Episode 66: Quadromania

Starsky goes undercover as a cabdriver to catch serial killer Fitzgerald who’s murdering cabbies for revenge.

Lionel Fitzgerald: Richard Lynch, Gramps: John McLiam, Kingston St. Jacques: Philip Michael Thomas, KC McBride: Lynne Marta, Monique: Susan Kellerman, Danny Deveen: Freeman King Carboni: Jerome Guardino, Joe Benson: Bob Basso, Baker: Ric Carrott. Written By: Anthony Yerkovich, Directed By: Rick Edelstein.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This episode emphasizes the series’ fascination with the creepy side of show business; in this case, not only the perpetrator but also all the peripheral characters are hungering for stardom. Is it because Los Angeles is the Mecca for all thwarted, bitter or stubbornly determined wanna-be stars? Probably. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that “delusional eccentric with a beef against the world” is the cheapest, easiest motive for a writer to reach for.

The episode is notable for its lackluster, half-hearted quality. There is very little tension and major logic problems with the story. Other than the sprightly Kingston St. Jacques and another bright performance by Lynne Marta, all the actors, including Glaser and Soul, seem to have taken a double-dose of Nyquil.

There is, however, a nicely subtle moment when Hutch’s car pulls up to the murder scene, the guys get out, and Starsky murmurs, “be nice, will you?” I love it when you get the feeling the scene has been rolling on for a while before we get to see it, a naturalistic touch the series always gets right. Is Starsky alerted to possible trouble because they recognize Baker, the ultra-excitable newbie patrolman who most assuredly will elicit Hutch’s ire, or is Starsky referencing a Bad Mood streak that has been going for some time?

I just love how Starsky eases his way into getting the witness Monique (a nice performance by Susan Kellerman, and maybe the best guest performance of the episode) to talk by blandly smiling at her, and in that silent moment manages to send this message: I’m on to you, I know who you are and what you do, I can make it easy on you if you cooperate, or hard on you if you don’t, so why not give me what I want so we can both get out of here? It’s a truly marvelous acting moment.

If we interpret Dobey’s bluster correctly, it seems as if he really does believe there are three individuals out there who belong to, as Hutch sarcastically puts it, “the one-armed strangulation club”. Could he be as dense as that?

Lionel is Lionel Fitzgerald’s grandson. And yet he appears at least forty years old. It’s possible Lionel’s accident prematurely ages him, but if not, Gramps must be in his mid-eighties. And, just for continuity’s sake, where is the meat in this sandwich, Lionel Fitzgerald II?

Gramps listens eagerly to his grandson Lionel’s faked newspaper article extolling his “performance” in a non-existent play. From the sound of things, Lionel’s kept this charade going for a long time, building himself up as an actor of some fame. Doesn’t Gramps listen to the radio, or the television? Doesn’t he get out on the street, talk to people? Surely he’d be curious, or proud enough, to seek out independent collaboration of his grandson’s inherited genius, if only to announce to his next-door neighbor, “my grandson is a star!” Do that, and the illusion crashes to earth pretty fast. Plus, later on he proudly tells Starsky and Hutch his grandson is a “smash” at the Savoy Theater, and is astonished when Hutch tells him the place has been closed for a year. Why wouldn’t he have attempted to attend a single performance? What’s stopping him? The only way I would believe his innocence is if he was actually bedridden, and I kind of wish he’d been written that way, but plausibility does not seem to be on this episode’s agenda.

Gramps does not ask Lionel about the sound of the crushed beer mug. Gramps has already been shown to be very observant – we see him playing chess, and being aware of small sounds – yet there are all sorts of things he seems to miss.

David Soul seems very stiff and uncomfortable throughout this episode, not engaging in any strenuous activity at all, which may mean this episode was shot is the aftermath of his serious skiing injury.

Kingston St. Jacques is the ultimate multi-tasker. Strangely believable, he’s DJ’ing and dancing while dispatching cabs, a pretty wonderful pre-corporate, freewheeling depiction of a man hugely enjoying his life. (The actor Philip Michael Thomas goes on to star in the ultimate-80s series “Miami Vice” as a notably non-Jamaican, non-dancing, non-enjoying-his-life detective).

St. Jacques tells Hutch half his drivers have quit and only a “god-forsaken fool” would apply for a job at Metro now. Enter front stage, Starsky.

K.C. McBride sure has an open mind. In a small but exceedingly delightful exchange, she propositions Starsky, knowing he is a man. He answers her, thinking she is a man and says he “doesn’t go that route,” meaning he is straight. Starsky hasn’t turned around, and so K.C. assumes he is saying he’s gay. She says she is glad he “doesn’t keep it in the closet like other guys.” Starsky turns, realizes she is a woman and – an automatic reflex, it seems – asks her on a date. K.C. then assumes Starsky is bisexual and remarks about him “changing his politics.” K.C. goes out with him anyway, as she cheerfully says she “doesn’t mind a few kinks in the road of life.”

Kingston makes an incredibly detailed drawing of a tiny medallion worn by a driver he hardly knows. An abnormal interest in jewelry, perhaps?

Isn’t it a bit dangerous for Starsky to flash his badge when the cab is still in motion, and his drug-dealing passenger can easily throw open the back passenger door and bolt to freedom before Starksy can draw his gun and get out of the driver’s seat?

Starsky and Hutch must have a sneaking suspicion their suspect is not an African-American: that’s something no makeup in the world can really disguise. Plus, they must be familiar with the crime statistics that tell us the vast majority of serial murders are committed by white middle-class males.

Lionel robs his victims as well as killing them, and this detail is not explained. Looking at the poor state of the apartment he shares with his grandfather, he could sure use the money, but this might also be an attempt to confuse the police as to the real motive for the crimes.

It’s five o’clock in the morning. Hutch is swinging by to check on Starsky, who’s exhausted to the point of passing out in his cab. Throughout the case, Starsky is undercover, Hutch is not. Theoretically, this means Hutch is checking leads, following up statements, re-interviewing witnesses, etc. There is really no need, therefore, for him to keep the same punishing hours as Starsky does as a night-shift cab driver. And yet here he is, in the pre-dawn hours. Has he been assigned to tail Starsky’s cab as backup? This is never indicated in the script. From the lackadaisical attitude both detectives have for this case, you can tell neither one of them thinks they will be in any imminent danger. Besides, Starsky’s cab will have been outfitted with precautionary equipment in order to broadcast any distress. There is simply no need for Hutch to appear out of nowhere. Yet, there he is.

Assuming the old checker cabs aren’t taken out of circulation after a murder occurs in them, then when does Lionel know when to quit murdering people? He doesn’t pay attention who is in them, whether they are guilty or not of “ruining his career”, or he wouldn’t have gone after Starsky. Assuming Lionel wasn’t caught, he would have gone on murdering cabbies until he was.

Starsky is tricked into picking up the killer fare by Hutch who says, “what would you do without me?” Compelled to push and provoke, as usual, but imagine the guilt he experiences later when things go very wrong.

Why don’t either Starsky or Hutch twig to the weird old lady who appears out of nowhere? By the looks of it, there aren’t many apartment buildings nearby, and she does look very masculine. They know the murderer is a master of disguise. Could it be the severity of their misogyny blinds them to the possibility of a “woman” as killer? Didn’t they notice the limp, and recall the witness statements?

David Soul and guest star John McLiam have a reprieve of “A Coffin for Starsky” denouement as Hutch shakes the older man by the shoulders to get him to spill the truth of the matter.

“Third time around the park”? What is Lionel waiting for, anyway? And why take the chance to wait for so long before requesting the driver turn down his radio? If he’d sprung into action the first time around, this would be a different story. And also, why does Starsky turn down his police radio and his dispatch radio at the same time as he turns down his music? What’s the point of that, other than ensuring he’ll be in much, much worse trouble if something does go wrong?

Hutch pulls his gun on a cab in exactly the same way Callendar does in “The Plague”.

With dramatic flair, we see the bionic arm emerge. Lionel has obviously lost his real arm in an accident with a drunken cab driver, hence his complicated revenge murder spree. When we see his metallic appendage, the first thing we do is laugh. It looks ridiculous and unconvincing. From earlier scenes it seems as if he lost the arm from the shoulder, so how does this incredible articulated arm, elbow joint and all, perform so naturally? How would he be able to move it? Movable prosthetic arms must be surgically attached to the ligaments, tendons and nerves of the body, and yet this buck-ninety-five addendum can be snapped on and off at will. What is Anthony Yerkovich thinking, anyway? Too many Vincent Price matinees? This is the pivotal detail of the episode and supposed to be shocking but the laughable stupidity of a “robot hand” crushing the throats of its victims sucks all the suspense and believably out of the story. Throughout this project one of my main promises to myself is to resist substantial rewriting of scripts – I tell myself to look at what is on the screen rather than relying on that oh-so-reliable 20/20 hindsight. Too easy, I tell myself. But let me break this resolution and say it would have been better to keep his disability to the severe leg injury and have bitterness and frustration as his murderous strength.

And while we’re enraged by the sheer dumbness of this “twist”, why not talk about why a disabling accident, even one that causes an actor to lose an arm, would render him unable to act? If he’s good, he’s good, missing arm or not. Surely “King Lear” is not dependent on an actor with two moving arms. Was Lionel just really terrible, and uses his disability as an excuse, or – perhaps more likely – did he experience the isolating prejudices of theater directors and casting agents who refused to consider him for parts he could do just as well now as before his injury? If Lionel had one line in the episode in which he mutters to himself something like “those bastards, they all stopped believing in me” well, then, there’s your motive right there. (Resolution broken again.)

When Lionel attacks Starsky from the back of the cab, all we see is a clutch on the throat; Starsky dodges the worst of it and falls to the ground, Lionel losing his grip and grabbing a leg instead. Why, then, is Starsky semi-conscious and unable to act and react normally? There’s evidence of a head injury in the spidering of the glasss against the driver’s window but no actual footage of it, so that would explain the burred vision?, but for an episode that has made several heavy-handed obvious points about plot trajectory, this wisp of an image is awfully subtle. Starsky is in excellent shape, quick-minded and immune to panic, a trained police officer. A delusional man in a silly dress and a walker and one good arm should pose no problem for him, concussion or not. So why not pull his gun and blast away?

At this point, the logical holes in the story outweigh any narrative thrills. Points to Glaser for being a good sport and trying really hard.

What is the meaning of the episode’s title, “Quadromania”? Although it indicates, obviously enough, an obsession with the number four, there is no indication Lionel is after four drivers specifically, or would be satisfied with killing four. A guess might be a riff on “Quadrophenia”, also released in 1979, fueled by music of the Who and very cool at the time. But surely that’s a stretch.

Clothing notes: Starsky is hampered by a clichéd news-boy cap marking him as your prototypical cab driver. Hutch wears some stellar jeans and his much-loved collegiate jacket. Both actors look tired and out of sorts. Huggy has a memorable five-second appearance decked out in country and western gear.

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16 Responses to “Episode 66: Quadromania”

  1. Daniela Says:

    Hello again! Thanks for another interesting post!
    You are right, it was a little drab for an episode, but still, worth watching.
    So, the guy who played Lionel, the crippled guy, he also played a crazed crippled guy in another episode. What is this? Is this the only actor who can play a convincing crazy cripple in Hollywood? Interesting world of character actors….
    About the ending scene, and Starsky stumbling along after he was attacked, somebody posted this on a comment on Youtube: “Too bad Sony Pictures lost the few frames of film which explain why when Starsky falls out of the cab, he’s dazed, his head is bleeding & why he’s stumbling down the alley. Lionel had cracked Starksy’s head against the driver-side window of the cab – if you look at it as he falls out, you’ll see the ‘spiderweb’ fractures in the glass – giving him a concussion.” . I don’t know about lost frames, but if it’s true, it makes sense…. And when Hutch drives up in the cab, he looks at Starsky’s cab and sees the cracked window. He must have figured out what happened, because the first thing he does when he gets to Starsky is to check his head where he got bumped and is bleeding.
    And also, Lionel II or III? When he gets to the back alley, there is a poster from the Savoy, with the name Lionel Fitzgerald II and he gets enraged, so what that him or his dad?
    And why is his face make up falling apart as he chases Starsky? Symbolic of what was going on in his head? I mean he has shreds of stuff coming off… Gross!
    On another note, it’s interesting and fun to read your posts and to read the comments on YT where people notice all sorts of inconsistencies with the show! I wonder if people were so clinical in their watching this show back then, as they are now? And if they were, why wasn’t the production staff more careful with details like these?
    But then, it keeps it interesting, doesn’t it?
    thanks again for your posts! They are good!

    • merltheearl Says:

      I guess I should start looking at YouTube for these observations about the inconsistencies in the show! Although I try not to point out every silly continuity mistake (as well as unintentionally humorous anachronisms) because I figure there’s enough people out there laughing and pointing at errors and oversights, and it’s not that interesting to me. Good point about the concussion against the window, it relieves me somewhat to know there’s an explanation for Starsky’s woozy behavior. And for all those Lionel Fitzgeralds … numbering family names must be in progression, so this limping young Lionel MUST be the Third, his father the Second. If his father was Ted or Mack, then the numbering system falls apart. But, of course, who knows in this crazy universe where logic seems to be in short supply? As for Richard Lynch’s “crazy” roles, yes, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into “Starsky Vs. Hutch” in the forth season! Thanks so much again for reading, and for your nice comments!

  2. Brenda Says:

    I just saw this episode recently and was surprised that the source of Starsky’s head injury was cut from the scene. I saw the episode several times during the 70’s and distinctly remember seeing his head smash against the window and crack it. I winced every time I saw it!

    Thanks for all your hard work on these blogs. I watched the show obsessively in the 70s and only just rediscovered it recently. Now with the added benefit of the internet, it’s fun to see someone else’s take on the show I always enjoyed so much.

  3. Shelley Says:

    One thing I was specifically looking for in this blog post was why Starsky was so non-functional when trying to get away from the bad guy, because I figured I must have missed something . . . and here it turns out they never even show us! I was wondering if Lionel slugged him with the bionic arm or what.

    And I also couldn’t figure out why neither Starsky nor Hutch had zero suspicion of Lionel dressed as a woman. As you say, they knew the murderer was a master of disguise . . . this person obviously was a strong possibility. Surely they are sharper than that, even if they’re tired out.

  4. King David Says:

    Hallelujah! There is missing footage! Even being generous with my belief system, and supposing that Starsky was wonky because he was nearly throttled (I imagine they may have tried it), he was way dazed for way long, and it didn’t seem probable. I had hoped Hutch would do the rush-to-his-side bit, but had to make do with a concerned check of the head, but the hand gestures and relief on Starsky’s face were appectable. Pity KC clings onto his hands so much…
    I presumed that the face make-up was ravaged because Lionel has torn at his face as he mentally disintegrates. S&H are pretty cavalier when it comes to sussing out villains sometimes.
    I hate the cabbie cap.

  5. Audrey Says:

    here is the missing scene: http://starskyhutch.kassidyrae.com/Quadro04.wmv

    • King David Says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

      • Audrey Says:

        You’re welcome.I don’t understand why is missing from the dvd,but i hope Merl will explain it.I think maybe Merl was a cameraman,because he has all the details about this show!He is phenomenal.

      • King David Says:

        I think Merl is brilliant!
        Imagine the concussion Starsky sustained, with his head hitting hard enough to crack the windscreen; damned lucky he could even think to walk!

  6. Dianna Says:

    Your analyses are right on, as usual, Merl, except that I have to disagree, with your statement that the “delusional eccentric with a beef against the world” is the cheapest motive for a writer to reach for. It is surpassed by the *disfigured* delusional eccentric with a beef agains the world. Oh brother.

    The movie posters clearly refer to the Lionel who becomes a murderer, because he was struck down right after a performance, and it is clear that the theater went out of business soon after. That is why Lionel is so enraged to see them.

    He must be named after his grandfather, not his father. If a man is named after his father, he appends “Jr.” to his name, not “II,” If he is named for his grandfather, with his father having a different name, he appends “II.” That means Lionel’s father could have been named George or Herman or something.

    Unfortunately for this tidy explanation, the newspaper article Starsky pulls out of the murdered driver’s locker specifically labels him as “Lionel Fitzgerald III.” Ah, continuity.

    Much of what this episode means to me is, “Isn’t it strange what improbabilities we are willing to accept in a story and which irritate us and make a story seem ridiculous?” We are willing to forgive the idea that an undercover detective would continue to drive his flashy and distinctive car around town even though it is quite out of character for his undercover persona. We are okay with the ridiculous number of Syndicate kingpins who roam around Bay City. We don’t question that a poison injected into Starsky would have a precisely predictable timetable of exactly one day, nor that if only its composition were known, we could pull him from death’s door just minutes before that door slammed forever… and with no lasting side effects. We take it for granted that there is always a convenient parking space waiting whenever the duo need to enter a building.

    So why is it that we are all nonplussed by that creepy prosthetic limb? I can’t figure out what exactly makes the difference, but there certainly is one.

    (I do have once bit of defense for the story. Merl asks why Starsky doesn’t just pull his gun and shoot Lionel. He drops it on the seat and can’t reach it in the struggle.)

    Audrey, thank you, thank you! for supplying a URL for watching the missing footage. Starsky’s disorientation was really jarring without it.

    • merltheearl Says:

      I loved these comments and reflections, thank you. I was in error not noticing the dropped gun – that is a welcome bit of sense in an episode where there isn’t a lot of sense to go around. And you’re so right about those story elements we will accept and forgive and those we just cannot. Eloquently said.

  7. Darla Says:

    Wow…I’ve always wondered about this episode and why Starsky seemed so disoriented when it didn’t seem like he’d suffered much of an injury. It didn’t seem like PMG’s style to go over the top with the dramatics…Having watched that missing scene, everything makes so much more sense! It’s like someone flipped the light switch on for me. 🙂
    Great website…enjoy reading someone else’s thoughts about the episodes!!

  8. M Kelley Says:

    Love your insights!
    Could the name be like quadriplegic? Yes, Lionel has lost one limb, but Instead of his four limbs being paralyzed, quadromania means they are 4 crazy limbs? Crazy enough to murder.

  9. Laurie Says:

    Thanks for the missing footage! It certainly helps! Once you know about it, you can see the crack in the window made by his head hitting, in the footage that they do show.

    I really like some things about the Sunset-Boulevard-like vibe of this episode. I just wish it had been better executed. Lionel is rather over-the-top, but I really like the portrayals of Gramps and KC and even the drug dealer who won’t get out of Starsky’s cab.

    I do think the name was indeed supposed to be a takeoff on Quadrophenia. That’s the only thing I can figure, because Quadrophenia was about a guy with four different personalities. So I’m thinking they were trying to do a takeoff on that, for this guy with all the different characters.

    The first cabbie, Victor O’Connor, that we see killed slightly resembles Starsky. (His stunt man? The role isn’t credited.) Is this a hint that Starsky will take his place?

    I like eager-beaver Baker. While he’s got a bit of a “Robin the boy wonder” vibe, he’s on track, not a self-important young idiot like Raymond Andrews from Manchild. He seems to be on the ball, knowing the right questions to ask. I could see him being a Starsky or Hutch himself in several years. Like Baker, I’m confused by Starsky’s exhaust pipe reference. What’s that about? This isn’t Beverly Hills Cop, is it?

    Maybe Lionel takes the money because he needs it. Maybe to make it look like a robbery. Or maybe he figures it’s a payment for his performance, in a psycho sort of way?

    Attractive women have so much power over our guys that it makes Starsky happily smile and swagger just to be able to follow the sketch-delivering Yvonne to the door to shut it for her.

    As to what happened to Lionel’s father, Gramps says, “women and liquor killed him in the end.”

    I agree that Lionel is “Lionel II”, not Jr., because he was named after his grandfather. Usually you only see this numeration actually used if the grandfather was also famous. As in Henry Ford II, or here. I’d to chalk it up to the newspaper printer getting it wrong. Starsky also later makes a comment about checking out “Fitzgerald the Third.” Maybe he was just confused as well, or just meant the Fitzgerald of the third generation.

    Yes, it’s rather odd that Gramps can hear him move a chess piece, but makes no comment on a glass loudly breaking.

    Since this was supposed to be his first “opening night” of performing since getting out of the hospital, I can accept that Gramps hasn’t been to see him perform yet.

    It’s fun seeing Philip Michael Thomas in a very fun, non-Miami-Vice role.

    It’s a major plot point that Starsky is driving one of the old roundish Checker Cabs, the kind the killer attacks. Starsky picks the drug dealer up in his old round cab as one would expect, but then we have an overhead distance shot of one of the newer cabs (Ford LTD?) driving down the street as they talk! To me, that’s much worse than a distance shot with one of the guys in the wrong-colored coat, or a Torino with the wrong-colored mirrors! LOL!

    “I don’t care if you’re waiting on the Shah of Iran; I’m late….” A very 70s reference.

    Lionel: “The makeup man at the Savoy has about as much finesse as a bloody stump.” Rather interesting choice of words.

    Benson makes a really lousy criminal. He waits two years to steal the incriminating report out of the file, then puts it in his cab’s glove compartment. (Did he get wind that Lionel {finally?} got out of the hospital recently? He didn’t expect anyone to investigate before that?) And he apparently keeps the newspaper about the accident in which the Lionel got hit right there in his work locker for two years. Brilliant.

    And I guess he’s a lucky one as well. No one ever noticed that a well-known actor was badly injured in a mysterious hit-and-run on the same night that a habitually-drunk cabbie supposedly hit a dog in the same general area and had blood on his car?? And Lionel apparently even knew all along exactly what hit him and never told anyone, such as investigating officers, for two years? Because he thought this sort of revenge would be more fun than the guy getting caught before he drove around drunk two more years and hit someone else? I guess Starsky and Hutch weren’t on that case at the time.

    Gramps seems to be predisposed not be a big fan of cops. Or did he just become so when Lionel said he needed to hide from them?
    What would Lionel have said to him to give him the idea it was a great idea to suddenly hide him in a trunk from the police? It must have been a very quick conversation.

    Then, right after this, Gramps helps(?) with makeup again, or at least sits there for what would be a considerable time, as Lionel makes up as an old lady, before they talk about where he’s really been going?

    Yes, Hutch must have certainly regretted the “joke” of making Starsky take one more fare. This episode’s “me-and-thee” gut check, as soon as he heard about Lionel’s costume. Paired up with Starsky’s “What took you so long?” when he had no earthly reason to believe that Hutch even had a clue that he was in trouble.

    Yes, why *does* Starsky turn off his police radio as well? Maybe because the music is not there to mask it? Maybe he’s thinking, “Basically done for tonight anyway as soon as I drop her off…”? Still seems like a poor choice. (If the dispatcher had not been a wannabe DJ piping in music on the side, would he have had three radios going? Dispatch, Police, and KRLA or something on the car radio?)

    Lionel quotes King Lear, his true star role from two years ago, before killing Benson. He quotes Macbeth, the role he is supposedly currently playing, before he attacks Starsky and when talking to him before Hutch shows up–but then quotes Hamlet when sitting in the alley looking at his hand at the end.

    (I figured it all was Shakespeare, but I had to pick out the few words I could make out in some cases and Google them to figure out what he was actually saying. Sometimes he was very hard to hear. If you’re going to have a guy doing Shakespeare, it should be clear enough for the audience to hear, I would think, even when he’s supposed to be “mumbling to himself”!)

    This is another episode that could have been so much better had there been a continuity editor, especially one laying it all out on a 2-year calendar, making it all make a little more sense. Each confusing question seems to beg the next.

    – Benson has been driving for another 2 years, drunk as a skunk, still hitting things constantly, and is still on the job? And as I said above, only two years later he suddenly decides to steal the incriminating report from his file? And all along he’s been keeping the newspaper about Fitzgerald in his locker? Benson hits things constantly for years, but Kingston remembers right off the bat the details of the particular night/early morning two years ago that Benson supposedly just hit a dog?

    – The Savoy Theatre “has been closed for over a year.” Lionel was hit by a car two years ago. Yet the theater is still covered with not-bad-looking-for-two-years posters of his King Lear production–but there must have been something playing there in the (almost) year it was open after he was injured. Unless it was closed way “over a year”…like another year. But then wouldn’t Hutch just have said “for about two years”? And the whole theater building just shut down and closed up (not just the production) after he got hurt?

    The whole timing of things just seems odd. I know Merl tries to resist suggesting revisions, but it seems that in this episode just a phrase or two could have been juggled here and therel to make the timing elements fit better. I’d have gone with a lot shorter time frame. The two-year thing just makes so many things puzzling.

    And most of them have to do with Gramps.

    – What was Lionel’s relationship with Gramps while he was in the hospital all that time? Did Gramps visit him during this time and yet never touch or hug him? Didn’t no one in those pre-HIPAA days mention anything about his condition to his grandfather? Did he think somehow that everything was coming along just fine with Lionel, just an exceptionally long recovery, and that he was getting completely back to his old self, and not at all becoming disabled, depressed nutball? That would indeed be good acting! Or were they virtually out of touch for two years after he got hurt, and then Lionel came to live with him on some pretense? That would be odd, too.

    Did he, an actor himself, really think Lionel spent two years in a hospital, then came out and within a month or less was suddenly, boom, brilliantly playing the lead in a major production of Macbeth? That would be an incredibly quickly mounted show!

    Tied in with those questions are: Does Gramps know Lionel is missing an arm, and/or limps? If not, how is Lionel able to keep this a secret, (hiding the sounds of his fake arm when it brushes a table or something, or if he doesn’t ever wear it, you would think that would have its own telltale signs)–or how does he not let the sensitive-eared Gramps hear him limping around the apartment, or wouldn’t his lack of an arm have been felt at some point, when patted on the shoulder, or perhaps when he was being bundled into a trunk by a grandfather who is very sensitive to touch? Does Gramps never say “Grab the other end of the couch and help me move it?” Or something?

    Or, if he does know, clearly then Gramps doesn’t think that this would be an obstacle to continue to be a great actor, yet Lionel does. But I don’t think he knows. It doesn’t seem to be part of how Gramps “sees” him until Gramps finds out the truth from Starsky and Hutch, and only then do we see Lionel call himself crippled in front of his grandfather.

    – Lionel was hit by the car two years ago ago, but just got out of the hospital “last month” [!] And no one seems to find this terribly noteworthy! I know they kept people in the hospital longer back then, but really?

    “Last month” could be anything from the 10 days ago that the murders started, to a few weeks ago. He must have been feeling pretty good and ready to start right away when he got out, with all that recovery time!

    So therefore he was dressing up as those other characters the police had sketches of, on previous nights, before the first time we see him, coming home in the morning to Gramps’ place–the morning he was supposed to be coming home from an all-night “opening night party” for Macbeth.

    What would he have told Gramps, then, that all those other masquerades were about? Did Gramps not help him with the makeup for those other characters (or at least be present while he was doing it)? How about putting on his “Toulouse-Lautrec” beard and moustache for the third?

    What explanation would he have given Gramps on those first two nights, when he should have been in final Macbeth dress rehearsals or something, why he was playing dress-up as a skid row bum and a long haired kid? (The rest of his “Toulouse-Lautrec” getup, besides the facial hair, could well be real attire worn by a star actor after a big night at the theater. Odd that he didn’t choose something more different from his true self for this time.)

    And why, shortly thereafter, is Gramps making him up, of all things, as King Lear, the character he played two years ago!–right when he is supposed to be in the opening days of a smash production of Macbeth–because the theater makeup man (where he’s playing Macbeth) is supposedly so bad?

    He does seem to be living with Gramps, as Hutch infers, but certainly for such a big star, most people would expect him to be actually “be set up in grand style” at a place like the Ambassador Hotel, as he tells Starsky and Hutch, right? It’s actually kind of hard to tell what Gramps really believes here, when he still does really think he’s a big star at this point.

    And if Gramps knows all along that he has no room at the hotel, wouldn’t he find that odd, for a big star, who goes to big gloves-and-cape opening night theater parties, to live in a room his grandfather’s crummy apartment in a lousy neighborhood? Maybe he thinks Lionel really has the fancy room, but just hangs out at Gramps’ place a lot for the company?

    Maybe Lionel goes out wandering at various times, and Gramps thinks that’s when he’s at the hotel? (We never see or hear about what Hutch finds out at the Ambassador Hotel, though we can make a pretty good guess. He was probably coming to tell Starsky what he found out when the “little old lady” shows up at the cab stand. Because we next see Hutch head back to Gramps’ place.)

    Anyway, whatever you want to theorize as the answers, all of the possible answers would still make me want to ask, “what the heck did Gramps think was really happening to Lionel all that time between when Lionel stopped playing King Lear and when he moved in two years later and supposedly dived into playing Macbeth?”

    I was a theater minor in college and I do really love some things about this episode. I just get sad and frustrated when what seems like maybe a couple of script edits (having to do with what happened when, mainly) could have made the difference between an episode like this and a really excellent one.

    You’ve gotta love Huggy’s sparkly “country star manager” outfit! Hope he and KC did well on the song. 😉 It was a cute one.

  10. Laurie Says:

    And I totally agree with Dianna:

    “Much of what this episode means to me is, ‘Isn’t it strange what improbabilities we are willing to accept in a story and which irritate us and make a story seem ridiculous?”’

    Though to me, the prosthetic arm was not even as hard to believe as the lengthy two-year time frame that it took for things to come about and during which so many odd things did and did not happen. I did a lot of mental gymnastics to try to make it make sense to me. Because I really did want to enjoy it.

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