Hart to Hart

TV classics: Hart to Hart

USA 1979-84, 110 episodes, 5 seasons, 47 minutes each, ABC. Created by Sidney Sheldon, Producer: Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, Music by Mark Snow. Cast: Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander

Plot summary: As hobby sleuths, Jennifer and Jonathan Hart investigate mayhem and murder with a little help from butler Max and their dog Freeway.

Review: Loosely based on The Thin Man narrative, Hart to Hart entered American living rooms in the summer of 1979. Starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as a wedded team of hobby sleuths, the show combined murder, mayhem and comedic situations with guest stars such as June Allyson, Diana Muldaur and Roddy McDowell. Supported by Hollywood veteran Lionel Stander as Max, Jennifer and Jonathan Hart investigated crimes in their hometown Los Angeles, as well as on trips around the world. Always combining duty with pleasure, Hart to Hart was a mystery show with the right amount of romance and action to entertain a family audience.

Originally written for Cary Grant, Robert Wagner was cast as a younger version of the charming leading man whose mansion was located in Mandeville Canyon. His on-screen chemistry with Stefanie Powers, once a guest star on his previous TV hit It Takes a Thief, was the main attraction of a show that never made it to the top of ratings. Warmly embraced by world audiences for the couple’s flirtations and banter however, the show had a decent five year run. With an unfortunate decline in script quality, the show was ended in 1984 and successfully rerun for many years until the formula was revisited in the early 1990s. Reprising their fan favorite parts in eight Hart to Hart TV movies, Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers reunited with their equally popular colleague Lionel Stander who remained a set imperative until his death in 1994.

Still dearly remembered by audiences around the globe, the Hart to Hart TV movies are now available on DVD while fans are still waiting for seasons three through five of the original show to be officially released. With their felicitous homage to Nick and Nora Charles with a dash of Mr. and Mrs. North, it would be a shame to not see the Harts on DVD as a complete set. Self-made millionaire Jonathan and his journalist wife Jennifer deserve to be introduced to young viewers who may not watch as much TV as generations before them but rather stick to DVDs and online streaming. In 2012, the upbeat tone of the series and the romantic foundation of each episode are still as entertaining and enchanting as in the 1980s when the show premiered on ABC. It is the perfect show for any spring season – hearty, suspenseful and bewitching. You’ll never forget it, especially due to the charm and quality of the performances of the three main actors and an adorable Lowchen dog called Freeway.

Hart to Hart intro

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Animal Film Stars

Some of them already existed in books before they made us fall in love with them on screen. Others were turned into a franchise, creating a longing to have a pet out of the ordinary: a dolphin, 101 Dalmatians or a talking horse. I’m talking about animal film stars of course!

When I look back, I fondly remember Lassie, Black Beauty, Fury and Flipper. They all starred in their own shows and movies. So did Mr. Ed. Rin Tin Tin may still be the most famous one of them all, at least when it comes to vintage gems, as well as all the darling characters Disney has created or adapted over the years. On the animation side, who doesn’t remember The Lady and the Tramp or Bambi whose story probably broke every kid’s heart. And then there’s Mickey Mouse and Minnie along with Donald Duck and Daisy, as well as Bugs Bunny or Sylvester and Tweety.

Animal film stars have long come in all shapes and sizes. They have been humanized and enriched our lives by being our best friends and companions, teaching us lessons about relationships and nature. They have also been an animated mirror to our human condition. And their popularity has not really ceased from Rin Tin Tin‘s first appearance almost a hundred years ago to Boomer and Hart to Hart‘s Freeway in the 80s, to Free Willy in the 90s and Bolt today.

Animals still open our hearts on screen, make us cry and create that wish deep inside to adopt them. Animals, like children, also still steal the show and outshine the most decent of actors. And like none of their human colleagues they make us laugh about the silliest things.