This is the first of a series of episodes we'll see over the five seasons of H2H that feature Max. This, like a good handful of them, are about the loves of Max's life. The lovely character actress, Madlyn Rhue is the first we'll see, she won't be the last. It was so good to see her again. She died of complications of MS, and you can clearly see the effects of it on her actively impacting her at times in this episode. For instance, you can see in her gait how hard it is for her to walk in the park scenes with Max. It just kind of makes me that happy kind of sad to watch her. This episode is chock full of guest stars that just made me swoon with nostalgia and excitement. In addition to Rhue, Rene Auborjonois of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Boston Legal, and the beloved Daniel J. Travanti in what has to be his very last role before Hill Street, lit up the screen.
Once I got past the giddy and actually watched the thing, I got pretty swept up. This was the first real Max-centric episode, and it set the bar for the rest. You immediately feel a fierce protectiveness over Max the second his quest for the (hideous) earrings begins, because you just know something is up. Sure enough, there's a scam being run on the Harts, they're running it via the big, unselfish heart of their Max, and we as the viewers want to jump through the screen and pummel them for him. Not because he's being used, but because his heart is being broken.
Something I rarely notice so acutely is the musical score. But in the scene just after the auction, Jonathan is making funny faces, and every time he does, the music played under it punctuates it. I really appreciated that creative interpretation, and it really spelled out in a tangible way how the orchestras are scoring in real time with the scenes playing; it gives it all so much more depth. Other little things I enjoyed were Jonathan driving Max around, their dialogue, kibitzing, and talking about whether they "like the girl" or not, Jonathan not being above using his poor-man's coffeepot, and the line, "Hello, my pretties." CONTINUITY ALERT --> It's established here that when the Harts met, Jonathan was doing the chasing. That's not how it eventually ended up. I know, picky picky. More pickiness, Lionel palms that gun real well for being out cold, and in the hospital ward, heavy use of extreme closeups that seems really out of place and strange. The Absurd Line of the Night Award goes to the truck driver, who yells at his partner to "go on up there and get him!" As if it's no biggie to climb up to the roof of a moving truck to engage in fisticuffs.
In the end, this episode is about Max and the absolute devotion he and the Harts have to each other. Nothing exemplifies this more than when Max says, "You two when you look at each other That's the way I thought she looked at me." His heartbreak is so stoic. Which makes it worse for us, worse for them, and bonds us as the viewer to this unique, believable, relatable relationship between the three of them.
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