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Fatal Charm

It is quite a tribute to the depth of this episode that there's two strong female characters, and yet that doesn't detract from the strength of Starsky and Hutch's relationship.




Despite being a "Play Misty for Me" copycat, with shades of "Psycho", this has got to be one of the very best of the non-hurt/comfort episodes.

The hospital scene is to die for.  I just love the childlike quality of Starsky playing around with the stethoscope.  And it's such an ordinary thing, that it takes Hutch a while to even realize that Starsky is doing something strange.  And then that lecture Starsky gives about "no crying, no carrying on" while Hutch is whining about the lack of personal service, and he got five stitches, and it hurts.... it's almost a reverse of their parent/child roles.

But then they're momentarily back to their normal parent/child roles in the waiting room, when Starsky has his arm shoved up the vending machine.  Hutch wants to know what he's doing, and ends the scene by scolding, "You should be ashamed of yourself."

I really appreciate that, despite what Diana turned out to be on a personal level, she was professional at playing nurse with Hutch.  (Don't get me started on The Sentinel episode "Hear No Evil".)

Let's see, we're in the beginning of the third season, and Starsky decides to start complaining that their partnership is "a one-sided relationship" because Hutch is the one with the say-so in everything.  Starsky is just now realizing this?  lol.  If it's one-sided, it's only because he's always been so sweetly agreeable to whatever Hutch wants.

Hutch is usually the one, throughout the series, who is lecturing Starsky about appreciating a woman for reasons other than sex.  But he doesn't seem to listen to his own lectures.  He doesn't have any qualms about bedding a woman on the first date.  Not that that's anything unusual for the free-flowing seventies era of sexual liberation; it's just such a marked contrast to how Hutch likes to come off as superior, in terms of viewing himself as "old fashioned" and not in it just for the sex, etc.  He really doesn't strike me as a person who knows himself very well.

Kathy Marshall is quite an interesting (and likable) character.  If one goes back to first season "Pariah", it was rather obvious that Starsky and Hutch both dated from the same pool of stewardesses, and weren't surprised that the stewardesses might talk to each other about the guys' sexual attributes.  So, we get reminded of that now, for Kathy is so lovey-dovey toward Hutch, without Starsky being the least bit jealous, that it's obvious to me that she was bedding them both.  If one wants to think in terms of three-ways, it would be hard to argue, in light of their behavior around Kathy.  (In fact, is it for intentions of a three-way that Kathy insisted that she and Starsky "surprise" Hutch?)  Once again, this makes Hutch's self-description of "old fashioned" hard to swallow in a couple of later episodes.

Anyway, for the "surprise!" scene at Hutch's apartment, it's really lovely the way the guys are sharing a beer, even though it's too bad that Starsky isn't quick enough to catch on to how badly Hutch doesn't want to have Diana included in the evening's socializing.

As angry as Hutch was (in a quiet, smoldering way) about Diana's intrusion, it's interesting that he doesn't outright dump her when she calls him later that night, after storming off angrily.   I mean, he kinda, sorta tries, but he ultimately lets her out-talk him.

Karen Valentine is really incredible in this, and makes for such a worthy adversary.  I love how, when she's out-talking Hutch on the phone, she's holding her fingers in a really stiff way, like the tension and anxiety is just surging through her.  And then the confrontation at the police station... oh my God.  She is awesome!  

And speaking of that confrontation, just how telling is it that she makes a point of saying to Starsky that Hutch "isn't even a good lover."  She seems to think that he's the one who needs to know that.

The scene at Starsky's apartment in touching, comfortable, and frustrating all at once.  On the one hand, it's like, "Why is Starsky so nonchalant?"  And yet, on the other, that's the way they've always worked best together -- keeping the balance -- so that when one is riled, the other gets ultra-calm.    I also can't help but wonder if, in the back of his mind, Starsky is thinking that Hutch sort of brought this on himself.  By not being strong enough with Diana that he wanted nothing more from her than a one-night stand.  Hutch lets the situation play out, when he was really never interested in Diana in the first place.  It was an easy opportunity to get laid, and he took it.  Again, in contrast, Starsky seems much more open about what he wants and expects in the moment.

It's almost too much when they're fixing up Hutch's apartment, and Starsky so casually suggests that maybe Hutch should find somewhere else to keep his spare key.  Ya think?  Hutch's apartment gets broken into numerous times throughout the series.  I mean, anyone with half a brain would look in the obvious places if they wanted to break in, and just over the door frame is an obvious place.

It's so sweet the way Starsky sends Hutch home, after they run into a dead-end about who hurt Linda Baylor.  He tells Dobey later, "He didn't get much sleep last night."  Since Hutch surely stayed at Starsky's apartment, it seems that Starsky would have gotten the same amount of sleep, but Hutch probably was a lot more upset and disturbed throughout the night.

The "sister from Boston" thing would be a nice bit of continuity... if it made any sense.  When Diana tells Hutch about her ruse early on, they're alone.  So, it's unlikely that Starsky, let alone Dobey, would have known that Diana used the "sister from Boston" lie to be let into Hutch's apartment.

For as much as this episode has going on, it's amazing that it still has enough time left to spend such a prolonged period with Diana terrorizing Hutch.  

In the tag, when Dobey comes in with flowers, don't you wonder what Starsky and Hutch are saying to each other in the background?


A really great episode, assisted by unusually able female guest characters, and outstanding performances from the guest actresses.