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The Avenger

My local station has been showing SH for well over a year, and has stuck pretty well to showing them in order.  But now they've suddenly jumped from the middle of the third season to fourth season "The Avenger".


I remember when "The Avenger" originally aired, it was so engrossing and intriguing.  And quite a unique atmosphere from the normal S&H fare.

I'd read an article on biorhythms back then, and was intrigued enough to order my own chart for a year, so I understood all the dialogue about the subject.  It's just that the zero "critical" stages, as I recall, only last a day or so, so it's implausible that Hutch would be referring to there being an effect on Starsky beyond the scene of them playing pool.

Speaking of the pool scene, Starsky slaps his money down, willing to pay when he loses.  Contrast that with "The Game", where the agreement is that the loser pays, and after losing, Hutch walks out without paying.  That's his controlling way of winning, even when he loses.

The banter between the guys is pretty decent in this episode, considering the fourth season was noticeably lacking in the energy of the prior seasons.

Yet, the character that steals the episode is Monique.  She seems like such an able, likable person at first glance.  But her need to be liked is so extreme that she demeans herself.  It's fascinating how the 70s was the era of the sexual revolution ("if it feels good, do it"), and the era of women's liberation.  Yet, despite the increasing view that there's nothing wrong with a single woman having sex with multiple men, there's still the broader societal view that a woman who does such is a slut.  Those diverse views come together in the form of Monique and her split personality.  She desperately wants company from men, and yet she feels guilty for being with so many men.  And, feeling guilty aside, she puts herself in situations where all men want and expect from her is sex, and yet what she, in actuality, desperately wants is a loving relationship, and to be treated as something other than a convenient sex tool.

All that conflict that occurs within a changing society seems to be played out to a lesser extent within the guys, most especially Starsky.  It's a subtle undercurrent, but the guys seem to try hard not to be judgmental, and yet there also seems to be a discomfort with them about the subject of Monique hanging out at clubs to pick up guys, especially when she's supposedly in danger.  Plus, it seems rather clear to me that Starsky isn't at all attracted to Monique, and yet he tries really hard to appease her desperate need for reassurance that she's likable outside the bedroom.

Ultimately, I feel this episode is admirable in how it makes Monique -- a "slutty" person, in the traditional sense -- into a highly sympathetic character.  After all, surely her split personality isn't her fault.  One would like to think that, some day, she could be in a loving relationship.  But, of course, that would require her to love herself first.

I also really like how Monique isn't some kind of flaming bombshell.  She's attractive, but has an appealing, simple plainness about her.  As well as the underlying sadness as an illustration of her desperate, ongoing need to feel likable.

What doesn't make sense to me is the role that the motel room played.  Monique was there as Harry, getting all worked up about what a slut Monique is?  While she was there as Harry, how was she going about her day-to-day life?

The character of Bobbi has a genuineness about her.  She loves her sister but disapproves of her, and yet doesn't seem like the type that would lecture (too bad we didn't get to see a scene of the two together until the very end).  I'm just flabbergasted that when Hutch comes marching over to Bobbi's house after midnight, Bobbi is nicely dressed and very alert, and let's Hutch in without even asking, "What are you doing here at this hour?"

It's ironic that, in the motel room, Hutch picks up the phone and dials Monique's house, as though he has the number memorized.  Yet, when he's at Bobbi's house, he's desperately demanding that she give him Monique's phone number from memory, and she ends up telling him its written down next to the phone.  One would that think Hutch would more likely have Monique's number memorized than Bobbi's.

Of course, this episode is frustrating in that it would have been nice to see the pet-and-cuddle played up a little more between Starsky and Hutch.  But there really wasn't room for it.  There was the tag, but that is borderline overly silly.  Or maybe it would have been more satisfying if Huggy wasn't there at the picnic, which is noticeable (and, frankly, a little odd) for there being no women around.