This. Was. AWESOME. I didn't remember it, it was brand new to me, I smiled the moment the thing began, and did not stop until the very last credit rolled. The episode gets right down to business establishing a relationship with Jonathan's long-time business tenant, a magazine vendor on the busy Hart Industries property. And OMG, veteran actress Jeannette Nolan is so good. She's soooo good from the word go. Written poorly this would have been a Mary Sue story. But she's not an interloper, she's a valid person in their lives that they clearly care about. That we haven't seen her before takes nothing away from that because of the superb marriage of writing, directing, and acting. The plot surrounding her is written as a vehicle for Jonathan's altruistic nature, not as a one for the guest character, so you bond to this woman immediately because you feel the utter affinity that Jonathan has for her. RJ positively soars here. His affection for and amusement in her – his emotional investment into her well-being – are subtly played by him to the point where you just can't help but feel a fierce protectiveness over her, literally, right away. Shortly thereafter, Jameson Parker brings his cutie patootie mug to the bad guy role, hating him is easy, and a plot is born.
The office scenes were light, H2H goodness, because a) any episode with Deanne AND Stanley is a win, and b) Jennifer's hair was extra poofy, which was right on trend for this second episode of the brand new decade. We learn quickly that the vendor, Rose, is being blackmailed, and our hackles go right up for her. I loved the abject willingness Jonathan has to help her, but so refreshing was Rose as a very unique kind of woman. She's terrified, but she's no slouch and takes no handouts. Jeannette plays her so convincingly that the layers are there without needing a bit of exposition. I also had big love for how seriously they took the props. This stock certificate for Hart Industries is gorgeous. I'm sure they didn't create it from scratch and is just a blank stock cert mocked up for the show, they could have gotten lazy but didn't; the detail shows so much respect for the audience and the material. For those like me who have kittens over this stuff, Hart Industries' incorporation is established as March 30th, 1969. When I was a fetus. I was in hog heaven and we're not even ten minutes in.
Pairing Rose and Max as equal parts old married couple and siblings that got on each other's very last nerve was like a treat you didn't know your grandma was going to be bringing you. From the second Max learns she's going to have to be in the house with him it's a string of crazy good verbosity. The Rosie, Bozo, and Bimbo banter was brilliance on a stick. Every bit of screen time between these two was GREAT. Effortless. I'll bet real money that these two were in other shows together, because their timing was second to none. I never wanted this to end.
The guest stars were all stellar. The fencing coach was utterly authentic, the real estate agent is like who's on first, and the sorority girls crushing on Jonathan nearly put me into hysterics. Cindy Grover as the key to it all wasn't so great, but that Mork from Ork and Simon more than made up for it.
RJ's confrontation in the gym with patootie was subtle until it wasn't, and it was gorgeous. The house they go snooping in is a set that would be used time and again on this show, but that's no problem, because the whole undercover thing was adorable. Admittedly, the sound editing kind of sucked when they went back to the house, but oh well.
Very impressive blocking in the final showdown. Not with the swords, which were a lot of clack, clack, clack, clack, with RJ's free arm in the completely wrong spot and no real fencing skill, typical TV fencing. I mean with the kicking away of the gun. It was like the most perfect kick, nice job Jameson.
Jeannette's mid-show soliloquy was truly a masters class in the craft. And the real estate agent bit was funny stuff.
BLOOPER ALERT --> Minor, but on his way out of the room when he discovers the gun missing from the drawer, Lionel walks into the door jamb on the right.
This one was all wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end, which I'm usually not a fan of, but in this case, it was perfect. A total ten.
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