The Starsky & Hutch Hen Party
AKA Rebelcat and Elizabeth Helena

Bay City's HMO
AKA "The Plague, Part 1 and 2"

Original Air Date: Saturday, Nov. 19 & 26, 1977

According to the DVD Episode Guide: In episode one, "Starsky and Hutch must race against time to stop an international assassin from spreading a deadly virus throughout the entire city." And in episode two, "With Hutch infected with the virus and hours from death, Starsky furiously tries to track down the carrier of the plague in order to obtain an anti-toxin and save his partner."

In 1973, Richard Nixon authorized the Health Maintenance Organization Act and according to Michael Moore American medical care went down the tubes. This episode demonstrates that it’s a miracle anyone gets out of a Bay City hospital alive.

“Give me good old city pollution.”

Outside the Trans World Airlines airport we hear: “The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only...” We wonder if we’ve put the movie Airplane! into the DVD player by mistake, until Starsky blithely parks the Torino in the white zone. Starsky and Hutch are picking up their good buddy Jake. As if being pals with these guys isn’t enough, Jake is also a Bay City cop which means he has the life expectancy of ... well, a Bay City cop who’s friends with Starsky and Hutch.

Hutch is yakking about a village in Azerbaijan where people live to be 148 years old. Starsky tells Hutch that life without sex is just not worth living, which is why he’s not planning for retirement (remember kids, this is pre-Viagra). He then demonstrates his youthful horniness by sexually harassing an airport security guard.

Just as Starsky and Hutch meet up with Jake, someone shouts “thief!” Our heroes leap into parkour style action. The older Jake runs into a sunken-eyed, shady-looking man, and gets the back of his hand scratched. After the thief is nabbed, the three cops exit the airport and discover a far greater crime -- the Torino is being towed. While Starsky yells at the tow truck driver, Hutch smoothly removes the chains. In the background, a Beverly Hills Cab pulls away with the sharp nailed stranger inside. Yep, Bay City has its very own Beverly Hills, which explains why it also has hillbillies.

The cabbie drives the increasingly sweaty mystery man out to the boondocks of Bay City. Helen Yeager, Lonely Single Woman of a Certain Age, has rented him a room in her home. The stranger introduces himself as Steele, and Helen introduces him to her son Richie.

Richie promptly asks Steele if he’s “really from Canada” as his dad went to Canada and never came back. We never knew that Americans used Canada as a euphemism for heaven. We bet that Helen told Richie his pet goldfish, budgie and puppy all went to Canada, too. Steele winks at Richie, and then staggers upstairs to collapse on the bed and stroke his gun. His real gun, people! Sheesh.

This isn't the first time their sweet nothings have made Jake hurl.

"Starsk, the nurses are wondering why you're always in my bed."

Baby's got back!

“I’ve always wanted to play doctor.”

Starsky and Hutch ferry Dr. Judith Kaufman around the city so she can take blood samples from anyone Jake had contact with during his last tour of duty. We’re a bit concerned to learn from Hutch that Jake rousted “Big Benny” (a little person, of course) yesterday. As Jake died at least three days ago, this means either Hutch’s confusion is an early symptom of the plague or Dobey has raised Jake from the dead. Zombies would certainly help off-set the staff shortages caused by BCPD’s high mortality rate.

By the end of the sixth day of the outbreak, the dream team has tested forty-three whippos and wiseguys, twenty-five of whom had “definite contact” with Jake. Clearly, Starsky and Hutch are not the hardest working cops in Bay City. Eight people have been sent to Isolation so far, but Dr. Kaufman is frustrated that they still haven’t found the plague’s carrier. Apparently, she didn’t learn in medical school that cause tends to precede effect. However, we’re impressed that she learned how to detect viruses in blood without the aid of a microscope.

Starsky and Hutch then spot the thief from the airport. He managed to skip bail, but he’s now too sick to jump out of the reach of Bay City’s finest living cops. Dr. Kaufman has the thief immediately tossed into quarantine, where he promptly gives up the ghost.

In the hospital’s lab, Dr. Meredith tells them that the mystery virus causes fluid in the lungs, severe liver and kidney damage, and massive internal hemorrhaging. Also, the ambulance attendant and the nurse who treated Jake are now sick. Dr. Kaufman orders the entire hospital floor sealed off, which strikes us as locking the barn door after the horses have escaped. Especially as this quarantine doesn’t include Starsky and Hutch, the only two people who’ve been exposed to every single victim.

Meanwhile back at Mrs. Yeager’s place, Richie is listening at Mr. Steele’s door, just waiting for him to collapse so he can rush in and play doctor with the stranger. His mom admits that her son the stalker is isolated and lonely. Mr. Steele gratefully grasps Richie’s hand, passing on the virus.

The Hutchinson finger: yr doin' it wrong!

"Richie, have you ever seen a grown man naked?"

Hit men are not renowned for their people skills.

“Find Calendar, save Hutch.”

Hutch spots Calendar’s clever disguise as a bum wearing clean white socks and expensive leather shoes. They interrupt his assassination attempt, but their car chase ends prematurely when they are cut off by a truck. We’re shocked. That never happens in Bay City.

Back at the lab, Dr. Meredith has been rechecking the old blood samples and he has bad news for Hutch. He was infected with the virus after all. “Either we come up with an anti-toxin, or he has only a few days left on this planet Earth.” After all, hit men might be able to walk it off, but everyone knows that Hutch is a fragile flower. Plus he doesn’t have the benefit of twenty-four hour care from a minor child which everyone knows is far superior to Bay City hospital care, especially from a doctor who thinks anti-toxins kill viruses.

In forty-eight hours, Hutch’s white blood cell count will drop, he’ll become highly infectious, and he’ll start showing symptoms. As Jake died two days after his exposure to the plague and Hutch has been incubating the virus for at least five days, it’s a mystery how Dr. Meredith came up with the forty-eight hour countdown. We suspect he watches too many soap operas.

Determined to save Hutch, Starsky oversees a massive search for Calendar, giving an inspirational speech about good partners being hard to come by. As the leads dry up, Starsky hits the Torino, tosses Huggy around and yells at Dobey. They all claim to love Hutch just as much as Starsky does, but we know they’re lying. Especially the Torino.

At the hospital, Hutch is plastered to the window of his isolation chamber, pathetically trying to wave down anyone who’ll talk to him. He tries to flirt with Dr. Kaufman, and we believe that her comment regarding his “vulnerable upper lip” led to his fourth season mustache.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Richie is giving a shirtless Calendar a sponge bath. We don’t want to speculate on whether he’s wearing pants. It’s bad enough that Calendar’s got his hands all over Richie’s face.

Starsky truly thought she was flirting when she said "cavity search".

Starsky pulls out this photo every time Hutch claims he's over 6 ft tall.

Starsky's dad told him a cop's badge was a "get-out-of-jail-free" card.

“Maybe he picked up some disease in Europe.”

Two days later, our heroes are hanging out in the police station’s locker room and Hutch is still babbling on about living 120 years more. Presumably, Hutch has been telling everyone he’s 28 years old for about six years now. Before Starsky can call him on this, Jake collapses in front of them.

At Lincoln hospital, Jake dies, and Hutch consoles his widow by picking lint off her sweater. Starsky is shocked when the doctor orders all three of them quarantined. “I’m healthy!” he claims loudly. After all, he just finished a round of penicillin for that embarrassing STI, and Hutch’s lint picking is a symptom of OCD not the plague. The doctor is not impressed and assigns him and Hutch to an Isolation Room together.

You’d think that being locked in a single room with a paper-gowned Hutch would be fun, but Starsky is so stressed he refuses to eat. Either the observation window or Hutch’s pathological fear of paper cuts has prevented any slashy shenanigans.

To their rescue comes the Sexy Dr. Judith Kaufman from Disease Control in Alabama. Hutch asks her, “Are you a doctor, or are you just beautiful?”, ignoring the Less-Than-Sexy Dr. Meredith. Starsky interrupts, claiming that he’s suffering from a severe case of claustrophobia. Hurray, Claustrophobic!Starsky is canon! We predict an outbreak of locked closets, broken elevators, and collapsed basements in Starsky’s fanfiction future.

Starsky and Hutch are free to go as it’s been 72 hours, and they’re showing no symptoms. This means it’s been five days since Jake got back from Europe, and three days since he died. Pay attention, there will be a test afterwards. Dr. Kaufman convinces Starsky and Hutch to help her track down everyone Jake came into contact with before he died. Neither doctor suggests checking the other airplane passengers, so clearly they’ve already ruled out the European disease. They also don't seem interested in tracking down whomever gave this unknown killer disease to Jake. Clearly patient zero is at fault for failing to gain pre-approval for services from a health care provider outside his HMO network.

Hutch risks getting a lot more than the Plague from Sister Magda.

"Starsky? How do YOU know Magda makes hospital visits?"

"Gee whiz, Mom! A dying dad's still better than NO dad!"

“This is prime territory for dippers.”

On day seven of plague watch, the Torino is getting a ticket for being parked in the white zone while Starsky and Hutch question the head of Airport Security. “Whenever an incident starts, my crew is instructed to switch on the security cameras.” We feel more secure already. Looking at the pictures, our awesome detectives figure out that Steele AKA Thomas Calendar AKA “the prince of hit men” is the source of Jake’s infection.

Calendar is now feeling much better thanks to Richie’s underage nurturing. He’s ready to get back to murdering people for money, but the firing pin is missing from his rifle. His Bay City weapons supplier is holding it hostage for more cash.

Calendar agrees to meet his hapless contact on a dark, isolated rooftop. Calendar says, “In this business we all have to trust each other,” and promptly stabs the man in the back. He then kicks the body. Calendar is made of awesome.

Starsky and Hutch have learned from Interpol that Calendar’s been spending time in Marrakesh. Dr. Meredith just happens to have the private diary of a doctor who witnessed a similar outbreak in Morocco. Sadly, that doctor died in a plane crash, and it is in no way suspicious that Dr. Meredith has his unpublished notes. Covering for her cutthroat colleague, Dr. Kaufman distracts the cops by telling them that if Calendar is still alive, his blood can be used to manufacture a serum that will cure the plague.

Fortunately, our clever boys have deduced that Calendar’s target is a syndicate boss named Roper. The next day, Starsky and Hutch oh-so-stealthily stalk Roper in the Torino, hoping to catch Calendar in the act of assassinating him. Hutch divides his time between obsessing about living to 148 and mooning over Judith.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Starsky complains, “I thought I finished that routine in the army.” We launch into our Canon celebration dance. We can now write about Starsky being a claustrophobic POW in Vietnam, and his wacky adventures with a Colonel named Hannibal Smith.

Hutch is about to learn that he can't stop a car with his crotch.

Nurse Betty is really looking forward to the mandatory cavity search.

"Richie, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?"

Officer Friendly reminds you not to rent rooms to hit men.

Don't go into the light, Hutch!

Dobey had hoped wearing his Hanukkah shirt would cheer Starsky up.

“Gentlemen, it has been exciting.”

Calendar is sitting in the “Pool, Beer, Breakfast Served All Day” bar when the TV spot is aired. He immediately suffers from vivid flashbacks. In order, he remembers Richie giving him a sponge bath, Richie taking his money, and then grabbing Richie by the shirt. Only Very Bad People would read anything other than innocent affection into that.

Calendar calls and says he’ll come in for Richie's sake. Starsky waits for him at the back entrance, completely unaware of the giant black limo containing Roper and his goons parked a few yards away. Looks like love really does shrink the capillaries.

Calendar arrives, and Roper shoots him. Then Calendar shoots Roper, thus fulfilling his contract. While Roper’s lackeys drive off with their bleeding boss, Starsky sits on Calendar and screams for help. Luckily, they to get him into surgery before all his precious bodily fluids end up outside his body.

Now, the viewer might wonder what happens to Calendar, Richie, Roper, the magically immune Helen Yeager, or even Jake’s widow (remember her?). However, rather than waste time tying up loose ends, the writers show us that Starsky has learned a valuable lesson - don't park in the white zone at airports.

Inside, Hutch begs an uninterested Judith to stay for the weekend. Starsky has a wicked glint in his eye. He’s either a voyeur who likes watching women kiss men unenthusiastically, or he and Judith had a secret, late night rendezvous to comfort each other. Finally she leaves, and Starsky utters the slashiest lines of the episode: “C’mon, ya big blond beauty. I’ll take ya home and tuck you in. You ain’t ready for the big leagues yet.”

On the escalator Hutch continues to obsess about living like an Azerbaijani. “You are looking at a man in the prime of his life with a hundred plus to go.” He elbows Starsky, who’s gazing at him with the biggest, goofiest grin ever. Awww! Who cares how long Hutch incubated the plague, or whether zombie Jake busted someone days after he died? We’ve just melted into sentimental puddles. It’s definitely love, Cap.

“This ain’t no fun, and the game is Hutch is dying.”

That night, as Hutch is tossing and turning in his sleep, Dr. Kaufmann tells Starsky that the symptoms should appear by tomorrow. Either she’s as incompetent as Dr. Meredith, or Hutch is just a highly active sleeper. Starsky borrows Dr. Kaufman’s lipstick to tag Hutch’s window, since he can’t be there to hold Hutch while he flails in bed.

Finally, there’s a break in the case! A grocery clerk noticed Helen Yeager throwing hundred dollar bills around, and like a good citizen he’s reported her to the police. Starsky shoves his gun down the front of his pants and proves just how sexy a home invasion can be. “Don’t yell, don’t scream, if you care about your life,” he tells Helen.

Sadly, all this drama is wasted, as Helen already asked Calendar to leave. She's finally noticed that Richie has become too attached to his latest father surrogate, but not in time to prevent her son from catching the plague.

Richie is shipped off to hospital, and Starsky takes a moment to visit Hutch. Through a surgical mask, Starsky reassures Hutch that that he’s “gonna nail Calendar, any hour now.” Hutch appears less than convinced, but we love the way Starsky rips off his hospital gown. His own gown, not Hutch’s. Hutch is dying, this is no time for last minute hot man-on-man action – wait, what are we saying?

By day eleven, Starsky wants to go on the radio and television and offer Calendar immunity and a plane ticket in return for his antibody-rich blood. When he fails to get official approval, he visits Calendar’s target Roper to ask for his help. Mob boss Roper, predictably, laughs in his face.

Richie gets quietly sicker, while Hutch thrashes in an oxygen tent. Starsky pleads with Dobey to “Go on the air and cop a plea.” He’s never understood that legal jargon stuff. Eventually, Starsky and Helen Yeager join forces and get their way. They both send a moving plea out over the airwaves to the populace of Bay City. Apparently, “undercover identity” was another concept Starsky failed to grasp at the police academy.

"Our Telethon Poster Child this week is little Kenny Hutchinson."

Putting pressure on the wound - yr doin' it wrong!

Hutch waves bye-bye to the last vestiges of his heterosexuality.


Good Questions to Ask Yourself

1. What was Jake doing in Europe? It appears to be work-related, since he didn’t take his wife with him. But what kind of work sends a cop from Bay City to Europe? Did he get the canceled script 'Murder in the English Manner'? Or is the BCPD doing officer exchanges with the Manchester Police?

2. The Bay City Plague is described as having spread “all over the city”. Most real plagues tend to be concentrated in certain areas, among specific groups of people. Did Jake (either living or undead) spread the disease so effectively? Or was it the Typhoid Torino carrying Starsky and Hutch everywhere while Hutch was incubating the virus?

3. First we see shots of Memorial Hospital. Then Hutch spends an overnight in Isolation at the Orthopaedic Hospital. But the next morning he's back at Memorial, according to the outside shots. However, at various points in the episode, the characters refer to a "Lincoln Hospital". Are the Plague victims being treated at the Lincoln Memorial Orthopaedic Hospital, or is Hutch's HMO playing "pass the patient"?

4. Earn virtual brownies by identifying the viruses in the header and footer illustration. Earn virtual chocolate sundaes by infecting the Starsky and Hutch character of your choice with any of them and sending us the story.




August 27, 2008