Episode 83: Ninety Pounds of Trouble

Joey Carston’s continued infatuation with Starsky compromises his cover and endangers Hutch, who impersonates a hit-man to try to stop a killing.

Joey Carston: Mare Winningham, Eddie Carlyle: Kaz Garas, Sid: Lana Wood, Mrs. Carston: Ann Prentiss, Schiller: Peter Mark Richman, Damon: Lenny Baker, Officer Kromack: Tom Jackman, Steve: James Vaughn, Minnie: Marki Bey. Written By: Robert E Swanson, Directed By: Leo Penn.

QUESTIONS AND NOTES:

This episode’s title refers to the short story by Damon Runyon called “Forty Pounds of Trouble”, which was filmed several times, the most popular being a Shirley Temple vehicle. “Marky” is a little girl whose father gives her to a gangster-run gambling operation as collateral for a bet. He then loses his bet and commits suicide, and the gangsters are left with the girl on their hands. Her guardians eventually become fond of her and a new sort of family is formed. Parallels to this episode are a bit murky, except to note that parents very often fail, and that what society may view as “bad” for a child are in fact good, if the love is there. Schiller’s henchman Damon may be a reference to the story’s author.

This is a lushly-filmed episode, with soft lighting and handsome staging, especially the beachfront location. The scene in which Starsky confronts Joey in the hotel hallway in particular has a rich, cinematic look cheapened somewhat by the cheesy flute-and-saxophone soundtrack.

Joey Carston is the character originally played by Kristy McNicol in “The Trap”, now a year or so older and still infatuated by Starsky. McNichol gave her character a fiesty, argumentative edge while Winningham is altogether quieter, more contained, with a bit of princess thrown in – more classically feminine.  Her crush on Starsky is seen (by Hutch and the rest of the detectives in the squad room anyway) as charming, and Starsky’s discomfort as a harmless bit of fun, and Winningham’s pouty determination causes no alarm bells to ring. Fifteen is a lot different from twelve or thirteen and it’s surprising no one sees this situation as inappropriate, and these are hardcore cops who have seen a lot of sexual misconduct in their careers. Is this just naïvite on the part of the writers, or have the times changed all that much?

Hutch’s earlier health regime seems to be in abatement since he eats most of a stale doughnut meant for Starsky.

Hutch isn’t seen very often as the fraternizing type, so it’s nice to see him laughing easily with the other cops over Starsky’s discomfort with Joey’s puppy-love.

How would Hutch handle this, if Joey’s devotion was directed at him? My guess is with a lot less easy charm, and lot more nervous fumbling. Let’s throw in an earnest lecture or two, and perhaps a call to Kiko for advice.

Hutch tells Starsky Dobey is waiting for them to have a meeting, yet seems happy to meet without his partner. What’s happened to Starsky? It’s not like him to miss something like this. Looking for a doughnut shouldn’t take precedence over an assignment.

Apprehending Carlyle, Starsky and Hutch shout to each other, “Cover me” and then “Got you.” Really, is this not what, in the end, we all need from each other?

It’s nice to see how animated both Starsky and Hutch are at the hospital with the unconscious Carlyle. It’s been awhile since either one has shown the least bit of enthusiasm for the job. The energy in the room is high; all Dobey can do is surrender to it.

Dobey reminds Starsky and Hutch that Carlyle has a right to a phone call and lawyer when he awakes, which would jeopardize their plans to get Schiller. Dobey then gives Starsky and Hutch thirty-six hours, which he says is cutting it close. How is Dobey able to guarantee any amount of time, unless he’s privy to medical information he doesn’t share? Or is he prepared to make sure Carlyle receives an extra dose of sedation to keep him incapacitated longer than he normally would be? When Carlyle does wake after several scenes he takes what looks like an ominously-filled syringe from the tray by his bedside and injects the doctor with it. How far do you think Dobey might go ensure justice is done?

Both Starsky and Hutch think it’s a great idea for Hutch to impersonate Carlyle, given a vague resemblance. If whoever hired Carlyle hasn’t hit hasn’t met him, what difference does it make what resemblance there is? And if they have met, they’ll see right away Hutch isn’t Carlyle. Unless Hutch is thinking he might pass in a bad driver’s license photo, this whole gamble is pretty meaningless. Were they wondering if, at some point, Carlyle described himself on the phone? “You’ll know me, I’m six foot, blond, with a moustache.” I guess you can’t be too careful.

As is usual in the fourth series, the tone is a bit on the light side. Very often the episodes crumble into absurdity, but in the scene in Carlyle’s hotel room in which Hutch tries to get in character as the urbane hit-man while Starsky plays the useful role as dour kill-joy, the humor and tension are perfectly balanced. Hutch’s enjoyment in his role is lovely to watch and nicely underplayed by Soul, as is Starsky’s suppressed amusement at his partner’s foibles. As Hutch adjusts the fedora Starsky gives him an up-and-down glance that manages to combine affection, sarcasm and exasperation, and no small amount of what I’d have to call flirtation (here the limits of the English language are frustrating, as I mean a certain kind of flirtation there are no words for, a kind of ribald admiration that is not really overtly sexual in nature, not really. This is not evasion on my part, but rather an attempt to put into words something that is indescribably lovely and rare). Glaser’s moment here is worth a roomful of Emmys. He then gives the expected insult in a near-drawl, “you playing a classy character is about like Lou Costello playing Noel Coward.” Hutch stubbornly insists he’s getting into character “like a serious actor”, and that he would be “at home with the hoi polloi as the Rothschilds.” Notice how he waits for Starsky’s full attention, before asking, “What do you think?” even though he knows what Starsky will say. He’s practically demanding to be ridiculed. Starsky gives one of his grins.  “Don’t ask.”  “Why bother,” Hutch says as if completing the thought. The two of them continue to tussle in this way for quite awhile, the pleasure in each other’s company evident, but note how, when the phone rings and the meeting is arranged, both Starsky and Hutch instantly coil into apprehension without losing a beat.

How much confidence does Starsky lose in their plan when Hutch asks, “where’s my hat” and Starsky has to point out it is on his head?

What is Hutch really trying to say when he complains he “may have the salary of a cop, but he “has the soul of an aesthete”? Does this mean Hutch believes he doesn’t have the soul of a cop? What is his definition as the “soul of a cop” and who would he say has it? He persists in this grievance for so long even though it’s clear this isn’t remotely true. Starsky does what he always does in these situations: amused, he knocks his partner down a notch, forgets it, and moves on.

Hutch doesn’t want Damon to meet him in the hotel room, instead he picks a fancy French  restaurant instead (one he obviously remembers from some time in the past although the name – Chez Moi – slips his mind). Seems to me the hotel room would be a better bet, a much more easily controlled environment (cops in the other room as backup, listening and recording devices, etc, no troublesome bystanders to worry about). What are his reasons for this? Does he believe he is thinking like Carlyle, or is he sure the department wouldn’t back up such a risky plan? His cowboy attitude must annoy the police administration to no end and perhaps he is wiser to keep Dobey out of it. But by relying solely on Starsky, who is later removed from the action, Hutch is taken to a warehouse without backup, which is worse trouble.

11:45 am and Hutch is drinking wine and eating crab and caviar? Pretty “classy”. Hutch probably had to pay for this expensive meal himself; I would imagine it would be difficult to convince Accounts to pony up. Notice how in this acting job Hutch defaults once again to Supercilious A-hole when it’s not strictly necessary. Surely the haughty speculation on the merits of caviar is more for his private enjoyment, because it dangerously antagonizes Damon.

And on a minor note, caviar on a saltine? Oh, so wrong.

Hutch does an extraordinary amount of eating in this show.

Starsky’s game to get Sid to talk to him – by searching for a lost wallet under her table – is very similar to his bluffing to Mickie about wanting to purchase the car in “Class in Crime.”  It didn’t work particularly well then but it works better here (bad Bogey impression notwithstanding). In his scenes with Sid he’s breathtakingly masterful. Self-assured, authoritative, physically relaxed, and powerfully sexual without a hint of threat or malice. You can see that at first she’s irked at being hit on but within seconds she’s genuinely happy to have him stick around. It’s the same act he pulled with Rosey too, a season earlier. Now, as then, when he really turns it on it’s painful to see the look of hopefulness on her face – another woman beaten down by men in the past, certain there are no good ones out there only to be swept off her feet by Mr. Perfect – and know for sure she is going to get hurt.

Once again Hutch and Dobey have a meeting sans Starsky.

Joey’s flaky mother mistakes Hutch for Starsky. At least mother and daughter won’t be fighting over the same man. It’s always great to watch Hutch’s subtle and variable emotions: here, it goes from annoyance to loathing to, eventually, a kind of flat disgust.

Sid tells Starsky she met Schiller once in New York, and he showed her a good time. She tells Starsky “You don’t want him mad at you,” meaning he’s both violent and unpleasant, but here she is, meeting him again. What is Schiller’s hold over her, and what exactly is her role in this organization anyway? It’s never explained, although she seems to have some pull. Gangster’s moll doesn’t quite cut it – there’s more to the story of Sid than we are ever told.

Joey Carston says to Huggy, “Love’s a runaway train, and I am riding this one to the end of the line.” Does or doesn’t she end up doing just that? Seems to me she jumps off before the station. Speculate on the fact that all of Joey’s relationships are going to be “runaway trains.”

When Huggy tells Joey, as discouragement, that Starsky is “over the hill … set in his ways … basically a demented sex fiend.” Strong words, but is there any truth in this description or is Huggy think he’s doing his job as a friend? What makes Huggy think he has to play the role of Discourager, anyway? Had Starsky been complaining about her?

Speaking of Huggy being in the know, Starsky doesn’t have to explain about Schiller and Carlyle and all the rest when he phones, he simply trusts him to understand what he means. Did they tell Huggy all about it at some point? If so, isn’t that risky and potentially illegal, and likely to get them all into trouble?

And when Huggy, on the phone with Starsky, says (loudly enough for Joey to overhear) “your lunch date is here” and then in the same breath, meaning Sid, “is she pretty?” what the hell is his game? If this is indeed a conscious ploy to let Joey know Starsky isn’t interested in her, it’s clumsy verging on cruel. If it was just an oversight, this is pretty lame. Huggy, in the snitch business for a long time, not to mention proprietor of all manner of drunken secrets, should know better.

Both Joey and Sid are women with men’s names. Joey has insisted on hers as a talisman against girly weakness and Sid has been subsumed by a disappointed father. Both will do anything for a man’s approbation, and will endure all kinds of danger just to feel protected and wanted. Both see femininity as a tricky but powerful weapon rather than something integral to their being. Both are creatures of impulse. Both are driven by a sense of victimization and helplessness. Both prefer to see themselves as passengers rather than conductors on their “runaway trains”. Both give the impression of capricious high spirits but in fact are deeply insecure and despairing. And both are inexorably drawn to the same man.

Carlyle comes to and goes for a syringe on his bedside table, all while the nurse is less than two feet away. Why not wait until she’s out of the room? He can’t be sure she’d be as oblivious as she in fact turns out to be.

I love when Sid, casting about for a way to keep Starsky around, blurts out “do you want to get a room?” (Ignore for a moment the depths she is prepared to go for the sake of the organization). Look how Starsky gives her a quick glance consisting of surprise, pity, wariness and calculation, before gently replying, “No.” It’s probably the nicest rejection Sid ever had and Starsky is able to make it seem more like a compliment than a refusal. Nice work, Glaser.

What’s going on in Hutch’s mind as he walks up to Starsky to “shoot” him? Whatever it is – and it’s likely to be fuck I hope this works –  you can see the shock in Starsky’s face quickly, nearly instantaneously, turn to understanding (you can almost read it: Hutch is in danger of being made, they know cops are involved, he has to prove he’s legit by pretending to shoot me, so go ahead and I’ll make it convincing) in what may be the best psychic moment in the series.

When Starsky goes down, you can see a mark on his shirt, perhaps the “nick” he mentions later. As good as he is with his trusty Magnum, a “nick” would most likely mean something pretty grisly, particularly since Hutch moves pretty fast which compromises accuracy. Starsky is up and about and completely fine moments later. Was he, in fact, injured, or was this the smudge of a powder burn?

Joey having a CB radio in the Mercedes is perhaps the only element of the episode compromising its plausibility . It’s too pat and convenient.  Other than this detail, this is a very well-written episode (despite a personal dislike of the Joey storyline).

Tag: who’s more upset at being considered old, Starsky or Hutch? It seems about even. It’s shocking how fast Joey dumps Starsky after adoring him so ardently, and for so long, and disturbing too how smug she is about snagging the captain of the football team. Her relationship with Starsky hasn’t really had a sexual element to it; for all her clinginess and talk of having a “date” it’s quite sweetly prepubescent. It’s only when she meets the boy in the park does she suddenly burst into estrus. When exactly did she change from earnest tomboy to status-driven manipulator? And why, exactly, is this presented as something cute, a necessary rite of passage into womanhood?

It is a foregone conclusion that Starsky will end up taking Hutch to the Springsteen concert.

Clothing notes: Starsky has stopped wearing his Adidas, and wears brown crepe shoes. He walks into the station room in jeans so tight it’s amazing he can even move around. Hutch wears dark-wash jeans plus a grey wool jacket and both his tusk necklace and the sun and moon necklace, a simultaneous pairing that takes some guts to pull off. When he dresses as the flashy hitman he looks absolutely wonderful in a fedora, scarf and suit ensemble. Starsky wears a nice jacket-and-slacks outfit to pick up Sid.

 

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18 Responses to “Episode 83: Ninety Pounds of Trouble”

  1. Charlote Frost Says:

    I think the real prize of the episode is the scene in the hotel room, where Starsky has that big, long rifle between his legs while giving Hutch a down-and-up look. Their usual flirtations, but usually not accompanied by a big, long, hard prop.

    I’ve also always assumed that Hutch’s “aesthete” line came from Paul Michael Glaser. Way back in the first season of the show, Glaser did a long interview for one of Rona Barett’s Gossip magazines. My recollection (from having probably read it 20 times as an adolescent), is that when he was asked what he looked for in a woman, part of his answer was, “I’m aesthete. I know that sounds like athlete’s foot, but I’m an aesthete, so I like a *pretty* lady, too.” It’s not a commonly-used word.

    And Hutch is just drop-dead gorgeous when he dresses up.

    Charlotte Frost

    • merltheearl Says:

      Nice one, Charlote. I also love the flirty element to the hotel room scene; in fact the entire episode has more lighthearted chemistry between the two leads than is typical in the fourth season. I also like your idea of an injoke in reference to “aesthete”. Only the principals of the series can tell us for sure how much control Glaser and Soul had over the dialogue, but I’m sure they had a lot of leeway, (the whole Lauren and Hardy routine, the Paul Muni look, etc). Thanks for an entertaining comment.

  2. Anachron Says:

    This episode has some very nice elements, but also a number of distractions. Like you, I’m not a fan of the Joey-storyline. Mare Winningham did a nice job of matching Kristy McNichol’s vocal mannerisms, but I find the character, as written in this episode, really annoying – no longer charming, maybe verging on creepy, now that she’s not 12. Starsky has way more patience with her than I would have.

    Bothersome things that jumped out at me: when Carlyle grabs the syringe off the tray, how does he know it’s something that will knock the doctor out? Really, it could have been just about anything in that syringe. And I totally agree with you on the radio in the Mercedes – that immediately caught my attention as “how convenient, but unlikely.” My husband, however, reminded me of how big the CB craze was in the 70s, and he didn’t think it was unrealistic for someone with a Mercedes to have one. Maybe it was a regional thing – he grew up out west, but no one I knew (east coast) had a radio in their car.

    While great story-wise, the pseudo-shooting of Starsky was also stretching it for me on a practical level. I think Hutch was supposed to be shooting Starsky with a blank, rather than a live round – I was seeing a powder burn, rather than blood, on Starsky’s shirt. Aside from the issue of where and when Hutch would have gotten blanks for this spontaneous hit on Starsky (particularly as it looked like the gun he was using was not his regular Python, but a semi-automatic – maybe one of Carlyle’s?), firing even a blank at someone at point-blank range would likely do major damage. It’s probably unrealistic that Starsky would have escaped the “shooting” completely unscathed.

    There is some lovely acting, though. It was fun to read Charlotte’s background on the “aesthete” scene. The whole hotel scene is great, and I particularly love PMG’s delivery of “no, I don’t,” regarding the meaning of aesthete. Watching the episodes now I really appreciate what good actors the two leads were, something I never noticed when I was a teen watching the first run. There are moments that are just brilliant.

    It was also very well-written, overall, with some fun dialogue: when Damon asks if Chez Moi is “that high-priced French place.” Hutch’s reply of “yeah, relatively speaking,” makes me laugh, even as I write this. Does anyone else find that funny? Also, Mrs. Carston’s’ line to Hutch: “Ken, I’m going to share my space with you, for just a second.”

    Finally, in the tag, Hutch teases Starsky, saying that he should be less condescending to Joey. Starsky replies, “I’m doing that girl a favor. She’s got a crush on me.” In response, Hutch says, sotto voce, “I must have a crush on you,” and then louder, “at your age?” What the heck is that? Does Hutch mean that the idea of Joey having a crush on Starsky is so far-fetched that he is just as likely to have one? Hutch has been giggling over Joey’s attentions to Starsky for two episodes, so that interpretation doesn’t seem too likely. Or that that must be the explanation for Starsky treating him poorly, as well? (which Starsky doesn’t really seem to do). Or maybe it was just Soul throwing in a fun line, at the last minute, for fans?

    Thanks for the write-up, Merle. Love reading your work!

    • merltheearl Says:

      Anachron, thank you so much for this wonderfully perceptive commentary. I agree with all your points – a quick chat between two nurses in the doorway, one saying “this should keep him sedated and comfortable”, for example, would solve the thorny issue of what’s in that syringe. Very well spotted, as is your observation about that point-blank shot to the abdomen. Your highlighting the hilarious writing in this episode is also very welcome.

      As for the tag, I’ve watched this episode a few times now and always assumed Hutch is echoing Starsky’s justification about Joey having a crush on him. How could I have missed what he actually does say? I like to think of this as David Soul throwing a little something in for Glaser’s amusement, as well as his own: there’s a certain confidential, bemused way they’re interacting with each other in that moment which appears to negate the idea of performance. But this is a guess. We can make up any interpretation we want in the absence of an authority, which is half the fun.

      Thanks so much again for your thoughtful comments! – Merle

  3. Daniela Says:

    Looking at the episode again, I remember wishing I was in Joey shoes, and how I would not have gone for the young guy… S&H were definitely better!
    Anyhow, the shooting scene, do you think Hutch had a blank in his gun and the blood was fake? Looking at Glaser on the ground after he was shot, the way he was looking around, he didn’t look like somebody who was just shot in the belly…
    I mean there are major organs there… and you don’t get up and about in a few hours from a bullet hole in the gut.
    I think this might be another of those things where at the beginning of their partnership they decided “If I ever have to prove myself to somebody, I will have to shoot you, and I’ll use my ketchup filled fake bullet that I carry with me all the time, to make it look realistic. So if you see me coming at you with a gun, look realistic too and play dead”…
    They have some other moments like this in the series….
    The whole Sid thing… Starsky sure can be charming… too bad it’s not for real… Poor Sid.
    Thanks for your analysis again, I am looking forward to more, although I know Huggy can’t go home is coming up… Not that it was a bad episode, actually it was pretty good…. They should have used this one for a spin off attempt, instead of the Turkey one…
    But there is so little of S&H in it… 😦
    Daniela

    • merltheearl Says:

      Daniela, I agree with Anachron that Starsky had powder burns on him, and that Hutch unloaded the gun before he used it – I initially thought it was a graze injury too, but that seems farfetched, even for this series. Not even an expert sharpshooter could inflict a graze so expertly, and so fast and plus you actually never see genuine pain on Starsky’s face, only surprise. This scene is intensely clairvoyant but it’s buried in this episode; I wish it had been more of a feature than it is.

      • Daniela Says:

        and speaking of clairvoyance, how did Joey know so much about that case to know who Carlyle was and where to find them at the warehouse? And why would she go there after the shooting? It’s not like she was following Hutch.
        And if she knew so much, how come the police didn’t know as much and didn’t post some men to check the warehouse out in case of an emergency?
        It sounds like they used Joey as a thread to string together some events to bring a finale about that might have been a little loose…. But they made it just as loose in a different way…
        Daniela

      • merltheearl Says:

        All good points! Joey sure became a super-sleuth very quickly, when she should have dissolved into ineffectual sobbing when Starsky appeared to get shot. I figure the lack of police presence had a lot to do with Starsky and Hutch deciding to do things their way, with Dobey’s cautious but noncommittal ok.

  4. Todd Pence Says:

    In an episode of the Rockford Files, Jim Rockford used the exact same trick that Starsky used here (pretending to have lost a wallet in the booth she is sitting at) to meet a woman.

  5. Wallis Says:

    This is the type of light-hearted ep that I actually really like — multiple things going on and not relying on a particular gimmick to carry the tone. Unlike some of the other commenters, I have a nostalgic soft spot for the Joey storyline mostly because I remember watching reruns when *I* was fifteen and having just as big a crush on the guys as Joey had on Starsky. Huggy must not really understand teenage girls if he thinks “demented sex fiend” is remotely a turn-off at that convinced-of-invincibility age. (I got the feeling that everyone at the station was being so cavalier because Joey apparently dropped in to harass Starsky several times previously, so by now they know for sure nothing untoward is going on.)

    Speaking of what draws the female eye, the guys look abnormally good even for them throughout this whole episode — Hutch with his beautiful long hair and awesome disguise and dangerous undercover attitude, and Starsky with those amazing jeans (seriously, how does the man even sit down? It looks like the costume department had to sew him into them.) and that incredibly charismatic seduction scene with Sid. And that flirty scene in the hotel! I agree with Charlotte on the hilarity of Starsky’s well-placed giant rifle prop. Throughout, they both seem much more energetic and good-tempered than is normal during season 4.

    The idea of the fake shooting is brilliant. Even though I wish they explained how it was done a bit better, the absolute trust and confidence is just so great. Hutch knows for sure that Starsky won’t let him down and Starsky knows immediately that the only reason Hutch would ever try to shoot him is if he was performing.

  6. Anna Says:

    It occurs to me that it may have been pretty agonizing for Hutch to have to walk away straightfaced without looking back while Starsky’s on the ground after being “shot.” He has no idea if Starsky’s all right or not, even blanks can do damage at such close range, and Starsky definitely looked like he was in pain for the split-second he and Hutch were looking at each other’s faces.

    Hutch really shows off his talent and dedication for undercover work here. Another bit that comes to mind is when he immediately drops into character as soon as he answers the phone, like a switch flipping.

    That scene where Hutch is dressing up in the hotel room while Starsky watches is one of my favorite scenes in the whole show, to be honest. Starsky looks at Hutch with so much pure adoration and affection, and Hutch seems so happy and zestful and even as he fumbles and fidgets he seems more at ease than he’s been since season 3, and the way he shows off for Starsky and asks for his approval is incredibly endearing. The soft layered lighting gives the whole scene an extra aura of coziness, gentleness and warmth too. Also, on a more shallow note, I’m not sure why, because I’m incredibly visually unperceptive about this stuff, but Starsky looks absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful in that scene. Something to do with the lighting? Camera angle? Makeup? Hairstyling? SOMEone on the production side’s at fault, and I could give them a kiss.

  7. Sugarbush Says:

    I really just wanted to chime in that I agree that Starsky and Hutch seem a lot happier and more affectionate throughout this episode than they usually are in season four. It’s really nice and comforting.

    This episode also has one of my favorite shots in the whole show: when Starsky is watching Hutch being so cute, fussing with his hat and fiddling around when he’s getting into character in the hotel room, and Starsky’s looking fond and amused, then he looks Hutch over, then he looks back up to Hutch’s face, and then his eyes just…melt, and transform into this completely adoring expression that’s so beautiful to see. He just loves Hutch so much. Sometimes, it’s the tiny little throwaway moments that make their friendship so believable.

  8. stybz Says:

    This episode turned out to be a lot better than I feared. I had no idea it was Joey until I started watching it, and that made it easier to take, because she had a history that we are familiar with. She also wasn’t as bad a pest as I worried she’d be, mainly because she wasn’t that way previously. So this helped.

    I was relieved to find out that while Joey does mess up the situation with Sid, she didn’t continue to screw up the case. So that was good.

    I was also pleasantly surprised at Mare Winningham’s performance. She often plays very soft, sensitive characters. So I wasn’t sure how she’d portray Joey. She did a good job of matching Kristy’s behavior while making Joey her own, though Kristy is obviously better at playing a tough kid. 🙂 I found it amusing that she’s left-handed as well, since Kristy is too. 🙂

    Merle, I really like your analysis of this episode. You brought up some great points that I agree with.

    I agree with Wallis that Joey’s infatuation wasn’t inappropriate. She had a schoolgirl crush and Starsky was the unfortunate target. The cops were enjoying his discomfort at his expense. 🙂

    Anyone notice that after Starsky gives them all a dirty look, he turns, but doesn’t quite make it all the way around and nearly walks into the door. 🙂

    I just loved it when they said Carlyle is staying at the Georgian Hotel. I stayed there over a year ago. It’s a nice hotel. 🙂 The exterior looks the same, except it’s blue instead of white these days. 🙂 And it’s very close to the Miramar Hotel. 🙂

    My biggest problem with the episode was the fact that with all the gunshots one would think Schiller would have gotten wind of something happening at the Georgian Hotel even if it didn’t involve Carlyle. I realize most of the rooms were probably empty during the day, but surely someone heard something. The back lot of the hotel is concealed from the street, so I can accept it if the general public didn’t see him fall, but gunshots would have been heard. After all, the safe-cracker who squealed to the police about Carlyle got his information from Damon (or Sid or another of Schiller’s men), so Schiller knew Carlyle was staying there. And yet they wanted to meet Carlyle at the hotel?

    And the fact that Hutch stays in that room is interesting. What about the bullet holes on the door?

    I’d like to think that Starsky’s been agonizing about Joey to Hutch and Huggy during his off hours at The Pits. It’s possible Hutch teased him about her and that’s how Huggy found out. I liked that both Huggy and Dobey try to talk Joey out of her infatuation. 🙂

    Merle, you asked why Carlyle didn’t wait for the nurse to leave before taking the syringe. He couldn’t as she took the tray with her when she left the room. So he had to take the chance.

    Did anyone notice that when Carlyle grabs the syringe, it’s empty, but later when he injects the doctor there’s some strange brown liquid inside?

    I wonder if by showing it filled if they wanted the audience to know that he wasn’t going to kill the doctor (air in the veins), but sedate him for a while. Or maybe they wanted us to wonder if he did kill the doctor or not and left it hanging. Is Carlyle like John Colby? He doesn’t kill people he wasn’t paid to eliminate? Or is this a case of how much the audience does or doesn’t know? How many people at that time knew that an injection with a syringe filled with air can cause a slow death? Or was that deemed to violent to depict him pulling the plunger back, taking in air?

    I found Sid’s question to Starsky about getting a room to be a very poignantly sad commentary of her life. Yes, she has to stay with him, but surely they could have just gone back into the bar, or she could have suggested the stroll. However, her statement to him about how lousy the world is, followed by the offer, makes me think this is how Carlyle (and possibly Schiller) treats her. She probably has been used so many times, she figures that Starsky would do that same. And his sympathetic rejection tells her he’s not that way at all.

    I wonder if she’s been the “prize” of the mobsters for a while. In a way, she resembles Marianne from Ballad of a Blue Lady. She’s in that life through no choice of her own, and used for the enjoyment of others. We never see Marianne get sexually used, but it’s possible that she might have headed that way if Hutch hadn’t entered her life. Fitch had a definite attachment to her.

    The gunshot is an interesting thing. Back in the 70’s this scene was extremely effective. We see the gun go off in a split second and Starsky goes down. Since there were no VHS/DVDs/DVRs back then, we could only speculate. I’m surprised that they didn’t go to a commercial at this point, leaving the audience in shocked suspense until they came back from the break and continue the scene.

    The whole thing plays out interestingly. First we see the powder burns and the movement of his shirt (when we slow down the DVD to see it). The gun is aimed at the center of his abdomen. In reality it would be impossible for him to be nicked at that angle, but it’s likely that David probably did hold the gun at an angle, but the close-up, which was filmed later, was altered for effect.

    I’m convinced that Hutch used blanks. Most of us viewers didn’t know at the time that blanks can do damage at close range. No blood is shown at all, not in the close-up or later. So I think we’re supposed to believe that in the end when the dust settled that Starsky didn’t get hurt and that it was all an act with blanks. And I think at the end of the day this is what the writers intended.

    Also, Starsky’s lack of movement on the pavement is reminiscent of the fake shootout at The Pits in The Game. He doesn’t move a muscle. Perhaps he thinks he has to do it that way to show that he’s seriously hurt, so here he’s doing the same by barely moving.

    Then later, when Starsky is wincing on the ground after Joey leaves, two things could be happening. One is he’s continuing the pretense in case she returns. And the other is that the whole thing happened so fast he’s a bit shaken and needs a moment to regroup.

    Later at the station when he tells Joey “they missed”, his jacket is buttoned, but at the warehouse it’s wide open and there’s not a mark on his shirt. So I think we’re supposed to assume he wasn’t hurt at all.

    However, we can spin this a bit, while keeping it in canon (despite the close-up and the lack of markings on the shirt at the warehouse). Since we do know that blanks can do some damage at close range, then we can assume that at the very least Starsky did get nicked and it surprised him. Hutch might have aimed to the side (despite the close-up showing otherwise), and some of the wadding might have grazed the skin. This is why Starsky doesn’t double-over or roll on his side when he first hits the pavement. He’s playing it up for Sid and the bystanders, but his actions also show a bit of surprise, as if he’s thinking, “Damn, that smarts. I gotta tell Hutch to aim a bit wider next time.” And this feeling continues after Joey drives off, leaving him sitting on the ground leaning forward and wincing.

    Later at the station when he tells her that “they” missed, he could have been lying in order to stop her fussing over him and to stay away, which almost worked if it hadn’t been for the fact that she followed Hutch back to the warehouse.

    As for Hutch, I can totally see him packing blanks just in case. What if he had to make the hit on the union official? He would need the blanks in case he had to make it believable, perhaps getting some sort of message to the man to go down and pretend to be dead. He’s “acting”, playing a hit man, so he needs the props, and blanks would be a part of that. He might also have had a secondary gun with real bullets strapped to his ankle. It wouldn’t be the first time. Damon didn’t check there, but there was no way for Hutch to have successfully reached for the gun, and he had no reason to do so as long as he could keep the act going.

    Hutch had plenty of time to load the gun with blanks while Damon picked up the car to go after Starsky. The question is whether he knew blanks could be lethal at close range. How many people really knew that prior to the death of John Erik Hexum? Hutch aims wide at Starsky, figures he’ll be okay, because it’s a blank, then wanders off continuing in character, thinking Starsky will just get up and keep going, which he does. 🙂

    If Starsky had been nicked, imagine the discussion either in Dobey’s office or at the Pits where Starsky tells Hutch to either aim wider next time or stand further back. Then Hutch gets concerned and they struggle as Hutch grabs Starsky’s shirt to see the wound. Starsky feels badly, not wanting his friend to worry, but it’s too late. He smiles and insists he’s fine, but Hutch won’t relax until he sees it for himself. “It’s just a scratch, partner. I’m fine.”

    As for the tag, I think Hutch was just teasing Starsky at his expense, again. Not only that, but they play up their ages quite a bit to set up for the let down of finding out that Joey referred to them as her uncles. 🙂 I liked how Hutch said he’s only slightly younger than Starsky, which is true in real life (David is only a few months younger than Paul). 🙂

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you, stybz. I especially appreciate your complete rundown of the fake shooting. I had considered all or most of that as I was writing my post but I just left it out, as posing the question was more fun than working out the answer. I often wonder if this blog would be better served if I loosened up my writing style from interrogative to declarative and just wrote out the explanations to whatever mystery-of-the-moment I’m contemplating.

      • stybz Says:

        I think it’s a tough decision, because I can understand the intent either way. On the one hand by asking the question you spark a discussion, On the other hand, if you make it more declarative, then others will understand your point-of-view. 🙂

        Maybe when you revisit an episode you can add some more of your POV into the posting and refer back to the original one as a way to share your responses to your own questions? Just a thought. 🙂

  9. Anna Says:

    Stybz’s comment reminded me: this is the second time this season that Starsky mimes getting fatally shot. Once in The Game, and again here.

    Maybe I’m giving the scriptwriters too much credit, but it really, really feels like deliberate foreshadowing for Sweet Revenge.

  10. McPierogiPazza Says:

    Technical questions aside, I loved the shock of seeing Hutch shoot Starsky. While it was clear to the audience that it was faked, it was jarring in the initial seconds. I like the look on Starsky’s face right after he sends Joey to get an ambulance. He looks to the side in a way that broadcasts “God, I hope this is working.”

    Ann Prentiss, Joey’s mom, talks about getting into Hutch’s space. She was also in an episode of “Emergency!” where she was all over the captain while her character’s daughter was rescued from a burning tree. In that case it was just odd. Intentional or not, she was kinda weird in both shows. Sadly, she had some really awful problems late in life, including trying to arrange a hit on her father and on her brother-in-law Richard Benjamin.

    Mare Winnngham did a good job, but I missed Kristy McNichol. I was so baffled that she wasn’t in huge trouble for meddling in the case. Sure, she helped save Hutch, but she put him in danger to begin with! Did I miss something?

    • merltheearl Says:

      Because I write these posts with little or no internet research, I like it when readers provide such interesting snippets such as this. Poor Ann Prentiss. Watching her excellent performance, it’s easy to sense a lot of fragility there.

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