With "Starsky & Hutch" a high-quality and especially formative crime-series debuted on the day exactly 40 years ago on April 30th 1975.
Although I have known the series created between 1975 and 1979 during my childhood & youth, so in the 1980s and 1990s, I have never watched it at the time.
I even have left out the revival movie from 2004 with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.
A few personal thoughts & basic infos
It took until the end of the 2000s that it came to me starting with "Starsky & Hutch": The German channel "Das Vierte" (The fourth) at this time successfully has ressurected numerous retro-series and so in 2007 & 2008 I have dealt with these 2 unusual policemen.
My short summary: A quite unusual series for that time, which was far ahead of its time and even 30 years after it's first broadcast - at least partially - still was up to date.
The two unequal policemen Dave Starsky and Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson are detectives at the the fictional US-cities Bay City police-department. There they mainly are brought into action on unusual and difficult cases. They often work as undercover agents and also often together with informants from the Demimonde, to which they "turn a blind eye" in return.
Starsky and Hutch above all are mainly supported by their boss Captain Harold Dobey, as well as by the petty-crook & main-whistleblower "Huggy Bear". Especially Huggy also was a guarantee for funny moments.
At the time flashy and conceptually new was the car they drove as policemen:
Starskys pimped up, red and white Ford Gran Torino. This has not only become a trademark of the series, but at least one of the most famous film and television cars of the 1970s.
What makes Starsky & Hutch something special
To me the series has set new standards in 2 points:
- Through its hard, unprettified portrayal of crime and also of social problems
- By its basic-concept & innovative storytelling.
Hard, clear way of presentation:
- Back then the series often has been criticized for its brutality, it was part of the "dirty dozen", the 12 series considered as the most brutal in the US at that time.
It even may be that the producers have made the harsh portrayal of violence also with regard to the quota.
- But the criticism to me is unjustified to the effect that "Starsky & Hutch" has belonged to the first series, which have presented reality not through "rose-coloured glasses" but also have showed societies ugly side relentlessly.
- In addition it has absolutely impressed me how realistically and comprehensively it has dealt with social problems:
From corruption & police violence over illegal immigration & downplaying mental diseases & to child abuse. Even a big social conspiracy & mental manipulation a la "Manchurian candidate" is an issue.
- And also the two main protagonists are not only the shining heroes, they also have noteable weaknesses:
Both are singles, have broken relationships behind or are unable to build up serious relationships. And both also make mistakes sometimes.
- In addition to the big realism in terms of violence & social problems the series also scored with likeable characters and plenty of humor.
While in TV until the 1970s problems partly were kept under wraps or understated and in the 1980s they were treated as a kind of action-comedy it took until the mid-1990s that the mix of realism & fun became prevalent.
- The basic-recipe hard-realism + action + characters-also-with-weaknesses + humor still today makes up successful series, like above all "NCIS".
"Starsky & Hutch" for me probably is the most ground-breaking series of the 1970s, which was far ahead of its time. It like no other piece of television of this time managed combining realism, action & fun to a convincing overall-product.
The basic-recipe of its storytelling is still the same even for successful series of the 21st century.
It entertained me and made me reflect. For example I previously was unaware what a big problem illegal immigration and dirty dealings with it still was in the 1970s.
So therefore the series genuinely diserves a great tribute!