Starsky and Hutch ran from 1975 to 1979, featuring four series (which we’ve got in a complete box set). It features two Californian detectives, David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson (known to his friends as ‘Hutch’), played by Paul Michael Glasier and David Soul. Together they apprehended bad guys, worked undercover and saved lives, along with the help of Huggy Bear (who spent much of his time working in a bar) and their boss, Captain Dobey.
I was expecting a pretty serious sort of programme so I was surprised at the amount of comedy that was often injected into the episodes. I think every episode (apart from the multi-parters which ended on a cliffhanger) ended with some sort of funny little scene. Even in some of the very serious episodes we see Starsky and Hutch going undercover in a variety of disguises, something which is usually played for laughs at least once in the episode.
I was very impressed at the fact that as a series which so often veered towards comedy also handled some fairly sensitive topics. Some of my favourite episodes were those that dealt with race relations, homophobia and the attack of a young girl with learning difficulties. There was a good balance between the heavy and the light-hearted storylines; we would occasionally watch two episodes in bed at night so you knew that if you got a heavy-going one to start of with, the second one would be much gentler and funnier.
Reading online, I’ve learned that by the third series Glasier was keen to leave the series and while I enjoyed the third series, it felt like things were definitely going downhill by the fourth. Targets Without a Badge (a three-part episode which features at the tail-end of series four) was possibly the worst episode ever; the first part and the third part were okay, but the middle episode just seemed to have been cobbled together from a bunch of random scenes.
The fourth series did pick it up for the final episode (which saw Starsky at death’s door for most of it). It ended on the standard upbeat manner which was just what was needed for the series. I do have to say that concepts of science and medicine were a little bit sketchy throughout the series, to the point that whenever a mysterious poison or compound cropped up, Mr Click would roll his eyes and tell me ‘don’t say it’. It’s a product of its time.
It’s the sort of series that you can dip in and out of because, with the exception of the handful of two- or three-part episodes, each episode is a standalone story. There aren’t really any overarching storylines which bog things down, unless you count the ongoing problems with Hutch’s car. Occasionally characters crop up who have been in it before (sometimes playing the same character, sometimes playing someone different, sometimes played by someone different).
I did enjoy watching most of the series, though as I mentioned above, series four went rapidly downhill and only really picked back up in the final two episodes. I suspect that we’ll revisit it in the future at some point. For now though we’ve moved on to The A Team for our bedtime viewing, so expect a review of that in a few months’ time.