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Long Walk Down a Short Dirt Road

It's a real tribute that this episode has a major guest star in Lynn Anderson, and yet the relationship between Starsky and Hutch still dominates.

Hutch is usually the one who is in control and makes Starsky the butt of his humor.  But this is a rare episode where Starsky is so full of love for Hutch, that when he makes Hutch the almost constant center of his attention, Hutch has no defenses.  He just sort of fumbles along, not certain what to do with all that attention aimed at him, especially when it puts him in embarrassing situations with others.

The after-hours bar scene is a bit much, as in "let's have a big fight right here for its own sake". But it does provide a moment for a nice inside joke, when Starsky says that Hutch sounds just like Dirty Harry.  Hutch doesn't know who he means, and Starsky says, "The cop in San Francisco." Which, of course, is a nod to DS having a major role in the Dirty Harry movie Magnum Force.

For that matter, it's pretty funny in Sue Ann's dressing room when she mentions that the guys probably have more important things to do, like fight major crime, and Starsky quips, "We did that last week."

I love in Dobey's office, the way Starsky is so "on" with serving refreshments, and especially how he seems to so proactively serve Hutch coffee.  It's just a split second, but it's a prevalent thing throughout the episode.  (It's hard to reconcile this nearly-end-of-second-season placement, and PMG's attempt to leave the show at that time.  It's not like he's not putting effort into playing the playful and eyes-on-Hutch Starsky to the fullest.)

I could watch those guy hit a tennis ball back and forth all day.  
That looks like it's DS (not the stunt double) make a flying leap over the tennis net.

I think this is the first time that I "got" why the bad guy knew that Starsky and Hutch were cops, at the park.  He got a good look at Hutch, and had seen his blond head after the bar fight.

Is Dobey really so clueless that, after Starsky is thinking out loud about the three things they know about the bad guy, that he keeps saying, "So?"  Starsky has to point out that it would be a good idea to contact the Pittsville, NC police.   (This is an example of why I can't buy Dobey as a very authoritative captain.)

Lynn Anderson is absolutely brilliant as Sue Ann Grainger.  She nails the perfect balance between busy country singing star and ordinary person.  But I'm shocked to find out that she's just now 64yo.  I really thought she was middle-aged way back in the 70s -- I guess because her mouth and eyes give the aura of a mature woman.  And it also might be because I thought her "Rose Garden" hit song was a lot older than it was.  But she was actually only 30 or so when this episode was filmed.  

Of course, the tag is one of the best, and all the better for being so long.  Hutch does seem to appreciate Starsky's help and support for most of his time on stage, and then he seems to suddenly decide that Starsky is upstaging him and interfering with his performance.

After watching this episode with a good fan friend many years ago, she said, in reference to the tag, "I wonder what Hutch does to Starsky after he catches him."  I pondered that question, and my answer is in the novel Phantoms, when Hutch chases Starsky after Starsky shoves wet grass down the back of his shirt.