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.
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