Starsky & Hutch
The Complete First Season
Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Show Airing: 1975-1976
U.S. Rating: Not Rated
Canadian Rating: G
Film Length: 20 hours
Genre: TV Action Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, Spanish DD2.0m
Closed Captioned: Yes
Release Date: March 02, 2004
Show Rating /
They are two hard-nosed cops who will get in your face to get answers they want. They are a two-member team roaring the streets busting hoodlums and pickpockets, pimps and dope pushers. Their polar personalities keep each other in balance during their toughest times. The best thing of all about these two cops Starsky & Hutch is that they are great friends looking out for each other each step of the way.
At the time of Dirty Harry films and five years after Dragnet left the air, ABC brought Starsky & Hutch into the living room. This show was more hip in fashion than what was previously seen and was filled with exciting car chases as well. Most notable about the show is what was known as the “striped tomato”, or Starsky’s red with white strip 1974 Ford Gran Torino with rims and all. For two undercover cops riding around in the city, no thug was ever sure if these guys were coming around the bend for them.
While each of their personalities differed; with Ken Hutchinson (David Soul) liking a more relaxed atmosphere and Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) preferring a more rough ride with people tending to be the louder of the two, their differences never got in the way of their work. Their characters were always on target creating the perfect buddy cop duo…or trio if we include their jive-talking informant Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas) who always added ’coolness’ to the screen. While they may have cut short the temper of their Captain Harold Dobey (Bernie Hamilton[series], Richard Ward[Pilot]), he gave them a little more slack than normal because they were the two best undercover cops he had.
Despite the series’ success, it was met with anti-violence protesters for the amount of violence in it for a TV show. They lobbied for the violence to be toned down and it wasn’t until the third season that Starsky & Hutch was watered down to please the interest groups. That decision was tough because the fans of the show greeted the changes with mixed feelings. This first season is pretty tough but lighthearted to today’s cop shows. This is Starsky & Hutch as intended and is a joy to watch without being dreadful and serious.
Columbia TriStar releases this series in preparation of the much-anticipated film about to hit the big screen. Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson are Starsky & Hutch with rap artist Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear. It will be interesting to see the film take on this series and hopefully it stays true to the characters, the style, and the humour this series is known for.
Starsky & Hutch: The Complete First Season includes all of the approx. 45min episodes spread over five discs in a case like the “Alien Quadrilogy”. There is an insert containing the titles of each episode accompanied by a brief synopsis. Here are the names of the episodes in Season One:
The Fix (This was a great one!)
Kill Huggy Bear
"Captain Dobey, You're Dead!"
Terror on the Docks
The Deadly Imposter
The Omaha Tiger
A Coffin for Starsky
The Bounty Hunter
Video Quality? /
Columbia TriStar has done a great job at transferring this season to DVD. Each episode looks strikingly good compared to the look of the show presented in the special features. If the series’s picture quality looked like it did in the special features section, fans of Starsky & Hutch are in for a huge treat! While the source has not been cleaned up from dirt specks, marks and scratches like older films getting that royal treatment, there is good depth perception with a good range in contrast. Quality is variable from episode to episode, but none of them look truly bad. Some episodes have extremely deep black levels during night scenes, no doubt to the original photography, and make it difficult to see into other areas of the picture. Other episodes have a slightly higher black level in interior scenes looking washed out. Colour saturation is consistant from episode to episode. It’s not a vibrant colour, but the colour fidelity of most of ‘70s productions.
Resolution is excellent overall, with only a few instances of images looking out of focus. I couldn’t detect any additional edge enhancement in the image other than the slight amount of what I know is produced by my DVD player. I average a bitrate of 4.2 Mbps on each disc, and compression artefacts are at a minimum. The only troublesome moments for slight compression break-up are with the presence of steam or rain. Presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, the image quality is satisfying and should look better than anyone has seen in the past.
Audio Quality? /
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoding shows the limited dynamic range of the source. While dialogue is always clear, it’s a little forward and can be surrounded by hiss. Sound effects are dated and sound strained. Effects such as gun shots and tire squealing are nowhere near today’s sound effects. Despite the dated sounds, the audio is clean enough not to be a hinderence.
Special Features? /
The features are split on disc one and five. Disc one includes trailers of related films that may interest you as a buyer. Also included are promos (14.18) that appeared at the end of each episode during their time on air to show what to expect “On the Next Episode of Starsky & Hutch…”. There are 22 sequential promos in total (the total number of episodes) and the image quality isn’t nearly as good as the episodes themselves. The tint of the image can easily be compared to the colour of an uncalibrated television pushing a ‘cool blue’ colour temperature. These thirty second promos are clearly taken from a composite master as dot crawl, colour moiré, and tape dropouts are evident throughout. Based on their look, I’d almost assume they were taken from an archived Beta tape.
Disc five has a few more watchable features. There are four featurettes to bide your time including Behind the Badge (27.12), a newly produced featurette. Interviews with the creator and producer are put together of a discussion of the show’s origin and casting, and the relationship with the Gran Torino. Next is It’s Harder Than It Looks (6.18) and is a narration over gaffs in the production as well as collage of scenes with up and coming stars such as Suzanne Somers and John Ritter.
For the flavor of modernization, we get a quick insight into the “behind the scenes” of the new film of Starsky & Hutch with, you guessed it: Starsky & Hutch: The Movie (3.05, 4:3, 2.0) starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Snoop Dogg. I’m not a huge fans of mindless film remakes of TV shows. By looking at these clips for the new movie, I can’t see how this film stays true to the series. This movie gives a very different vibe from what I’ve watched of the series. It seems out of connection with the television characters. Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear, in his over the top pimp clothes, looks like he’s ready for an Antarctic winter. I could be wrong, after all it’s just a three-minute promo for the movie released this March, but I just have that flopping feeling…
Next comes The Third Star (5.57), where a collector shows off his one of two Gran Torinos acquired from the show and gives some insight into what kind of Torinos were used in the episodes. And lastly, we can view six behind the scenes photographs of the upcoming Starsky & Hutch film in the Feature Film Photo Gallary.
This buddy cop show is a great watch if you’ve never seen it before and if you are willing to invest in the box set. At almost $50, it’s got plenty of episodes of great quality packed over the five discs. While the special features are a little slim, the entertainment of Starsky & Hutch is worth an episode of your time.