Starsky and hutch

For the film, see Starsky & Hutch (film). For the song by LL Cool J, see Phenomenon (LL Cool J album). For the video game, see Starsky & Hutch (video game).
Starsky & Hutch
Format Police drama
Created by William Frederick Blinn
Ryan Matthew Blinn
Starring David Soul
Paul Michael Glaser
Antonio Fargas
Bernie Hamilton
Richard Ward (pilot)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 93
Running time 45–48 minutes
Original channel ABC
Audio format Monaural
Original run April 30, 1975 (1975-04-30) – May 15, 1979 (1979-05-15)

Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s American cop thriller television series,[1] which consisted of a 70-minute pilot movie (originally aired as a Movie of the Week entry) and 92 episodes of 50 minutes each. The show was created by William Blinn, produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, and broadcast between April 30, 1975 and May 15, 1979 on the ABC network. It was distributed by Columbia Pictures Television in the United States and, originally, Metromedia Producers Corporation in Canada and some other parts of the world. Sony Pictures Television is now the worldwide distributor for the series. The series also inspired a theatrical film and a video game.


The protagonists were two Southern California policemen: the dark-haired Brooklyn transplant David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) who was a streetwise detective and U.S. Army veteran with intense, sometimes childlike moods, and the blond Duluth, Minnesota native Kenneth 'Hutch' Hutchinson (David Soul), a more reserved and intellectually inclined character. Under the radio call sign "Zebra Three", they were known for usually tearing around the streets of fictional "Bay City, California".

The vehicle of choice was Starsky's two-door Ford Gran Torino, which was red with a large white vector stripe. The Torino was nicknamed the "Striped Tomato" by Hutch in the episode "Snowstorm"; the nickname was subsequently adopted by the fans of the series. However, the term didn't come from the writers - it came from a real-life comment that Glaser made. In a segment titled Starsky & Hutch: Behind The Badge that was featured on the first season DVD collection, Glaser stated that when he was first shown the Torino by Aaron Spelling, he sarcastically said to Soul, "That thing looks like a striped tomato!" Hutch's automobile was a battered tan 1973 Ford Galaxie 500, which occasionally appeared when the duo needed separate vehicles or for undercover work, however, the duo's cover was often blown because Hutch's car had a bad habit, when the driver's side door was opened, the horn would go off, calling attention to themselves. It was also not very hard to miss because of the severe clutter in the back seat, therefore necessitating the need for an extra unit to transport prisoners when they used the car.

Supporting characters

Their main underworld contact was the street-wise, jive-talking Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas), who often dressed in a flashy manner and ran his own bar first named "Huggy Bear's" and later "The Pits." The duo's boss was the gruff, no-nonsense but fair Captain Harold C. Dobey, played by Bernie Hamilton in the series (gravel-voiced actor Richard Ward in the pilot). Starsky and Hutch was one of the first prime-time dramatic shows to cast black characters in a positive light; with both Captain Dobey, and—despite his walking on the edge of the law—the honest and trustworthy Huggy seen to be positive black role models.

Huggy's immense popularity caused Spelling and Goldberg to consider giving Fargas his own series. The second season episode "Huggy Bear and the Turkey" was the test pilot for a proposed spin off with Huggy and his friend, former Sheriff "Turkey" Turquet (Dale Robinette) becoming private investigators; However, the premise proved unpopular with viewers and it never led to a series. In the episode it was revealed that Huggy's last name is Brown (no clue as to his first name was given). Two character names came from William Blinn's past: "Starsky" was the name of a high school friend, and "Huggy Bear" was a local disc jockey.

Seasons 1 & 2

In contrast to police characters on TV up until this time, Starsky and Hutch were open with physical gestures of affection, often declaring that they trusted only each other against the world. In a "[1]

Many fans were attracted not just by the characters, but the quality of writing during the first two seasons (despite the fact that the majority of first season stories were actually existing scripts that were merely adapted to fit the series). The second season episode "Long Walk Down a Short Dirt Road", featured country star Lynn Anderson as a singer being stalked by a deranged person and was based upon a real-life incident involving Dolly Parton. The part was written with Parton in mind, but Anderson wound up playing the role.

Season 3

In 1977, a rising concern about violence on TV, along with Glaser's own concerns about the level of violence in the series, forced the screenplay writers to cut down on violent action scenes and to employ more romantic and socially themed episodes, and play up the "buddy buddy" aspect of the show's leads even more so. At the same time, the lead actors, Glaser in particular, became jaded with the general theme of Starsky and Hutch. These and other factors contributed to the fading popularity of the series.

Glaser indicated several times that he wanted to get out of his contract and leave the series; he even sued to be released from his contract before the start of the third season. It seemed that he would not be returning for filming, so to fill the gap he would have left, the character of Officer Linda Baylor (played by Roz Kelly) was created, and a number of alternative scripts featuring the character instead of Starsky were written (whether the show's name would have remained the same is unknown). After being given more control over scripts, opportunities to direct, and a per episode pay raise from $5,000 to $35,000, Glaser was persuaded to continue, and Baylor only appeared in one episode (alongside both Starsky and Hutch) in the Play Misty for Me-inspired episode "Fatal Charm".

Season 4 and syndication

Glaser again voiced his desires to leave during the fourth and final season. This time, Starsky's wayward younger brother Nick (John Herzfeld) was introduced in the episode Starsky's Brother. It was intended that if Glaser was to quit, that the reformed Nick would join the force and fill Glaser's place (this time at least being able to keep the shows title as Starsky & Hutch); Glaser decided to finish out the season. Although a fifth season was planned, it was ultimately Glaser's desire to quit and declining ratings which brought an end to the series.

The final episode of the run, Sweet Revenge, which has Starsky fighting for his life after being gunned down, originally had the character dying in early drafts. However, the producers decided to have the character survive, as it was felt it would make reruns sit better in syndication, as well as leaving the option open if they ever decided to revive the series.

After its prime-time run, Starsky & Hutch was offered in syndication and has been shown on several local and cable networks, including The National Network and WWME-CA in Chicago. Several episodes from the first two seasons can be viewed for free in Minisode and regular format on Crackle.

Much of the show was shot on location in the Los Angeles beach community of San Pedro. The building that was used as the Metro Division headquarters is now San Pedro's City Hall.

List of episodes

DVD releases

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 4 Seasons on DVD in Regions 1 and 2.

DVD Name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2
The Complete 1st Season 23 March 2, 2004 March 15, 2004
The Complete 2nd Season 25 July 20, 2004 July 19, 2004
The Complete 3rd Season 23 March 15, 2005 February 28, 2005
The Complete 4th and Final Season 22 October 17, 2006 February 13, 2006

International Broadcasts

  • On March 15, 1979 in Italy, Starsky and Hutch was aired on Rai Due achieving smash-hit status. In 1987 it was broadcast again, this time in the late afternoon, on Italia 1 and in 2007 on Rai Tre at lunchtime. After some reruns on Italia 1 and AXN, in 2009 the series appeared Mondays on Fox Retro. It is currently aired in the early morning on Rete 4.
  • In France, the show was shown on TF1. The French version replaces the original theme(s) with a French song, singing about "Starsky et Hutch".
  • In the United Kingdom, the series was an immediate hit when it began showing on Saturday nights on BBC1 (debuting 23 April 1976, and soon catching up with US broadcasts), with occasional re-runs through to the early 1990s. It was re-run by Five in 2003 in a 10 a.m. slot (later 11 a.m., and eventually moving to a 2:30 p.m. slot); During its prime-time run, however, the BBC heavily edited or skipped altogether certain episodes; in fact, the first season episode "The Fix" (in which mobsters inject Hutch with heroin in order to extract information from him) was deemed too graphic and was effectively "banned" from all the corporation's runs of the series (despite being shown after the 9 p.m. 'watershed'). Several other controversial episodes did on occasion air, but were heavily edited and / or seldom aired due to their nature. "The Fix" was never shown on British terrestrial television until May 31, 1999, as part of Channel 4's "Starsky & Hutch Night" (which also included the pilot, The Word On The Street - a documentary about the series - and the second season episode "Gillian"). On January 10, 2003, Five actually broadcast "The Fix" in their regular 10 a.m. slot; however, the episode was notably edited, and the scene of Hutch being injected with heroin was almost completely absent. The series was also shown on the UK satellite channel Granada Plus, and is now running on Zone Thriller, which was rebranded as CBS Action in November 2009. The channel has broadcast all episodes, with minor edits in a few cases.
  • The first season is frequently aired on the Middle East Broadcasting Center with Arabic subtitles.
  • In Australia it airs on Digital Channel Go!.
  • In Malaysia it currently reruns on Malaysian Government's Channel, Radio Televisyen Malaysia 2 (TV2), Best of Retro slot, in 2009.
  • In Venezuela, the show was aired on Venevisión.
  • In Algeria, the show was aired in French on ENTV state television during the second half of the 80-s, and was a big success.
  • In Puerto Rico the show was aired on WKAQ TV, Channel 2 (Telemundo) during the mid to late 70s. It was dubbed to Spanish.


Stunt cars, camera cars, tow cars, dolly cars, and cars used for "beauty" shots varied in model year from 1974 to 1976 Ford Torinos, since the body style of the Gran Torino was unchanged.

Originally, Blinn was to have Starsky drive a Chevrolet Camaro convertible because he fondly remembered a green and white one that he owned. However, when production started on the pilot episode, Ford Motor Company's Studio-TV Car Loan Program was the lease supplier for Spelling-Goldberg. They looked at lease stock and chose two 1975 351 Windsor V8-powered (VIN code "H") "Bright Red" (paint code 2B) 2-door Gran Torinos. Both cars had a 'role' in the pilot movie, one being "Starsky's" car, and the other being a similar car which is mistaken for Starsky's car by the film's villains. They each had body-side mouldings along with a black interior with vinyl bench seats. Interestingly, one of the 'pilot' cars had the 'luxury' remote-control chrome mirrors installed, while the other 'pilot' car had the cheaper, entry-level manual chrome mirrors installed; in editing the film, Starsky and Hutch are shown to be driving around in each of the two cars at different times during the film. The cars were also custom painted (on top of the factory red paint colour) with the distinctive white "vector" stripe designed by Spelling-Goldberg's transportation coordinator George Grenier. The rear ends were lifted by air shocks, and had "U.S." brand 5-slot mag wheels added with larger rear tires. While the tires were mounted so that only the black wall side would show, thus hiding any unauthorized brand-name display, in one first season episode ("Kill Huggy Bear"), a close-up shot of the villain cutting the rear brake lines shows the letters on the inside-facing side of the tires to say 'Firestone'. It is reported that the original 2.75:1 ratio rear axle gearing (standard on non-police Torinos from 1975 onward) was replaced with numerically higher ratio gears for better acceleration during stunt driving scenes; in the 1999 interview, Glaser said that "We finally had to get a new rear end put in it so that at zero to sixty it had some pop." At least one of the second-season cars was known to have a Dymo label prominently attached to the dashboard which read "DO NOT EXCEED 50 MPH"; this was probably due to the fact that the revised gearing would cause the engine revolutions per minute (RPM) to go to a higher level, possibly leading to engine damage.

In the "Behind The Badge" interviews, Glaser said that during the early stages of production of the pilot, Spelling took him outside to 'introduce' him to the Torino in all its red & white-striped, mag-wheeled glory. Glaser took an immediate and long-lasting dislike to the car, which has not changed to this day. According to Glaser in several early interviews, there were three main reasons why he instantly hated the car: First, in his opinion, it was big, ugly and childish-looking. Secondly, the idea that two 'undercover' cops would drive around in a car with such an outlandish appearance seemed ludicrous, and lastly, he doesn't like Ford products (although in a picture that was printed in an issue of the National Enquirer, Glaser is shown on the side of a California freeway with a flat-tired Ford Explorer) . At the first viewing of the car with David Soul (Hutch), Glaser remarked that the car looked like a 'striped tomato'. That nickname stuck, and very soon the show's writers had worked it into the show as Hutch's derogatory name for Starsky's beloved Torino. Glaser remarked to Soul that he hated the car and that he was "going to destroy that car...burn it down every chance I get!", and repeated the story in the 1999 "reunion" interview. Several scenes of Glaser driving the car show him smashing the front wheels into curbs as he slides the car around corners and such, but that may also be attributable to the fact that he is primarily an actor, not a trained stunt-driver. Over the years, with the Starsky & Hutch Torino gaining in popularity and becoming a much-loved icon of the show and of the seventies in general, Glaser has not so much grown to appreciate the car as he has learned to simply accept its popularity as a necessary component of the fans' appreciation of the show. In fact, during filming of the 2004 Starsky & Hutch movie, Glaser had several opportunities to sit in the newest iteration of 'his' car, and even drive them, but he refused. He just wasn't interested; however, in 2004, during the last day of filming a movie in [2]. In the summer of 2012 during the introduction to the "Las Vegas Car Stars 2012" charity event, Glaser drove up in a S&H Torino replica; after being introduced by the master of ceremonies, he got out of the Torino and was cheered by the crowd.

New 'high performance' engine sounds were dubbed over scenes during the show because California law forbade mechanically modifying the engines of new cars. When the pilot was successful, Spelling-Goldberg ordered two new 1975 red Gran Torinos for the first season. These cars were powered by 400 Modified V8s (VIN code "S") because extra power was going to be needed for additional stunt driving scenes. These new cars for the first-season were factory ordered in the bright red color (Ford paint code: 2B), which was a regular production color for 1975 Torinos.

Unlike the pilot-movie cars, the first-season Torinos had no body-side mouldings, but did have body-colored "sport" mirrors, and 'brocade' cloth split-bench seats. With the acquisition of the new cars, the producers took the opportunity to 'improve' the design of the white stripe painted on the cars. The original 'pilot-movie' cars had the bottom horizontal edge of the stripe about an inch or so above the mid-body character line that ran along the car, which was apparently done so that the section of the stripe that passes above the front wheel opening would not be 'cut-off' by the wheel opening, but for the first-season cars, the bottom horizontal edge of the stripe was lowered until directly on the crease, which gave a more cohesive look to the design of the stripe. The section of stripe that runs across the front wheel opening was gradually curved up and around the opening. The stripe was also thicker on the roof section and whereas the front pointed section ended well behind the amber marker light on the pilot cars, the newer design had the point ending far ahead of it, on the front fascia piece. These new cars also featured the complete 'bumper protection group' option, which included horizontal black 'rub-strips' on both bumpers that were not included on the 'pilot' cars.

For the start of the second season, these were replaced by two 1976 Gran Torinos that had vinyl split-bench seats like the pilot episode cars. The new cars were ordered under Ford's fleet program, which is what was required to get them painted in the previous year's 'Bright Red'(2B), as Ford used a different shade of red for new standard-order Torinos by this point.

These newer cars can be identified by their silver 'sight shields' (bumper filler panels) which Ford used on specially painted fleet-ordered cars. They also had the luxury chrome mirrors like one of the pilot cars. Even though the body-colored 'sport' mirrors were still a Torino option in 1976, they could not be installed on a fleet-ordered specialty-painted car, as Ford had no provision for producing those mirrors in anything other than the regular production colors listed for that year; since the 2B bright red was a special fleet-ordered color for the '76 model year, the cars came equipped with the chrome mirrors. The body-side mouldings were installed on these cars and the stripe was, unlike the pilot cars, integrated with the mouldings.

They were powered by 460 Lima V8s (VIN code "A"), and Spelling-Goldberg kept these Torinos until production ceased. While these were the biggest, most powerful engines available from Ford at the time, they were still somewhat underpowered at 202 net horsepower (224 with factory optional dual exhausts, although the engine still produced abundant torque (pre-smog high compression 460s produced approximately 280hp net). A third car, owned by 20th Century Fox and 351 Windsor powered, was used as the first backup to the Ford lease cars.

Over time, an unforeseen problem was discovered with the Torinos when they were used during stunt driving scenes. In sharp right-hand turns, Soul would sometimes slide accidentally across the vinyl bench into Glaser. Although a potential safety hazard at the time, the problem was solved by replacing the front bench of the number two Torino with bucket seats at Glaser and Soul's request; Glaser said in 1999, "It took us a year to get them to put bucket seats in it so David wouldn't slide all over the place whenever I took a corner."

The aggressive stunt driving required of the show resulted in many accidents and fender-benders for the Torinos. The time demands of a weekly production mandated quick body and paint repairs so the cars could get 'back to work' as soon as possible, and many of the quick and often sloppy repairs are quite evident to eagle-eyed viewers of the show. The front fenders seemed to have taken a lot of abuse, and the 'Gran Torino' nameplates on the front fenders are missing in several episodes, as are the chrome wheelhouse moldings.

Towards the end of the four seasons of production, the Torinos were noticeably worse-for-wear, and close watchers of the later episodes will spot many dents and other damage on the cars as they appear in various episodes. In particular, the driver's side quarter panel and tail-light area were seen to be smashed up in a couple of different 4th season episodes, and at least one of the cars was shown to have a dented and twisted front bumper along with some visible damage to the grille behind. The very last appearance of the Torino on the series seems to show that the driver's door and window will not even close correctly, possibly due to the rigours and effects of the 'spirited' stunt driving the car suffered over the years.

Due to the success of S&H, in 1976 (the Torino's final year) Ford released a limited edition (only 1001 units total, plus three 'pilot production' cars) Starsky and Hutch replica Gran Torino.[3] Manufactured at the Chicago plant, one of these code "PS 122" units was leased by Spelling-Goldberg from the middle of season two until the series' end as a second backup for the main cars and was known simply as "Unit 129". It was originally equipped with a 351 Modified (also VIN code "H") ; however, during filming, one of the stuntmen damaged the engine beyond repair, and it was replaced overnight with a 429 Lima V8.

During the last season of Starsky and Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on CBS, and one of the factory replicas was used in the first episode, "One Armed Bandits", seen to be driven by regular character Cooter Davenport (Ben L. Jones). This was the only appearance of the Torino in the series, and many fans have speculated over its strange one-off appearance. One theory is that it was merely an in-joke, with the Torino's former iconic car status now being taken over by the Dukes' car "The General Lee".

After Starsky and Hutch was cancelled, the cars were returned to Ford and sold at auction. Currently, Torino #1 is owned by a man in Ohio.[4] Unrestored and somewhat battered, it still has its original 460 V8, interior, and paint. Torino #2 [6] for 2004's big-screen Starsky & Hutch movie. During its life after Starsky and Hutch, #2 was wrecked and sold as salvage. It was repaired, although it was repainted the wrong shade of red and the iconic stripe was improperly painted. Although still equipped with bucket seats, #2 no longer has its original 460 engine, which was replaced at some point with a 2.8 litre Ford V-6. The car is currently undergoing restoration in Pennsylvania. Finally, the 20th Century Fox Torino was purchased in 2009 by the owner of #2, sold to an Oklahoma couple in 2010, and restored. "Unit 129" is owned by a collector in New Hampshire.[7] In addition, the Torino has many fans and collectors in the [8]

As stated previously, Glaser wasn't fond of the Torino as he found the car to be garish. Due to his contempt for the Torino, he deliberately mistreated the cars during close-up stunt scenes when he drove (this was admitted to in a 1997 letter he wrote to the owner of the #1 Torino; and in a first season DVD interview he said that tried to "destroy" the cars) and would often stop the car by hitting the front wheels against curbs, as well as coming into driveways at high speed and bumping into garbage dumpsters.


In the pilot episode, Starsky carries a Beretta which he identifies as such in an early scene while the two are sitting in Hutch's car doing a weapon inventory, but once the series began, Starsky carried a M1911A1 Colt pistol, as seen in the opening theme of season 1. A Smith & Wesson Model 59 (9mm) can be clearly identified in a close up scene near the end of "The Fix", the 4th episode of Season 1.

In the pilot episode Hutch carried a .38 (also identified during the same weapons inventory scene), but carries a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver through the series entire run. Hutch's weapon was a medium-barrel length at the start of the series; however, in the third first-season episode "Texas Longhorn", the "Zak" character carried a long-barreled model, and Soul subsequently asked to carry that version from that point forward.

The criminals carry a variety of guns: rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers in a variety of makes, models, and calibres.

Theme music

The first season of the show had a dark and ominous theme written by Lalo Schifrin that seemed to fit the hard action and violence of the season; the main title version was edited down from the chase climax cue of his score for the pilot episode (the climax contains the shot of Hutch leaping off a fire escape and landing on a car which appears in the opening titles of all subsequent episodes). The end credits featured a similar piece of ominous music.

The first season theme was replaced for the second season by a Tom Scott written theme entitled "Gotcha". "Gotcha" is the best known of the show's themes, and has been covered by several musicians, including the James Taylor Quartet and The Ventures. A version of "Gotcha" was featured on Scott's 1977 album Blow It Out and is also on the album Best Of Tom Scott. For the third season, a more dramatic theme was used that highlighted the show's move to more socially-conscious and light-hearted stories. It was written by Mark Snow and released on an LP around 1979.

A reworked "Gotcha", similar in style (but not identical) to the version on Blow It Out, returned for the fourth and last season. The revamped version was the most easy-going of the different themes for the series, reflecting the last season's increased "buddy cop" feel.

Schifrin, Scott and Snow also scored several episodes; Alan Silvestri also worked on the series, scoring three episodes.[2]

Other media


A theatrical film produced by Weed Road Pictures and Red Hour Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and Dimension Films was released in theatres on March 5, 2004. The film stars Ben Stiller as Starsky, Owen Wilson as Hutch and Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, as they attempt to stop a drug kingpin played by Vince Vaughn. The film grossed $170,268,750 worldwide.[3]

Video game

A video game based on the series was developed by Mind's Eye Productions and published by Empire Interactive for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Windows and Game Boy Advance in 2003. The game combines driving and shooting gameplay and features the original voice of Huggy Bear, Antonio Fargas.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • DMOZ
  • Encyclopedia of Television
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