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The Set Up

A two-part episode that I find aggravating for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that Terry Nash is similar looking to Starsky.  






I remember the first time I saw this, I started wondering if the network mixed up which episode belonged to which show.  The scene between George and Terry Nash goes on so long, one starts to wonder what it has to do with Starsky and Hutch.  

When Terry demands that George tell him where Joe Durniak is, interesting that George says, "Here.  The city." One wonders why he didn't say Bay City.  I really don't think it was ever mentioned that Starsky and Hutch live and work in a fictional city called Bay City, though there were written indications, such as logos on police cars, if one looks closely.  As I mentioned in an early post, I always thought that Starsky and Hutch were in Los Angeles -- never had any doubt of that -- until the movie came out nearly thirty years later. 

In fact, the cab that takes Terry Nash away from the fake hospital simply says, "City Cab Company".  There seems a deliberate desire on the part of production to not ever mention exactly where Starsky and Hutch are.

Finally, our heroes make an appearance, and it picks right up on the CB radio craze of the time.

Starsky is like a kid on Christmas morning.  He's all tired and groggy, until he spots the CB, and then he perks right up.  Hutch is parental when he says, "I thought we agreed that you weren't going to play with that thing anymore." Like a typical rebellious child, Starsky replies, "You agreed.  I didn't agree."

It is a monumental moment in the series when Starsky coins the phrase, "Blond Blintz", since it's used again, at least in "Starsky's Lady", and I believe another time or two, as well.  

Doesn't that security/cop guy at the truck stop look a lot like Joe Durniak?  

As is so often the case, when they're at the restaurant, Starsky's whole demeanor is all about impressing Hutch, regardless of who he's actually talking to.  Having Hutch's attention means everything.  

It is hilarious when Hutch mutters, "Picked him up hitchhiking."  I really do have to hand it to Hutch.  I, for one, could never tolerate Starsky's inane blabber for any length of time.  

So, finally, we meet Joe Durniak.  We get a bit of a tease of Starsky's history.  He is "Little Davey Starsky" to Joe, who goes on to say to Hutch, "He never knew whether love me or hate me."  Then to Starsky, "I represented everything your father fought against."  Then back to Hutch, "Some wiseguys, they shot him down one night."  Of course, Hutch responds, "Yeah, I know."

Starsky then surprises Hutch when he says, "Joey paid for the funeral."  Durniak says, "Your poppa was one hell of a man.  He deserved better than he got.
" At that point, Starsky gazes at Durniak for a long moment, like he's trying to decide if he's sincere or not.  Then he decides he wants to get moving and starts to get in the back, and Durniak says, "No, let Davey drive, and I'll sit here and talk old times with your friend.  If you're not here, he'll only hear my side.  That'll be nice."  Hutch readily agrees, "Okay." 

They then switch to Terry Nash watching old family movies.  When I first saw this, I was so excited for them to come back to Starsky and Hutch because, of course, there was going to be a scene of Hutch talking with Joe Durniak about Starsky.  We were going to find out all sorts of information about Starsky's youth.

But, noooo, that's asking way too much of series television.  Of course, no such thing ever happened, so we're left with tons of questions.  Why did Starsky have mixed feelings about loving or hating Joe Durniak?  Where would the love have come in?  Why did Durniak have such mixed feelings toward Starsky's father?  They were on opposite sides of the law, but why did he regret his death enough to want to pay for the funeral?  It's a mass of contradictions, for which we never get any explanation.  This happens again in a couple of future episodes, such as "Manchild on the Streets", where an opportunity to learn more about Starsky is again passed over, when Starsky says of Junior something like, "When you're daddy dies, it's hard to see straight."  

At least, we get the fact that Starsky and Hutch have been partners for "about seven years", though this gets cut back to six years in the next season's "Hutchinson for Murder One", which would have been about eight years, at that point.  And they've surely known each other a lot longer than they've actually been partnered, considering that they went to the academy together, per first season's "The Deadly Imposter".   I'm not sure they could have gone to the academy, spent some years in blue, and then been detectives for two years' time by the first season (per "Pariah), or three years "patrolling the same district" (per the pilot), all within a seven-year time frame by the second season, let alone six years' time by the third season.  

When we next see the guys, it's my favorite scene in the two-part episode.  Starsky is with Durniak in a hotel room, and Hutch acts as a waiter and comes knocking with quite an elaborately-presented breakfast.  There's the horseplay between the guys about the secret password, and Hutch refers to himself as "The Blond Blintz", so Starsky lets him in.

I love Hutch's demeanor in this scene.  He is so casually undressing while Starsky is determined to dive right in to the food.  That ridiculous story Hutch supposedly read about the murdered wife doesn't do anything for me.  I wish they would have spent that time having dialogue about what Hutch learned from Durniak in the back of the semi.  

Later, it's interesting that Hutch comes out of the bathroom, opening the door, all dressed.  He obviously changed clothes, maybe showered, but it seems weird that he would get dressed behind a closed door, when he's sharing a room with a couple of guys, one of which he's surely been naked with plenty of times before (and I don't mean sexually).  

By this point, Starsky seems rather tired of being around Durniak. 

When they get the call about the bombs in the hotel, Durniak knows it's a trick.  Starsky and Hutch are the professionals but, as with Lionel in fourth season "Targets", they make promises about protecting their witness that they can't keep.  This time, however, they don't seem to particularly care that Durniak gets killed.  The lack of emotion from Starsky is particularly noteworthy.  

After they meet up with Terry Nash and go to the apartment that never was, Hutch says, "Let's go to my place and get some sleep."  He's always the one to put people up.  

This episode gets to be one big snooze for quite a while, with Starsky and Hutch trying to follow up on Terry's evidence of what happened in the days preceding the shooting.  At the beginning of Part Two, a narrator says, "And now the exciting conclusion of 'The Set Up'
".  That's pretty funny.  Exciting?  Really?

There is a moment of drama when Starsky's car gets blown up.  If you look close before the explosion (and even after) that's not the Torino that gets blown up.  I don't know much about cars, but is that a Ford Thunderbird?  

It is pretty funny when Dobey arrives at their hideout, and orders Huggy to "Stay here and watch that car."  It really must be a bad neighborhood.  And then when Hutch mistakes Dobey for Huggy, Dobey deadpans, "I know we all look alike."  lol!  

When Dobey complains that, now that he's with Starsky and Hutch, he's a target, too, I love when Starsky quips, "Ain't togetherness wonderful?"

The scene at the crappy motel room with Mr. Thistleman is a little uncomfortable.  Starsky and Hutch aren't at their best when they're so intimidating to such a weasel; I mean, it's easy to pick on somebody who doesn't have much of a backbone in the first place.  

Then there's the weird conversation about them wanting Huggy to get them a plane to go to the "castle in the desert".  Huggy seems to make a crack about their own "fly boys", and Starsky says, "Huggy, you know we aren't on the best of terms with other people in the department."  Does Starsky mean because of this particular Durniak incident, and everyone except Dobey believes they're guilty of being part of the setup?  Or does he mean that, in general, he and Hutch aren't particularly well-liked by fellow cops?

In either case, they don't have anyone else they can trust, which suggests that they pretty much keep to themselves.  Which, in turn, seems quite a turnaround from first season, when they were always having parties.  

When they fly out in the Black Baron's plane, I love how Starsky, despite feeling dubious, is facing the danger head-on, while Hutch and Terry are more outwardly fearful.  

There isn't much to say about the invasion of the castle.  The banter is there, which is nice, but it's mostly scenes out of an army movie.  I do know that PMG referenced this episode when he apparently wanted to do an "in your face" thing regarding all the unnecessary violence on the series, so he apparently took shooting the machine guns to an extreme, to point out the absurdity of all the gun play.  (Never mind that Starsky seems to enjoy having so much fire power at hand.  For that matter, it's his line when he says, "I'm getting tired of all this pussyfooting around."  Hutch asks, "What do you want to do - start shooting?"  Starsky replies, "Not a bad idea.")

The tag is more puzzles.  It's a lot of dialogue that doesn't really accomplish anything.  It leaves more questions than answers.  It's clear that everything is going to be okay regarding Starsky and Hutch and Terry -- though it seems odd they'd get away with an invasion that they did of their own free will (not as part of law enforcement), though not really all that different from various other episodes.  But it's left very open-ended about there being more of this brainwashing stuff going on.  Perhaps there was some thought that they'd revisit the "all powerful boss" thing in a later episode.  As far as I recall, Gunther in "Targets" and "Sweet Revenge" wasn't associated with the unknown mastermind behind "The Setup", but it seems to be the same idea.