Watching the Detectives - Starsky and Hutch

Starsky and Hutch

In a series of articles, Susan Omand and Steve Taylor-Bryant are going to remember the policemen, spies and criminal specialists that entertained them over the years. Today Susan looks back at Starsky and Hutch...

I saw that the godawful film of Starsky and Hutch was on TV recently and that got me to thinking, how many people remember/realise that there was a TV series about the police detectives back in the seventies... and it was NOTHING like the film.

Where the 2004 film is a spoof of the original, played for kitschy bromance and slapstick comedy (shudder), the TV series was actually a serious cop show. The only thing the film got right, in my opinion, was Dave Starsky’s red and white Ford Torino, Zebra Three. Yes, that’s right; in the TV series Hutch had his own car that was used just as much as the red one. It was a tan 1973 Ford Galaxie 500 that was more than a little battered due to being landed on and slid over regularly while chasing bad guys. The only problem with the tan car was that the horn sounded every time someone opened the driver’s side door, which kind of blew their cover on stakeouts.

But back to the original plot. Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Ken Hutchinson (David Soul) are plain clothes cops in the California PD. Starsky was very much the street-wise, hard nose cop from Brooklyn and Hutch was a lot more brain than brawn, hailing from Minnesota, so both were new to the fictional Bay City area of California when the series started. Under the supervision of the no-nonsense Captain Dobey (Bernie Hamilton) and with the help of their decidedly dodgy bar-owning informant Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas – who sounded exactly like Smokey from the PJ’s) they chased down the drug dealers and pimps through the streets of Bay City, bashing through piles of cardboard boxes like there was no tomorrow, and often resulting in (for the first two seasons anyway) a fairly violent ending.

The show ran for four seasons altogether, although the third and fourth were a lot more people-orientated than case based, in order to tame down the violence and in this move it kind of lost its way a bit. It was also around this time that they tried to “soften” the image by giving Starsky (albeit extremely cool) cardigans to wear. I coveted those cardigans even though I missed the level of violence and car chases. I was, however, ten at the time. Going back now and watching episodes, I still covet the cardigans and still enjoy the violence and car chases. The show, apart from the clothes and the music, really hasn’t dated in premise and, dare I say it, may stand up to a remake, as long as they treat it like the serious police drama thriller that it was and not the comedic disaster that the film turned into.

The cars! The cardigans! The cardboard boxes!! And not a Ben Stiller in sight. Will the real Starsky and Hutch please stand up?

Image - IMDb