Question: How long did Starsky and Hutch run? Also, wasn't Starsky killed at the end, and where can I catch old episodes? Thanks. — Ed H.
Televisionary: Near as I can tell, Ed, they only ran until they caught the bad guy. (Kindly imagine drum-combo ba-dum-BUM here, please.)
Ah, but I kid. In all seriousness (or as much as I can muster to discuss a show with a main character named Huggy Bear), the critically lambasted but hugely popular Starsky and Hutch had a spot on ABC's schedule from September 1975 to August 1979. Its strongest ratings were in the first season, but during its run the show garnered all sorts of fan-oriented awards (People's Choice, Golden Globe, etc.) as the two crime-fighting hunks tore through the streets of the fictional Bay City, Calif., in Starsky's tricked-out '74 Gran Torino. (That car, by the way, inspired such a following that Ford actually sold 1,000 limited-edition models fashioned after the one used in the show.)
Detective Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser), named for a guy series creator William Blinn once played football with, was the headstrong, street-smart gumshoe while partner Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson (David Soul) was the educated one who thought things through. (Believe it or not, the mismatched-buddy cop genre was actually sort of fresh 25 years ago — at least on TV — as was the idea of unorthodox detectives who annoyed their short-tempered captain by ignoring the rulebook but getting results just the same.) Together they worked the streets, cracking heads and closing cases with the help of their informer pal, Huggy (blaxploitation vet Antonio Fargas).
Starsky didn't die at the end of the series, but it certainly wasn't for lack of trying. He caught a slug or two in an attempted hit and lay at death's door in the hospital, oxygen and tubes aplenty in evidence, while Hutch ran around trying to settle accounts with those responsible. Producer Aaron Spelling (these were the days when he was much heavier into cop shows) and the other forces behind the series reportedly planned to kill Starsky off, but decided to let him pull through in the end.
An interesting series of stars and not-yet stars paraded through the show in its four years on the air (Jeff Goldblum, Joan Collins, Danny DeVito, Melanie Griffith, Mykelti Williamson), but don't take my word for it. You can see for yourself by setting the VCR and checking out TNN's late-night schedule. (Last I checked, the show was slotted in at 1 am/ET.)
While you're at it, see if you detect a curious undercurrent to the show, pointed out by editor Horace Newcomb in his Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television. Newcomb maintains that between the ever-present unspoken communication, the frequent hugging, tackling and horseplay, the undercover crossdressing and the tendency of all the boys' lady friends to cause jealous fits and sulky drinking, it's apparent the detectives are more than just partners (not that there's anything wrong with that).