can’t really remember enough to make any comparisons).

  5. Wallis Says:

    I too wonder where Starsky and Jackson met. It definitely seems that Hutch became Jackson’s friend because Starsky was Jackson’s friend, not in a bad way, just in a personal history way — given the way Starsky and Hutch operate as a unit in every sphere of their lives apart from the romantic, all their local friends seem to pool around the two of them the same way married people often naturally befriend their spouse’s friends.

    I’m not sure Starsky and Jackson would have had that much of an *economic* divide when they were younger, before Starsky joined the academy — everything about him from his accent to his preferences to his mental landscape screams a firmly lower-class upbringing but with a mind bright and curious enough to absorb more sophisticated information and ideas piecemeal when exposed to them. The racial divide is more interesting, given the time period. I like Merl’s army idea, but in pondering alternatives, could it be possible that they befriended each other as teenagers and retained their bond throughout the years despite their diverging (and most likely race-limited) paths? Seeing as Starsky was cut off from his immediate family and familiar old friends, I could see him feeling free to associate with and befriend people who weren’t the kind of people he was “supposed” to befriend. It could be one of several sources where a lot of his empathy comes from, and why Starsky, who has noticeable prejudices when it comes to sexism and homophobia, doesn’t seem to have a racist bone in his body as far as I can remember.

  6. Adelaide Says:

    Before my comment on the episode as a whole, one note that I find really interesting: In “The Plague” Judith Kaufman mentions that Hutch looks like a little boy when he’s sleeping, and she’s right. He does look younger. He seems softer and more vulnerable. He doesn’t have that strong, determined set to his jaw that he has when he’s awake. His steady piercing eyes are closed, which makes him look less threatening. His smooth, articulate voice is silenced. And that everpresent deep vertical furrow between his eyebrows and the premature lines on his forehead are smoothed out. In this episode, during the scene where Starsky’s sleeping on the hospital sofa waiting for news of Jackson, he looks *older* than he does when he’s awake. Starsky’s face is often peaceful or animated when he’s awake, ready with a smile, a glare, widened eyes of astonishment. When serious, he’s alert or fiery — youthful traits. In this sleeping scene, his face seems tougher, harder, more lined, and heavier-browed than it usually does when awake. Mere meaningless physical characteristics of the actors or something worth speculating about? If the latter, what, I wonder, does this say about Starsky and Hutch’s respective personalities, outward demeanors vs inner natures, life experiences, or psychological makeups? I think this blog has already touched upon the complexities of Hutch’s insecurity and sensitivity beneath his calm, controlled exterior, and Starsky’s resilience and authority in spite of his feisty exuberance, and has speculated about their childhood and youth before the police force. How much of their personalities is the result of conscious and deliberate will?

    Okay, now to the episode proper. Definitely one of my favorites. An episode I just love to watch over and over again — every scene is so well-crafted and I love how it takes its time, lingering over the little things and making it feel all so natural. The environmental and atmospheric details are amazingly thoughtful and authentic, as are the characterizations.

    Episodes that are directed by Soul or Glaser are always the non-directed partner’s (or Huggy’s) chance to shine. This episode always reminded me of “Bloodbath” in the way that the director’s hyperfocus on and obviously higher-than-the-average-director’s sensitivity and insight into his friend and colleague’s character really bares the non-directing character’s heart and mind to the viewer so very clearly and naturally. Here, Starsky’s feelings and thoughts here – concern, friendship, outrage, frustration, grief, responsibility, etc, are all so raw and empathetically portrayed, with long lingering shots and thoughtful positioning and interaction. This doesn’t at all mean that Soul and Glaser’s *acting* is less strong in other episodes, just that in quite a few other episodes, they seem to succeed in conveying sensitivity and depth *in spite of* the episode’s director rather than *because* of him — recall how many wonderful little friendship moments in other episodes are improvised-feeling or take place outside of the camera’s focus, rather than being carefully framed and central to the scene.

    Of course, this means that Hutch needs to take a backseat, but this is also very well-done and made to feel natural — the implication that comes across is that Jackson is Starsky’s friend primarily, and that Hutch is their friend by extension (because basically ALL Starsky and Hutch’s friends are friends with both of them, since they’re an inseparable unit). He’s obviously very good friends by extension and is very comfortable with them, but respectfully hangs back when it comes to the personal and sensitive stuff, knowing that the Walters family is more familiar with Starsky than with him and would prefer him in their time of need, and holds his own obvious grief in check (and Starsky acknowledges this selflessness gratefully, with the hair ruffle et al).

    Because of all this, the Walters family is probably the most realistic-feeling example of Starsky and Hutch’s numerous friends who pop up for one episode and then vanish without a trace. You can really believe that they all actually do spend a lot of time together enjoying each other’s company with the sort of comfortableness and intimacy of genuine friends, not just “old friends” who are connected through their pasts but whose lives don’t really overlap anymore. They make me really wish they could have appeared again in another episode later on in the show. And I too would love some background on how this friendship came about.

    I also really like that the later part of the episode and the climax of the plot is focused primarily on Junior’s internal struggle with anger and grief. It’s respectful and avoids the pitfall many shows, even to this day, fall into by using the misfortune of secondary or oneshot characters as plot devices for a main story centered around the main characters — which is not a fundamentally *bad* thing per se but is very, very overused and usually has unfortunate gender and racial correlations, as the majority of protagonists are white men. Here, Junior’s character arc feels just as important to the viewer as Starsky and Hutch’s feelings. Of course, the pill-stealing scheme is sort of lame and thinly-written, which is the only crummy part of this episode, but if it’s a trade-off, I’d prefer a sort of lame plot focused on Junior rather than a better plot focused on Starsky and Hutch.

  7. Sharon Marie Says:

    I really appreciate Soul’s directing. Perhaps it’s because he knows these characters so well, but he has a way of getting the angles and lighting just right to heighten what the actors are doing.

    These two are so good at silent acting. I look, a slight move – they don’t have to fill a scene with noise to call it acting. Around the table eating pie when Jackson takes out the packet of pills and spews that they fell out of Junior’s pocket, Starsky gives Hutch a look as if to ask, “Did you know?”. Then Hutch gives him one slight nod of the head. They communicate as other conversing around them. Must be a cop thing.

    The most agonizing silence was at the house when Starsky had to deliver the news of Jackson’s death. It would have been easy for the script to call for them to blurt it out, get the screenshot of despair and anguish and move on. But the camera went back and forth among the two faces who knew and the one who did not with little spoken. Then, finally, “Jackson’s dead, Mrs. Walter’s”. The anguished harmonica, sad cellos…. The camera play and silence before the delivery made it palpable and painful.

    Hutch at the typewriter – classic. So typical of him to be put off by someone watching over him and looking to correct him. He would not last long in a job asking, “Would you like fries with that?”. Soul does the straight man so well.

    Forgive me if this has been discussed above and I’ve missed it…. but who exactly is the “manchild on the street”? Is it Junior, the teenager looking to lift himself up from a kid to a man in the tough streets? Or is it rookie Andrews who, as a man, is asserting his manhood on the streets by acting as a child in a man’s world? Both have devastating consequences.

    Either way, Starsky spoke man-to-man with Junior. He talks to Officer Andrews like a man scolding a child, sending him to the principal’s office…. aka Captain Dobey.

    • Wallis Says:

      Very perceptive point with regards to the episode title, Sharon Marie! It could certainly apply to both.

      • Laura Says:

        Perhaps it would even apply to Starsky, when he was a rookie cop, following in his deceased father’s footsteps.

  8. stybz Says:

    I think the manchild applies to a few characters including the two men under the influence: Maurice (I loved his first scene with him teetering on the sidewalk) and Dewey making stupid errors because of their respective intoxication. I loved how Dewey thinks the car moved on its own. I knew it was coming, but I thought it funny nonetheless. 🙂

    Then there’s Junior who has to grow up fast and while he gets into a mess with Maurice, he soon proves to be more of a man than a child. 🙂

    And Andrews is definitely a child with his naive mentality. He’s more interested in it nabbing his first collar, than the humanity around him.

    Everyone in the Walters household is Mama’s children, including Sammie who isn’t her child but calls her Mama anyway. Starsky and Hutch are included in the mix too, especially when they’re playing basketball and then heading in for their pie and ice cream. 🙂

    I loved it when Starsky was at the sink washing his hands. He plugs Ivory Soap, an obvious product placement, but the best part is when Mrs. Walters asks him why he’s not washing his hands in the bathroom. “Cause, there are no pretty ladies in the bathroom.” LOL!

    I’m wondering if part of the reason Jackson so readily accepts it when Starsky offers to talk to Junior is because when Jackson’s wife died and Starsky and Hutch showed enough compassion for Junior that Jackson trusts them to help with the parenting.

    I wonder if the reason Hutch doesn’t introduce himself as Ken is because sometimes the “blond beauty” gets tired of Barbie and Ken doll jokes. 😉 So it’s easier just saying, “Hutch.” 🙂

    Sounds like Jackson is saying, “Starsk,” which definitely shows just how close they are, since Hutch is the only other person (so far) who calls him that.

    Loved the intensity of the whole crime scene, and that slap.

    I thought Andrews’ partner, Claybourne, was siding with him. Hutch tells him to shut up when they’re questioning Andrews as he gets defensive on Andrews’ behalf. Andrews isn’t behind the wheel when Starsky gets honked at. It’s Claybourne impatiently hitting the horn.

    I loved the long take in the hospital waiting room. David used a nice technique here. The scene opens with a close-up of Starsky’s face then pans to the doors of the waiting room. Then as Sammie walks in the camera follows her, pulling back for a wide shot of her and Starsky. It stays there all through the emotional scene. Notice that it stays fixed on Starsky and Sammie when Hutch enters. He enters the frame, sitting on the coffee table and taking in the news with the camera still holding on the three of them until they get up to leave. Then the camera follows them as they get to their feet and then holds it there on Hutch after Starsky and Sammie exit the frame. Beautifully done.

    I haven’t noticed other long takes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if David had others in this episode and Survival. 🙂

    I loved the raw emotion in this episode.

    I thought it was odd that Hutch wouldn’t go to the house to be there when the bad news was broken, but after reading the discussion here, it makes some sense. I thought it was a poor excuse to get Hutch out of the picture, since David was directing the episode. It’s not like they had a killer to apprehend.

    I think Starsky’s hobbling was acting and not a real injury. Granted, Paul has said the blue Addidas were terrible on his ankles, but I’ve noticed that he used the lame foot routine in many episodes to enhance the appearance of weakness or fatigue, and it works quite well. If you watch the scene in Quadromania when he’s being chased and nearing the wall in the dark ally, he drags his left foot. 🙂

    • merltheearl Says:

      It never occurred to me that Hutch might be aware of, and sensitive to, the Ken doll thing. So funny and true! How he must have hated it even more when Magic Earring Ken debuted in the early 90s, especially since I can easily imagine Hutch getting an earring or two in middle age.

  9. L Murray Says:

    Frankly I’m surprised that no one seems to consider the clear murder of an innocent unarmed man by a trigger happy racist cop important. While I recognize all the aspects of the performances as noted above, the brutal murder was what leapt out at me, together with him instantly leaping to the most popular defense of real world cops “I was in fear for my life,” even though he clearly wasn’t, and I do disagree with the comment above, his partner/trainer was supporting him, not repulsed by him. Especially in today’s climate of militarization, and brutality of today’s PD’s. Truthfully I haven’t seen this series since it first ran, I just found it on a cable channel, and have seen 2-3 episodes, watched this one and it was great overall. But the shooting just goes to show that murder by cop has been around for a long time. The murderous rookie makes me sick, not even concerned that he just killed a man, only worried that he won’t get the credit for the arrest. The only thing that really stands out as wrong is that in real life he’d have emptied his gun, not just fired once. But watching it another thing that is very noticeable is the perceptible fear of the witnesses toward the white’s, white’s like the rookie make us all look bad, even though few would do what he did.

    • merltheearl Says:

      I completely agree, it’s a sickening and stupid act of violence and I wonder if my commentary makes that point strongly enough. When you say “no one” appears to consider the murder important, do you mean us us viewers, or do you mean the other characters on scene? I’m hoping the latter, or else I will have to jump to my own defense, and the defense of other fans. But yes, of course you’re right, this kind of racist violence is not new at all. And today’s headlines make this episode especially relevant.

      • L Murray Says:

        Both to some degree, although in the episode S&H and Dobie did condemn it, but as an aberration, not as the common, everyday reality that we now know it to be, which if this were real life would have been a lie. The characters in the alley mostly, together with Andrews and his partner, wouldn’t consider it important because it was common in their world, although on different sides of the coin, which is something most viewers especially in the 70’s wouldn’t be aware of. I wouldn’t have myself then, but after Kelly Thomas, et al my eyes were opened, better late than never. I enjoyed your review, it brought to my attention several things I missed while viewing the program. You did acknowledge the murder, but tended to skip over it talking more about the before and after. I too was shocked when Starskey hit Andrews, and the look on Starskey’s and Hutch’s faces, I can’t remember ever seeing anything even close on tv, before or since. That and taking their time getting out of the way was real. As regards the other fans, nobody seemed especially bothered by the murder, the glee the actor portrayed, the prototypical Aryan aspects of the cop v the black victim. Yes most of the reviews were written recently enough that the writers would be aware of the climate of militarization and brutality of current LEO’s, but unfortunately it just shows that many if not most of us still think it’s an aberration. Anyway, I wasn’t intending criticism, I enjoyed the post and the comments. I understand that I brought up the most unpleasant part of the episode, but thought it should be acknowledged even though unpleasant as well as historically accurate, as I pointed out in another venue if it wasn’t happening then they wouldn’t have dared use it as a plot, and it’s especially relevant today as you point out.

      • merltheearl Says:

        Thank you, I appreciate you giving a voice to this issue. I may have to return to my original post and intensify my language to reflect the sense of disgust and horror of this senseless act. Sometimes I think I take for granted things that deserve to be further articulated.

    • stybz Says:

      You’re right that I, for one, did not address the horror of the situation. Most of my comment was in response to what others wrote and not a direct analysis of the episode. And I while I did mention that I thought the raw emotion and reactions were spot on, I didn’t focus on the shocking nature of the crime. I think part of the reason was because I felt the rest of the episode spent too much time on these various characters and their stories, from the two drunks to Andrews to Junior, we all had to see all their tales unfold, rather than focus on the real social issue of the shooting.

      The crime was shocking, but rather than have more scenes with Andrews and really explore the whole story about how he panicked and reacted to cover his mistake, his racist views, his approach to his job and whether he should pay a steeper price than a suspension, they glossed over it in favor of dealing with the grieving family. Not that we didn’t need to see that. We did, but the whole uproar that should have happened is totally ignored and downplayed.

      What’s more at the end when Starsky could have said something poignant, he says, “Hutch and I are going to your dad’s funeral. Are you coming?” Really? That’s all he can say?

      To me the episode seemed to be more about who was the “man” and who was the “child”, and less about the horrible crime. Yes, it was important to point that out and, yes we should all be shocked and horrified, especially given recent events, but personally this episode could have done more to explore it and didn’t. It’s as if the producers were afraid the censors wouldn’t have gone for it if they had explored it more deeply.

      • merltheearl Says:

        I agree, the shooting was both the center of things and yet not; instead of playing up the political/racial/social aspects of the event the writers chose to make this a more intimate, personal coming-of-age story in the end. It’s neither a good nor a bad decision, it just is. This is a series that has tackled racism head on both honestly and unflinchingly, so it’s not as if this was a matter of playing it safe. I also think this episode avoided many cliches and eye-rolling sanctimony by not having someone make a speech about how terrible Andrews’ actions were. So, points for that. I’m glad L Murray has started the conversation and I’m glad you continued it, stybz.

  10. L Murray Says:

    All good points Stybz and Merltheearl, and just goes to show that each of us sees something different looking at the same scene. The only thing I disagree with is Stybz perception: “seeing Andrews and really explore the whole story about how he panicked and reacted to cover his mistake, his racist views.” It wasn’t panic, or a mistake except he’d killed an unarmed innocent, but even then he was more concerned about getting credit for the collar. He was practically jumping with joy, until Starskey confronted him, and still doesn’t see what he did wrong as they’re walking back to the patrol car.
    Watch Andrews face as he gets out of the car and points his gun at Jackson, he intends to shoot. These aren’t people they’re something but not people. When they’re chasing the Chevy he’s exulting about getting his first commendation. It may be one of the best performances I’ve seen by an actor, I’m sure he personally is nothing like Andrews but he captures the joy, the exultation, the venom, the racism, the glee, the concern of not getting the collar, the puzzlement (the what did I do that was wrong), all in a relatively short scene. I’ve been thinking about this and Starskey and Hutch was a very good show overall, I’d forgotten not having seen it for so long, and this show was one of its best, and today thirty some years later it’s still relevant.

    • Sharon Marie Says:

      I don’t remember what my first reaction was to this episode – I was a teenager back then. But I did watch it on DVD last year and remember that initially I reacted to the rookie’s cockiness and immaturity. I don’t think I connected it to the victim’s color, thus my comments about defining who was the manchild from the episode title. Was it Andrews the rookie cop? Was it Jackson’s son? But in light of social issues *today* in 2015, 40 years later it can be viewed from several different angles. Difference is today it will always be recorded on cell phone, tablet or camera from cruiser or cop. In the 70’s most of this could be tamped down, even with witnesses.

    • stybz Says:

      You’re right. I forgot about the excitement during the chase. I watched the episode recently, but had skipped that part, although I had watched it a couple of times previously. I’m not defending him, but I do think it would have been interesting to have explored it further. Instead, they chose to focus on the family, and that’s fine. Like Merle said, they decided to look at the coming-of-age aspect and just touch upon the social issue.

  11. Laura Says:

    Merl, your eye for detail never ceases to amaze me. I hadn’t noticed the undercurrent of racism with the Asian store owner. I loved her feisty, passionate response. I agree that there were many strong, female characters in this episode. Wish we would have seen any of them in future episodes.

    Sarge/Starsk? Wish I knew which it was. Anyone have a script?

    Apple 3/Zebra 3 – brilliant observation!

    I’ve read the many thoughtful comments about the focus of the episode. Did they gloss over the murder of an innocent man by a racist cop? In part, they did, but I think that may have been intentional for at least two reasons.

    The series, as a whole, often commented on social issues of the day, but the focus was more on their personal impact. The key players, criminals and victims alike, took a backseat to how Starsky and Hutch were affected, because, IMHO, the series was primarily about their relationship, not their job or the state of society (feel free to disagree). Even the most affecting scenes with Huggy, Dobey, and the many guest stars who created memorable characters, were a reflection of the impact on S&H, because they were us, the audience. The focus of this episode wasn’t on the injustice of the situation, but on the impact of the injustice on the family and, by immediate extension, S&H.

    More troubling is that it was just another racist cop killing a black man. He wasn’t “important” so it would be fairly easy to sweep under the rug at the time, as long as it didn’t get too much media attention or stir up community outrage. It’s incredibly sad and infuriating that this could be another day at the office to the bureaucrats, just something to deal with quickly and move on. You can imagine a meeting where someone in power said, “Let’s not make a big deal out of this.” Sickening, to be sure. Anyone watching this episode should be at the very least unsettled, but hopefully outraged, by the “unimportance” of it all and the lack of an appropriate response by the establishment to Andrews’ actions. One imagines this whole series of events is part of why S&H are so battle weary by season four.

    I don’t know if the focus was determined in the script, the directing, or the editing, but it certainly made an impact on the viewer both with what’s said and what’s not said.

    Sometimes the devil is in the details. While sometimes S&H tackled a social issue as a theme for an entire episode, if was more often in the small details and, at first glance, seemingly insignificant gestures that commentary was made. The many instances of loyalty, expressed by the physical gestures so often employed by Glaser and Soul were reassuring in a time where the search for “freedom” and personal gratification seemed to be the theme of the day. Their best commentary on racism was that Huggy and Dobey weren’t treated as token black characters, but as trusted friends that were often let into the very tight circle of S&H. There were dimensional characters from a variety of cultures and levels of social status in the series, and they weren’t usually defined by their appearance. Of course, the establishment tended to be older, stodgy, upper middle class white men, but that was typical at the time. Kudos to casting for bringing a bit more ethnicity to prime time.

    It’s hard to remember that it’s not fair to judge a 70s show by today’s standards, and what made it to the air might not truly reflect the times due to censor constraints and the fact that a show had to have wide enough appeal to stay on the air (still mostly true today). This was still a tumultuous time for race relations. The 60s were behind us, and there was hope with the late 70s that it was behind us, that we were on our way to healing (including recovery from our contentious involvement in Vietnam) and a more enlightened culture, but truly changing a culture takes generations, not just a few decades.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Laura, thank you for this. I hadn’t really thought about the POV of the series before. I do agree with you that the objective, largely, is to show how Starsky and Hutch navigate the crimes rather than the crimes themselves. Therefore the focus must shift away from the killing of Mr. Walters to the impact on the detectives, and the family. This is a smaller, more personal lens that television does very well. The title of this series is not the more general “Bay City Cops”.

    • McPierogiPazza Says:

      Great comment, Laura. I found the ending hard to watch because when I heard about the suspension I thought “that’s it?” But here I am in 2015 in a major American city that had two high profile killings of black civilians by police, and justice was not served in one case and in slowly still pending in the other.

      L. Murray pointed out how Andrews was basically jubilant until Starsky didn’t give him the reaction he expected. It says a lot about the BCPD (a stand in for the LAPD) that one white cop assumed another would agree with him. That, in turn, makes me think about what Dobey has had to endure and work around to become a captain on that force. It’s no small wonder he struggles with this case.

      It makes sense that the episode shifted back to Starsky and Hutch, but it could have been their perspective in giving grand jury testimony. That would have been a very different episode, though. We might have seen a little of the family, but not with the depth we did here. Either way, it seems unlikely that it would/could have ended in a way that was any more satisfying, unfortunately.

      I’d love to see this episode shown at community events as a catalyst for conversations about policing and the community. It’s painfully still relevant, though it was an old story in the ’70s too, with one form or another of this problem going back to the days of slavery. I would love to think there are viewers out there who stumble on this episode who think about how little has changed and who start to ask hard questions of those in power. Ah, ever the hopeful one, I am.

      On a lighter note, that the episode was able go from a powerful scene of grief to a comedic one amazed me. I went from crying (the actor playing Junior was terrific) to laughing, and the scenes felt honest, not manipulative. So much admiration for all who were involved in writing, directing and performing those two scenes, especially Helen Martin as Vivian Fellers.

      Vivian is my hero in this episode. She’s a fierce woman who takes on the police without fear despite what is surely a life full of painful and disappointment in dealing with racism and the systems that support it. And her scene with Hutch had me cracking up.

      I do think a lot of comments here focused on the performances and the core relationship on the show because that’s what we fans come back for each viewing, and those of us who comment here are in the habit of looking for patterns across the series.

      But ultimately, the murder and injustice in this episode were harrowing, so the love among the main characters was a source of solace for viewers. The episode can be boiled down to people caring for each other in an unjust world.

      • Wallis Says:

        Great comment! The relevance of this episode today is truly striking, and Starsky and Hutch’s reaction to Andrews all the more gratifying. They are outraged that Andrews betrays the spirit of policework, they understand from experience the gravity of being granted the power to wield a gun, so different from Andrews and many other cops in the real world.

        “the murder and injustice in this episode were harrowing, so the love among the main characters was a source of solace for viewers. The episode can be boiled down to people caring for each other in an unjust world” Very well said! The partnership and policework aspects of this episode are quite intertwined, not separate from each other.

      • Laura Says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful commentary, McPP. I especially agree with your comments about Vivian and “The episode can be boiled down to people caring for each other in an unjust world” is a perfect summary for the episode and even the series. The world would be a better place if more people considering caring a priority.

  12. Becki Says:

    Wow, was this a difficult episode to watch. I had heard about the “racist cop” episode, but had no idea what it was actually about. Almost 40 years later, and the only thing that’s changed is that things seem to have gotten worse. There have already been so many wonderful comments, I couldn’t possibly add anything new to the discussion.

    Just a few personal comments:
    1) The scene in the market was amazing. I felt like I was watching a scene from “Assault on Precinct 13”, the menace was so palpable. I had no idea what was going to happen, and I was completely on edge until Mrs. Hong started throwing things and Maurice fled.

    2)When Junior tells Starsky that his name is no longer Junior: “My daddy’s dead. I’m Jackson Walters.” I’m choking up just thinking about it. So good!

    3) The bartender is the late, wonderful Michael Clarke Duncan. It’s not listed on his IMDB page, but his looks, his voice–it has to be him!

    • merltheearl Says:

      I’m emotional just thinking of Junior saying that to Starsky – such a great scene. It’s a pity Brian Whitley did not continue to act (although he directed), or maybe he wanted to but the roles weren’t there; I always found his performance to be perfect and understated. Every time I think of this particular episode it strikes me anew how potent it is, and how things have not changed. I’m struck, too, by the free use of a certain n-word when Maurice walks through the bar (a scene I re-watched following your comment about Michael Clarke Duncan, Becki, and I may be mistaken but he would have been only 20 or 21 at this point and the bartender seems much more mature than that, but it’s a guess.)

      • Becki Says:

        I was struck by that as well. I rewound it to make sure I had heard him correctly. While that word is used in that fashion a lot now in pop culture, I don’t remember hearing it used non-maliciously when I was growing up. Maybe it was in blaxploitation films, but not on television. Perhaps it was done to juxtapose against Andrews, whos use of the same word was just as casual, but whos meaning was completely different. This whole episode was so rich. And the scenes that stick with me are the ones *without* Starsky or Hutch. In a few months when one of these scenes pops into my head, I may be hard-pressed to identify it as being from a S&H episode, probably assuming it’s from a gritty 70s film I caught in El Rey. And I mean that as a complement to both the players and the director.

        As for Michael Clarke Duncan, of course you’re right. I really wish it were, but it’s not him. But the resemblance is truly uncanny.

  13. M Lynn Walker Says:

    The comments here are incisive and thoughtful, and all I have to offer is one tiny point about those orange globes hung on the tree in front of the house. Back then, one of the big orange juice companies sold their product in those little plastic oranges. Kids loved them, but the juice was a lot more expensive than when it was sold in larger bottles, so they stopped making them after just a couple of years. Only some one as old as I am would remember them, I’m afraid. Wish I had something more to contribute because reading these synopses and comments adds so much to the episodes.

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