Reviews written by registered user
|83 reviews in total|
I have only the vaguest recollection of this episode, specifically the masquerade at the end; but honestly, that might be due to the opening clips and not a memory of the story, itself. This might have been a good episode, but after two times through it, I remain hopelessly distracted by the fact that Jennifer looks like something straight out of "Tootsie." I mean, she is the spitting image of Dustin Hoffman as Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels. Or more accurately, since this ep pre-dates the movie's filming date by at least a full year, he's the spitting image of her. The dress is, literally, identical. The Tootsie hair is clearly evocative of Jennifer's in this portrait, the entire carriage of their bodies in that specific imagery is too exact to be a coincidence, and there's no way that Sydney Pollack and Columbia Pictures don't owe Tom Mankiewicz some kind of royalty. Anyway, I just couldn't get past it enough to focus. What's more, IMO the painting of Jennifer is really awful. BLOOPER ALERT --> Very first shot of the bad guy in the back of his clown car, he is clearly reading cue cards or for some insane reason looking into the camera instead of at the enforcer character he's supposed to be talking to. Huge pet peeve. I was also put off by the random girlfriend that said very emphatically that they were "lovers." Was "boyfriend" too archaic a word? Not groovy enough? Terrible scripting there. She even made their relationship sound illicit. Totally weird. Ya know what I loved, though, Richard B. Schull in the first of three outings he'll have as Lt. Gillis. I liked him better than the 2nd guy, though admittedly Richard Herd's character brought a nice layer to the H2H fabric. But it was Melissa Steinberg as Gillis's girlfriend that made me giggle. She's random, for sure, but she was a fresh air of comedy that wasn't goofy. From her posture to the way she pawed at Jennifer, the girl was adorably funny, and I wanted more of her! Walker Texas Ranger fans will enjoy seeing Noble Willingham here. It's randomly occurred to me that a) the Japanese steakhouse experience has not changed in 30 years, and b) taking a drink every time Jonathan says, "are you alright?" would make a good drinking game. Best part of the episode is without a doubt the bathroom scene in their towels. On its face, it's ridiculous that Max would come into their bathroom while Jennifer is naked but for this towel around herself and they all three of them just act like it's nothing. But something about it just works. It's part of the suspension of disbelief for the Hart universe, you just have to say, OK; but it's also kind of authentic, because the actors make you believe that this is all just their innocently familial way in that family. As for the story itself? Pretty solid, really. The bad guy's got a valid motivation, they got there well, the masquerade had a pretty great stunt, and the costumes were fantastic though most of them were timeless, the music brought you right back to 1979. In the end, it was one of those predictable episodes that you don't mind for its predictability; instead you kind of wrap yourself up in it and say, ahhh. Unless you're me and distracted by Tootsie.
One of the few episodes I remember in detail from the original run. What starts out a standard kidnapping story ends up one being a hell of an adorable romp. Stefanie Powers plays not only Jennifer, but also her doppelganger, Dominique. So dead a ringer they are for each other that the kidnappers nab the wrong woman, then spend half the episode stupidly running after their ransom like fools. This case of mistaken identity gives Stefanie such an opportunity to spread her wings. Though this was only the beginning of H2H, playing the same character for five solid years may or may not have made Stefanie itch for some variety. If so, then it's nice that she got to show a lot of range, here, because Dominique could not be any further from Jennifer. Her makeup and hair were just the start and I did love the use of her hair; soft and feminine for Jennifer, severe and dominating for Dominique. Clearly a purposeful representation of the characters. Even without the obvious cosmetic differences, Stefanie stepped into a whole different affect, and she made it look effortless. From her movements to the intensity of her gaze, you never doubt for one moment the veracity of the Dominique character or forget that she's not Jennifer. Her can't-be-bothered indignance is outmatched only by the insouciance she wears like a fine garment. Her dynamic with Jonathan is so fun -- I love what a shameless flirt she is, how she delights in messing with him, and how he must be on his toes at all times to keep up with her. I loved her continued use of "Banana Brain," especially on the phone with the kidnappers. My favorite line in the episode just follows this actually, "Well, it's delightful to talk to you, Jimmy, but it sounds as if you've had one too many peanuts," reminding us that we're still well-within the Carter administration. Interestingly, this is the second episode in a row I'm reviewing where Jonathan kisses a woman who isn't Jennifer. Unlike the last one ("With This Gun, I Thee Wed"), I liked this one a lot. Not because the actress is still Stefanie, but because it makes entirely more sense. The lead up felt right, the circumstances felt right, the writing was sound, and the motivation just felt entirely more authentic. It's a whole season later, so that time for settling into characterization didn't hurt. And the kicker was so good it was like a deep breath you didn't know you needed. It was the conversation they should have had in the bathtub of that other episode. This is Stefanie's episode, she does a really beautiful job here, but shout out to the brilliance of Andy Robinson (ST: DS9, Dirty Harry). This guy is always all in. No role too small for him to make a real impression. Watch his expressions, his body language, the intonation of his voice, his sweet simplicity. Even his his walk screams dumb, sweet, good guy at heart. This is why I love him. As an old car lover, I could not get enough of that junkyard, which practically made me weep. I think I saw a c1945 Ford truck! I was also really impressed with what looked like the real RJ rolling off the bad guy's car in the close up shot. Didn't care for Jon Cutler in his first of three appearances as the most hapless cop ever, maybe he'll grow on me in the next two. And picky picky, I don't think $500k is going to fit in that small duffel. Not so picky, that split screen at the end. It was kind of dizzying, as you can absolutely see the unmatching two halves of the shot. It's really close, but the light doesn't quite match (shadows on the right-hand couple), and the backgrounds shift away from each other, creating a nauseating visual effect. Excellent effort, however, with a location shot in natural light, so I give it a pass. Loved this episode.
I sat on this one before I reviewed it, because I didn't want any
knee-jerk reactions. My objective opinion is that while there are gems
making this a must-watch, I'm ultimately left scratching my head. This
is gonna be a long review; might wanna get a cup of coffee.
We open on a random poker game with Tommy Lasorda (as himself). Before you know it, a mystery is afoot, that's it for the then- prolific Dodgers manager, and the Hart's are headed out to Monaco for the wedding of Jonathan's ex-girlfriend. The envelopes started getting pushed right off the bat, here, with the airborne plane angled up. On its face, it's just a shot of the plane, but I can't help but get a phallic feel with the intention of setting our expectations for something messy.
My jaw dropped several times throughout the hour, beginning with a crazy-ass stunt off the back of a car that seriously concerned me. Soon Jonathan is climbing a trellis so he can save his ex, the bride, played nicely by Christine Belford who looks so much like several other actresses (Kate Mulrew, Jacklyn Smith, Ellen Burstyn). For me, this whole scene in her bedroom was, honestly, completely strange, though the strangeness is very interesting. It felt very familiar between Jonathan and his ex. Very much like former lovers. They stood so near each other, and there was a real sense of trust between them that I could actually feel as the viewer. Part of me enjoyed seeing Jonathan thru the lens of this relationship. But my guess is that most J&J fans will not appreciate it, because they're not going to want to see either J or J's implied, very personal history with someone else. They just won't. For me, the scene was very uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as when they kissed. Which was a shock. I audibly gasped and uttered a few choice words and about fell over. There's a reason they kiss, but I suspect that the J&J purists are going to feel pure, unmitigated hatred for this poor actress caught in a miasma of fangirliness that she never could have expected. No one, including me, wants to see Jonathan kiss another woman. Remembering my objectivity As scripted, this kiss was a ruse meant to protect her from her blackmailing fiancé. As a means to an end, that's a plausible way to go. But in the situation as written, it seemed gratuitous nothing but a convoluted excuse to make Jonathan care about another woman, remember another woman, kiss another woman. Why? So that the audience will react? I have no idea how they reacted back in the day, but judging from the rabid reaction to what I think is a brilliant episode, "Hartstruck," my guess is that the reaction was probably the most hated of any scene ever of H2H. For me, give me an end that truly justifies these means, and I'm going to accept the kiss. But even I, as one who can see the forest for the trees on extra-curricular kisses, do not see this need at all. It's just not there. If the threat was different maybe, but having the man find Jonathan kissing his fiancée seems WORSE than just finding him like a stray about the room. Jonathan can hide in the bathroom. In a closet. Or even back down the freaking trellis. Maybe there just wasn't time. Maybe the dogs would have sniffed him out. I'm not saying the motivation is non-existent, I'm saying it's lame. Definitely not character-driven.
Now if you're a fan that hates this to the point where you might bust a vein, there are real gems here that make this episode worth watching. For one thing, the really epic hand-holding as they stroll down the massive hall of the Monaco hotel. And then there's the bathtub scene. They pulled out every stop they could with the censors, here, cuz that bathtub was spell-it-out-sex. Was it an apology? She seemed annoyed at the situation, rather than at her husband, but there was a sure reluctance there, regardless. Read: punishment. "Jonathan, move your foot." You know where that foot was, and she was having none of it. All of this is fascinating. Jonathan holding so fiercely to Jennifer's hand was so significant that it was actually the camera's focus. A show of his devotion to his wife through the intimacy of their bonded hands. Then her refusal to completely acquiesce to his possibly apology- driven charm in that bathtub. Every moment in that bathtub was adorable, though. Any way you slice it, all of that was a great payoff for fans after that horrible kiss.
BLOOPER ALERT --> Stef's body stocking is clearly visible across her chest beneath the bubbles as she inhales deeply just before the last time she tells Jonathan to move his foot. Look hard, you'll see it. Almost as awesome as that is Jonathan reading Marie Claire. I spent a stupid amount of time looking for this issue of Marie Claire. It's in French, but for the life of me, I couldn't find it.
Other messy elements I hated in this episode included pleats, that outfit's awful butter color that was terrible on Stefanie, bad dubs in the pool scene, and the heinous line, "Go to San Tropez, lie on the beach, make wondrous love." Really? I'm fairly sure this entire thing was shot on a backlot, and do not even get me started on the madcap kitchen scene, the concept of which is great but ruined by the chef's ridiculous, over the top reactions. I could go on and on about the end, too, but I think I've said enough. From the pate' to the bouillabaisse to the concept of the cardinal to the ruse in the bedroom, this whole episode is a mess. And weird. Just so very weird.
I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, J&J are
positively adorable in every way. From one scene to the next they
delight in each other. Watching them love being with each other so much
is why we as fans love them so much. This is our first Undercover
Jennifer episode. The look on Jonathan's face when she walks in with
the wig is absolutely worth the price of admission. I mean, it's
really, really funny. RJ's expressions are the perfect counterpoint to
Stefanie's look and manner. Now, the whole undercover thing is really
all very contrived, but I don't care, and neither will you, cuz it's so
freaking amusing. The next thing that slayed me was the drive home with
Jonathan altered by equal parts drunk as a skunk and high as a kite. Of
course, if I'd had coffee out of that heinous '70's mug I'd probably
end up altered, too. But RJ and Stefanie delivered big time for that
drive home. A lot of physicality that had to have been really
challenging and really a blast. The best, however, was how they related
to each other after he's come down from the drug. No dramatics, just
their relationship. She's cool as a cucumber and a little amused as she
sits by his bedside (in a lovely outfit with her hair up for reasons
unclear). He's feeling contrite and hung over, and so grateful for her.
It's a lovely, lovely scene, and it's my favorite of the entire
Not so great was the completely inconsistent direction. When it was good it was great; when it was bad it sucked. For instance, when Max answers the phone in the first block, we don't hear the doctor's end of the conversation until the second or third exchange. Then we hear it, but not Max, then we don't hear him again. That's just lazy, weird direction. I also think they were still finding their way with who the Max character really was. Last episode he's barely able to afford $100 earrings, before that he was rolling in pimp dough undercover with the hookers; now he's back to Moneybags with a wad of cash to rival any bulge those pants will sport. The dialogue was great ("are you keeping track?" "Every penny."), but it did make me wonder if they knew where they were going with Max.
BLOOPER ALERT --> In the very first establishing shot of the lab, the Hart's yellow Mercedes is parked there. Only they don't drive up and park there until a few scenes later. This is what happens when you film out of order so that you can get all the scenes in the same location done at the same time. Which is standard and efficient both procedurally and financially. But you really must have that attn to detail as a director to make sure things are not in the shot that aren't supposed to be there yet. This seems like a rookie mistake, but he was far from a newbie, as he was mid-way thru his working director career by this time. It was just lazy. Finally, I really think the buyer character (listed as "The Man" was woefully out of place. The actor is credited with exactly three roles, and the way he played this really took away from the episode IMO. The director could have fixed this, but I think this was a get 'em in, get 'em out gig for him. Now incorporating the bar mitzvah made me exceedingly happy, but it was also smart, because those take place on Saturdays, which is a tiny detail lending credence to why the lab is empty. I know this is a long review, but I have to tell you, once I got over the shock of hearing the word asbestos tossed around like its not a cancer-causing material, I then got an ancient look at a knee-high stocking, the likes of which I've not seen live and in person since I bought a bunch of them from Walgreens to make Mandrakes for my son's Harry Potter bday party.
The only part of this ep I remembered from the first time around was the wind machine. Picky picky, I know, but more lazy direction was why they didn't turn the fans way up, cuz their hair does not match the force with which the wind is purportedly keeping them back. But ya know what, it's all worth it, cu look, it finally rained in California, and Jonathan MacGuyvered themselves out of danger. The final shot of Max in his Star of David apron and J&J sick in bed was perfect. And, if they don't want their chicken soup, I do.
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.
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.
I should have known from the opening scene that this one was going to be work to get through. The old Hollywood kind of over-the-top acting was painful out of these guest stars, and by the time the gun goes off I was glad to be rid of one of them. A Bonnie Bartlett so ageless it's unreal is the grieving wife, and now we're off on a classic whodunit. There are at least four people you are just sure did it at any given time, then there's a 5th, and all but one are red herrings with some kind of ax grind. Honestly, didn't enjoy the story on this one at all, but I was fascinated, anyway. For one thing, Stefanie Powers is completely believable in every single thing she does. Her expressions, the way she sits, and her reactions. She's got more presence in her silences than some actors do in their line deliveries. I also loved how believable Jonathan is when he gets heated with his friend. The weird stuff fascinated me, too. Jonathan's robe is really beautiful, but that H on the breast reminded me of Laverne and her L's. I also couldn't look away at how nipply it was out there in the very interesting exercise class. The instructor was so harsh, and they named her Inga. Really? OK. Usually I can relate to this show without being reminded that it's 36 years old, but in this episode Jonathan whistles at his friend's secretary. No way Jose' would that go over these days from anyone, let alone a Jonathan Hart. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I watched the scene, and ya know what? Shannon Wilcox is fantastic. Really, really good. She went from very very busy actress to nothing since 2011, unfortunately. I'd say of all the characters, including Bonnie's, she was the only one I really actually found myself caring that much about. I guess my problem wasn't the story, it was, sadly, everything else. The scripted dialogue was eh, the acting was really eh, and the direction was just plain weird. Like let's talk about the hats in the scene of mourners heading for the funeral. I had a director who did mostly period stuff, and he made everyone wear hats all the time in every show. No one got away without a hat, and I kind of felt like he might be directing this episode, too. The collection of cars in that scene was the strangest anywhere, from jalopy's (thanks, Max) to the Rolls then the scriptwriter goes and blames the ex- wives who got all the good cars in the divorces! What? Some great nuggets, though, like watching Lionel Stander drive the Rolls; I'll bet every opportunity he had to do so he just ate up. He also got a great line when he says someone was crying alligator tears. Jennifer corrects him with crocodile tears, and he says, "crock of somethin'." Zing! But again, a weirdly placed scene in the park, and why on earth did the costumer dress them like twinsies? Perhaps the strangest choice here was when one of the red herrings is killed, and the next day several people, including J&J just walk right into the crime scene, no telltale yellow tape, no CSI, no nothing. Even back in 1979, this is a plot hole that is gaping. It's in that scene, though, that J&J have themselves a spat, and what fun THAT was. The chemistry between them is off the charts in that scene, the love amidst annoyance is so clear, and the chastely sweet kiss Jennifer gives Jonathan at the end just made my heart expand. It's good stuff, Maynard. Back to weirdness, the end fight scene has Jennifer just watching while Jonathan allows himself to be relieved of his sleeve, followed by just silly, silly choreography. It was the kicker, however, that really had me scratching my head. It comes out of positively nowhere for no reason and, while adorable, it doesn't belong. If Harry Caesar as Lt. Doyle had stuck around for future episodes I'd've thought maybe the bowling scene was filmed as part of another episode and then moved to this one, but no, this is his one and only episode. Talk about random. People, it was a weird ep. It was just a really weird ep. Worth watching but weird.
Watching and reviewing these out of order can be very interesting, because this is another episode about Jonathan having a stalker only it's not another one, it's the original one. I was wary at first, but the fact is that this is a very different episode than season 5's "Hartstruck," and I really loved it. The extremely recognizable and very talented Kathleen Lloyd plays a Hart Industries employee who falls in love with Jonathan and goes to great lengths to emulate Jennifer in an effort to get his attention. A work party J&J throw (OMG, the '70's goodness at this party "Come on, it's called the Boogie!" hahaha!) makes for one incredibly interesting block of compelling eye candy. I don't mean hotness, I mean dialogue and direction that can't really be explained, it just sucks you in. Extras get some lip action, beautiful camera shots from above show the depth of this beautiful set, an understanding of the upstairs layout between stairwells, detailed set dressing whether it made sense of not (a set of legal books?), and Stanley being Mr. Strikeout. Kind of mixed feelings on that, actually, because as pointed out to me by babsfan8816 in a message board thread, the continuity here is off, and that's disappointing. The introduction of Stanley in "Jonathan Hart, Jr." has the character married with kids, and not quite as goofy. The episode basically ends up going where you think it will, but it was still kind of riveting, really. You know the minute Jennifer says she'll kill herself if she spills anything on her dress that she, indeed, will be doing so, and that will set up a whole suspenseful series of cat and mouse stalking that definitely got my blood pumping (No one notices the crazy girl upstairs?). It also allowed for a more intimate look at the very best closet in the history of the world that would, without a doubt, rival that of Carrie Bradshaw. Of course, Jonathan's knight in shining armor routine whenever we get to see it is always a win. I also loved J&J's detailed dialogue trying to figure out who the stalker was; they didn't need those lines, but they provided a lot of good context for their relationship. Hands down my favorite part of the episode were the scenes with Deanne, which I know sounds boring, but I love when good B-characters are used so well, and she was. She had some fantastic screen time, and she delivered her performance really well. In one line, she explains the bottom line of who Jonathan Hart is and why someone would end up going cuckoo for cocoa puffs over him like this. A characterization that would hold up so well that believing it a second time for "Hartstruck" is not that hard to accept: Jonathan is nice to everyone, treats them all with true kindness, and someone who isn't quite all there might take that the wrong way. Yep, sums it up. Deanne's a smart cookie. Maybe that's why she disappears by the end of the series, cuz she's been promoted. One would hope. That said some nitpicks: A) I'd like to know where Deanne stores her stuff, B) Mata Hari rhymes with Gotta- Sorry, not Hat-uh-carry do your homework! C) Poor Tony the travel agent is gonna have a really hard time pulling those bandages off, D) the cop is a bit of a jerk for no real reason. But those are just nits, it's the Stanley continuity that made me knock it down a point. Otherwise a very good ep with great direction and, if nothing else, an impressive Robert Wagner shrine.
Jonathan is definitely all that, don't get me wrong, but in the end he's a boy that likes his toys, the toy in question an old King George-era car for Jennifer's birthday. Definitely a classic bonehead husband move with this gift for him rather than her; that's OK, I've been known to buy my husband plenty of shirts that are "for him" but that are my taste not his. Bonehead wife! Heh. Anyway, there's a ton to love about this episode right off the bat. I was laughing out loud more than a few times. The pounds vs. dollars tete-a-tete was very amusing, and then there's a ton of props and lines that made me squeal. The best line of the show and a sign of the times, when the dock foreman hands off this ridiculous car to Jennifer and says, "You're really gonna look terrific sittin' in the gas lines. There's a lot of Jennifer-is-no-slouch'iness to this ep. She can fix her own damn sink, thank you very much, you can leave the driving to her, she'll open up the hood of a vintage car (as if she'll know what the hell she's looking at), and she'll go grease monkey like a pro. Then there's the corset she preens in. Awesome shot of her in that doorway. She looks so good without objectification. It's something out of Downton Abbey meets Penny Dreadful. Now one thing, I've worn a corset for a role in the past, and I can promise you, sitting on the ground in that thing is not easy. I'll bet you anything she had to be lowered and hoisted back up. The scene where the woman offers herself up to Jonathan is really good. He lets her down with a leading man sensitivity that calls for every single moment of closeup that was shot for it. Very much enjoyed the notes in the late Andra Akers's performance as a woman unabashedly attracted to Jonathan. The gratuitous low-speed car chase scene with champagne torpedoes is hysterically absurd, and I needed more of it until the shot of Jonathan giving up and running after the bad guy, since his legs would move faster than the car would. The mystery driving what this car is all about is a doozy, and when it was finally revealed I was really impressed. I was a bit disappointed with the kicker. For one thing, their bedroom doesn't appear set yet, as their bed has no headboard at all and a very weird painting above it that really just didn't fit. Of course, me watching these out of order, it's not like anyone knew that yet. The bigger deal is that Jennifer goes and gets herself a fur coat. It's not what William Holden would have wanted, and it's not what Jennifer would later be established to want. A big oops in the character development department. Holden had not yet died here, that's clear. I need to watch the fake fur episode again to see how this might be references (or not). Overall, the whole thing is silly in many ways, from the image of Max cranking a car to the costumed afternoon to the concept of what they resorted to in the end, but in the Hart universe it's really par for the course. So, I loved this one. Knocked it down a point for the fur coat.
I'd never seen this episode in the original run as far as I remember,
and I was looking so forward to it. Unfortunately, I was really
disappointed. So, I carefully watched it again, and I think I've
figured out that the issue with this one is that it's one of the
handful that just don't translate to anything acceptable in 2015. When
you watch Hart to Hart, you just have to do two things, A) Suspend your
disbelief that perfect people like this could exist, and B) Remember
that this is a product of life as it existed 36 years ago. I can do
that with nearly all of them, but not this time.
In this episode, a single mother played by pre-ET Dee Wallace is manipulated by her abusive ex into extorting money from Jonathan by duping him into thinking her 8yo son is his. There is a lot of potential for serious angst and drama here, which they capitalize on in some ways. From the moment the boy hits the gate buzzer and Jonathan relates to him with warmth and kindness it's gold. RJ and the boy, played by Randy Gray (and WOW is this kid good) are very sweet and have some lovely sensitive moments. But the plot holes are endless, I mean there are just so many problems here, beginning with the very premise. There was no real reason I could find for the mother to cave to this. She could have just gone to the police, it made no sense. The Harts' immediate actions of just giving the kid a room without too much by way of questions was off, and their lack of hard feelings later really didn't sit well with me. Anyone who would let their 8yo be in the control of someone else for, ostensibly, weeks and a pitiful $200k (even accounting for inflation), is not OK. At one point they just leave the suspect in the room with the money, the school gives out this boy's personal information to the Harts, who are great big nobodies to this kid as far as they know, and then the kid never actually goes to school during this time. And the big to-do of searching high and low for the kid's mother would the boy not know his mother's name? She worked at a hospital, very easy to find.
Now, wrapped up in this train wreck of an episode, there are pieces to appreciate. It's Stanley's first appearance, and his character is set right at the get go, I loved that. Randy Gray might be an Adam Rich lookalike, but he has real talent, it's too bad he left acting (or maybe a good given the fate of most 70's child actors). I don't know if the show bothered to clear film locations, but the onlookers at the zoo positively gaped at the Rolls. And scenes J&J share in the immediate moments after the boy shows up are what soapy goodness is made out of. When they're alone to discuss it, the air is so pregnant with angst that I felt it here on my couch. The way they had that scene go was very interesting, and I'm honestly not sure if the writing there was driven by chauvinism or feminism. I am sure, however, that I hated the way they parted from the kitchen. Maybe when I revisit this episode in the future I'll be able to verbalize why. In the end, Jennifer's absolute belief in her husband and her truly unconditional devotion to him (and vice versa) is paramount and the whole reason this show works. The acting was tops throughout the episode, especially that of William Lucking as Wallace's ex. He's really freaking effective and downright menacing. I also loved when Jennifer got really angry, and Jonathan has to remove her to the kitchen to calm down, that got me very excited.
BLOOPER ALERT --> In the park, I feel like Dee forgets her line. William Lucking had delivered his line, and then Dee Wallace had put her hand to her head and stayed silent as if in thought. But that's a weird acting choice, and no one else was directed like this, so I really think it was a classic, "I forgot my line" move. I think Lucking is really good, because instead of just waiting there, he went on and said, "if you don't want the cops to get an anonymous tip," to which she interrupted out of nowhere and said, "never hold up, never hold up." There's no way it was scripted like this to step on his line after an awkward silence, she forgot her line.
Some good elements here, and the last scene with the boy and his guitar made me weepy. But this episode was uncomfortable and, honestly, wrong on a lot of levels. It does not hold up in 2015, and it utterly disappoints me to say that.
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