Paul Michael Glaser, David Soul, Bernie Hamilton, Antonio Fargas. Full-speed car chases, original characters and hip humor made this cop drama a hit for all four seasons it was on the air and inspired a motion picture remake starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. This set includes all 22 episodes and more. 25 episodes on 5 DVDs. 1976-77/color/16 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
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Starsky & Hutch: The Complete Second Season proves the 1970s ABC series, in its sophomore year, both codified its earliest strengths while continuing to evolve into a sharper, wittier, and often darker show. Contributing to those improvements were the stars themselves: David Soul (who plays maverick police detective, intellectual, and health nut Ken Hutchinson) and Paul Michael Glaser (as Hutch's more impulsive, junk-food-junkie partner Dave Starsky), each of whom directed exemplary episodes in season 2. Series creators also struck a more entertaining balance between the comic and dramatic possibilities inherent in Starsky and Hutch's bluntly honest, fraternal relationship. A number of stories placed the guys in intentionally funny undercover situations: as garish gamblers in the two-part opener "The Las Vegas Strangler;" entertainment directors (named Hack and Zack) on a luxury cruise ship in "Murder at Sea;" gigolo-like dance aficionados in the playfully-titled "Tap Dancing Her Way Right Back into Your Hearts;" and, most amusingly, stunt men in "Murder on Stage 17."
Those are all good shows, and the duo often bicker within them, to great comic effect, like an old married couple. (Soul and Glaser's commitment to their schtick as well as their more emotionally raw collaborations is truly admirable.) But it's the relentlessly tougher episodes that prove each character's mettle and demonstrates the depth of Starsky and Hutch's mutual trust. Among these is the powerful "Gillian," in which Starsky discovers Hutch's classy new girlfriend is a prostitute and breaks the news to his shattered friend. Somewhat lighter but just as revealing is "Little Girl Lost," starring a young Kristy McNichol as an orphaned street urchin whom Hutch, lately in a misanthropic, anti-Christmas mood, takes into his home. Glaser's directorial debut, the harrowing "Bloodbath," gives Soul a lot of room for an intensely physical and psychological performance as Hutch scurries to find his kidnapped partner. Soul returns the favor with "Survival," in which Starsky desperately seeks his missing pal, trapped and slowly dying beneath a car wreck. All in all, a very good season, with (of course) Antonio Fargas still sharp as sidekick Huggy Bear. --Tom Keogh
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