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The Committee

Since Starsky punching Hutch was a "scene from next week", I always felt this episode was created with that in mind.  It seemed like the early interaction between the guys had a subtle undercurrent of discord, to fool the viewer into thinking the later punch was legit.

First, there's the opening "pet rock" scene, where Starsky and Huggy are on the same page, and Hutch comes off as something of an outsider.

Then there's the scene where Hutch brings Starsky a hamburger with completely different ingredients than what Starsky likes.  Granted, that's typical Hutchinson contrariness, but knowing the punch is coming later, it seemed particularly significant the first time I watched this.

The next day, the banter in the squadroom has a tad harder edge to it than normal.  Hutch says, "I just had a thought."  Starsky has an unusual response in, "Take an aspirin and it will go away."  When Dobey tells Starsky that Internal Affairs wants to talk to him, Starsky has to prompt Hutch to come along.  As they're leaving the squadroom, Starsky says that his pet rock "is ignacious", and Hutch quips, "Who cares?"  Starsky then says, "You know, you're very hard to get along with."

Then, when in the Torino, Hutch has to prompt Starsky to pull over so he can call Billets' lawyer.  Starsky  gets almost hostile with impatience, while waiting for Hutch to complete the phone call.  In fact, in normal circumstances, Starsky would have been standing right beside Hutch during the call, rather than waiting in the Torino, bitching.

They follow Willits and, once again, their banter is just a tad more caustic than normal.

After Starsky shoots Willits, the viewer has no idea what Hutch means when he asks Starsky, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

So, the viewer is primed for everything to not be very hunky dory in Starsky and Hutch land.  And we get the scene in Dobey's office of Hutch having apparently turned in a report that doesn't speak well of Starsky's actions when Willits was "killed".  

So, as contrived as some of the scenes might appear to be, the viewer really has no choice but to buy the punch as legitimate when Starsky attacks Hutch at Nellie's.

Then, two scenes later, we find out that it's all a big put-on.  Which is rather a let-down, especially since the only reference to the incident is Hutch telling Starsky, "You didn't have to hit me so hard," and Starsky not sounding the least bit sorry when he says, "I had to make it convincing."

It seems weird that they have the wounded Willits hidden in Starsky's apartment.  For that matter, Hutch's words to Willits seem unnecessarily taunting.

Ginger makes me wish for the dumb bimbos that were standard fare for 70s drama series.  She seems totally unfit for the role the bad guys want her to play.  Wouldn't it make more sense to have a sexy, vivacious woman try to get Starsky's attention?  Instead, he's got to sit there and play interested to a bland-expressioned, pouty-mouthed, older woman (at least, she looks older), who has no warmth to her whatsoever.  It's hard not to burst out laughing when Ginger tells Starsky that he appealed to her "maternal instincts".  Oh, please.  There's nothing the least bit maternal about her.  

The final ten or fifteen minutes of the episode are pretty bland, especially after having the long, tense build-up to Starsky attacking Hutch, and then being denied any kind of payoff, as far as their personal feelings or trust being re-affirmed.  Granted, they didn't need to re-affirm it, but it would have been nice for the viewer.