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Starsky and Hutch - The Pilot

How it all began.  And yet... not really.




In the spring of 1976, I had seen about a half season of Starsky & Hutch in its first run.  Now it was re-run season, and ABC re-aired the pilot as a Movie of the Week.  I was so excited to see "how it all began".  That excitement quickly turned to a major disappointment.  There was no indication of the touchy-feelyness that I had come to love about the show.  I couldn't imagine that, if I'd happened to have watched the pilot when it first aired, I would have had any interest in the subsequent series.  What I didn't appreciate at the time, was just how much the guys themselves contributed to the series.  For the original movie which served as the pilot, I suppose they were pretty much good boys who did what they were told.  Which resulted in some nice banter, but otherwise I felt the pilot to be enormously bland.

Now, I can only watch with after-the-fact curiosity.

The opening scenario, with the baddies waiting for the Torino, is reminiscent of the baddies waiting in their hotel room, to hear from Theresa, in "Shootout".

You know, for somebody who supposedly works out a lot and eats right, Hutch does not have any kind of muscular body.  Which amazes me all the more that he was able to carry Starsky in "Shootout" , back problems and all.  But I digress.....

Man, Starsky's New York accent is so thick.  It does add to his tough persona, and I'm glad he was able to drop it during the series.  Their relationship doesn't need a contrived wall like that.

Starsky's going to just leave the Torino there in a back alley at Vinny's, where anybody can get at it?

Hutch keeps all that stuff in his glove compartment?

The one bright spot in the pilot is Richard Ward.  He comes off as a much stronger personality than the series Dobey, and I think he would have played off Starsky and Hutch's rebellious, cocky personalities much better.  As it was, I often found the series Dobey difficult to take seriously as an authority figure.  I can't imagine feeling that way with Ward's portrayal.  


That rebellion is clear here, when Starsky and Hutch want to ignore dispatch, and try to claim that their radio doesn't work.  They used that ploy in an early episode, as well.

The bar scene is pretty interesting, in retrospect.  For one thing, it's repeated to a degree in third season "Heroes".  More importantly, it was the scene that got PMG the part of Starsky in the eleventh hour, and he's the one who was using walnuts during the reading, so they obviously incorporated that into the scene, because it worked so well.  

Hmm.  Starsky says he and Hutch have been patroling "the same district" for the past three years.  Presumably, that's when their partnership started.  Which doesn't quite mesh with the "seven years" in season two's "The Setup", but does mesh rather well with the six years mentioned in a season three episode.  


It's no wonder that everybody in the bar hates them.  They're extremely condescending and arrogant.  When people have to work that hard at giving off a certain aura, it suggets an insecurity that they really don't feel as tough as they'd like to believe.  I'm glad that outer toughness, and underlining insecurity, eased up during the series.

Fat Rolly really isn't that big of a guy.  The fat jokes are a bit much.  

I love that the "I'm Hutch, he's Starsky" thing was there at the very beginning.  

What strikes me as odd, is that Hutch is so nonchalant about the idea that it appears that somebody is trying to kill Starsky.  

Hutch later realizes that Fat Rolly only dials four numbers when he's bailed out.  Yet, Hutch isn't even looking at him when he dials.  
 
This is also the moment when Hutch mentions his ex-wife, Nancy.  Of course, later we find his ex-wife was named Vanessa.  I think it was very recently that one of the producers revealed that the name was switched away from Nancy, because there had already been way too many women named Nancy on the series.  

I never know what to make of the scene with the homeless guy.  Hutch seems very compassionate when handing him money, but the fact that he only gives him a dollar almost seems cruelly funny.

For that matter, the "bugs in the toilet" analogy makes Starsky come across as unusually cynical for him, and Hutch is unusually positive and upbeat.  

Hutch does seem like the one who would be worried about having dirty underwear.  These guys obviously have no problem undressing in front of each other.  They hang out in locker rooms together, at the station and at Vinny's.  So, it always strikes me as unconvincing when they're bashful about being nude in front of each other in fanfic.  (For that matter, I don't know of any athletic-oriented men who would be bashful about being naked in front of other men.  I mean, Starsky played football in high school, which he mentions in this movie, and so on....)


The blonde maid, or whoever she is, with the towels at Tallman's, is obviously enjoying the view from behind.

I'll say again that I'm so glad that the guys didn't keep their tough, super-hard edge for the series, which is showcased once again in the scenes at Tallman's.

Starsky and Hutch are in the pouring rain, talking on radios to each other, for a "narco bust".  It's rather late in the series when they make it clear that they're "homocide".  And yet, they end up on non-homicide cases at various times.  I've always found it confusing as to just exactly what their job descriptions are.  

Anyway, the banter during the stakeout is similar to "Bust Amboy", when the guys are chatting on the radio to each other, for its own sake.

Hutch mentions that he's "shrinking" in the rain.  *cough, cough*  It's another Dalmation that's near its "favorite tree".  Wonder if that was the same dog used n "Snowstorm".  

It seems really cold when the guy picking up the cocaine in the swimming pool gets killed by the hitmen.  Starsky yells "mayday" so he and Hutch can dive into the water to safety, but they make no effort to save the man they're about to arrest.  (And why was that guy killed when it's later revealed that the hitmen intended to miss?)  I mean, they could have pulled him into the water with them.  Within moments, that guy would have been under arrest.  At that point, he would have officially been their responsibility, so I wonder if their actions would have been different.  Anyway, that whole scenario leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling.   Their characters show very little of the "humanity" in this pilot, that the actors were later so proud of.  

That is a nice moment, when their clothes are drying, and they verbalize that they can only trust each other. 

It's cute the way they sit so close to each other during the porn movie.  Years ago, I remember a comedian talking about how guys don't ever sit right next to each other during a movie, because they feel too weird about it.  They always leave a seat in between.  Can't say I've ever noticed that, but it's something that's always stuck in my mind.  

Huggy says that Dobey "Plays the ponies too much, but isn't on the take."  We never see any later evidence of Dobey having a problem with gambling.

It's nice to see Hutch listening so intently to Starsky, while Starsky tells the story of playing a defensive end in high school.  In the series, Hutch often doesn't have that much patience, lol.  

Starsky calls Tallman to check out the identity of the hitmen, and apparently Tallman answers the phone himself.  That seems weird for a rich guy like him.  

Once they know the real bad guy is Henderson, the episode gets pretty boring.  Just running and gunning and jumping, and a certain "I hate being called a pretty boy" actor pretty much guaranteeing himself to have permanent back problems. Though it is kind of weird to realize that the climatic scenario is the first time they use their guns.  

In the tag, Starsky shows, right from the beginning, that he pretty much does whatever Hutch wants.  Just because.  He even pays Hutch's gym bill... "again".   And lets himself be the fool when Hutch says he'll follow him to the place he wants to go to for lunch, but then doesn't follow him.   And so Starsky follows him.



If the series Starsky would have had the same ultra-hard edge as the pilot Starsky, I could have believed that he served on the front in Vietnam.  But I've never been able to buy the playful, childlike, enthusiastic series Starsky as one who has seen the horrors of war.