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Starsky and Hutch

The American TV series, Starsky and Hutch, revolved around two California police officers with a penchant for fast car chases, who often had unorthodox ways of catching the criminals. The show was launched in April 1975 in a 70-minute pilot movie by Columbia Pictures Television.

Devised by screenwriter and TV producer William Blinn and produced by Spelling-Goldberg Productions, the subsequent series was a huge success, running for 93 episodes over the next four years, with the final show being broadcast on 15th May 1979.

Starsky and Hutch

 

Plot and cast

Two detectives, Brooklyn native David Starsky and his partner, Minnesota-born Richard "Hutch" Hutchinson, patrol the streets of the fictional Bay City in California.

Starsky, played by Paul Michael Glaser, is a United States Army veteran from Brooklyn, who's intense, streetwise and moody. Recently-divorced Hutch, played by David Soul, is more reserved, preferring a more intellectual approach to crime-fighting. Together, they make a great team, thanks to their different personalities and methods.

They are famous for driving fast cars at breakneck speed through the streets of Bay City in hot pursuit of criminals. Starsky also became famous for his cream-coloured chunky-knit cardigan, which was a '70s fashion item in its own right!

Both actors were 32 years old when the series started and became heartthrobs - in particular Soul, who also had a successful recording career.

Almost as popular with the fans as Starsky and Hutch themselves was their main informant, Huggy Bear, played by Antonio Fargas, who ran a bar and dressed in a flashy manner. He was such a hit with viewers that producers considered giving him his own spin-off TV series, although this didn't pan out.

 

Fast cars

A multitude of fast cars played an integral role in Starsky and Hutch.

Initially, Blinn had intended using a Chevrolet Camaro convertible as the police vehicle, as he had fond memories of the model, having owned one in the past. However, Spelling-Goldberg used the services of the Ford Motor Company Studio-TV Car Loan Programme and chose the Gran Torino instead - with the year of manufacture dating from 1974 to 1976, as its body style remained unchanged during this period.

The flashy car made its debut in the first episode, which became known for the Savage Sunday chase scene. In the unlikely plot, two thieves steal a car for a Sunday afternoon crime spree.

However, they have no idea it contains enough dynamite to blow up City Hall - placed there by an elderly couple who are planning an explosive protest about living conditions in their care home!

Starsky and Hutch spot the Chevy in question in the early afternoon and have soon engaged in a thrilling car chase. Car enthusiasts have described it as one of the longest car chases in the series and "nicely uncluttered", with the "dingy" landscape and near-empty streets contrasting beautifully with the cops' bright-red Torino.

In other ways, the episode was viewed as rather strange, since the emphasis was on catching the car thieves, rather than the fact that two senior citizens had packed enough dynamite into a car to kill hundreds of people!

 

Customised

With the addition of a distinctive white stripe, the cars used in Starsky and Hutch were custom-painted by Spelling-Goldberg's transportation coordinator George Grenieron, on top of their factory-painted red shade. The rear end of each car was lifted by air shocks, while Ansen Sprint 5-slot wheels were added, with larger rear tyres.

The model's standard 2.75:1 ratio rear axle gearing was replaced with new gears for better acceleration during the chase scenes where stunt driving was required.

The cars were filmed in such a way that the brand name of the tyres wouldn't show, as it could be deemed as advertising. However, in one episode, when the criminal cut the rear brake lines on the detectives' car, a close-up shot revealed they were Firestone tyres.

Starsky and Hutch finally ended after Glaser announced his desire to leave during what was to be the final season. A plan to introduce Starsky's younger brother, Nick, played by John Herzfeld, to take his place so the series could continue wasn't pursued.

Plans to kill off Starsky in the final episode were also shelved and instead, he survived being shot, after producers feared the knowledge of his death would affect the series' future syndication and re-runs if fans knew he came to an untimely end.

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