|Index||6 reviews in total|
First of all, the cast is great with Stefanie Powers (as the gorgeous
Jennifer Hart), Robert Wagner (as the self made millionaire, Jonathan
Hart) and Lionel Stander (as the gruff but lovable
butler/chauffeur/chef and side-kick, Max). Max introduced the show each
week, wherein he explained to the audience that when the two Hart's met
it was "Moider". The adorably cute dog, Freeway, is the pampered pooch
and Hart Family mascot.
Together, these two Bel-Aire denizens go on to solve crimes on a weekly basis. It would seem that after having a hundred of your friends and acquaintances suddenly or mysteriously die, you'd be hard pressed to have much in way of a social life. But they did, and a glorious social life it was. And it was always so much fun to watch. The stories were mostly trite, but the Hart's were always able to make them amusing. Each episode has some great guest stars ala Love Boat and Fantasy Island, so you are never bored with the same cast over and over as some other shows have. The murders were, as I recall, nothing too gory so it's a show that is suitable to watch with your mother.
The thing that always made the show stand out from the others was the genuine affection that the two leading stars had for one another. Not that I am suggesting that there was any hanky-panky going on between Stefanie and Robert, but one could always tell that behind closed doors Jennifer and Jonathan had a very healthy sex life. The kissing was always fun and flirtatious. And in each and every episode my friends and I were always waiting for Jennifer to shout out "JooooooooooNathaaaaaNN!!!!". The night in shining armor (Jonathan Hart) was always there to rescue his fair maiden.
The sets were always fun. With lots of glitzy late 70's and early 80's touches. Black lacquer, glossy finishes and lots of razzle dazzle (along with what I remember to be a T'ang Horse and possibly a Renoir and other blue chip paintings) could be seen inside chez Hart. The architecture of the house itself was oddly humble and subdued by today's standards. From the outside it appears to be a Byrd-type house, with lots of quaint and charming touches. Inside we find a large living room and dining room, a somewhat smallish entrance hall, a really dark kitchen (but I think they were popular back then) and lots of wood paneling and even a secret room. It is not a Spelling type Manse or in the same league as the house owned by the Clampets in The Beverly Hillbillies. Their cars (a Bentley and a Mercedes) and clothes were, I imagine, the chicest purchases one could make on Rodeo Drive.
I love this show but have only seen it in syndication (and that was a few years ago). I am so disappointed that it is still not available on DVD. Hopefully, this sad state of affairs will be rectified soon.
Finally, I get to see the pilot after all these years. Nothing looked
familiar, so, like so many other wonderful eps, this was new for me,
and it was great! I watched this as the originally intended 2-hour
pilot as it appeared on my Season 1 DVD set and not as the two-part
episode hack job that it ultimately became for most viewers of the
reruns. I'm so glad I did, because I got to see some real gems that
have probably gone missing at some point to accommodate the re-cut. The
pilot very clearly lays out four very important things:
1. Jonathan Hart is very, very rich and drop dead gorgeous 2. Jennifer is independent, confident, and drop dead gorgeous 3. The Harts are completely in love and always will be.
And, oh yeah, their hobby is murder, which is only really to give them something to do, cuz make no mistake, this show is about them and their off-the-charts chemistry. They had mad chemistry in all of their eps, but in this one it was in the stratosphere, setting the tone for what would be every episode to come. They were the original supercouple.
This very first Hart to Hart revolves around three concepts they'd come back to time and again --> evil spa treatments, evil hypnosis, and evil dangerous winding mountain curves. Specifically, when one of Jonathan's good friends appears to commit suicide, Jonathan & Jennifer go undercover to get to the bottom of it.
This establishing pilot gives us so much foundation. A beautifully crafted camera shot shows us just how lush and beautiful their property is with the only shot of their actual driveway that I recall in the series. It's in this pilot that we see the two of them playing winding-mountain-road-chicken in their two fabulous cars that later become the opener. It's where we learn that Jennifer is a writer, Max is their butler guy, they have a nice big house, they are very loyal to their friends, and they love their dog. Speaking of which, there's a very funny scene with Jonathan, Max, and Freeway where they're spelling things out so Freeway won't hear that he has a trip to the vet coming up. The D-O-G and the V-E-T for the S-H-O-T is amusing, but it's also very relatable, which is something they always somehow achieved well -- relating to their viewers despite their avarice of wealth.
There was some truly surreal stuff going' on here, too. Jill St. John and Natalie Wood, both of whom married Robert Wagner, were both in this pilot. Natalie's role (credited under Natasha Gurdin) is tiny as an actress playing a Scarlett O'Hara type on a Hollywood set; Jill plays a principal role as a spa customer. It was positively fascinating to watch, especially knowing that this is one of the very last things Natalie ever did. Natalie is perfect in her role, but Jill is way too overly made-up. She had on so much blush and so spidery in the eyelashes that it was reminiscent of a clown, unfortunately. Talented girl, though, she was really quite good. Pity she hasn't done much these days.
I watched this with Mankiewicz, Stef, and RJ doing commentary and completely geeked out over the little titbits they offer up. I waited with baited breath for RJ to talk about Natalie, but interestingly, it was all three of them that talked about her, and the brief mentions were gold. And while the tidbits were plentiful, it was their wonderful camaraderie and mutual admiration between the three of them that really warmed my heart. If you have a chance to get the Season 1 DVDs, you really must watch this pilot twice, the second time with the commentary turned on.
Have to mention the two things that didn't seem to fit. James Noble is in a bad guy role, here, but honestly, all I saw was the hapless and clueless Governor from Benson. This was either just before or just as Benson started, but it just made me completely giggle. On the commentary, they talk about how Noble had to be directed over and over and over again to stop leaning. And he totally was! His character went kind of nowhere, so it seemed like a character that started out important but ended up unneeded but was easier to just keep in the script. There was also a strange scene with Jonathan in the steam room. Completely pointless scene.
Hands down, my favorite scene was Max on the 20th Century back lot when the actors playing Nazis are checking out the car, and as they walk away, Max makes a power fist and says, "Shalom," then Jonathan who is on the phone with Max says back, "Shalom." HYSTERICAL stuff. I mean, it's nothing on paper, but it's truly all about the delivery. Then a Native American Indian chief actor strolls by checking out the car, followed by Natalie Wood as the Southern Belle. Pure indulgence, but it worked so well. This scene, as well as Max in the window sets up early the funny Max and straight-man Jonathan that would play well for years after. There's also a scene where J&J are bickering in his room that is so gorgeously done between them, and that final scene in the jet, which is just truly what this show is all about.
There was also a pool bit after a snake that was a potentially dangerous stunt thanks to the walls of that pool forming bays that the StuntJonathan could have hit on this way down. Fun, but Stefanie totally anticipates the splash before it happens, as does at least two others, tho not as significantly.
This pilot was fantastic. Despite the James Noble and steam room weirdness, I'm giving it a 10, because I can't give it a 12. There's just nothing not to love, here.
Hart to Hart!
When I first saw this show I was about 12 years old. I enjoyed watching it every week at 10pm. Jennifer and Jonathan always had a lot of respect for each other and I loved that. My all time favorite episode is when Jennifer and Jonathan went to London and we were shown how they met each other.
Years later I met RJ and Stefanie and boy was I surprised how nice they were in person and also how beautiful they both were.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A terrific core cast with Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, and Lionel
Sandler, with a premise (wealthy people with a penchant for mysteries)
that works well due to well-written scripts that are believable.
This particular episode/premiere in this case also includes Jill St. Jean, Roddy McDowell, and Stella Stevens, a treat for those of us familiar with their work. The plot is viable and well executed.
I would've liked to have seen this supporting cast be more devious, specifically Roddy McDowell, who's portrayed such roles elsewhere. In addition to this, Jill St. John's character is somewhat reminiscent of the one she portrayed in "Diamonds Are Forever."
Altogether, an excellent cast, a supporting cast that is familiar, a good storyline, and adequate execution made for a pleasant viewing. This grows into a series that improves on the pilot.
Having only just discovered this show a few weeks ago on holiday in Paris I decided to buy the DVDs and boy am I glad I did. I love this show. That said this has been my least favourite episode so far. I just feel maybe 2 hours was slightly too long for the plot. On a positive note I love the relationship between Jonathan and Jennifer. There is something about the show that is missing in current shows. It's pure escapism, yes some of the plots have more holes than Swiss cheese but that's what makes it fun. Highlights of this episode are the car race up to the spa, Jennifer hiding her book (although I'm sure they may have recognised her photo on the back) Jonathan falling from the roof into the pool and when they try to leave at the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read the other reviews and didn't see the glass goof that someone mentioned but there are other gaffs like Johnathan wearing the exact same clothes to the doctor's office the second day that he wore when he went to his own office in the opening. I did want to clarify for one person who wrote "There was also a strange scene with Jonathan in the steam room. Completely pointless scene." The scene in the steam room was actually very important and part of the story. As Johnathan was 'investigating' the spa, his conversations with Jill's character, and with the man in the steam room... he was finding out how people came to be at the spa. The man in the steam room was there cause his wife saw an ad. Others were there, like Jill's character, at their doctor's recommendation. He and other doctors around the country were sending patients there for the hypnosis and blackmail scheme that Johnathan's friend dies as a result of. Remember the plot while watching Johnathan and Jennifer... I just love them.
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