The Starsky & Hutch Hen Party
AKA Rebelcat and Elizabeth Helena

Bay City's Rainbow Coalition
AKA "Black and Blue"

Original Air Date: Tuesday, Nov. 21, 1978

According to the DVD Episode Guide: "When Hutch gets shot, Starsky reluctantly pairs with a new partner, a beautiful black female detective."

Now maybe Rebel and EH took way too many Sociology courses in University, but to us this episode sure has a lot to say about race relations in the seventies.

The Psychic Friends Network Never Saw It Coming Either

After a hard night’s drinking, a middle aged woman shuffles out of her suburban home to get her morning paper. She’s squinting because the light is so bright – and hey, those people are so black! She retreats inside to hide behind her tasteful Star of David wine rack and call the police.

Meanwhile, Hutch is driving Starsky home after a hard night of shuffling paperwork. Starsky’s reading the National Enquirer, and wants to read Hutch’s mind in order to qualify for an advanced ESP class. The advertisement promises Starsky that he’ll be able to use “ancient wisdom” to score with the stock market, Las Vegas, and members of the opposite sex. We dare you to guess which one of the above options we think made Blondie grumpy enough to lie about his lucky number 7.

Starsky the mystic certainly doesn’t foresee the trouble that the number 211 portends. Hutch’s spidey senses must have been tingling though, for he pulls his Magnum as soon as they arrive at the robbery in progress. Unfortunately, the underfed, teenaged Vivian has just found a gun and is about to prove that you don’t need the Spice Girls or a balanced diet to dish out armed and dangerous Grrl Power. In one of S & H’s most harrowing scenes, Hutch and Viv face off in the hallway. Shocked by her youth, Hutch begins to lower his gun and Vivian shoots him at point blank range.

Hutch collapses, and Starsky break and enters by throwing a concrete bird bath through the living room window. Inside, he confronts Vivian’s unarmed partner in crime Bruce, who’s obviously a big fan of Mr. Lee. However, his fancy martial arts are no match for a worried Starsky, and Bruce is soon cuffed. After checking on the bleeding Hutch, Starsky runs outside just in time to see Vivian burn rubber. As he knows Hutch is still alive, he doesn’t aim for the gas tank this time.

"You seem strangely familiar. Have we met in a parking lot?"

Viv also neglected to mention that the pearls were plastic.

"Later on, Meredith, can you play bad cop with ME? Pretty please?"

Now we know how to make a Starsky frisky - abuse him!

Six Inches of Trouble

The next day, Dobey visits Hutch in the hospital. They’re playing the game Mastermind, which is appropriate as Hutch is the only one who’s using his big brain in this episode, asking how the robbers knew all of their victims were out of town. Dobey tells Hutch to not worry his pretty little head about it, but the next scene shows that Blondie’s on the right track. Vivian delivers lunch to the Allied Answering Service, and Bad Mary secretly passes her a note indicating who’s ripe for the picking.

That night, Meredith and Starsky visit The Pits, where Huggy accuses his friend of trying to cross-pollinate with his future wife. The chemistry between the smitten Huggy and mellow Meredith has us happily fantasizing about a turkey-less spinoff. Starsky interrupts our matchmaking, telling Huggy to order a new TV off the streets so they can track down the thieves. Huggy is reluctant, as he doesn’t see anything wrong with liberating appliances as long as no one gets hurt. That’s right, Starsky is only now telling him about Hutch, which is appalling considering a distraught Hutch will call everyone when Starsky gets shot (whoops, spoiler alert).

The next morning, a nurse is shaving Hutch while a happy Starsky watches them. We’d tell you to get your minds out of the gutter except the sexual innuendo isn’t subtext here. As Hutch tells the nurse how close he came to death, she teases Hutch for being grateful for six inches. Wait a second, the bullet missed his heart by six inches (15.24 centimeters)? But, but... that would make Hutch’s injury an armpit wound!

Let’s review the evidence: the position of the bullet hole in his jacket relative to Hutch’s stance at the time would put the point of entry just under his shoulder, his surgery took the same amount of time as a little old lady waits to see her specialist, and Hutch’s arm is immobilized to prevent any arm movement from worsening the injury. We conclude that while the gun shot wound was still life-threatening, Starsky must have learned anatomy from the Pledge of Allegiance to think that bullet just missed Hutch’s heart.

Starsky has really fond memories of his highschool years.

Starsky demonstrates his mad observational skills.

Mary survived the mean streets of Bay City. She's a hard case!

Starsky, we don't think your crotch can shield you from a bullet.

"Starsk, no! Remember the last time Cap made a special request?"

Next week, our heroine founds Bay City's first gated community.

The original script had Viv bloodlessly stomp Hutch into the ground.

"Oh my God! She killed Kenny! You-- Oh wait, he's not actually dead."

Women’s Lib Has Let Loose Some Dangerous People

As Hutch is wheeled into the operating room, Starsky tries to comfort his hurt partner by predicting his recovery. Hutch breaks it to him that he’s not The Amazing Kreskin after all, and then a nurse makes him wait out in the hallway. Starsky looks like a kicked puppy, but his beloved Torino morphs into a little white haired old lady in a Candy Apple Red house coat to console him. We also learn three things that will win you Starsky’s heart: let him nap, feed him, and tell him you’re a good dancer. We’re pretty sure that in Hutch’s case two out of three is okay.

In the meantime, Vivian has wisely dumped the car and fled the scene of the crime on the Fairfax bus. Fairfax is a historically Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles, and is one of the more subtle references here to the growing conflict between African Americans and Jews during the 1970s. In fact, we now learn that this is an African American version of Oliver Twist, for Lionel the Train is a black, thirtysomething Fagin leading a den of thieves made up of underaged visible minorities. Unaware of the shooting, Lionel praises Vivian for getting away with the goods, while the beaming teenager tries to reclaim ownership of the racial slur pickaninny. Thankfully, Topsy rap never caught on.

Back at the hospital, Mrs. Torino – we mean Green – finally gets to see her doctor. All Starsky has to do is say he’s a cop, and the doc tosses patient confidentiality out the window and shares her diagnosis. When poor Dobey turns up to find out about Hutch, the shell-shocked Starsky mutters “terminal cancer” which is a bit much for a secondary infection even by Memorial Hospital’s standards. However, a nicotine addicted nurse arrives with the good news that the Blond Blintz is going to make it.

A few hours later in the squad room, Starsky’s planning on visiting Hutch right after he grills the kid he arrested. But Dobey springs a surprise on him in the form of a new ‘black is beautiful’ partner. Geez, the body’s still warm and staying that way, Cap! Nonetheless, Dobey introduces Inspector, 1st grade David Starsky to Inspector, 2nd grade Joan Meredith, leading us to suspect he’s been watching The Sweeney on PBS. A confused and angry Starsky believes he’s being asked to embrace “some social experiment in police procedure” right after the man who’s closer than his brother nearly got shot in the heart. Meredith argues that she’s a real detective just like him, but she doesn’t get much of a chance to display her bad cop skills before Bruce’s guardian springs him loose.

In the car, Meredith acknowledges that the police department’s been pressured to hire more women and visible minorities, making her “a veritable find in this one beautiful black person”. Starsky doesn’t respect her Authoritah though, unconvinced that a 110 lb female cop can protect his “fragile features”. She gets him to step out of the car, but instead of taking a nightstick to his shins, they roll around in the hay – er, we mean park – until she pulls her gun on him. Here we learn Starsky seduction tip number four: he secretly likes to be dominated. Let the Terry the Dominatrix fic fest begin.

How Memorial Hospital ensures repeat business.

"Fine. Don't involve me in the case. I've got my banana phone!"

Starsky shows Meredith six inches, then brags he's larger than average.

That Sucka is the Man!

While we plot to punish Starsky for the years of Hutch heart surgery angst we’re never getting back, Meredith and Starsky are plotting how to infiltrate Lionel’s gang. They decide that Starsky looks too much like Frank Sinatra, so Meredith dresses down in her high school duds - a convincing enough disguise for TV Land. Speaking of TVs, Meredith tries to liberate Starsky’s as a prop, but our smooth operator invites her to stay overnight to watch a TV special. Looks like ‘what’s your sign’ wasn’t the only guaranteed panty peeler line of the seventies.

While Starsky and Meredith may be hot stuff in the sack, their undercover skills need more work. They park right across from Lionel’s lair, and Starsky doesn’t even slump behind a cowboy hat while waiting in the car. Lionel has kicked Vivian out of the gang for playing “female gangster” on Hutch. So when she recognizes Starsky, Vivian takes ol’ Blue Eyes hostage to get back in Lionel’s good graces.

We’re amused that Vivian threatens to “waste pasty face” if Meredith doesn’t give up her gun, as we don’t usually think of Starsky as quite that white. Then again, PBS told us that a widening socioeconomic gap and competition for inner city jobs in the 1970s led Blacks to define Jews as just another white oppressor. And PBS wouldn’t lie to us, would they?

As our pledge week intermission ends, Dobey calls up Hutch’s hospital room looking for Starsky. Hutch hints that maybe Starsky snuck off to do the naughty with Meredith, which makes us wonder if Starsky has a reputation for boffing all of his partners. Dobey yells at Hutch, “This call to you was absolutely unnecessary,” but he’s wrong. Just like a call from the Commissioner to Batman, Super Hutch leaps into action. Only three days after his surgery, Hutch leaves the hospital, figures out the connection between Allied Answering Service and the robberies, and recruits Dobey to help pressure Mary into fingering Lionel the Train.

Back at the scene of the crime, Starsky and Meredith are hogtied to chairs while Lionel orders Vivian to kill them both. When Starsky tries to convince Viv to do the right thing, Lionel shuts him up by claiming that as a white man “you don’t understand what we eat for lunch”. Actually, as two white women, we’re pretty sure the actress playing Vivian hasn’t had lunch in at least a decade. Regardless, Meredith’s attempt to reach out likewise fails, as Viv judges her by the color of the uniform she’s not wearing instead of the skin she is (hence the episode’s title).

Just in time, Hutch arrives. Between his gun-waving, Starsky’s head-butting Lionel, and Meredith tripping Viv, all that’s left for Dobey to do is start a round of “are you okay?” Hutch looks a bit tuckered out from all of his doctor-not-recommended rescuing. During the tag, though, Hutch is doing well enough to resume his duties as Starsky’s partner (all of them, we hope?). Starsky says that he’ll ask for her personally the next time his partner gets shot. We’ll have to wait until the events of Sweet Revenge teach him a lesson about making tasteless jokes.

However, it’s clear he’s learned the social message of this episode, that neither gender nor race matter when it comes to being a good cop, working together and presumably screwing around. This message is somewhat diluted by Dobey’s startling admission that he likes to watch as Starsky and Meredith get all mushy. Hutch’s and our screams of “Dear God, no!” as the credit roll will hopefully drown out that particular bit of edutainment.

Good Questions to ask Yourself

1. Does the social message of the episode justify the way Hutch, Starsky and Dobey all continually refer to Meredith as Starsky’s new partner? Or does that still make you want to scream “There can be only ONE!”

2. Huggy is very interested in Meredith, but he won’t date her until she retires from the police force. Does this mean we have to sobbingly set aside all of our Hutbear and Hugsky fic, or just set it post-Sweet Revenge? Or does he make an exception for the dynamic duo?

3. In 500 words or less, explore and analyze Mrs. Torino’s symbolic role in this episode. Is she simply a continuation of the earlier ESP scene, or is she foreshadowing the events of Sweet Revenge? Why does she reassure Starsky that death is just hunky dory, once you’re done saving the world?

Who's that masked man, post Sweet Revenge?



March 29, 2007