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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Starsky and Hutch: The Complete Third Season (1977-78)

Starsky: I'm bored. Running around in circles is dumb.
Hutch: Unless you're a chicken.
Starsky: Exactly.
Hutch: Or unless you're a dumb cop. You gotta stay in shape.

- Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: March 31, 2005

Stars: David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Bernie Hamilton, Antonio Fargus
Other Stars: Danny DeVito, Melanie Griffith, Joan Collins, Tony Geary, Suzanne Sommers, Sammantha Eggar, Karen Valentine, Pat Morita, Charles Pierce, Kristy McNichol, Phillip Michael Thomas, Dee Wallace-Stone, Gary Lockwood, Nancy McKeon, Dave Madden, Veronica Hamel, Louie Nye, Karen Carlson, Alex Rocco, Roscoe Lee Brown, Anitra Ford, Linda Thompson, Roz Kelly, James Keach, Stepfanie Kramer, Linda Dano, Janet Margolin, James Sikking, John Carradine, Quinn cummings, Whitman Mayo, Michelle Carey, Carl Anderson, Morgan Woodward, Kathryn Harrold
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language, violence)
Run Time: 18h:50m:00s
Release Date: March 15, 2005
UPC: 043396101654
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B+B D+

DVD Review

They say that everyone in the world has a double. Most times, it's a family thing; a distant cousin or relative. But in today's pop culture society, everybody gets compared to somebody famous, which is kind of a cool thing if you don't let it go to your head; I once made the mistake of comparing a singer in a rock band I fronted to Who lead singer Roger Daltrey's early '80s look. Sure enough, the next time my drummer and I picked him up for practice, he came running out his parent's front door donning a sleeveless muscle tee, biceps flexing, with a cheap haircut that didn't come close to perfecting the mike-twirling shouter's 1950s-ish 'do back in the days of You Better, You Bet.

My doppelgänger, you ask? For me, it was super-cool TV cop Dave Starsky, a.k.a. 1970s small-screen heartthrob Paul Michael Glaser; some kids two years my junior in our middle school years started calling me "Starsk." Sure enough, I started pulling the collar of my blue windbreaker up Elvis style, let my bushy, thick hair get a little longer, simmered down my hyper personality (hard for a partially Spanish kid to do, I'll tell ya) to reflect his laid-back cool and started closing every door with the front of my left foot (and nearly severing it on a couple of occasions).

So, I guess you can tell I was a major fan of Aaron Spelling's hugely entertaining cop show back in the day. Unlike many shows of that period that haven't aged well, Starsky and Hutch is a rarity. Thanks to mesmerizing, still appealing interplay between Glaser and David Soul (as his faithful compadre in and out of the Grand Torino), exciting action, offbeat humor, and wonderful support from Bernie Hamilton and Antonio Fargas (as the beleaguered Captain Dobey and street snoop Huggy Bear, respectively), it still holds up extremely well, despite the dated wardrobes and occasional inane plot that tested the realms of believability (remember the vampire episode from Season Two? Or what about the evil look-a-likes (and I use that comparison very loosely in this case) that committed crimes later that year?

Striking a good balance between the silliness that some say marred the show's effectiveness in its sophomore year and the gritty toughness that permeated its first (and best) season, the third season catches the show in its last great creatively consistent period with some of the program's most memorable installments. But it was almost not to be. Citing a desire to branch out and avoid being typecast, Glaser wanted desperately to leave the show, but cooler heads (and even cooler cash, I'm sure) kept the duo together for another 40-plus adventures.

Fatal Charm marked the first high point of the season (a relief after an overly bloated two-hour season premiere that attempted to better two similar and much better on-location spectacles that inaugurated Season Two); although it shamelessly borrows from Clint Eastwood's Play Misty for Me, it gave guest star Karen Valentine of Room 222 fame to play totally against type as a mentally deranged woman who doesn't want anyone or anything to get in the way of her love for Hutch (the perky brunette was like a combination of Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock back in her heyday and her dramatic turn remains one of the series' best guest shots). Speaking of critics that bad-mouthed the season previous, I've a hunch The Heroes is a slyly disguised dig at the detractors as a newspaper reporter (played by Soul's ex-wife, Karen Carlson) goes on the beat with the boys expecting some gritty police work, but instead feeling like an observer to Mutt-and-Jeff type antics—until a late-breaking crisis proves otherwise.

Other notables from the 23 episodes of the 1977-78 season: The Plague, one of the series' best two-parter storylines that follows the boys in pursuit of a man infected with a deadly virus. Not helping matters: the carrier turns out to be a hit man (Alex Rocco) who just arrived at L.A.'s severely crowded airport; soon, an unlucky Hutchinson becomes amongst the gravely ill and it's up to a determined Dave to nab the culprit. A Body Worth Guarding is a nice change of pace that shows an unlikely side of Hutch, a ballet lover who gets to share in a dream assignment of protecting a pretty Russian dancer. Unfortunately, she turns out to be quite the diva, until Ken's charms wear her down (including a little warbling from Mr. Don't Give Up On Us himself). A promising vacation getaway in a mountain cabin with pretty neighbors soon becomes terrifying in Satan's Witches, featuring veteran character actor Charles Napier in a great turn as a local sheriff; most of you remember him as the leader of The Good 'Ol Boys in The Blues Brothers. And Manchild on the Streets, one of the series' best, is a story that effectively juggles racism, teen-aged rebellion, and internal affairs as a close colleague is unjustly gunned down by an overeager rookie, which in turn pushes his young, confused teen-aged son into revenge mode. This one is also a terrific turn behind the camera for David Soul in his best directorial effort for the show and boasts great supporting performances from J.J. Saunders and Helen Martin (wonderful as the witness to the killing), and also brings to mind Pariah, another classic episode from the show's first season where Starsky faced a similar situation after gunning down a teenager in self-defense following a holdup attempt, much to the anger of a nearby black community.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Upon seeing the transfers on the series' first season set, to say I shocked was an understatement; the show never looked this good during its ABC run (and we won't discuss the horrid look of rapidly battered syndicated film masters that made the rounds at local stations in the 1980s or time compressed cable airings in recent years). Complete Third Season fares even better with most episodes possessing warm colors, a film-like sheen and impressive clarity considering its age. Stray debris common for the times crops up intermittingly, but it's very minor and will in no way detract from your enjoyment of team Zebra 3.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish (Dolby Digital)yes

Audio Transfer Review: This is standard late-1970s monophonic (encoded into Dolby 2.0) that's clear as a bell, although there is expected distortion from time to time during the action sequences and a little bit of hiss that may or may not be noticeable depending on how loud you crank it up. Overall, not bad; only so much you can do considering the limitations of the era.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 161 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Seinfeld, Sony's TV Comedy Favorites, Sony's TV Action, Boogeyman, Lightning in a Bottle, Spanglish, Hitch, Godzilla Compilation
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
5-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Since Sony's debut Starsky and Hutch set was filled with semi-impressive extras (especially it's 30-minute documentary on the genesis of the show), I held out hopes for bonuses like commentaries and so on in future sets.

Nope. Although I have to applaud the promotional people for taking advantage of the spare space on Disc 5 to plug a wide variety of product (a Godzilla compilations, current theatricals like Hitch, other Sony TV DVD sets, and even a concert film with B.B. King), couldn't they have shot some extra interview material with Soul and Glaser for future utilization?

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If you've already had the two season DVD helping of Starsky and Hutch, there's probably no need to twist your arm, or tell you to come out with your hands over your head and advise that you have the right to purchase The Complete Third Season, right?


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