The Pits (Starsky and Hutch zine)

From Fanlore
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Are you looking for the Starsky & Hutch The Pits (mailing list)?

See also Pit (disambiguation).

Title: The Pits
Editor(s): Melanie R.
Date(s): 1979-1980
Medium: print
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Pits is a gen Starsky and Hutch fanzine.

Issue 1

front cover of issue #1

The Pits 1 was published in 1979 and has 112 pages. It has art by Signe Landon, Gordon Carleton, Connie Faddis, Paulie Gilmore, Kathy Wigley and Karen Stewart.

From the editor in a letterzine:

I would like to apologize for the cost of the thing. I would like to, but I really can't. The artwork needs special attention, and the contents really deserve a good print job, so I'm going to photo-offset with it. Plus I think my neighbor and printer for the first issue would have cardiac arrest if presented with 200-plus names to run off -- remind me to tell you sometime about what his garage looked like after he got through printing the silkscreen cover for issue #1. [1]

From the editorial in the zine:

Putting out a zine was way more of a hassle than I'd expected -- as will be evidenced by the finished product. Still, I've learned much in the process, and been given generous assistance by many good people. The result of our various efforts is now, finally, in your hands. I am truly sorry for the delay but I offer no bogus excuses. I'm just late, folks. That's all there is to it.

The Pits didn't turn out to be quite the half-humorous, half-serious mix I'd originally envisioned. More like 75% grim, 20% grin, and 5% unidentifiable nonsense. Any response, criticisms, comments, suggestions, and especially strokes are more than welcome and will be passed on to the contributors. If the mail is interesting enough, I may do a LoC column nextish.

I'd like to take this space to express my appreciation to Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Nicolette Larson, and a host of other people I've never met whose music provided background, inspiration, comfort, and, on occasion, the energy to keep this thing rolling.

  • Life in the Fast Lane (editorial) (1)
  • The Second Time Around by Melanie R (a tongue-in-cheek look at Starsky's search for a new car after the Torino is blown up in the episode "The Set Up.") (2)
  • Gilligan by Roy Smith (a parody, what is Scrodsky to do when his buddy, Wretch, falls for a girl who is a Trekkie? -- includes the characters Gilligan Ingrahamcrackers, Al Grossout... Illustrated by Gordon Carleton) (8)
  • The Truly Twitty Trivia Test (12)
  • Death Dance by Katherine Robertson (a scary dream sequence that happens during the episode "Sweet Revenge") (14)
  • numbers-runner, poem by Jane Aumerle (26)
  • The Lease by Katherine Robertson (a copy of Hutch's lease with Starsky Clauses against Starsky's messes.) (29)
  • Life in the Fast Lane, part two by Melanie R (A humorous essay about driving in Los Angeles: "Anyone with no interest whatsoever in Los Angeles will be bored to distraction by this article. We are about to discuss one of our favorite subjects, our beloved hometown, El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina Los Angeles de Porciuncula, a.k.a. The Big Orange, a.k.a. El Lay. Ends with "(Next issue; Freeway Flirtation, or, Eye-rape In The Fast Lane).") (31)
  • Sins of the Father by Lorraine Bartlett (a classic get'em story), illustrated by Signe Landon, later reprinted as a standalone, see Sins of the Father (34)
  • Zine Ads (105)
  • Lamebrain Game, parody by M. Raunch (106)
  • Fifth Season Preview by Cool Hand Luke (parodies of possible episodes) (109)
  • You Got This Zine Because (112)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

[zine]: As I see it, this zine has two problems -- first, and understandable, is the fact that the artwork is excellent but a little skimpy, and, second, it will be very difficult to put out a second issue that com pares favorably with this first. In other words, whatever the title, this ain't The Pits at all. Without diminishing the at titude of the serious stories, Melanie has kept the lighthearted spirit of the show by not letting the zine take itself too seriously. Although the page-count leaves Pits only 25% humor, the spacing and variety of that humor creates a feeling that is close to the 50/50 balance originally intended.

Contents begin with SECOND TIME AROUND, the editor's tongue-in-cheek story of Star- sky's search for a new JftW car after the Tomato gets splattered in THE SETUP. Yet another Torino story ... but the images thrown at the reader -- like Hutch being swallowed by a giant rainbow trout -- make boredom very unlikely.

Close on its hypothetical heels is GILLIGAN, a parody of guess-what by the infamous Roy Smith. What is Scrodsky to do when his buddy Wretch falls for a girl who is secretly a (gasp!) Trekkie?! Gordon Carleton illustrated this (probably at gunpoint) with skill and dexterity (and pen and ink).

Following the ridiculous with the sublime is Marian Kelly's DEATH DANCE. This one is most definitely not funny, but to elaborate here would be unfair to anyone who hasn't read it. Suffice it to say that there's a scary dream sequence that would have fit well into 4th-season's last episode. I wish this story had been longer, but Marian has squeezed more into eleven pages than some writers put in a hundred.

DANCE is followed by NUMBERS RUNNER by Jane Aumerle. It dovetails thematically with Marian's story, though it's from the opposite point of view. Jane's poems are always good; this one is excellent. When it's combined with Connie Faddis' exquisite illustration, it becomes clear why this is the only poem in the zine -- almost any other serious verse would look like paste next to the Hope Diamond.

Moving right along (after a respectful pause) we have a copy of Hutch's apartment lease, complete with 'Starsky Clause' and prohibitions against beer-can litter and indoor target practice. Required reading for anyone who has ever harbored a secret fantasy about living across-the-hall from Hutch.

The lease is followed (two feet from the bumper at 60 mph) by LIFE IN THE FAST LANE, a lunatic's guide to LA-style automotion. Although this contains some useful information for folks who plan to detail S&H's freeway meanderings, certain suggestions -- like having a downtown map surgically installed in your wrist -- may raise some doubts as to the sanity of Ye Editor and/or LA drivers.

SINS OF THE FATHER, the zine's longest story, is Lori Bartlett's first major effort since collaborating on WILDERNESS. Nicely illo'ed by Landon's brooding pen-and-inks, it's a combination, get-em, mystery, and case of drastically mistaken identity that has some gems of dialog -- internal and external -- sprinkled through a thorough ly grim story. Lori highlights the S&H relationship without drowning the reader in soap, and the characters are consist ent with their televised personalities. On the other hand, the characters in LAME BRAIN GAME, bear very little resemblance to the S&H we know and love. The plot has something to do with Hutch con suming a lump of contaminated pool cue chalk, and -- never mind. The plot is not much sillier than the episode it spoofs, and Paulie Gilmore's cartoon-style illos are drawn in the spirit of the piece.

The final offering is a preview of a hypothetical fifth season -- or, WHY ABC CANCELLED THIS SERIES. With such tidbits as SATAN'S DISCO HILLBILLIES, TERROR OF THE DUCKS, and MUDBATH, (wherein Captain Dobey is held captive by a gang of renegade weight-watchers), perhaps it's just as well. All in all, it's a very fine firstish.

A second is planned for next fall ... I'll be waiting with bated SASE. [3]


Overall quality of this first issue is excellent. There is a good assortment in the contents: one poem, one article, two dramas, two comedies, two parodies.

The major work in THE PITS is SINS OF THE FATHER by Bartlett. The novella- length story is full of pain and suffering for both Starsky and Hutch. Acrazy thinks Starsky is his father (Starsky's, not the crazy's). He tries to make "Mike" Starsky confess to causing the death of said crazy's sister, more than twenty years before. Instead of coming to the rescue, Hutch walks into the scene and is also put to torture. Boy is the cavalry needed when Dobey finally shows! The characterizations of Starsky and Hutchinson are submerged in the pain and suffering, but the crazy is drawn with depth and consistency.

DEATH DANCE, by Kelly, follows Hutch through a nightmare. When Starsky is shot, a phony funeral and two — two — two kinds of nightmares focus Hutch's feelings for his partner.

Kelly's THE LEASE brings to the fore the problems faced by Hutch's neighbors. As gorgeous as he is, I wouldn't want him living next door to me, although he'd be an improvement over the four kids that live there now.

"The tomato is dead; long live the tomato'." is the theme of THE SECOND TIME AROUND by [Melanie R]. The battle of the Twit Twins in LAMEBRAIN GAME by Raunch explains the "excessive growth of hair on (whose?) upper lip."

Aumerle's NUMBERS-RUNNER asks the questions we all have asked: How long can this go on?" [Melanie R's] advice in LIFE IN THE FAST LANE should not be ignored by any but truly rabid Angelenos (those who were conceived in drive-in movies, born in traffic jams, and who, in the end, will be remembered by our friends at a drive- in mortuary). But Melanie, the odd-even numbering system is only for the inter- states, and the Newport's been changed to the Costa Mesa. (Don't mind that my address is 400 miles from LA, I'm as rabid an Angeleno as they come -- see above.)

Cool Han Luke's FIFTH SEASON PREVIEW contains a morsel of truth -- a fifth season would, in all probability, be more of the same. Unfortunately, remakes are[4]

[zine]: The first thing you notice about THE PITS, right down there in the corner of the Table of Contents page, is that the print run is extremely small, only 150 copies. If you are smugly clutching your own copy at the time, this is no cause for personal alarm. If, however, this review is the first you've heard, and you enjoy Starsky & Hutch. PUT THIS MAGAZINE DOWN, GO DIRECTLY TO THE NEAREST POST OFFICE AND SEND MELANIE SOME MONEY (ed. note—$4.00 and a SASE should reserve you a copy 'til you find out how much more you need to send). [5] You'll be glad you did. (Or wish you had, if you're still sitting there like a lump. Don't say I didn't warn you. I tried.) The second thing you notice is the paper. THE PITS is printed on a heavy hard-surface white bond that not only limits bulk (readi mailing costs) but will not disintegrate like mummy cloth if inadvertently breathed upon. This is a fortunate circumstance, as the contents are eminently worth preserving.

For openers, there's [Melanie R's] own "The Second Time Around", in which Hutch finally learns to stop bitching and love the Torino. Not surprising; so would anybody but Andy Warhol, given the alternative. Melanie has a light, affectionate touch with this type of material; it's delightful. She's also the most probable, if understandably uncredited, perpetrator of the wittiest, twittiest trivia test yet.

The issue takes a sharp turn toward the serious with Marian Kelly's "Death Dance". A vengeance-tripping psycho critically wounds Starsky, and Hutch must come to terms with both a precautionary separation from his friend and the feeling that he has lost control of his own life. He never really does deal with the first problem satisfactorily—perhaps because the conflict is entirely externalized—and the resolution of the second is therefore less than it might have been. Still, Kelly has a gift for language that occasionally borders on revelation and suffices to keep the reader turning pages. Despite its flaws, "Death Dance" bears promise of fine things to come.

It's followed by "The Lease", purporting to be Hutch's agreement with his landlord. If one's college experience had not conditioned one to loathe the entire class and species of renters, one might find it in one's heart to feel sorry for the poor devil. Ah, sadism. Next is "Life in the Fast Lane, Part 2: A Brief Guide to the Los Angeles Freeway System and Some Rules for Driving Thereon". I am told that every word in this piece is true; de-canonizing St. Christopher was a mistake. Downshifting again, we come to the zine's really heavy story, Lori Bartlett's "Sins of the Father", The first forty pages or so consist of a fairly conventional get-'em, wherein an aspiring Torquemada groupie works S&H over in great and explicit detail. While Costanzo doesn't quite manage "death", he has the "horrible maims" part down pat. He is also, unfortunately, on much the same religion-and-revenge kick as Louis Mitchell in Teri White's Copkiller. (This sort of near-duplication is probably inevitable as long as fan writers adhere to the series' format, which allows only two kinds of villain: the button-down Establishment pillar and Ye Compleat Gonzo. How about some compos mentis baddies who don't get invited to tea and crumpets in the Oval Office? Please? See "Join Me in LA" for how-to.) All of which is admittedly not very remarkable. What is different and refreshing about "Sins" is the psychological working- through that takes up almost half the story. The fear, anger, and self-doubt that are the documented residum of this type of experience are all there. And while some of the answers Lori's S&H find for themselves strike me as a shade easy, I'm glad to see the questions receiving the attention they require. Don't let the first part fool you; this one is a ground-breaker.

Coming full circle, THE PITS winds up with two humorous shorts, both right on target and deadly funny. M. Raunch's "Lamebrain Game" does unto the obvious episode according to its transgressions. It also contains two absolutely godawful puns, either of which could be considered a hanging offense. Cool Han Luke's "Fifth Season Preview" offers such stimulating fare as "The Clap" (synopsis unavailable) and "The Dippy Girl Photographer/Hitman/etc.", none of whom seems to know that polite people either go to sleep or talk quietly afterwards. (What do you mean, after what? Don't be crude.) The zine's only sour note occurs in Roy Smith's "Gilligan", which is marred by the same undertone of cruelty as "The Fax". Chacun a son gout— and this is definitely somebody else's goo.

THE PITS' artwork is sparse but uniformly excellent. Highly recommended. [6]

Issue 2

front cover of issue #2

The Pits 2 was published in 1980 and has 138 pages.

The art is by Dotty Barry, Betty de Gabriele, Connie Faddis, Signe Landon, Jane Linder, Cheryl Newsome, Trish, Linda Walter, and Liz Wright. The calligraphy is by Joy Mancinelli.

It is offset with some screened art. Cost in 1980 was $7.75 first class.

250 copies were printed.

This issue was "dedicated to The Magician."

From the editorial:

[lyrics quoted]

Those words occur in a Jackson Browne song called "The Only Child". They came to mind while typing this zine, for that's what Starsky and Hutch are all about: taking care. Of other people, as cops; of friends; especially of each other. You'll find all of these aspects contained herein, as seen in a variety of ways.

You'll also find precious little humor. But what there is, believe me, you'll need! Many thanks to the laughter-mongers who took care of the giggles for this issue.

My thanks also go to the artists for taking care of exquisite visualizations which the bumble-fingered among us can only dream about.

You may be reading this out of idle curiosity, or because a friend beat you over the head with it until you agreed to read it, or from a desire to know what others think goes on behind those blue eyes. I hope you like what you find.

But first, some friendly advise from the editor. Go pour yourself something hot and spicy (preferably with a mild alcoholic content). Break open a fresh pack of cigarettes or Wrigley's. Put something fine on the stereo. Kick the dogs and cats out of the house. Ignore your husband, lover, parents and/or kids. Kick back in a comfortable chair and enjoy.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

[Prelude]: It's a look at what happened before we saw them onscreen. Prudholm is one of the most hated bad guys in SH, but his anger all stemmed from the first undercover assignment Starsky and Hutch had. They went undercover at a local high school, which led to the death of Prudholm's son. This story tells about that case, day by day, and how it all unfolded. [7]

[Non Constans]: Dotty Barry's poem, "Non constans", a marvelous piece of writing. One might well vote it "best". I could never vote it "favourite". I'd find it hard even to read it again; it's so alien in its coldness and indifference, to the way I see SH. [8]

[Non Constans]: Plain dislike?... 'Non Constans' in 'L.A. Vespers [9] I read it once, more than a decade ago. Never want to re-read. It's well-written. You could say imaginative. Realistic - yes, if it were about two other people. But for me alien, untrue, a negation of SH. [10]


The Pits’ opens with ‘Prelude,’ an account of S&H’s first undercover case and the busting of Vinnie Prudholm. White’s inherent strengths are clearly displayed here – clean, swift style, deft characterization, as well as a growing certainty with the mechanics of plot structure. The story develops through organic growth, not auctorial fiat…

‘Any Major Dude’… as is all of Melanie’s work, is technically excellent: the prose is lucid and fluent, the plot coherent, the viewpoint consistent and focused for maximum illumination of character... I am going to say loudly, categorically and with all the authoritarianism of which Scorpio is capable, that there is nothing in this story that is inconsistent with the aired series. Nothing. The reader who is convinced otherwise, and possibly outraged, needs to re-examine her own assumptions. It is the purpose of fiction to lead the reader toward truth, not away from it; not to allow escape but to prohibit it. If the experience is occasionally unsettling, that's how it should be. If (to crib from Spider Robinson), you believe that the separation between the varieties of human love is a barbed-wire border; that the sex of the person you sleep with determines your moral and ethical status and general fitness as a human being; if you cannot accept the worth of a character whom you cannot vicariously seduce; then this story will probably offend, disgust or seriously threaten you. In other words, you should read it, too. If you're lucky, it'll tell you something about yourself.

Finally, Marian Kelly's "Ex Post Facto" is a brief "Targets" interlude, in which Starsky and Hutch examine the reasons for their job and for their abandonment of it, in the process confirming the bases of their own relationship. Marian has done some growing since "Death Dance", and it shows. The language now reveals its subject consistently, not just in brilliant flashes; and except for some extraneous theological matter, the tendency to externalize the characters' conflict is gone. This is a superb story, dark and rich and dense, the bitter and the sweet so intermingled that it's impossible to tell which is which. It's fiction that does what fiction is supposed to do, and I don't think it requires any more comment than that. There is also a generous amount of poetry, well-done and beautifully sequenced… Joy Mancinelli's calligraphy is elegant, as are those illustrations which are not flatly spectacular. Buy this zine. [11]


This one is also in the RGZ category. Taking it in reverse order, ‘shadow-man’ and ‘Non Constans’ tied for best. The difference lies in presentation, not theme; ‘Constans’ is erosion, ‘shadow’ amputation, but both make the point; the price of great love is the risk of great loss, whether it’s loss of the loved one or the love itself. Next to those two, the other serious poetry had less of an impact, at least on me. ‘Life Too Late,’ ‘Kaddish,’ and 3 am’ were good enough, but not outstanding. And ‘Dialog for One’ – I recall some other zine carrying the same idea, Starsky Late and Hutch Fretting. It’s sort of like ‘My Partner’s Dead/Not Really’ theme that sprang up a few months back – like the man said, we’ve been this way before. The non-serious poetry is quite silly; I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fiction: ‘Prelude’ was well-done. I expected a little more closeness between S&H, after four years in uniform, at least enough for them to have dinner together, but that’s minor. The story is tight and the pacing good, up to the point where Starsky finds Hutch in the closet (no comment). The extra bit of jeopardy was completely unnecessary – instead of being aghast at how close Hutch came to Dying of an Upset Tummy, I was irked at the change in gears. Other than that, nice work. Gear switching is the only problem with ‘Ex Post Facto.’ That story ended – emotionally – with Dobey’s departure. What came after it was almost another story in itself, or at least a vignette. But the ideas handled, the feelings presented, are right on target. Dobey’s behavior was certainly more reasonable that what we saw in the aired show, where he sat around reminding them to get back on the force, boys. His anger at their – actually Hutch’s – thin-skinned sensitivity is appropriate for a black man of his age and experience, and Hutch’s intuitive apprehension is a good set-up for ‘Sweet Revenge.’ ‘Any Major Dude’ is excellent, and the best-handling of Huggy that I’ve seen since ‘Can’t Go Home.’ The speech is right, the scenes are real – the reference to Starsky’s Deep Dark Past that was something that should not have been thrown at a reader unless the author intended to explain, but that’s my only objection. Can’t comment on ‘Snowbound’ except to point out that J.J. Lindner is a colony creature, the other member is my sister Judi (Lindner) Hendicks. And any discrepancies between it and the aired S&H are due to the fact that it was written during the 2nd season, and we spent the next two trying unsuccessfully to find an agent. … The art work was generally loverly, my own favorites being the ‘shadow-man’ illo, the Black Knight, and Landon’s Huggy. [12]


I have the feeling that Melanie sat on Teri White over ‘Prelude,’ for the style is quite a lot cleaner and to the point than White’s usually is. White has generally done very good dialogue – and does here, too – but her narrative passages were too often as sparkly as swampwater… Moreover [in the end], by making Hutch finally dependent on Starsky for sheer survival, this bit… conflicts with the theme of the story, that S&H are two halves of a whole, equals, partners who complement. The characterization is good. Our heroes behave believably enough. Vinny is solidly real, even the incidental characters are fleshed out well. White keeps point of view consistent within each section (except on the last page) which works very well… Teri should write like this all the time… or have Mel for an editor more often.

‘Snowbound’ was intended for submission to the S&H script department. It is sufficiently professional that it might have been used. Some technical details are missing – scene demarcation, more detailed camera angles – but otherwise it reads as well or better than the actual scripts used. The story is told in manner appropriate to its medium (the play). It is highly visual, it describes actions and reactions, not feelings, there is no dependence on narrative. Like the series, the authors don’t stop to recount background, but reveal it in the course of the story…. Excellent advice for all writers, ‘show, don’t tell.’ … On the whole, the plot’s accuracy is probably good enough for television specifications.

I liked ‘Any Major Dude.’ About time we see this universe from some other viewpoint other than that of Damon and Pythias, and about time S&H start earning their psychic pay as outstanding good guys. Melanie made us see why the pair gets things done; they keep coming back and bugging their contact, just like real cops. More, the characterization of Huggy is full-bodied, real, and a subtle delight. Huggy is guarded on his first meeting with S&H – and on his second and third and fourth meetings, too. There is no way a ghetto-raised black man who eased himself out with every trick and scam and bluff on the counter would listen to sweet reason from two great hulking WHITE cops. Unless he had to… There is one clinker. Within the context of the story, Starsky’s going ape-shit and stomping Moss for no discernible reason – and no further reference later – is bad writing… As a further difficultly, it shows Huggy that he’s dealing with a vengeful maniac who can’t control himself sometimes… This hobbles the story.

Marian Kelly tried to tell three stories in ‘Ex Post Facto.’ This first, why Hutch felt compelled to resign in ‘Targets Without a Badge’ and how S&H decide to return; second, why Dobey didn’t resign in 26 years; and third: why S&H had been distant throughout the 4th season. There are too many subplots going, they don’t support each other, and they don’t even interconnect. Plus, hopping from one story to another, Marian jerks the mood from camaraderie to guilt to humor to self-sacrifice to intimacy to angler to loneliness to the nigh obligatory ‘I love you’ at the end. There are very good, highly insightful passages in the piece, but they’re all jumbled together and not really resolved well enough to give coherence to the who… I wish this piece had worked, because there are good ideas in it….

In the portfolio, Connie’s one and de Gabriele’s two pieces are the only ones to show much life. ‘Black Knight’ is especially striking. Jan Linder’s best piece isn’t even in this section; it’s the illo for ‘One Life Too Late,’ where she’s done a good job in catching expression. It’s still plainly drawn from a photo, but the eyes are real. Trish’s spotty illos are not only traced, but they are badly traced. Signe Landon’s drawings are not spectacular, but they are competent. [13]


  1. ^ from S and H, 1979
  2. ^ Gavia Baker-Whitelaw and Aja Romano. A guide to fanfiction for people who can't stop getting it wrong. (Accessed 28 June 2014)
  3. ^ from S and H Letterzine #2
  4. ^ from S and H Letterzine #2
  5. ^ This zine review had a handwritten note by the editor that "The Pits" was already sold out.
  6. ^ from Jane Aumerle in Star Canticle #2
  7. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  8. ^ from Frienz #2
  9. ^ She gets the zine wrong.
  10. ^ from Frienz #26
  11. ^ from S and H #9
  12. ^ from S and H #9
  13. ^ from S and H #9