Starsky & Hutch vs The Vampire

starskyvampSometimes life is so weird it just has to be a hologram. Don’t ask me why, but last night we watched a second season episode of Starsky and Hutch that had been sitting on the Tivo since March, an episode which featured the city being terrorised by a Vampire (played by no less than John Saxon) and Huggy Bear selling Vampire Survival kits (a bag with handy equipment like a wooden stake and hammer, clove of garlic and a mirror to make sure that guy behind you has a reflection). Sceptic Hutch was convinced the Vampire was some kind of gag but Starsky was quite convinced he needed to go all Van Helsing to save the public from a fiendish blood-sucker.

By the second season any grittiness that Starsky and Hutch sported in the more serious season one was long gone, replaced by a cosy, family-entertainment feel commensurate with its huge success with younger audiences. This episode, The Vampire, was the show’s Halloween 1976 offering- something I hadn’t appreciated when I was watching it, I thought it was a genuine serious second-season episode (whatever that means with this show). Instead its rather like a poor-man’s Kolchak: The NIght Stalker episode only sadly lacking the brilliant Darren McGavin. But how bloody odd (and ludicrous) the sight of John Saxon in a cape chasing after women out of the shadows, it was absolutely hilarious (presumably intentionally so).

I used to love this show when I was a kid. I suppose there remains a soft, cosy warmth watching television from the era when they had to crank out 22 episodes a year and reassure viewers that the good guys always trumped the bad guys, and you could trust authority and cops (and even tricksters/pimps like Huggy had their heart in the right place). The world of course was never like that, but 1970s American television is fascinating, watching it now- its like from some other planet.

So John Saxon’s fake-cripple dancing instructor has a plan to resurrect his dead wife by… well, its a bit vague how he intends to bring her back, perhaps it’s some kind of deal with the devil, offering sacrifices as payment or something, but unfortunately he makes the terrible mistake of killing star pupils from his own dancing school, rather making it all too easy for Starsky and Hutch to track down the dastardly fake blood-sucker. Its all pretty empty-headed nonsense and I think there’s some b-plot about Starsky forgetting the phone numbers of some attractive ladies they struck up a conversation with in a disco party before being called back to work. Its fairly mindless fun, but I don’t know what in the world we were doing watching it (well actually I do, life has been bit shitty this week and in all honesty, once we got back home late in the evening, this silly episode was possibly a perfect tonic).

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