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Starsky and Hutch: Season Three (15)



Review: Lizzie Guilfoyle

EPISODE GUIDE: Episode titles: Starsky & Hutch on Playboy Island Part One, Starsky & Hutch on Playboy Island Part Two, Fatal Charm, I Love You Rosey Malone, Murder Ward, Death in a Different Place, The Crying Child, The Heroes, The Plague Part One, The Plague Part Two, The Collector, Manchild on the Streets, The Action, The Heavyweight, A Body Worth Guarding, The Trap, Satan's Witches, Class in Crime, Hutchinson: Murder One, Foxy Lady, Partners, Quadromania, Deckwatch.

FOLLOWING the success of Seasons One and Two, Starsky and Hutch makes a welcome return to DVD and this time, it's the real McCoy, not some well-meaning imitation.

I'm referring, of course, to the original and hugely popular TV series that starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul; not last year's big screen version that saw Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the key roles.

Here, we have a series of hard-hitting storylines that tackle emotive subjects such as drugs dealing (Fatal Charm), homosexuality (Death in a Different Place), child abuse and domestic violence (The Crying Child), Loan Sharks (The Collector) and illegal gambling (The Action) - subjects that, in the 1970's when Starsky and Hutch first aired, were largely taboo. Sadly, they are as pertinent today, as they were three decades ago.

There are, of course, lighter moments too, as in Partners, when an accident - the result of Starsky's reckless driving - lands the pair in hospital. To teach Starsky a lesson, Hutch feigns amnesia, leaving the unsuspecting Starsky to revive his memory with tales of past exploits.

Consequently, it's an episode of flashbacks that some might argue, is an easy option in terms of storyline and filming and as a result, might well feel cheated. However, quite apart from offering light relief, it reaffirms the camaraderie that exists between the pair, as well as highlighting Glaser and Soul's amazing on-screen chemistry.

It puts them on a par with those other celluloid heroes, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which, and I mean no disrespect, is more than can be said for Stiller and Wilson.

And both have their share of romance, thereby laying to rest the niggling question of their sexuality. For Starsky, it comes in I Love You, Rosey Malone, while for Hutch, it's A Body Worth Guarding - the body in question, being that of a beautiful Russian ballerina.

Yet in true 70's style and, no doubt, to appease the show's legions of adoring female fans, the outcomes aren't happy ones. Even the appearance of Hutch's wife (played incidentally by Veronica Hamel of Hill Street Blues fame) is short-lived.

Helping matters along, are the show's two other stalwarts - the literally, larger-than-life Captain Dobey (actor Bernie Hamilton) and the irrepressible Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas who recently appeared in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here). Their inclusion is a bonus in an age of political correctness and will do much to silence critics of racial discrimination.

Starsky and Hutch also served as a vehicle for struggling actors and Season Three is no exception. Watch out for Danny De Vito, Melanie Griffith, Joan Collins and Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice's Tubbs) who appeared in an episode (Quadromania) that was banned from daytime TV by Channel Five.

As well as appearing in front of the camera, Glaser built on his directorial debut of Season Two, with two of this season's episodes - Class in Crime, an episode also noted for the absence of Huggy Bear, and Deckwatch. Consequently, Hutch has the more prominent role in both.

On the negative side, however, you might justifiably argue that Starsky and Hutch is dated - the flares and big hair, for example, although thankfully, by Season Three, that cardigan had disappeared.

Nevertheless, it would do well to remember that today's fashion statement is tomorrow's fashion disaster; that in three decades time, CSI and ER might well suffer the same fate. Yet would that make them any less enjoyable? I don't think so.

So, for die-hard fans of the original, this DVD is a must. For the rest, it will certainly entertain though not necessarily, for the right reasons.

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