Starsky and Hutch Virtual Season (online)
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|Name:||Starsky and Hutch Virtual Season|
|Fandom:||Starsky & Hutch|
|URL:||Virtual Season website, S&H Slash Virtual Season Mailing List|
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The Starsky and Hutch Virtual Season is a community based series of slash fan fiction "episodes" that continue past the 4th season where the aired version of Starsky & Hutch ended. Each season was divided into 'aired episodes' with authors posting their fan fiction and art according to a fictional broadcast schedule. In addition, a mailing list was set up to allow fans to discuss the episodes as they 'aired'.
Seasons 5-7 were completed between 2001 and 2003. Season 8 was begun in 2004 but only aired 4 episodes before it went on hiatus. ZebraThree Productions announced plans to air an abbreviated Season 9 in the fall of 2005, but the plans fell through. Eventually some of the stories featured on the virtual seasons were bound into fanzines.
From the community FAQ: "Starsky and Hutch has been off the air for over 25 years, but has certainly not been out of the hearts and minds of the fans. ZebraThree Productions was formed by a group of writers and other creative individuals whose mission is to produce a series of stories that will create a virtual 5th season of Starsky and Hutch. Our virtual season will begin after the events depicted in Sweet Revenge, the final aired episode of Starsky and Hutch."
In order to maintain some continuity across the seasons, writers were instructed to: "Please be familiar with our virtual season canon. If you will be writing an episode later in the series, please read those stories which come before your episode (and are made available to you prior to your writing deadline). The Steering Committee will be checking eps for continuity issues, but your familiarity with virtual season canon will make the process smoother." They were asked to avoid discussing upcoming episodes and to avoid spoilers when talking with other fans. The Steering Committee also offered writers access to "two medical consultants, a psychological consultant, and probably some experts in a few other fields as well" with the goal of reducing factual errors in the stories.
The virtual seasons also set forth "specific guidelines in developing your episodes (NOTE: "major characters" are Starsky, Hutch, Dobey and Huggy)." The guidelines included no death or rape of a major character, no partner betrayal storylines, no underage sexual activity (either through flashbacks or current casework), only "light" BDSM (subject to Steering Committee review and approval), and no AUs. See ZebraThree Production Author Guidelines.
The Project's Mailing List
The S&H Slash Virtual Season Mailing List was created in June 2001. This was met with some controversy regarding the fandom's small size and perceived gate-keeping.
In 2001, long before LiveJournal spawned the "Big Bang" phenomena, a group of Starsky and Hutch fans decided to work on an ambitious undertaking: the Starsky and Hutch Slash Virtual Season. Multiple writers, editors, and artists devised a plan for a cohesive continuing series of stories that would take up Starsky and Hutch's story right after the aired series concluded. The last aired episode ended in Season 4 with Starsky surviving a near-fatal assassination attempt. So, in the Virtual Season 5, as the summary of the first story explains, "Starsky grapples with his recovery, Hutch begins working with a temporary partner, and both men face changing feelings about their relationship."
The part of Hutch beginning to easily agreeing to work with his temporary partner and quickly forming a friendship with him is really very upsetting about this whole season.Also Hutch continues his friendship with him even after Starsky returns to work and he taunts Starsky about being jealous in that regard.This fact destroys the very essence of the relationship between them.How can Hutch agree to work with someone else and go about enjoying doing so and falling head over heels in friendship with a third person when on the other side Starsky is undergoing painful recovery.It is really heart breaking to read the stories in this whole season because of this fact.This season would have been great without the temporary partner being brought in.In most of the stories in the season Starsky is taunted by Hutch of being jealous which is really sad.How can it be 'Me and Thee' any longer when it has already has already been destroyed by bringing in a third person between them and by Hutch working with him so happily.Hutch is glorified in almost all of the episodes in this whole season at the expense of Starsky.Everything Starsky has done for Hutch throughout the four seasons are treated as nothing and only Hutch's contributions are glorified.
Not just a rec for one or two stories today, but a plethora of fic! What is a virtual season, I hear you ask? It's when writers continue a canceled series in story form, but in a season arc (more or less) like the episodes of a TV series. Ten years ago, I wrote in a virtual season for another series, The Invisible Man, and it's a heck of a lot of work to pull off, particularly nearly weekly as they did here. Many authors team together so that the stories are not just an anthology, but flow into each other and don't deviate from a single universe.
If you've never dipped a toe into the Starsky and Hutch slash virtual season, the first story starts soon after Starsky was shot and is recovering. Hutch has a temporary partner. He and Starsky are a couple--and eventually, our Starsk does get back on the force. They're a team once more!The creme de la creme of S&H authors circa 2003 wrote these stories, and you will recognize many of the names. 
The Fifth Season kicked off on 6/12/2001 with "The Best Thing" by Candy Apple. Stories (or episodes) were aired weekly thereafter with a hiatus during the events of 9/11. 19 episodes aired with contributions from over 7 writers and artists. In Week 4 a "Special Feature" of artwork by fan artists Becky, Shar and Virginia Sky was showcased. In Week 8 another Special Feature offered screenshots from the show along with a bookmark designed by Virginia Sky. The Special Feature in November offered a 2002 Starsky and Hutch downloadable calendar and holiday greeting cards. The 5th season ended on December 21, 2001. The 2001 Schedule is here; archive link complete with air dates and story summaries.
Reactions and Reviews: Season 5
Since this is the first ep of the Starsky & Hutch virtual season, I'll take a moment to sum up my reaction to the web site. In a word--WOW! The site is *so* professional in its appearance. Clean graphics, a delightful film motif, and an easy-to-read font on an uncluttered background all score top points. Indeed, I can't think of *anything* I'd have different. All of the SHSVS board members are to be congratulated in general, and the art department in particular for such a wonderful realization of our S&H fantasies. Take a bow, goils! <clap-clap-clap-clap-clap!> I'd also like to single out Candy Apple for taking on the task of manning the helm of this incredibly complex project--without Candy's drive and determination in getting the ball rolling, I doubt we'd have a S&H virtual season. Way to go, Candy!
Now on to the story--The Best Thing by Candy Apple.
In my mind, it takes a brave writer to take the point position in such a large interconnected project as a virtual season, and I want to acknowledge that bravery--yeah, Candy! Like the guts it takes to go first, Candy's prose is equally gutsy; I'm reminded of a gumshoe saying "Just the facts, ma'am." :^) Indeed, from the very beginning TBT is clearly told. Candy, in the best fannish tradition, demonstrates all of the specialized canonical knowledge that stone fans love and expect. I like that she alludes to the death of Starsky's father and I like when she mentions that Hutch uses the back door at Starsky's favorite Chinese place--the scene from Iron Mike where S&H are delightfully entwined flashed across the video screen of memory as I read this scene. The weaving in of canonical fannish details is a real strength in the story. Candy also has a gift for good psychology and keen observations. Of special note is the idea that S&H "had their own places, they had double rooms in hotels, and, when there was only one bed, someone took the couch." While I'd never thought about this unspoken agreement between S&H before, Candy's observation is completely in character and within the televised canon. This type of keen observation provides plenty of food for thought, leading me to wonder if this particular activity wasn't a symptom of S&H's unconscious attempts to keep an emotional lid on their very loving, but volatile relationship.
But along with the areas of real strength, there were also some missed opportunities in TBT. Of particular note (given how very much it defined his character in the series) is the casual shoving aside of the Torino. I was surprised and disappointed that the issue of Starsky being medically allowed to start driving again was not dealt with face-to-face with Dr. Norman--something that could have *actively* defined this rigid and unforgiving character, giving the reader good concrete reason to dislike him versus the more "central casting" stereotype of "the uncaring physician." Additionally, instead of actively showing the reader the scene where Starsky gets back in the Torino's saddle (perhaps collapsing in some plot-moving dialogue from another scene as well), the reader is given one sentence in passive voice to describe this milestone moment of Starsk's: "Driving the Torino had been a rush--getting back behind the wheel." While I recognize this story is not about Starsky driving his car, when a writer takes a new direction with a character--as Candy does with Starsky, turning him away from his canonical "win no matter what" enthusiasm to a man seemingly willing to settle for less at nearly every turn--I am much more willing to be lead when she puts the character within a familiar frame. I've heard it said of writers, "Tell me nine truths, and take you on faith for the tenth."
Lest readers think I am incapable of seeing the good use of characterization in TBT, I'd like to point out that S&H's world is wonderfully peopled with ancillary characters: S&H are not operating in a void. Huggy, Dobey, Minnie, and the ubiquitous "red shirt" good-time girls down at The Pits are nicely realized. Though I feel Dr. Norman's excesses make him much more a distracting caricature of a character, Candy's Dr. Fielding is a more fully realized original character--I liked her candor and "earthiness."
Lastly, I want to draw attention to the differences in the first half of the story when compared with the last half. In many ways, I was left with an overall feeling that the author did not feel as emotionally attached to the beginning of TBT as to the ending. There were many tasty scenes that were mentioned--but they all happened off camera! We learn that Starsky "Had found comfort and solace in those strong arms more than once while he struggled to make his shattered body cooperate with the normal movement of life again." Why not show us? Another missed moment between S&H happens "In the dark of night, before they'd finally drifted off to sleep" where "they'd have some of the best talks . . . in their lives." Again, if you want to convince the reader of the truth of this reality, why not show one of these touching, golden moments? There was a lot of telling going on in the beginning of TBT, telling that could have possibly been more dynamic for having been shown. Certainly, taking a page from the aired episode Partners, it would have been completely in keeping with S&H televised episode tradition to have included some material as flashbacks.
Ah! But it is in the last half of TBT that Candy seems to really hit her stride, as though this were the part of the story she most wanted to tell (though I freely admit my own reputation of being "Carnal Sanders" and my enjoyment of the physical expression of S&H's love could be playing a part). Never is her dialogue so engaging as when she has Starsky haltingly confess "Sex means getting naked, and . . . and I never used to even think about that." Both men are tender, traumatized, and achingly realized by the immediacy of their real-time conversation and their fumbling, heartful gestures. This part of the story felt more immediate and genuine for actually "happening" before my "eyes" as opposed to so many of the early scenes that I learned after the fact because they occurred "off screen."Regardless that it was a bit long in coming, the end of The Best Thing was well worth waiting for. Starsky and Hutch are together and finally on the same track. Good job, Candy! I'm incredibly pleased and excited to have new S&H fiction, especially in this new and unusual format of an interconnected virtual fifth season, to look forward to each week. 
Season 6 began on 4/30/2002 with "Targets" by Sarah Problem. Week 5 offered 'Special Features' from the Art Department, including wallpapers, stationery, and sound-bytes from the show. Fifteen 'episodes' were produced with over 12 writers and artists contributing. Season 6 ended on 2/10/2002 and the complete schedule with story summaries can be found here; archive link.
stationery designed by Patt Rose
Season 7 began with Lucy's "Death Before Dishonor" on 5/20/2003. Special features included a tribute to Paula Wilshe along with wallpapers, stationary and a sketch by Lorraine Brevig. Momentum flagged as only five episodes were produced with over 7 artists and writers contributing. The season ended on 12/23/2003 with a "Bag O' Holiday Goodies" which included a short story by pepcidDC & Firefly along with additional graphics. The schedule for Season 7, along with story summaries, can be found here; archive link.
sketch by Lorraine Brevig, offered as part of Special Features
Season 8 opened with Lucy's "All the King's Horses" which premiered on 9/14/2004. Only 4 'episodes' aired total, with the last story being posted on 12/14/2004. There were no Special Features or additional artwork that year. The 2004-2005 Season 8 Schedule; archive link along with story summaries is here.