Starsky and Hutch was a highly popular crime drama series following the exploits of detectives Dave Starsky and Ken Hutchinson. The pair were practically joined at the hip and had a kind of symbiotic relationship, thier investigations usually took them into the seamier side of town and they often went undercover, neither were married although both had plenty of love interest on their show.
Starsky was the cool one (he drove a bright red 1974 Ford Torino with a white stripe flashed along its side and wore chunky cardigans) whilst Hutch was the educated one who knew about books and music and good food.
Also assisting Starsky and Hutch in their never-ending war on crime were Captain Harold Dobey, their gruff but likeable commanding officer, and Huggy Bear, the well-connected and informed dude on the street who helped Starsky and Hutch get the lowdown. Huggy Bear’s flamboyant sense of fashion and his ability to dish out an endless stream of hip jive-talk made him an icon of the 1970’s. These characters added plenty to the series, but the show’s focus was definitely the uniquely emotional relationship between Starsky and Hutch. They always stood by each other, no matter how tough the going got.
And the going frequently got very tough. Starsky and Hutch emulated the gritty, hardboiled style of 1970’s police films like The French Connection and Dirty Harry. As a result, most episodes featured two devices used in these films, no matter what the plot was: a tense shootout and a white-knuckle car chase in the Ford Torino.
Starsky and Hutch were both put in frequent jeopardy, like when Hutch was kidnapped and injected with heroin in “The Fix,” or when Starsky was critically wounded in “Sweet Revenge.” Critics often condemned the show for this violent content, but audiences disregarded the pooh-poohers and flocked to the show in droves. The result was a hardboiled hit, which lasted four seasons. During this time, Starsky and Hutch used a lot of up-and-coming talent both in front of and behind the camera: guest stars included Melanie Griffith, Philip Michael Thomas and Adrian Zmed, while the show’s writing and directing staff included future Miami Vice creator Michael Mann.
The show for most of its run was huge and David Soul even embarked on a career as a hit pop singer with songs like Silver Lady and Don’t Give Up On Us Baby. When their was a crackdown on TV Violence the show lost its ‘raison d’etre’ somewhat and a more humorous element crept into the plots, the ratings then fell causing the network to end the show. Truly a quintessential show of the seventies.
2004 saw the arrival of a mostly played for laughs big screen version of the series with Ben Stiller as Starsky and David Soul as Hutch. Whilst it was entertaining enough it played too much for comedy and didn’t capture the essence of the original series.
USA / ABC / x60 minute episodes / Broadcast Wednesday 3 September 1975 – Tuesday 21 August 1979
Theme Music: Lalo Schifrin, Tom Scott and Mark Snow.
PAUL MICHAEL GLASER as Detective Dave Starsky
DAVID SOUL as Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson
BERNIE HAMILTON as Captain Harold Dobey
ANTONIO FARGAS as Huggy Bear