Starsky and Hutch ran for four seasons from 1975-1979. I was introduced to the show and fell instantly in love sometime in the mid-90s. I had almost all the episodes taped on VHS and re-watched them a lot. Paul Michael Glaser as David Starsky and David Soul as Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson just have that perfect chemistry that makes their partnership as police detectives sparkle. Watching them banter, look out for each other, argue, insult each other's cars, care for each other, pull pranks on Captain Dobey, work with the always cool and smooth Huggy Bear, and outsmart the bad guys just never gets old.
Hutch is still my favorite of the two, but it's impossible not to adore Starsky too. They're true partners, and if you remove one, it would wreck what makes the show so great.
Some episodes are definitely showing their age (beyond the 70's clothes, scenery, and music) with how some subject matter is handled, but the majority of them hold up quite well. And for me, the location filming of late 70's Los Angeles and surrounds is pure comfort food for me. That's when I was a kid growing up there, so seeing places I used to drive by, seeing the particular look of the buildings, cars, homes, etc. as I remember them from growing up, supplies all the nostalgia and warms my heart. Those were good times.
I recently re-watched the entire series, and as I did, I confirmed my favorite episodes. Interestingly, all of these are my favorites from when I originally watched the show. The order of ranking may have changed, but the episodes that first made an impression are me are still the ones to which I gravitate.
So, without further ado:
10. "Satan's Witches"
Starsky and Hutch head up to the mountains for a vacation, only to find the locals in a downright unfriendly mood. This turns out to be because there's a nasty cult who has taken up residence in the woods and they're holding the local sheriff's daughter hostage.
So, this episode makes the list because of the first half. The second half is... okay, and obviously necessary to deal with the actual plot stuff, but the first half is pure gold. It's focus is the vacationing detectives. You see, Hutch is comfortable in the outdoors and can't wait for this vacation; Starsky's a city boy out of his element and freaking out over literally everything... their dialogue and antics are an absolute riot. If the entire episode had been nothing but this, it'd be my number one favorite.
9. "Fatal Charm"
AKA Starsky and Hutch meets Fatal Attraction.
Hutch has a one-night stand with a nurse, but things go south in a big
hurry when she becomes ultra-obsessed with him... to the point of her
trying to murder him when he rejects her.
As if Psycho wasn't enough to discourage anyone from taking a shower... this episode adds to that. Still, if you're going to have a dangerous stalker episode, this one is well-done, and the ending is tense.
8. "The Fix"
Hutch's current girlfriend "belongs" to a mobster, and when he wants her back, he kidnaps Hutch. When beating Hutch up fails to get him to talk, the bad guy (Robert Loggia) strings him out on heroin to get him to spill where she is hiding. Starsky has to find and then get his partner off the drugs, while also catching the bad guys.
Rough stuff, really, but watching Starsky and Huggy Bear help Hutch is always satisfying,
7. "A Body Worth Guarding"
Starsky and Hutch are assigned bodyguard duty for a Russian ballerina targeted for assassination. Hutch falls for her.
Okay, I admit. I mostly love this episode for Hutch's singing, though the rest isn't bad. When Hutch and Anna start to discover they have more in common than they think, and they arm wrestle is quite amusing too. As is her calling Starsky "Starevsky." Hutch's song used to be on youtube, but alas, that's long gone. Now, I can only find the whole episode, though if this let me share it correctly, this video should cue up to his song.
Starsky and Hutch head to a restaurant to grab dinner, only to find themselves in the middle of a hit on a mob boss.
Starsky gets shot! Hutch has to out think the bad guys while in the middle of being held hostage. Well done, tense, but with time to get to know a little bit about the other hostages. Love it! Albert Paulsen is one of the hitmen, and I always enjoy seeing actors from Combat! pop up in this show.
To prevent Hutch from testifying, the bad guy has him run off the road in the hills, leaving Starsky to find his partner before the car crash or the bad guys do him in.
I have a thing for people trapped with time running out. Throw in a WWII veteran who thinks the war is still going on and a smart
kid who's a ham radio operator, the bad guy realizing he failed to kill Hutch in the crash and heading out to finish the job, and there's an awful lot going on in the
episode. I'm always amused when Michael Jackson (the talk show host, not the pop singer) is playing on Hutch's car radio. His voice is so familiar from the past when my dad used to listen to him.
4. "The Psychic"
When a girl is kidnapped and held for ransom, and the traditional police methods end up failing, Starsky and Hutch convince a psychic to help them.
I love this one most for the "mad dash" scene, where Hutch has to sprint from payphone to payphone downtown at the whim of a psychotic kidnapper, but it's a solid episode. The bad guys play for keeps, and the last half with time running out for the kidnapped girl is very tense.
Hutch falls for Gillian, not knowing she's really working as a prostitute. When she attempts to leave that life to start a new one with Hutch, the gangsters she works for refuse to let that happen.
Mike Kellin (another Combat! alum) and Sylvia Sidney (!) as his mother (!) are the bad guys in this, and I love that. Doodles Weaver also has a small part, and it's a delight to see someone whose voice I grew up with (from all those Spike Jones records). This is no spoiler, because everyone knows love stories on old episodic televisions series never end with a happily ever after. It's just a given. You couldn't tie your main character down back then. This show is no exception, but it handles it really really well, and the fact that it's a relationship I really want to work out just makes the episode even better. Starsky trying to protect Hutch is always a bonus.
Starsky and Hutch investigate some brutal beatings and murders, which leads to the bad guy responsible targeting Hutch and everything he loves.
Oh, how I love this episode. A quite dark one, with twisted characters and unexpected violent moments. The main bad guy, Arty Solkin (played by Stefan Gierasch), is an unlikely adversary on the surface, so full of weird quirks. He's half-pathetic, half-threatening. The actor does an absolutely fabulous job of bringing him to life and making Solkin feel real and original, more so than many characters throughout the show. The unexpected moments shocked the heck out of me when I first saw this episode, one in particular.
1. "Tap Dancing Her Way Right Back into Your Hearts"
Starsky and Hutch go undercover at a dance studio to stop a blackmail ring.
Perhaps an unlikely choice for number one, but it's the one I've watched more than any other. I adore this episode. I even used to have it on audio tape (taped off the video, LOL) and I used to listen to it in my car while driving. I never did that with any other episodes from this show.
It's got a lot of humor, which always appeals to me. Starsky and Hutch undercover as a Latin dance instructor (Starsky) and a wealthy rancher taking dance lessons (Hutch) never ceases to amuse me. The dialogue, the part when they foil a robbery at a grocery store while dressed in their undercover outfits, "no one can dip like Ramone," Hutch is ridiculously attractive in his Texas cattle rancher outfit, particularly the morning after, ahem. Where "Vendetta" is super tense, this one is lighter and full of delightful silliness. This episode simply makes me happy all the way around.
Other eps super close to making the top ten... "A Coffin for Starsky," "Murder at Sea," "Bloodbath," "The Game.," "Murder Ward," and "Deckwatch,"
This has been my entry to Hamlette's We Love Detectives Week blogathon!
And now, we'll end on a video with funny clips from the show involving food. Lots of the show's humor on display here... :-D