Let’s Revisit Our Character Overviews

The long view is always illuminating.

Part one: Hutch

So much of what we understand about Hutch we glean through a briefly-glimpsed shadow side, choices the actor makes with body language and tone of voice. Often Hutch is snappish or abrupt and just as often he is gentle and empathetic; often he is clumsy and sometimes exceptionally graceful. Very often in Season Four he works alone, very often he is the one to make the rational decision rather than the instinctual one. He likes to mar his beauty with brash undercover personas and grotesque disguises while his partner emphasizes his with cartoonishly magnified romanticism. He expresses an interest in computers, he is witty, he is emotionally variable. He is a Midwestern boy with a Swedish heritage, athletic and smart. He has married and divorced (how often we don’t know; like Starsky’s geography, this essential detail is not clear). These things we know. What we do not know, what is never told to us, is how he came to be here, in dusty, gritty Bay City, and why a man with his extraordinary good looks, intelligence and professional success is so angry so much of the time, and why has someone with so many markers for introversion let himself to be so inextricably linked, in life and career, to his colleague, partner, and friend David Starsky. And it’s these whys and hows I’ll attempt to answer here. My observations are built on quicksand, and that is both the joy and the frustration of it. I’m guessing, pure and simple, falling into the unknowable waters of the intemperate, brave, resolute and complicated Kenneth Hutchinson.

Calm, controlled, disciplined, serious by nature and predominantly conflicted. Easily hurt, quick to anger. The child of possibly upper-middle-class parents (there is something patrician about Hutch that no serape, rubber nose or dented Ford can quite disguise), with a sister. A conspicuous risk-taker (cub scouts, sea scouts, lifeguard, first aid, wrestling, championship dart-playing, and all manner of daredevil sports) and a preoccupation with self-reliance that does much to build a portrait of a man who is trying to stabilize or even reform himself. Doesn’t like being on his own, and yet finds difficulty in forming bonds. Is prone to saying and doing things without completely understanding his own motivations, such as the perennial teasing of Starsky which verges on cruelty but which is actually a mechanism to keep himself safe. Likes to play the superiority card, which performs three tasks: it’s a distancing tactic, a test of fidelity and an unconscious ploy to be relied upon or needed (Let’s ask Hutchinson, he has all the answers!). Has difficulty getting close to people – continually questioning those who profess to like him – and may be more invested in this partnership/friendship than Starsky is, if only because he feels he has fewer options. It’s possible what he dislikes most about himself is his own profound dependence on Starsky, believing it makes him vulnerable to exploitation, to an inevitable let down, and in low moments wonders if he’d be better off alone. Hides the depth of his feelings through condescension, the opposite of Starsky, who hides his through banality. When relaxed, can be wonderfully self-deprecating, but when pressured becomes proud and unapproachable. Is a very good fabricator, which makes him a great undercover cop. In fact it could be that it’s all fake, to some extent: the superiority, the cavalier attitude, the arrogance, the pushiness. Used to being the best-looking guy in every room, which is both a bane and a source of pride. He protects and bolsters his looks while simultaneously satirizing them, which may explain the strict diet, the jogging, the tidy and occasionally flashy or silly sartorial choices. Has an affinity for the Woody Guthrie-esque wrong side of the tracks, the lowlifes and country music bars and the open road he believes is truer and more authentic than his own reality of suburban ranchers and liberal-arts degrees. Is obsessed with concepts of truth and authenticity because of a feeling of alienation but in reality is intelligent, perceptive, creative, honorable, loyal and brave. Throughout the four years we are fortunate enough to know him, he travels down the same path as Starsky: the path of self-knowledge, which rightly ends with himself as hero and savior, his fullest and best self revealed. For four years he has been struggling with choices, making the wrong or hurtful one as often as the honest or courageous one. His struggles are ours. He has been cruel when he should have been kind, thoughtless when discipline was called for, but haven’t we all? And in the end he makes the ultimate choice – to go forward, to face the fear head on, to keep going when all around him tell him to stop, to allow himself to admit that what propels him, what defines him, and what gives his life meaning, is the thing he has not always wanted to acknowledge.

Part Two: Starsky

What we know about Starsky will fill a thimble, what we think we know about Starsky is immense. Like Hutch, the facts of his biography, sprinkled through four years of uneven scripts, are few and also inconsistent. The writers have chosen to make him as east coast as Hutch is west coast, which is, in American stereotype, meant to imply he is tough, bossy, urban, practical, forthright, possibly Jewish and possibly merely “ethnic” in a vague melting-pot way, possibly anchored by a large and boisterous multi-generational family unit and possibly not (those numerous aunts and uncles are awfully abstract, and the loss of a father can mean a broken or peripatetic family). We know his mother is alive, far away, probably in New York with his volatile, resentful younger brother. We do know that he is easy-going, confident, on the quiet side, and we know that he is less likely to feel the need to prove himself than his sometimes-brittle partner, which may imply a stable and strong sense of self. We know that he is emotionally centered, romantically successful, charming, and imaginative. Hutch calls him a hedonist and we have no cause to doubt it. These things we know because we observe them often. But what we don’t know is how he came to be this way, since the Facts are in opposition to the man. The facts are that Starsky’s father was murdered in something connected to the mob, a deeply fracturing event that would shatter the psyches of most people. And while I always have the feeling both Starsky and Hutch are on the journey toward enlightenment, which is why this series has such a profound sense of importance, Starsky appears to be a little further down the road than his complicated partner. Exactly why, I have no idea, but it may have something to do with a lack of weighty baggage, the sense you have that Starsky really is free in a fundamental way, what the Buddhists may call śūnyatā. And so without the aid of canonical facts, here I go into the dark:

Composed, explosive, confident, physically graceful, deeply loyal. Like Hutch, the “inside” does not match the “outside”: in Starsky’s case he is more concerned with the corporal, the factual, and the immediate than with suppositions or abstracts while outwardly advocating for the absurd and the childish. Intense, emotionally present, flirtatious, easily angered, easily calmed. “Crummy,” to use a phrase by Hutch, in his choice of clothes but exacting and neat in his private spaces.  Neat and, one suspects, neatly compartmentalized. Has the unusual ability to be comfortable in both solitude and in groups; a team player but good on his own. Optimistic by nature and rational, and can be conventional in his thinking, a strong sense of right and wrong. Can also be myopic and stubborn, lightened by a great sense of humor. Quick to blame himself, to the point of martyrdom, a trait shared by his partner. Less in need of external cues than Hutch. Doesn’t feel the need to explain himself, which is the mark of a masterful, confident man. Has a healthy, seemingly indestructible ego (ironic, since Hutch, quick to lord everything over Starsky – social standing, intelligence, etiquette, lifestyle and choice of cars – secretly harbors feelings of low self-worth). Is more natural and effortless with displays of love and loyalty than Hutch is. Withdraws when attacked. Unusually, he can be at his best when angry: his anger is majestic and controlled rather than rash or erratic, and is also almost always altruistic in nature. Put another way, he is more likely to become angry on behalf of others, or perceived injustice, rather than for his own needs and purposes. Is also sentimental, given to enthusiasms, and likes things like stuffed animals and toys and token objects, like cars and watches. Is sensitive to emotional tenor, is watchful and thoughtful. Uses charm to get what he wants, the hallmark of a favorite child (which may explain his brother’s insecurities). Seems to viscerally understand the mechanics of friendship and love, and is continually working, on some obscure and covert level, to keep that friendship working smoothly, even if it means subjecting himself to teasing and criticism. Despite seemingly to be more casual about emotions than Hutch, he is in fact deeply sincere and “in touch” with them. The more emotional he feels the less he shows it, often hiding the negative emotions, fear and anger, under a smooth veneer of cracking jokes and acting cool (while Hutch is more liable to revert to sarcasm or tension in the same situation). Loves to flirt, is simultaneously facile and oddly sincere in flirtation, a ploy to get what he desires (chiefly female approval) as well as a method of avoiding confrontation, serious conversation, or to hide social embarrassment. His balanced and durable self allows him to be, at the end of this journey, the goal of that journey. Stay with me here. He falls, and Hutch must catch him in time. He becomes, then, the rock that is thrown into the air. That rock is both weapon and instrument, object of self-preservation and empowerment as Hutch moves through the stages of bewilderment, loss, rage and finally resolution. This is the perfect last act of Starsky: his stability and selflessness is given its purest expression as he lays motionless in a hospital bed, allowing himself to be saved, and in turn, saving his partner.


27 Responses to “Let’s Revisit Our Character Overviews”

  1. merltheearl Says:

    Thank you, Isabel.

  2. Blunderbuss Says:

    Of all your beautiful and insightful comments on this series, I think this is your most beautiful and insightful yet.

    I like that this makes note of what is known, what is not known but suggested to be likely, and what is an ambiguous possibility. I love in particular the perspective on their journey through the seasons, and how their journey’s resolution in “Sweet Revenge” resonates so well and is so emblematic of their characters. (And is doubly evocative in coming right after Starsky vs Hutch).

    My eyes actually welled up with tears upon reading your exquisite analysis of Starsky’s role in Sweet Revenge, which is unconscious and accidental from an in-universe perspective (though possibly not entirely unintentional — rather than hit the deck, he remains on his feet, his body between Hutch and danger, and tries to draw his weapon when Hutch screams at him to get down) but symbolically imbued with Starsky-ness, pure and quintessential. This element of your post is one of the most elegant story-interpretations I can recall.

    I see this part as showing that the lines between fiction and reality need to blur to be truly intelligible, the fictional meaning overriding the literal events. Starsky does not need to prove himself to himself, but Hutch does; Starsky possesses more self-knowledge than Hutch, but Hutch is reaching for it too; and Starsky’s generosity and love for his friend is so deep it transcends the fourth wall, the barrier between the internal universe and the real world, and reaches into his identity as a fictional character, not just as a person. As a fictional character, he gives up his very self – his status as protagonist and agent and subject of the story – so that Hutch can use him as a means to finally attain what you describe, and Hutch, as a fictional character as well, incorporates this gift with acceptance and understanding, if his sublime joy in the tag, different from anything he’s ever shown before, is anything to go by.

  3. Wallis Says:

    This is wonderful. You have elevated the themes and symbols and accidental layers of meaning and direction in this show to a whole new level. And your evidence is so careful to avoid blanket statements about things that are not explicit that it’s hard to dispute with the overall thrust even if different people can disagree over one of the small claims or another.

    The part at the end where you talk about Starsky in Sweet Revenge touches me in a way I have no words for.

    • merltheearl Says:

      I’m glad you were sympathetic in the direction I was taking. You’re right, I was careful not to build walls, but rather carve a path for people who enjoy thinking about characters in this detailed way. It wasn’t until I began writing these sketches did the full-circle element make itself clear to me – I think I shivered too!

  4. Tanya Says:

    This is stunning merl. So detailed and thoughtful! It is great that this separates the guesses from the facts, but all of it makes so much sense and hangs together so well.

    I think there’s only a couple I would argue with: while I agree that Starsky’s anger is serious and altruistic and not erratic, I would not quite call it “not rash”, given his inclination to express it with unproductive violence. And according to what I’ve heard, introversion is actually a perfect recipe for making few (or just one) deep friendships, rather than many shallow ones, so this is not incongruous with Hutch’s character. There’s just a couple of more descriptors I also associate with them: for Starsky, his immense generosity both concrete and emotional, and for Hutch, his conscientious and natural nurturing ways. You do touch on these traits, but not explicitly, so I thought I would mention them. Forgive me if I missed something!

    I agree with the comments above that your bit about Starsky’s “last act” gave me shivers. I think I unconsciously knew this before, as a vague feeling of rightness about how the show ended, but could never quite figure out just what that rightness was.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Tanya, I really appreciate your subtle re-framing of this analysis and I think you express it much better than I did. Of course you’re absolutely right about introversion and also about Starsky’s occasional violent lashing out, which is indeed unproductive and immature even if understandable. I guess I was thinking more about his determined actions in “The Plague” and other episodes in which anger is a motivating force. But I am so glad you pointed these things out. I knew I wouldn’t get everything, and I also knew what I did write could be (and should be) successfully rebutted. Thanks for your gentle nod in another direction.

  5. Lee Says:

    Wow. Not only were your comments so very accurate and insightful, but, reading them again, I gained tremendous insight into myself, and my loved ones. You mention that Starsky is “…sensitive to emotional tenor, is watchful and thoughtful…deeply sincere and “in touch” with them” (emotions). I immediately pictured his reluctance to point out the gum wrappers that would implicate Hutch’s childhood friend’s fiancé in the episode, “Terror on the Docks.” And I thought of my reluctance to discuss potentially confrontational subjects and compared that to the lack of reluctance, even boldness, that others show in the same type of situation. I used to attribute this to a sort of meekness on my part, and an indifferent or cavalier attitude on theirs. But, maybe, as you have pointed out, this sensitivity is rather a reflection of a level of empathy one has in a given situation, or does not have, as the case may be. How enlightening! Thank you!

    • merltheearl Says:

      I’m very moved by this comment. Every time real life situations are made more clear, or if people gain insight, it’s a truly marvelous thing. I’m the same way, Lee. I’ve come understand more about myself and maybe inch toward forgiveness, through these characters.

    • Spencer Says:

      To Lee and Merltheearl, I loved your observations about Starsky’s “reluctance to discuss potentially confrontational subjects” being a result of his “sensitivity . . . a reflection of a level of empathy one has in a given situation.” I always thought that about the Starsky v. Hutch episode. In the analysis of that episode Merltheearl states: “It’s worth noting Starsky doesn’t do anything to ignite Hutch’s aggression. Instead, he wearily acknowledges it, and seems victimized rather than antagonized.” Then later: “Seemingly unable to directly confront his partner about his fears regarding Kira, he instead tries to talk about procedure and schedules.” At this point Merltheearl, you indicated you felt Starsky’s passivity was a bit of a problem. I always thought that he wasn’t being passive, rather, reluctant to confront based on his sensitivity – as so beautifully put in this overview. Thanks for pulling it all together so eloquently, Merl. And yes, I’ve come to learn more about myself, understand the dynamics of friendship, and to more fully appreciate the people in my life through this wonderful series.

  6. Adelaide Says:

    As I first started to read, I thought this was simply an excellent elaboration on your earlier Character Studies of these characters. As I read further, I realized this is not only that, but also a beautifully simple illumination of what this series’ “story” really is. I’ve made some vague, half-formed attempts to articulate my opinion that this show’s true story is not precisely what we see on the screen. What we see on the screen is sort of like a trail of footprints — evidence from which, with close study, people can extrapolate information about the mysterious animal that made them. Or like the shadow-silhouettes of physical objects the cave-dwellers in Plato’s Republic can see. The real story this show tells is something that emerges into plain view only in certain moments and episodes, and at most other times is seen in a mostly indirect way, with a whole lot of white noise mixed in.

    I think this post (the cumulative endings of each character study, backed up by the supporting evidence of the character traits) does an incomparably fulfilling job of tying together the floating and half-submerged threads of the show and laying bare its real story.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you! I’m trying not to be too didactic here, this is an interpretation only, but I’m glad you see it as I do. And anyone who references Plato is aces in my book.

      • Adelaide Says:

        Oh yes absolutely — since the writers did not have any secret “real story” they were intentionally telling on the sly, obviously there can never be one single real story that is *the* truth and not an interpretation. But this interpretation extrapolates one that is both in line with the source material and pulls it together to create a natural next layer, in a way that *looks* like a further-completed expansion of the story the show has partially told — even though it is of course an illusion since no one true completed story can actually exist. I guess that’s the hard part about interpreting things according to their effect/output rather than their creators’ intent/input — kind of like fairy tales.

  7. Anna Says:

    I read this post back when you first posted it, but have still not been able to think of a good response. This post has summed things up so simply and as stated above, elegantly, cutting through all the BS to put a finger on that ineffable *thing* that causes the complexities in this show, and makes it feel so authentic and raw rather than engineered and programmed. Things like the dense texture and intricate detail that comes of the characters being simultaneously wildly different yet enmeshed into one entity. Things like the tension in how they are balanced equal partners, yet asymmetrical, not so complementary as to totally interlock leaving no charged gaps — if these men were molecules, they would be somewhat reactive and volatile, not drearily stable compounds. Things like the sense of momentum and dynamism that comes out of the way their characters follow paths that diverge, that lag, and are even lop-sided in a few ways (for example, fans can explain and analyze until they are blue in the face — the fact remains that there is no tit-for-tat episode to balance out Starsky vs. Hutch, nor need there be), yet anything that causes divergence or incompleteness is put back together, made sense of, and re-integrated by the final episode.

    I hope that wasn’t too incomprehensible a comment, but I can’t think of a more concrete way to put it. As this post says, so much of what we think, and what we are convinced about, regarding these two men’s inner characters, comes from subtle patterns and impressions, not hard evidence.

    (One small note: I think you might have accidentally deleted a comment? I see a reply comment from you addressing Isabel, but no original comment from this commenter.)

    • merltheearl Says:

      Absolutely perfectly put. I’ve been stunned by the response to this post and feel as if the comments have been an integral part of the post. Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts so beautifully.

      The comment to Isabel acknowledged a request from a reader who encouraged me to ensure this revision didn’t stay buried in the blog (as it had been for weeks) but instead added to the Character Studies series. I took her advice, and am glad I did!

  8. Louie Says:

    The last part of Starsky’s section put a lump in my throat and I still can’t find the words to explain exactly why, there is something hushed about the feeling it gave me…but I am glad that from the comments it seems many other people feel the same way…

    I like the bit when it says Hutch “Is prone to saying and doing things without completely understanding his own motivations, such as the perennial teasing of Starsky which verges on cruelty but which is actually a mechanism to keep himself safe.” Hutch seems to always assume that he’s on shaky ground even when no one is targeting him! He is always deploying some emotional weapon or another to give himself an edge…and he mostly uses them on Starsky, as if he views Starsky as…not as an enemy, but as some kind of potential threat to his sense of self that he has to handle/tame. The idea that he doesn’t even know why he is doing this is probably like real life…a lot of people’s reactions to other people’s behavior isn’t a conscious logical decision, it’s a subconscious mental shortcut from repeated experiences or messages earlier in their life.

  9. Ruth Says:


    That is in response to the last few sentences of Starsky’s part of this post, about Sweet Revenge.

    I have no other words for this yet, except to refer to the time that I once clumsily tried to talk about meta-textual storytelling in the Gillian review. You (as well as Blunderbuss) convey this idea 1000% better.

  10. Miche Says:

    Hi there,

    Don’t know if it’s appropriate to chime in much after the fact like this but I would like to share some thoughts I have after reading a lot but not all of comments on this blog.

    I just recently found your site Merl. I am blown-away by your brilliant writing – it touches the heart – and that of blog followers. It is very enjoyable and thought provoking. It gives me a deeper appreciation for a show I love. In all honesty it is more S&H’s relationship that appeals to me than anything else. I am not big on the action or the car.

    I am also a big fan of the friendship and humanity of DS and PMG. I love watching interviews of the two together or separate. I’ve watched the SurCon 2013-14 DVDs – what a treat! It is interesting to see all the correlations (love, affection, devotion, humor, sarcasm…) between the characters and the men themselves. Their love for one another is palpable and real. How interesting that life keeps reuniting them… How wonderful for us also.

    The characters…

    Although Hutch can come across as saying mean things to Starsky, I see those moments as expressions of love camouflaged with sarcasm and humor. At the risk of sounding sexist, isn’t that a guy thing? Those moments rarely if not ever hit me as being mean-spirited. I had not thought of that before reading it here.

    To me, Starsky’s non-reactive stance, stems from a deep confidence in Hutch’s love for him and his love for Hutch. There is nothing Hutch can say to shake that knowing in Starsky. The trust is deeply-rooted and unshakable. It’s interesting how this is also what DS and PMG often point to while talking about their relationship on the set, behind and in front of the camera, and from what I see, ever since then. They were partners all the way. Sure they had their moments… as PMG has stated in an interview, ‘they loved each other and they pissed each other off, it was a real solid friendship’. Remind you of two characters we so love?

    I don’t remember who pointed to this on the site – that in their relationship, Hutch appears at times like a big brother to Starsky or that Starsky looks up to Hutch in that way – that has always rang true for me, even way back in the early 80s when I first saw the show. It’s not that Starsky loves Hutch more than vice-versa, how can love ever be measured? I feel Starsky thinks the world of Hutch. Maybe this has to do with the characters’ natures. Starsky is more intense, emotional and passionate. He more easily wears his feelings on his sleeve while Hutch is more reserved and tends to hide his feelings with humor and sarcasm. Of course, this dynamic is not totally consistent, as in real-life, we as humans vary from moment to moment in our way of dealing with things.

    I don’t believe that there is anything Hutch can do in Starsky’s eyes to taint the love and trust that they feel for one another. I would say the same applies for Hutch.

    It appears the same holds true for DS and PMG. A lot of water under the bridge in the last 42 years or so, yet the love is there, in a deeper and more real way in my eyes.

    Evidently, although I clearly know that S&H are characters and that DS & PMG are real-life men, the lines are often blurred between the characteristics of their roles and their real world characteristics. And isn’t that the gift they gave the world?

    It’s beautiful to witness.

    Having recently found this site, I hope it is still alive.


    • merltheearl Says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, M., and I assure you the blog is very much alive. I’m interested in writing more about the series, but after a hundred or so posts I’m struggling to come up with something fresh to write critically about; I have a dozen or so half-baked ideas scribbled down somewhere but I’m looking for something that doesn’t require me to research a subject outside the series (political or fashion themes, crime statistics, etc). I prefer the blog to be inward-looking and exempt from too much historical overview, mostly because of my time constraints.

      • Miche Says:

        Thank you, Merl. I’m very happy that the blog is still very much alive. It’s lovely to be able to connect with others who share in the great love for the show. And I appreciate your desire for the blog to be inward-looking. This is so fitting with what the strength of the show is all about.


  11. Edon Says:

    Hi Merl—I love your blog. If I haven’t read every post yet I soon will, and I wish you’d make more…but everyone says that. I want to thank you very, very much for giving Starsky and Hutch the thorough, serious attention it deserves, for it is an underrated show. You do some superb analysis that only helps me appreciate this show more. So thank you.

    One question for you: you say Hutch exhibits signs of introversion. What are these signs? I suppose that stereotypically Starsky could be seen as the “extroverted” one, while Hutch is the “introverted” one, but Starsky seems introverted at times too. I myself don’t see a lot of signs that Hutch is for sure an introvert–especially observing his behavior in “The Las Vegas Stranger” with Jack Mitchell. You mention in that analysis that he might have reformed after his high school days, but an introvert is an introvert is an introvert. Hutch, if he is one, has always been one since the day he was born. So maybe he was pretending to be an extrovert around Mitchell–or else he isn’t an introvert. I love these psychological analyses of characters (even if based on speculation), and I’d be curious to know your thoughts. What are those markers for introversion for Hutch? I don’t see them necessarily, but maybe you do.

    • merltheearl Says:

      Hi Edon, thank you for the kind comments and what an excellent question! It really made my wheels turn, and forced me to ask myself why is it that I see Hutch as an introvert. Is it solely because I, too, have fallen for the dichotomy of the pair, the perfect matching of opposites, a theory I myself have disabused so often in the past? Or perhaps am I over-identifying with him for my own reasons?

      The answer lies, as it so often does with this series, on inference. Far more likely to be working alone, either voluntarily or through tragic circumstances, (“Shootout”, “Blindfold”, “Running”, “Lady Blue”, “Blindfold”, “The Avenger”, “The Fix”, “Sweet Revenge” or course, and “Murder Ward”, among others) I often have the feeling that Hutch is comfortable working on his own, as he does in “The Avenger” in that remarkable scene with the identikit, and the self-contained way he searches the apartment in “Class in Crime”, but there are just as many scenes in which he simply can’t wait to share discoveries with his partner, as in “Sweet Revenge” and the computer print outs. We often see him home by himself (“Vendetta”, “Fatal Charm”, “Foxy Lady”) with something like relief after a busy day, which may indicate a homebody; he’s also seen cooking (well) and tending houseplants. He is much more serious in personality than Starsky, and can be irritable when Starsky is loud, gregarious, or goofy. These are flimsy, I know. My strongest feeling that he might he an introvert – and I admit, Edon, that you are convincing me to put the “might” in my supposition – that he has shown, throughout the series, to have some kind of fiercely private inner self. This is the self-talking, the inward smirks, the privately-experienced anguish in “Little Girl Lost” and “Vendetta”, the major decisions he makes without consult for his own benefit (resigning in “Targets”, hiding Jeanie in “The Fix”, his baffling pursuit of Kira in “SvH”, redirecting Starsky from Abbie), his often-expressed disdain for people in general (and his often cruel and stupid undercover personalities, which may be both parody and mockery) and his amusing bitterness about the inconvenient, impersonal, machine-driven world at large, which he believes sets him apart from others.

      If introversion officially, is the act of directing one’s attention toward one’s own interests, thoughts, and feelings, as well as the state or tendency toward being predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life, as the dictionary states, I think it may apply to this beautiful and complex character.

      • Edon Says:

        Hi Merle, thank you for the detailed response. Your examples include ones I have thought of, and ones that escaped my notice. He certainly does seem comfortable working alone and has a very strong inner self, even if he does criticize himself a lot. I do think he is an introvert, but I couldn’t quite find evidence. Thank you for your help.

        I find I identify a lot with Hutch, but one thing that bothers me repeatedly is his irritability: for no reason he will belittle Starsky or someone else, out of the blue, seemingly without remorse. Obviously this is because of his (possibly) low self-esteem (about which I tend to agree with you), but why do you think Hutch chooses to handle it this way? I myself have struggled with similar issues and I tend to appease people and be as kind as possible. I don’t let my frustration, pain, etc. get to the surface. Hutch, however, seems to use it to hurt others. Why this reaction? Of course each person is unique, but I’d like to know your thoughts.

      • merltheearl Says:

        What a great opportunity to dive into my favorite topic: the mind of Kenneth Hutchinson. His irritability and default sarcasm is one of the best and murkiest aspects of his personality. I also relate far more to this mercurial character than the quieter, more stable, arguably more composed Starsky. In my opinion, Hutch has absolutely no conscious idea why the jabs at Starsky’s diet and appearance, why he’s so controlling and aggressive, why he takes such sadistic glee at his best friend’s foibles. And this from someone who prides himself on his psychological acuity and intelligent skepticism. It’s such a wonderful conundrum and one I wish we could see onscreen more consistently; we’re left to pick at the hints and scraps David Soul provides us with, often (I suspect) of his own creation, in spite of the script. Part of his inability to understand himself is the machismo of the times, part of it is self-preservation, part of it is lazy habit. Most of it is protective, Hutch’s own personal bomb-suit he wears night and day.

        This is a guy who feels, at any moment, his life will be yanked away from him. He’s basically stumbled onto his soul mate, so to speak, and his dream job which has allowed him to exercise his innate power in a safe and constructive way. There’s something like magical thinking here: Hutch telling himself, “I’m gonna get them before they get me”. No evidence of this exists of course, this is just my feel for the complexities of this guy. He is only at his gentlest and most loving when it’s entirely safe, that is, when the other person is so distracted by grief or despair they barely notice and so can’t call him on it (I’m thinking of the scene in Pariah, in the car following Starsky’s devastating encounter with Mrs. Craig, and the drunken gift exchange in Starsky’s Lady, and many similar scenes). My guess is most people don’t feel as afraid of disappointment or letdown as Hutch does, don’t feel the need to protect themselves at all costs, or feel that prickly self-consciousness about having a best friend and partner, someone you have come to love to a frightening degree. Of all the characters in this series, Hutch is the one who feels most acutely the dreadful inevitability of loss, and is the most determined to forestall it, as long as he can. And by any means.

        Of course, the cold water thrown on us at this point is the simple fact that the writers gave Hutch these snappy, irritable lines because that’s how men write about male friendships, that’s how buddy shows are created and understood, that is the easy, safe way to express unambiguously heterosexual relationships. The fact that they were able to go somewhere more meaningful and more substantial, even briefly, is a damn miracle.

  12. Jill Womeldorff Says:

    Obviously I’m very late to finding this blog, but so glad I did! I’ve read many so far, and wasn’t going to comment since it’s so much after the fact, but this one was so incredible that I had to acknowledge your amazing insight and thank you for sharing it. I have always loved the show and known there was so much more to it than just my love of Mr. Glaser as an actor and a person, but I don’t think I could have ever explained just what it is about it that sets it apart from any other show. You have such a gift of noticing and explaining so many details and aspects of their relationship that I have always known were there and felt how they make the show what it is, but I could never have explained it the way you do, and it is so enjoyable to relive the episodes through your commentary and remember things that I loved and discover new things I may have missed. This character review goes a step further and brings it all together, and you nailed them both completely! Again, I saw all of this in each of them but could never have explained it the way you do, and it was amazing to read and keep thinking, yes, that’s it! One thing I realize I had completely wrong that I get now it how Hutch was so much more dependent on Starsky than the other way around, which is how I originally viewed it. I thought because Starsky is more emotional and impulsive he needed Hutch’s calming influence, but now I see that it was truly Starsky who was the calm, centered one and Hutch needed him in so many ways. I love re – watching now with this new perspective. Thank you so much for your insight and for sharing it, and I will keep belatedly reading all of them!

    • merltheearl Says:

      Jill, thank you for this incredibly generous comment, and it has lifted my spirits immeasurably. I assure you this blog is very much alive and active and although I don’t add new content I do amuse myself with editing my old posts and adding a sentence or two when needed. I feel as if I have run out of new topics but there will probably be a revisit in the near future. When I began, especially with these Character Studies, I worried that I would be criticized for misinterpreting beloved characters or missing the point entirely. But the opposite has happened: readers have politely disagreed, added their own take, or were encouraging, and some have been nice enough to tell me they simply hadn’t considered the depth and complexity before. Starsky & Hutch fans are the greatest! Anyway this is a long way to simply thank you for writing in, and I hope to see some more comments if you notice something I have missed from an episode, or if you would like to provide an alternative opinion.

      • Lee Says:

        Hello merltheearl, I wanted to add an idea that I’m not sure you have touched upon: the characters in Starsky and Hutch may be seen as sharing a purpose and a function similar to the ancient Greek plays- to understand our world and our lives better. Maybe sometimes it seems unrealistic, but that’s ok! The show’s characters, and particularly Starsky and Hutch themselves, highlight a human condition of some sort so we, mere mortals, can hopefully gain a better understanding of ourselves and others, and maybe even as you said in a reply to my last message, “… inch toward forgiveness.”

        Thank you so much for all your incredible insights.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: