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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For a reason unbeknownst to the audience at first, a detective goes to the side of evil in order to avenge for his mother. His targets are a collection of people with a couple of things in common: their occupation and their hair color, but then one doesn't follow the pattern. In addition, a crucial error is made, which this viewer picked up (from practice in viewing episodes of Jim Hutton's Ellery Queen), and Jonathan Hart gets a whiff of the perpetrator...his memory momentarily fails him as to connecting the pieces. The perpetrator makes a critical error in judgment, both as to the selection of his target and fortunately for the Harts, he failed target practice. Richard Herd plays the Lt. who is more adversary than gracious for their help...a bit over the top. Future "Night Court" star Markie Post plays a role in this one that gets th ball rolling. I had to re-watch it again to realize it was her. She changed a lot!
I love that this is a very early episode, because it establishes an extremely important element for the Harts one which the entire rest of the series would revisit like a golden rule over and over and over again. And that's that they're altruistic people who care about you no matter who you are. They care so much that they'll risk their reputations and lives to help you. For no other reason than it's the right thing to do. Nothing could exemplify that more than J&J working their asses off to protect prostitutes from a serial killer. And they're not high-priced callgirls, either, they're street hookers. In 1979 to care this much about a hooker without so much as a thought to how it would look when you're as important as Jonathan Hart, that says something very important about who he is. It was very progressive for its time, and frankly, it's progressive now. The episode opens on a pair of red shoes that I must have. Since I'm highly unlikely to procure them, I'll move on. You know where this is going very quickly, and soon the doomed Markie Post is asking the Harts for help. This one's not a mystery, though, as we know whodunit almost immediately; it's a character study. We get to experience some investment into who these people are, then suffer the thrilling suspense as we watch it unfold. The altruism is apparent when the girls put their faith the Hart's to try to help influence the police to care. The cops see the terrified prostitutes as the invisible people, but Jennifer doesn't, and neither does Jonathan. Richard Herd is totally effective as the arrogant and unlikeable Sargent. Now, don't get me wrong, the way J&J nag and manipulate him into letting them enter the crime scene is absurd, even by 1979's standards I've never seen more ridiculous evidence collection as the two of them contaminate the crime scene in every way imaginable but, this is H2H, so you just let that all go and enjoy what you're given. Like the Sargent's consternation-cum- witty banter with J&J, which grows on you. Max is given quite a lot to do in this episode, and it's so freaking good I could not look away. From the moment he enters the bar in a tapestry, thru all his scene work with the excellent guest stars, all the way to his possibly post-coital hot mess breakfast bedhead, the man stole the show. Especially while sitting at the actual bar with the two guest stars. OMG, Lionel was perfection. A very close runner-up to my Max love in this ep is Jennifer as she openly sits with the known hookers at the restaurant. Let's remember, it's 1979, she's that day's 1%, and she is sitting in a booth at a coffee shop in broad daylight with three known street-walkers, two of whom looking every bit the street they're walking, and kibitzing with them. She does not care one iota what other people may think. Even when a guy tries to pick her up, she's not offended or embarrassed she's amused. And it's played with authenticity that makes you love her. Not so great? Set design is wack. The naked dancing lady pillows are actually quite inspired, but the brown teddy bear is not. If you're going to have Jonathan discover a single, errant, red hair, then make the bear white, cuz ain't no one seein' that hair on the brown bear. I also could not get past the retired pimp. Read that again. Retired. Pimp. What, now? They wrote that whole thing like it was a legitimate career he'd just gotten the goodbye party for and dressed him like Grandpa. No, no, no, no. NO. I also have to call out a bit of a plot hole in that the Killer knows his Mark(ie), but then he's shocked her red hair is a wig. Yes, it's conceivable that he thought she'd colored her hair, but whatever. Knocking a point off for that, as well as the insane loosie goosieness of the crime scene process. On the other hand, I come back to the hair on Max. It must be celebrated. Twice in this episode, it is seriously somethin' else. And all kidding aside, it's touches like this that bring a reality and believability to his character. But overall, the important thing in all this is the statement about the value of human lives to the Harts. Truly awesome episode.
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