Episode 59: A Body Worth Guarding

Hutch falls for the Russian ballerina he is assigned to protect, while Starsky works to find out who’s threatening her.

Anna Akhanatova: Monique Van De Ven, Miller: Michael Margotta, Steinmetz: John O’Leary, Masha Barovnika: Signe Hasso, Morty Kauffman: Allan Miller. Written By: Rick Edelstein and Sam Paley, Directed By: Rick Edelstein.


I’ve made the point before how the presence of an attractive woman can often spell ruination for both Starsky’s and Hutch’s detective skills. This episode is a case in point. Despite Hutch’s boast to Anna how good a detective he is, he is sub-par throughout most of the episode. He does a lackluster search of her hotel room when thoroughness was called for, runs into a glass door, can’t get his gun in out of its holster when he hears a noise in the hallway and then draws on the bellman with the newspaper. He isn’t at all prepared when Starsky relieves him. He goes to the door without his gun and Starsky has to hand it to him. He really does no work whatsoever in solving the case, letting Starsky take the majority of responsibility. He stays up all night, rendering him useless the next day (much like Starsky did in the previous episode). One would assume that he wasn’t on guard when he was with Anna. Worst of all, he points a loaded gun at Starsky in jest. But it’s not all bad news. Despite this, Hutch’s brief relationship with the fiery, intelligent Anna is a sweet one and feels genuine; both enjoy their time together with no regrets. It may be the only time we see Hutch walk away from an essentially incompatible pairing without a shadow of loss and guilt hanging over him. For that, it is truly wonderful to witness,and it goes a long way toward making us forget about his professional lapses.

First scene (and let’s ignore the tiny continuity error, the Torino going past with the passenger, presumably Hutch, in a caramel leather jacket, when he’s in fact in black): we hear Hutch say, “Do you ever wonder why?” In the “Starsky and Hutch” canon, the first scene in the episode usually provides a thematic context to the episode, often in a kind of roundabout way, and here is a wonderful illustration of this. “Why what,” Starsky says, immediately wary because these conversations never go well for him. Hutch begins on one of his existential, somewhat poignant philosophical rants while looking out the window of the Torino. Inspired by the dusty blight of the streets, perhaps? “Life … there’s got to be more to life than just breathing in and breathing out.”
”There is,” Starsky says, and Hutch isn’t so jaded or full of himself that he doesn’t look at Starsky with sudden intense expectation. Of course the answer isn’t what he wants. Starsky goes on to mention his hot date, and Hutch furiously calls him a hedonist. This conversation presages Hutch’s obsession with Anna, as he sees in her a portal to a more cultured, artistic life, the life he believes is hovering, mirage-like, just slightly beyond his reach. Hutch’s frustrations with the daily grind is one of the more fascinating and entertaining mainstays of the series. Starsky’s breezy carpe diem philosophy toward life, which I suspect is more a consequence of iron will than a simple assumption, is another one. Mimicking the relaxed mood of the relationship, Rick Edelstein directs this scene in a very intimate manner, hand-held camera in the back seat, as if we’re along for the ride.

When the scene shifts to the Bay City version of Parker Center, the confidential mood continues, the guys talking animatedly just out of our earshot, Hutch bossy, Starsky long-suffering. “Is something amiss?” Hutch says, walking into the squad room. “Like what,” Starsky says. “If I knew that,” Hutch snaps, “it wouldn’t be missing.” “You’re weird, you know that?” Starsky says, and Hutch replies indistinctly. The fact that we can’t quite make out the dialogue doesn’t matter, they’re just filling time. It’s guerilla TV, a loose, innovative, improvisational approach to setting a scene and remarkable to watch. Dobey blows in and crisply delivers his directive and the episode really begins.

When handing out the assignment, Dobey ignores Starsky, handing the photo to Hutch even though it’s meant for both of them. Does he know Hutch will recognize the famous ballerina, while Starsky will be indifferent? Is Dobey hoping to please the notoriously unpleasable Hutch? Hard to say (Dobey’s motives are about 50% murky throughout the series), but note how Starsky plays out the stereotype by doing a dismissively erroneous pas-de-deux behind Dobey as he leaves.

Despite being painted as the rube, Starsky does appreciate Anna’s dancing. His statement that “she has more moves than Muhammad Ali” is quite a compliment, and nicely unpretentious.

Hutch can be a bit of snob, concerned with etiquette and linguistic proprieties, and he likes to see himself as culturally sophisticated, as well as catholic in his tastes. Starsky is supposedly the boor and the plebian – the hedonist, as Hutch calls him in the first scene, a straightforward kind of guy who doesn’t always play nice. And yet Hutch is the one nearly ruining the initial meeting with his barbed comments and political ignorance while Starsky is the clever peacemaker. Yes, the instantaneous antipathy erupting between Hutch and Anna is mostly sexual fireworks, but still Hutch shows remarkably poor judgement as a police officer (and a human being).

Is Hutch initially so hostile with Anna partly because he’s jealous of what she has and feels she doesn’t deserve it? Is he like the starving peasant pressed against the window of the bakery? By falling for her he may be telling himself that if he can’t have it, whatever it is to him (public approbation, creative mastery) he can at least inhabit it for awhile, protect and nurture it before letting it go.

We don’t hear much about it now, but throughout the seventies and early eighties the Russian ballet was a political maelstrom. Although theoretically, as a artistic pursuit, ballet is about the triumph of the individual (although eugenics plays a large part in who is considered a great dancer, and who isn’t) many people considered any touring Russian performers to be a symptom of Soviet totalitarianism. Whether a small string quartet or the world renowned Bolshoi Ballet, they were greeted by pickets demanding rights for maligned Soviet Jews.

Starsky introduces Hutch as “Hutch” to Anna. Not “Detective Kenneth Hutchinson,” not even “Hutchinson”, but the nickname. Why the familiarity, when professionalism is more appropriate?

Why does Hutch refer to the assignment of Anna as one that was “going to be the assignment of my life”? Was he already imagining himself saving her from some kind of life-threatening calamity?

When confronted by Starsky about his hostile attitude toward Anna, Hutch says with sudden outrage: “That’s exactly what I was talking about! There’s more to life, to people, than just a beautiful outside!” Spoken like a true beauty victim. The irony about this outburst is Starsky hadn’t been talking about it at all. He was talking about something completely different.

Anna cries out to Hutch, “you’re rude and you’re hateful!” Hutch argues that she’s egocentric and demeaning. It’s a set-up for the classic melting-of-fiery-opposites, but Hutch’s antagonism still seems disproportionate, given that Anna is merely haughty and dignified, rather than really malicious.

Anna and Hutch look exactly alike to the point of being siblings. When she appears in pajamas they’re even dressed in the same colors and patterns. Hutch is not an exogamist (neither is Starsky, who prefers compact brunettes with sunny dispositions) but even so I’ve always found the similarity between the two of them remarkable. Not only do they physically resemble one another, they are both articulate, fiery, driven, perfectionist, emotional, quick to temper, disdainful of those they consider beneath them, gentle at heart, brave, loyal, surprisingly mature when the situation demands it, and fundamentally decent. They are also both performers – pawns, on a bad day – of a gigantic institution with strict rules and expectations. Emphasizing their sameness both wear the same oyster-and-cream outfits during their first night together. Anna observes admiringly, “you know, we have almost the same color hair.” Sometimes I wonder if people like Hutch – extravagantly gifted with good looks, intelligence and the kind of sensitivity usually reserved for melancholic artists – feel so alienated that encountering someone who seems familiar would be especially profound.

Hutch tells Anna, “Only friends share secrets.” The meaning of this is not immediately discernible. It could be just a pick-up line or he may really mean it. If he does, then what secrets does he have with Starsky? Anna tells Hutch a secret, in little test to make them friends, but he doesn’t reveal his to her.

The whole conversation between Starsky and Huggy is unusually tense, loaded with racial and cultural tensions we’ve never seen before. It’s as if the mood of political suspicion has leaked into The Pits too. “There are worse things than being seen with me,” Starsky complains when Huggy insists they meet in the back, where there are fewer customers. Huggy says he looks weird, and Starsky tenses, as if he’s bracing for something, but when Huggy says it’s because he’s “lopsided”; he relaxes. What do you suppose he thought Huggy was going to say? When Huggy refers to Starsky without Hutch as “pig without the pork,” is he making a remark that Starsky as a “pig” (cop) wouldn’t be nearly as good an officer without Hutch, the “pork”, substantiation? Does he mean Starsky is nothing without Hutch? Would he say the same to Hutch, or not?

When Starsky says Hutch is looking after a dancer and liking it less “than spit”, Huggy flinches all out of proportion to the remark and says, “You’re cruel, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told,” Starsky says coolly.
By whom? And why does Huggy think Starsky is cruel, when all he means is Hutch isn’t liking his assignment? Why is Huggy lobbing such potent insults, anyway?

When the Jews are implicated in the assassination attempt when and Huggy tells Starsky to look at the “Desert People” there is a particular spike in the tension meter. This raises an interesting point: it may be that Huggy isn’t as comfortable with Starsky without Hutch. He’s unwilling to talk to Starsky anywhere but the back booth, is non-forthcoming and even rolls his eyes when Starsky leaves. Is there a personal problem here? Of course we want to believe the best about Huggy, but if this is a veiled reference to anti-Semitism then his remark about Starsky being a “pig without the pork” is even more loaded, if not unintentionally satirical. It may be that Huggy is having a bad day, but this scene seems, to me anyway, to have an undercurrent of asperity that is remarkable, considering these two are considered good buddies. And truth be told I love it; it reveals the fascinating complexity of relationships, especially “lopsided” ones (culturally, economically and racially diverse, institutional and layman, law and the marginally lawless) and can be seen also in Hutch’s relationship with Anna. It also proves my theory that this series is always working on several levels at once, and the more you think about it the more you enjoy it.

The scene with Hutch and Anna competing with handstands is truly wonderful. It’s one of those scenes plunked into the middle of the script just for the sheer fun of doing it rather than for any other reason. It’s rare to see Hutch actually playing – especially with a woman – which makes the moment even more endearing.

When Starsky steers Masha away and down to the lobby to have tea, does he tell her what the situation is? Although Starsky isn’t the type to gossip, especially about his partner, it would fun to imagine he does in this instance. They appear to become fast friends following their chat. Masha noticeably warms up in general, is quite sweet toward Anna, lightening up on her coaching demands, seeming to not only acknowledge her relationship with Hutch but to support it as well. It’s very funny later when Masha, breaking into the lovers’ idyll, calls Starsky “this strange person” and Starsky acknowledges this comment with a long-suffering grimace, as if he and Masha now have the sort of relationship that encourages familiar jests and mock-insults.

Dobey wants them to stick on Anna like “white on rice”. “Then that’ll be me,” Hutch says, without a glimmer of irony.

“And I Wish” is a lovely, affecting moment here, and in the series as a whole. It’s beautifully sung and played, on Soul’s own guitar, and co-written with the director, Rick Edelstein. The simplicity is startling. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to point to another detective series in which both leads have a scene in which they sing and play guitar. (Starsky will have his own lovely moment in next season’s “The Avenger”.) Note the kiss is repeated in the angel sculpture in the foreground.

The pig without his pork interviews Kauffman, the canny civil activist, nicely played by Allan Miller. It’s interesting that the “person under suspicion” is the one who alerts Starsky to the real trouble going on, and it’s to Starsky’s credit that he listens.

“Come on Blondie, I know you’re there,” Starsky says through the door. While Starsky often calls Hutch by a nickname inspired by his appearance, Hutch never does the same in return.

One of the protesters outside the theatre is wearing a version of the Starsky Sweater.

Tag: following the arm wrestling, Starsky falls into the lap of Hutch, nicely signaling the end of Hutch’s relationship with Anna and restarting his with Starsky.


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28 Responses to “Episode 59: A Body Worth Guarding”

  1. phaedrablue4 Says:

    Admittedly, the scene between Starsky and Huggy seems to have a different tone. Huggy’s bar is looking prosperous. His customers appear to be working class and not street denizens.

    Huggy walks up to Starsky and the bartender with confidence and authority and tells both he’ll be waiting at the back table if needed. Starskey, still dressed in suit and tie, has been drinking beer alone at the bar. This whole episode is set a class or two above the norm for the show. All of the scenes inside buildings are rich and elegant, even the precinct interiors seem to be tidied up and clean, in contrast with the street rabble of protesters in their worn cloths, shouting and waving their homemade signs protesting Russian policies and politics. The air is full of aggressive and dangerous semitic and antisemitic posturing from the crowds that magnified by the press and made all too real by the death threats against the ballerina.

    There is a lot going on in this episode that could give rise to many different interpretations. After I read your take on the scene at Huggy’s bar I rewatched it a couple times. I doubt I will be as sucinct as you in my interpretation but there are a few points of differing opinion I will share.

    I didn’t place any credence in the possiblity that Huggy was making Jewish cracks (Starsky has never declared affiliation with any religion other than to be excited about Christmas) or even slurs at Starsky’s given profession.

    I don’t believe that PMG or Antonio Fargas would allow the writers to impose veiled insults at the actor’s expense in a conversation between the characters.

    It could be that Huggy is saying, “A Starsky without a Hutch is like a pig without the pork”. I can’t even begin to suppose what that could mean. What I heard was the word “poke” not “pork” which changes the meaning completely. If it is “poke” I submit this interpretation:

    “A little lopsided. I know, a Starsky without a Hutch, is like a pig without the poke”. OR “A pig in a poke”. Interpetation: Don’t buy a pig in a poke (sack) sight unseen. But Huggy says “a pig without a poke”. Could mean Huggy thinks Starsky is a loose cannon without Hutch or vice versa because Hutch is the absent one. In anycase, it’s odd to Huggy that they both aren’t there asking for the word on the street.

    The next sentence, if you’ll forgive my saying so, is a misinterpretation on your part. Huggy uses the word crude not cruel which is a more appropriate response to Starsky’s use of the word, spit. As in:

    “How is the police departments number one beach boy?” And then to Starsky’s comment about guarding a dancer, “and liking it less than spit”.
    Huggy responds with, ” You’re CRUDE, you know that?”
    “So, I’ve been told”.

    Oh, also, I think Starsky’s jab “Don’t play detective” is a double entendre reference to Huggy’s failed detective agency with Turk. (And of course, the spinoff that didn’t get off the ground). Which puts far more meaning into Huggy’s woeful, “Perish the thought” and dejected sigh.

    As far as the entire conversation goes, it appeared to me to be all tongue in cheek. Starsky had a glitter in his eye and the banter between the two was glib. Huggy couldn’t help because this type of intel does not fall within his circle. He had nothing so he gave the only thing he could which was a smart ass comment about looking for “desert people”. His eye roll was in way of understanding that Starsky still has a difficult task ahead of him, especially without Hutch’s help.

    This conversation is in the wee hours of the morning. Starsky is tired and so is Huggy. Starsky’s tie is loose and he’s drinking a beer. Without Hutch he hasn’t gotten very far with his part of the investigation. He goes home and gets a shower and probably no sleep and yet he’s still willing to take his turn protecting the ballerina.

    Hutch is lucky that the assassins are planning a long range shooting. Even though it is pleasurable to see the two lovers together, in reality, the nutcases could have bombed the place or broken down the door and shot them. I mean there is no security outside the immediate door. I’m sure there is in the lobby but it just looks like it would be far too easy to get in and wreak havoc.

    It’s late, so please forgive me, if this appears to rant.

  2. merltheearl Says:

    This blog is intended for thoughtful and vigorous discussion, so ranting is encouraged! Thank you for your thoughtful response. I think we will need a script to answer the question as to whether or not Huggy said what he said. What’s between the lines, however, is up for friendly debate. Some of what I write is deliberately contentious in an attempt to stimulate a deeper reading into material most people would consider superficial or artistically insignificant (which I most vehemently do not). I like your take on Huggy’s newly prospering bar – the actors are so magnetic in this lovely scene I completely forgot to look beyond them.

  3. phaedrablue4 Says:

    Great Merle, I was concerned that my input might be too much.
    For movies, shows, and books that I enjoy I like trying to find deeper meaning or motives for the characters. I watch for body language, voice inflection, and facial expression and expect this to increase the dimensionality of the characters in play.

    Just a few days ago I was responding to a thread on Firefly, on IMDB. The poster was curious if anyone else had picked up on an expression on Mal’s face on what she thought it meant. I have the DvD so I rewatched the scene and gave her a breakdown of my opinion. Merle, it wasn’t nearly as detailed as your breakdowns.

    So this guy says, I am amazed how much you analyzed this. You realize this isn’t actual people, right? These are interpretaions of individual actors. So what you’re actually interpreting is how the actor in question has interpreted the character in question. The actor might be wrong, though, and the director might have missed it.

    Skipping my sarcasm, I replied: You’ve never analyzed a character? Never had to, say, in an English Lit class answer an essay question as to why such and such character was motivated to some action? If the actor is good at assuming his or her character then you should be able to interpretations to the actions and reactions being portrayed.

    He has as yet, not responded. I suppose it would be different if I couldn’t separate actor from character wouldn’t it? Maybe I should take a nice vacation in a padded cell. 🙂

    • merltheearl Says:

      Analysis and critical thinking – and taking things seriously – is crucial to appreciating the arts, and it’s too bad your Firefly guy doesn’t get that. And to my mind it’s even more fun and rewarding to apply academic criteria to what many people consider inferior or lightweight – this series, case in point. It hardly even matters if you’re correct in your assumptions – I know I’m not in many, many instances. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets, and before you know it you’re able to tackle just about anything in life.

  4. King David Says:

    I like nothing better than analysing to the nth degree any and all aspects of my favourite TV shows, and this was my very first hardcore passion show.
    I too have shared analyses on another (UK) show, and the posters there are brilliant for looking at all things and conjuring up back stories, reasons, motivations, and they taught me a lot about how to look beyond the first impressions, the initial face-value. They have no one analyst with the in-depth review, such as yours Merl, but we nonetheless cover many, many ideas. The show, “The Professionals”, even has two episodes mirroring in title S&H: “Heroes”, and “Runner”. I wish you would bring your expertise to them, because the two lead actors didn’t really hit it off for ages, and even though it’s a delight when they demonstrate the strength of the partnership, it’s missing the magnificent generosity of the S&H partnership.

    Anyway, “A Body Worth Guarding”: the filmclips of the real ballerina, interspersed with Anna, is woefully done. Did they think we wouldn’t notice?
    The ‘pig without the pork’ quip could be as simple as referencing two things which are not normally separatable, such as chili without the heat, which I like. Or, that Starsky is the ordinary, unglamourous and Hutch is the flavour, the essence. I don’t like this idea, however, because that would imply that Huggy is superficial, and I don’t believe that. Huggy would have more in common with Starsky, and I believe they understand each other very well. How often does Hutch call him “Hug”? Starsky says it often.
    I like Phaedra’s take that Huggy says ‘crude’. I’d buy into that, and that Starsky may have even been told that by others, although when tired and not at one’s witty best, perhaps we say less-clever things than we might otherwise. Starsky might equally have said, weariedly, “yeah yeah”.
    Starsky has a way with older women, and knows how to win them over (manipulate?) It would never work out for him and Anna…Starsky’s too earthy for her. And yet, he’d be genuine with her.
    Is Akhanatova a real name or made up?

    • merltheearl Says:

      You have piqued my interest in “The Professionals” and I’ll try to find it. I’m definitely not an expert, on this subject or much else, but it’s very kind of you to say so. I agree with your assessment of “pig without the pork” and it’s always wonderful to see commenters engaged in dialogue about one point or another. The reason this blog is basically a series of questions is that I don’t claim to have any answers at all.

  5. catlady Says:

    Have just recently discovered this blog and am really enjoying the comments and opinions. I am also working my way through the series here and on DVD. In reference to whether Huggy told Starsky he was cruel or crude, I use the closed captioning on my DVD’s and it showed up as crude. Really enjoy this blog.

  6. Dianna Says:

    Oh, I do love the conversation here.

    More later, after I’ve watched again and analyized a bit.

  7. Dianna Says:

    Okay, I’ve watched a couple times. Now I have lots of words.

    I hadn’t thought of this as another example of how a beautiful woman ruins our heroes’ detective skills till I read your commentary, Merl, but it certainly is. The criminal masterminds of Bay City would be allowed to run rampant if they would just figure out that all they need to do is send a pair of willing beauties in Starsky & Hutch’s direction, so that all the blood will flow to their, er, nether regions, starving their brains of oxygen so that they are completely unable to catch criminals.

    My first time watching, instead of registering that, I was too busy laughing at how foolish Hutch looked trying to hide his dalliance from Starsky. I’ve been very amused at various things, but I think this was the first time I actually laughed out loud, with the thought, “Hey, Stupid! Your partner is a detective! He notices things for a living!”

    But I didn’t reach the point of laughter till I had willed away my awareness of the essential absurdity of the episode’s premise.

    First, of course, is the ridiculous idea that a couple of local detectives would play bodyguard when this is clearly a matter of interest to the State Department. There is no way they would be using a mere two people, let alone people outside the State Department or FBI for this job. If local cops were involved at all, they would be out investigating the threats, not tied down as bodyguards.

    Second is the incongruity of the paranoid Soviets letting their prima ballerina spend any unescorted time with an American. There were a fair number of high profile defections, many were from the Kirov Ballet, notably the 1974 defection of Mikhail Baryshnikov. By 1978, when this episode aired, any touring Russian ballet would have surrounded the dancers, particularly the prima ballerina, with KGB agents to keep them from escaping.

    And Hutch opens up the budding friendship by demanding a secret. The politically sensitive Anna would have frozen at this possibly subversive question.

    I too was hoping that Hutch’s angst about the meaning of life would develop into some sort of theme, but it was not to be so. Hutch accuses Starsky of being a hedonist, but it is Hutch who acts like a hedonist in this episode!

    I thought Huggy said “cruel,” not “crude,” and that it was just a friendly jab because Starsky was smirking about Hutch’s supposed discomfiture. I thought Huggy’s eye-rolling was because Starsky seemed to already have answers to all the questions he brought to Huggy, except for the one question Huggy couldn’t answer, about who was making the threats.

    I wonder if pig & pork (or poke), and white & rice are supposed to clue us into something thematic, since the speakers are supposedly talking about things that belong next to each other, but come up with similes that are about things that are one inside the other.

    This is the first episode where we see any customers in The Pits besides Starsky and Hutch (and whoever they bring with them) since Huggy bought the place. (The ability to notice something like this is an advantage to my fresh viewing of the series, and my commitment to watching episodes in order!)

    The reuse of the actor Allan Miller was a bit distracting. I kept half expecting him to start having visions, reprising his role in The Psychic. Thanks to the search function on this website, I see that he will appear again in Cover Girl.

    Arm wrestling: I would be surprised if a female, even a dancer, would expect to beat a guy who works out in a gym. Testosterone is amazing stuff, but if she is that strong, Starsky was at a disadvantage because he arm-wrestled right-handed.

    Protesters: Why are they picketing in the back alley, instead of by the main entrance, where people would see them and maybe have second thoughts about attending the performance?

    “Soviet names”: There’s no such thing. There are Russian names and Ukranian names and Armenian names and Uzbek names, and names belonging to 180 or so other ethnic groups that were bound together by the Soviet government. We would not describe our names as being “Federal” and they would not describe their names as being “Soviet.” (The first Russian I ever met was Jewish, with an easy-to-pronounce German name. Now I wonder whether he emigrated legally or whether he defected. He was a fairly high level coach who left the Soviet Union in 1972; I met him 6 years later.)

    Russian cultural characteristics: Anna does not move nor hold her face like any Russian I have ever met. I am painting with a very broad brush here, but in my experience, people who grew up in Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union tend to hold their faces very still compared to Americans, so that their emotions are very hard for an American — at least, me! — to read. People who grow up in the US generally emote a lot more than people of the same ethnicity who grew up in most other parts of the world; Anna moves her face like an American. (Note to King David: I don’t know many Australians, but the few I know do seem a bit more reserved than the average American, now that I think of it.)

    Phaedrablue, thank you for the peek at the Firefly community. I too love Firefly, but the fandom is too big for me to feel like I would have anything to contribute. I am sad to hear they don’t have any commentary & analysis comparable to The Ollie Report. Maybe there is something hiding in a quiet nook in the internet. If you find it, I would love to know about it!

    • DRB Says:

      The note about Russians holding their faces still is very relevant to the time period. When the dancer Nureyev defected to the US, he was asked about the most difficult adjustment he made. He responded that it took him forever to learn to tell the truth instead of what he was EXPECTED to say. Certainly, masking emotions would be very critical in the Soviet countries where political correctness determined every aspect of life from career opportunities to housing or, in some cases, survival.

      Remembering how it was, contributes to understanding Hutch’s initial abrasiveness in responding to Anna’s criticism of Americans. She was living under a totalitarian regime while apparently sneering at the variety of expression allowed in the US. A classic expression of sour grapes.

  8. merltheearl Says:

    Concentrating on the beautiful scenery may be the best way to experience this particular trip, given the numerous plot holes.

  9. Adelaide Says:

    This whole episode left me torn between “awww this is so cute” and “ugh when is interesting stuff going to actually happen.” I think if the case-related subplot had more screentime and was more interesting and made more sense, I would have appreciated the little love affair more. It *was* undeniably adorable. Kind of like a little breather, the rare short-term romance that leaves both people involved only feeling better and liking themselves more, rather than angry and frustrated.

  10. Sharon Marie Says:

    I concur, Anna, wholeheartedly! This is my favorite Hutch romance episode. The chemistry between those two is palpable! One has to wonder at what point Starsky caught on that there were shenanigans going on between Hutch and “Anna Whatshername”. Before or after he came in the door! Hutch was so busy trying to make like a professional, unaffected cop that he over emphasized the obvious. Soul is so good at physical comedy!

    And I love how, even in the heat of the maelstrom before the shooting, Starevsky still referred to Anna as “Anna Whatshername.”

    There is so much to talk about regarding social political issues of the time that I feel like if I start I won’t be able to stop. So I will say this…. I think Huggy said ‘cruel’. And I also shook my head when she said “soviet name”.

    Steamy. This was one steamy episode. And I think that of all the episodes where Hutch is with a woman, this one had the two puzzle pieces fitting together the best. “I love you a lot a bit”

  11. Louie Says:

    I don’t really know why I find this episode as cute as I do…but I do! I’m not a big romance person and I’m usually not very impressed with the women Starsky and Hutch pick for their girlfriends…they’re usually too wimpy for me…but in this episode I was curious to see more of Anna and more about Anna and Hutch. Their romance was too short compared to the really good set-up it had, and their personalities were so interesting together. Short and sweet seems to suit Starsky and Hutch best in the romance department, though. Anna’s a little bit of a parallel with Starsky and Meredith, for me. It was also fun with Starsky being naive and sort of lonely having to do everything by himself, but not really…because he always likes it when Hutch is in love. Except in “Starsky vs Hutch”, S and H are very considerate and altruistic and not-jealous about each other’s girlfriends, they always seem very happy for each other.

    I love Hutch being klutzy and adorable…especially in the morning-after hotel room scene he’s so adorable I can’t feel annoyed that he’s also being unprofessional, but I feel a bit second-hand embarrassed at the beginning of the episode when he is so snobby too. David Soul is *too* good at acting sometimes….he can be very convincing about personality traits I’d rather Hutch *not* seem so convincing about, if you know what I mean.

    He is also so, so good-looking. I’m not sure he’s ever looked as beautiful as he does here. I think I sometimes take these boys’ good looks for granted, because I see them in every episode and it becomes the norm. They are both such knockouts, though….Hutch in a more classically handsome and elegant way and Starsky in a more quirky sexy way. And lol I’m afraid I’m dragging down the classiness of your blog, Merl. 🙂

    • Sharon Marie Says:

      This episode is my secret indulgence I think because we see more David Soul here than Ken Hutchinson. This Hutch is very soft and gentle, less judgmental and just plain happier than the old Hutch. Not sure of its authenticity, but I did read elsewhere that Monique Van De Ven (Anna) claimed that she and Soul had a ‘relationship’ during the filming. IF that is true, it would explain the chemistry they had. What they have here is simply sweet.

      • Louie Says:

        If they were fooling around, that *would* explain some things! Though I can’t say that seeing David Soul is better than seeing Ken Hutchinson. I love Hutch the character too much.

        Was Hutch unhappy by this time? I never pointed exactly when Hutch started getting unhappy…sometime at the end of season 3, I think. I can’t tell if “Deckwatch” was him getting into his season 4 unhappiness or if he was just having a bad day.

      • merltheearl Says:

        Hutch’s unhappiness arc is a fascinating subject. I can never decide which side of the road to stand on. It could be that it never changes markedly, Hutch’s personality consistent from beginning to end, his unhappiness expressed with a kind of bright energy early on, and more muted and thoughtfully in later episodes. This could be the actor settling into a role and allowing previous episodes to color his performance, or it could be external factors such as physical or mental exhaustion. I can see that point of view. I can also see him subtly change from “Hutchinson for Murder one” onward. That kind of betrayal from someone he knew intimately, and for a long period of time, seems to have permanently marked him. After that, he had several episodes in which he appears oppressively solitary, both in his working habits and in his private sphere: “Class in Crime”, “Quadromania”, “Deckwatch”, and then of course into the next season with “Ballad” and “Avenger”, among others.

      • Adelaide Says:

        Merl, this is almost eerie, because I too felt that if I had to come up with a single canon event that would explain his change in season 4, it would be “Hutchinson for Murder One.” At first I thought maybe it made him rethink what he believes about life, and people, and friendship – and Hutch’s friendship with Starsky is so, so important to him, that having poisonous little mental hisses of “what if?” floating around his head would devastate him. But the thing about that which never made sense to me is why a personality change that includes a less-good-natured, less-fun, less-energetically-crafty and more casually-mean bent to his perennial teasing of Starsky would coincide with an episode in which Starsky shows Hutch one of the most explicit and dramatic demonstrations (and even declarations) of loyalty in the show.

        Then I wondered — though it’s just wondering, I still don’t know if I agree or not — if perhaps it was the *other* way around. If he looked at Starsky being so incredibly devoted to him, and was snuck up on by a worry that he would never be able to be worthy of it, that eventually developed into frustration. That maybe, with his seemingly-incurable case of low-self-worth, Hutch asked himself: if Vanessa could betray him like that, could it be possible for him to betray Starsky like that as well? (I’m not sure I like this theory though, because if it works, does the existence of the episode ‘Starsky vs. Hutch’ mean the answer is “yes”?)

  12. Darren Read Says:

    I have just watched this episode again and noticed a couple of things. Firstly, when Dobey speaks to them on the phone at the hotel, he tells S&H to look at page 4 of today’s paper, how does he know what newspaper they have at the hotel and then Starsky picks up the paper, turns over the front page and clearly looks at page 3. Oh, and another thing, all the homemade protest signs are all made exactly the same from the same materials and the all the writing looks as though it has been profesionally printed.

  13. Sharon Marie Says:

    The evolution of Hutch is a fascinating topic. I agree, Merl, that questions have to be asked.

    1. Was the actor, by season 3, frustrated with the progression – or lack thereof – of the show? Did this show through in his performances? ~or~

    2. Is this the result of Soul’s physical downturn? He was working tirelessly on other projects by season two, during hiatus as well as filming of episodes. In season 3 he suffered a very serious back injury and trauma while skiing. He was also hospitalized for a couple weeks in Europe with a scary pneumonia. ~or~

    3. Is this straightening, hardness and sometimes self imposed solitude by design? Is this a progression of the character as interpreted by Soul and/or the writers?

    Of course, I want to believe it’s #3, but never really thought about it until you brought it up.

    For me, “A Body Worth Guarding” was the last time we are treated to a very laid back, happy and relaxed Hutch. And not just for a scene or the tag – for most of the episode. Having seen many interviews with Soul from the 70s on, I still think a lot of what we see here is Soul’s personality coming through. Much of his work outside of S & H after the show involved him playing evil dirt bags, which he does so well. Since he ended S & H as a bitter, frustrated cop and moved on to these villainous characters, it’s easy to forget the man behind the actor, which I think we see quite clearly here.

    The evolution of both Starsky and Hutch is a topic we could probably write a dissertation on!

    • Adelaide Says:

      (Sorry for the sudden mini-dissertation, I started writing and then my brain/fingers just kind of took off!)

      It would be so cool it’s #3 too, but whether it was intentional or not usually doesn’t matter to me so much, because I guess sometimes, it’s more fun to find logical meaning in something where the writer was totally oblivious and was just like “IDK I just wanted it to be this way.” I also think that “Starsky vs Hutch” and “Targets Without a Badge” have a bit of a retroactive magnifying effect, some of Hutch’s changes in personality might not have been as noticeable without those episodes to reinforce them.

      I think Starsky changes too, though not as dramatically. He seems more tired and distracted, quicker to give up on his little flights of fancy, and somewhat less patient with Hutch, more skeptical of whatever Hutch says to him (even when Hutch actually IS being helpful) and faster to go all quiet and sulky whenever Hutch spars with him, rather than find Hutch amusing and adorable and enthusiastically encourage Hutch to dump on him some more the way he does so often in the earlier seasons (for instance, Lady Blue). I can’t tell, however, if this is Starsky’s own independent personal development, or just his reaction from being worried and/or frustrated and/or confused by Hutch’s harshening personality. After all, Hutch’s insults aren’t so friendly and aren’t much of a game anymore in season 4, and with Hutch deliberately going into solitude so much, Starsky could be unsure if his presence and involvement is wanted anymore. I’m thinking especially of his line in “Starsky vs Hutch” where he claims (very unconvincingly) that he’s finally accepted that you come into life alone and die alone and in the meantime, you save yourself a lot of heartache if you don’t take anything too seriously. It breaks my heart every time I hear it, because it’s like…his spirit is broken. Like he thinks Hutch doesn’t love him any more and thinks he’s a failure and a sucker and useless because nothing he did could fix Hutch, and thinks it would have been better if he’d never bothered, and if they’d never been friends, because then it wouldn’t hurt so badly.

      OR I guess maybe it’s both, perhaps both character’s progressions negatively feed into each other and exacerbate each other’s downward slide to some extent because they can’t get themselves away from it if they’re with each other all the time. That’s the downside of being so inseparable, I suppose. The darker reflection of being stronger when they can fight their battles together and burdens being lighter when shared with a friend.

      But I think there’s hope to be gained from the fact that one of their happiest and most comfortable moments *ever* is in the very last scene of the very last episode of the series 🙂

      • Louie Says:


        This sounds so tragic, Adelaide, especially what you said about Starsky during “Starsky vs Hutch” because I don’t want to think about him feeling that….but it makes sense. It just feels so awful. It’s really fortunate that we have the really strong friendship and loyalty and hope that’s in the “Targets” arc to balance this misery out.

      • Blunderbuss Says:

        These comments have so much great food for thought in it, Sharon Marie and Adelaide.

        While I think both Starsky and Hutch project a sense of genuine tiredness in season 4, I do indeed think that Starsky’s other changes really seem (by coincidence or design) to very closely resemble logical reactions to Hutch’s more alarming changes, blow-by-blow, with almost eerie accuracy. Well, as far as the relationship *can* be disentangled from their individual personalities (which is: not very much). They are so hyper-attuned to each other that any change in one precipitates a change in the other because so much of their identity is defined by their interactions with each other, so it’s hard to really say what is all one character’s fault, and what is both their faults, when they get into those cycles of snappishness.

        But what makes season 4 stand out for me is how much of Hutch’s anger and irritability seems to create distance and damage between them, in a complete reversal from earlier seasons, where it was a natural part of their complex mutually-bolstering web of back-and-for, give-and-take, psychological support system of banter and teasing and venting. Or even, a joyful and fun way to let them get closer. To use the example here, in the review for Lady Blue, merl says that when Starsky realizes Hutch is going to be pissed off, he “throws back his head and laughs…probably anticipating his partner’s name-calling, undermining, and other sour psychological underhandedness with what can only be described as masochistic delight.” In season 4 (and in Deckwatch), Starsky doesn’t engage with and play along with Hutch’s anger like he used to, because I think he senses that Hutch’s dark side has changed tone, a destructive edge has crept in, and to play along with it would no longer be helping Hutch let off steam over the stress of a hard job, it would be enabling something much more unhealthy. But, I think, he doesn’t do the most effective job of helping Hutch with this. He’s just too close and too personally emotionally involved to have the objective perspective needed to play therapist to a man who could clearly use one.

        I wonder, not for the first time, what happened during that summer between season 3 and season 4.

  14. stybz Says:

    I heard “pork” and “crude” in the conversation with Huggy and I agree that Huggy’s “pig without the pork” was a loose reference and not saying that Starsky is the pig and Hutch is the pork. He was implying that they’re two parts of the same whole. 🙂

    I agree that the “Desert People” is an odd statement. I realize that Huggy was essentially saying he had no idea who was involved, and perhaps assumed it was some radical Jewish organization, but it was theory, not fact and both men knew it. Considering the muscle men outside of Kaufmann’s headquarters, it would make sense for both Starsky and Huggy to think something “unorthodox” (forgive the pun) was going on. 🙂

    That said, I didn’t like the thugs standing at the door threatening Starsky. That wouldn’t happen, despite any problems the police may have caused Kauffman, and especially considering Kauffman’s insistence that they do not resort to violence. If Kauffman was a peaceful protestor, he would welcome the police and work with them, not be antagonistic and threatening, no matter how many times he has been detained or arrested.

    I didn’t like Anna’s secret. It sounded so selfish, but given her background and attitude it worked for her character. It also wasn’t much of a secret, but more of a joke. I think that could be why we didn’t hear Hutch divulge any of his. If he had it probably would have been just as trivial.

    While the couple had chemistry, I didn’t really see it as love. If this wasn’t a TV show, but a movie or real life it would have been lust. I just didn’t see the deeper connection here. They spent too much time knoodling and playing, though the song was very nice. What Hutch had with Gillian was love. What he had with Anna was lust. He’s sad to see her go, but not as broken up as he was with others, because he always knew she had to leave. If he loved her he’d be sadder about it and the ending would have been less amusing, but having Starsky arm wrestle her ends the whole thing on an up note.

    In fact, I felt the whole episode was played very lightly in comparison to past episodes of this nature. Starsky has a lot of fun at Hutch’s expense, and while he does a good job getting to the heart of the case, it’s all treated lightheartedly and not with much depth or intensity. This includes the scene with Huggy.

  15. Wallis Says:

    It’s weird how changing one’s view of a show can change views of a particular episode, isn’t it?

    I used to think this episode was a real snoozefest, and wondered what was the point of having some romantic plot with a foregone conclusion that didn’t have any real dramatic point to make at the forefront.

    But as part of a more in-depth look at the show, and especially the upsetting depressive decline Hutch’s personality undergoes in late season 3 and season 4, this episode is transformed in my mind. It becomes a really sweet and welcome moment of happiness that just stops and indulges for 45 minutes in some fun, humorous, low-key, low-stress, slow-paced enjoyment of the characters: exploring Hutch’s inner romantic whimsies and various foibles and endearing weirdness in his affair with Anna, and Starsky’s thoroughly satisfying friend-cred in his gentle indulgence and labor to cover for Hutch so Hutch can enjoy his affair, because Starsky likes seeing Hutch happy, even if it’s only for a short time.

    Now, this episode puts a smile on my face. I wouldn’t have minded a couple more slow, quiet, soft episodes like this one.

    • DRB Says:

      “Starsky likes seeing Hutch happy, even if it’s only for a short time.”

      Don’t we all? When Hutch is happy, his face becomes almost incandescent. I think of Starsky “sparkling” and Hutch “shining” which are similar qualities but with just a bit of difference.

  16. jamesguitarshields Says:

    not much to contribute at this point except that the B-roll that opens this episode (which has been used in so many other episodes) features the red sideview mirrors, but when it cuts to the interior of the car, they’re riding in the silver sideview one… i know it’s a common continuity error on this show, but just thought i’d point it out.

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