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Series / Hart to Hart

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The Harts: When they was moider!

"This is my boss — Jonathan Hart. A self-made millionaire! He's quite a guy. This is Mrs. H. She's gorgeous! She's one lady who knows how to take care of herself.note  Oh, by the way, my name is Max, I take care of both of them. Which ain't easy! 'Cause when they was murder!note "

Hart to Hart was an American television series that ran from 1979 to 1984 on ABC. It starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers and was produced by Aaron Spelling.

The show focused on Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner), a rich CEO, and his wife Jennifer (Stefanie Powers), a freelance journalist. In their spare time, the two pair up as amateur detectives, with some help from their butler Max (Lionel Stander). Each episode focused on a crime that they were currently trying to solve. Most of the cases they worked on dealt with murder, robbery, kidnapping, and espionage.

After five seasons on the air, the show was canceled due to low ratings in the last season. In 1993, the cast reunited to make eight made-for-TV movies.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Many episodes focus on Jonathan and Jennifer dealing with some form of this trope. Jonathan especially had to deal with two separately insane stalkers who tried to murder Jennifer, and the second only knew him for like five minutes before she fell for him!
  • Amateur Sleuth: Jonathan and Jennifer.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: In "'Tis the Season to Be Murdered", Jonathan and Jennifer spend the holidays investigating industrial espionage at Hartoy, a toy company Jonathan owns. Two people are murdered along the way, while Jonathan and Jennifer are attacked by killer toys such as an electronic game that's rigged to explode and a radio-controlled model airplane that fires real ammo.
  • Benevolent Boss: Jonathan and Jennifer are both this to Max, and Jonathan is frequently shown to be a very understanding and courteous employer to the people who work for Hart Industries.
    • The intro scene to one episode shows Jonathan working on the docks, unloading cargo and speaking to the other workers. It turns out it's his dock, he's undercover, and he's investigating rumors that the men are overworked. He finds out it's true, and kicks the crap out of a dock foreman who threw a punch at him when he pointed out the men were overworked and needed a break. The dock supervisor shows up in a company limousine, tells Hart that he doesn't know who he's dealing with, and he'll never work on these docks again. Jonathan then delivers the Wham Line.
      Victor: I'm Victor Shell, executive vice president of Hart Shipping Lines. After today, you won't work a dock from here to Seattle.
      Jonathan: And neither will you. I'm Jonathan Hart. I own Hart Shipping Lines. Now get your crooked, fat, fired butt out of my limousine.
  • Brainy Brunette: Jennifer's a more glamorous example as she's a published writer, and marrying Jonathan hasn't diminished her enthusiasm for it.
  • The Cameo: Natalie Wood (Robert Wagner's then-wife) briefly appears in the pilot as an unnamed actress on a day off who wears a Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Christmas Episode:"Trust Your Hart" and "'Tis the Season to Be Murdered."
  • Closing Credits: On the original 2-hr. Pilot Movie in 1979, the closing credits were against scenes from that movie. On all future episodes (the remainder of the run), the closing credits/end titles were against the same red background that was used for the title in the title sequence. At the end, in Seasons 1-3, the last card was for "Rona II (short for "Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, Second Time Around") in association with Spelling-Goldberg Productions," with a Spelling-Goldberg copyright from 1979, 1980, 1981 or 1982, and a fade to black. When Columbia Pictures Television started being a production company in Season 4 (it would be this way in the last two seasons), there would be a CPT copyright from 1982, 1983 and 1984, and then "A Rona II and Spelling-Goldberg Production In Association With," with the 80s Torch Lady of CPT showing up on the next frame (said logo having the Coca-Cola ownership byline on original ABC broadcasts, and bylineless on Shout! Factory's DVD releases of Seasons 4 and 5 [both singly and in the complete-series release]).
  • Damsel in Distress: Jennifer, who finds herself courting danger all too often.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: The Harts once helped a woman impersonate her twin sister to trick her killer (their half-brother) into exposing his crime by making him believe his victim's come back as a ghost.
  • Disney Villain Death: It's more surprising when it doesn't happen.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Mrs. Bittersweet of "Hart-Shaped Murder" is the real boss of the smuggling ring, but had nothing to do with the attempts on the Harts' lives because her son kept her from learning he screwed up.
  • Don't Tell Mama: A Valentine's Day Episode had the Harts tangle with a diamond smuggling ring operating out of a gourmet chocolate shop. The head of the group is the son of Mrs. Bittersweet, the woman who runs the chocolate shop, and he's frequently covering up the smuggling ring's activities from her. She's actually the real head of the ring, and those cover-ups were her son trying not to disappoint her with his blunders.
  • Drive-In Theater: "'Tis the Season to Be Murdered" begins with Jonathan and Jennifer talking with a Private Detective whom Jonathan has hired to investigate a security leak at the toy company he owns. The private eye insists on meeting at a drive-in during the day because he thinks it's a secure location. He gets murdered anyway.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first season, Max's opening credits narration ended with the phrase: "I take care of them, which ain't easy, because their hobby is ... murder!" As the show isn't actually about happily married serial killers, subsequent seasons modified this to "...because when they met, it was murder!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In third-season episode "Hartless Hobby," Simon Richardson (William Daniels) to McCoy, one of his bumbling accomplices, after McCoy conveniently fails to grab a postcard (invitation to a stamp event) that Jennifer left behind on a tray at the Harts' house: "And you, my friend— I want you to pull yourself together, because I want that stamp. I'm not interested in a body count. And you and the Harts had better hope that Jennifer brings her purse."
  • Evil Aunt: In one episode, the Harts must deal with a woman and her boyfriend who're after the valuable baseball card collection bequeathed to the woman's nephew (her dead brother's son). This is despite knowing her sister-in-law and nephew could really use the money.
  • Evil Old Folks: Mrs. Bittersweet, the head of an international diamond smuggling ring operating under the guise of a gourmet chocolate shop.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: The flashback episode "Two Harts Are Better Than One" shows that Jonathan and Jennifer only knew each other for a few days in London before he proposed.
  • Friend to All Children: Despite not being parents or ever considering having kids of their own, the Harts get along great with kids. Jennifer especially donated a lot of her time sitting bedside with a girl who'd been in a coma for several years.
  • Gaslighting: A heroic example is done by the Harts in one episode, to expose a man who murdered his long-lost sister to stop his grandfather from bequeathing his fortune to her. What neither realized is she had a twin who, being clairvoyant, predicted her sister's murder. The Harts stage an elaborate hoax to make the man believe the psychic sister is a ghost to make him confess to the murder.
  • Genre Blindness: A lot of episodes are about the Badass of the Week trying to outsmart the Harts but they seem to never have heard of all the other bad guys crossing the Harts' way whose successes were questionable.
  • Happily Married: The Harts are so much this trope that one episode revealed three associates of Jonathan established a betting pool on the night of his bachelor party, wherein they wagered cash on how long the Harts would remain married. One guy, who bet they'd stay together for five years but split before ten, took it upon himself to make it look like Jonathan was cheating on Jennifer to split them up. Every attempt to sow marital discord failed miserably, but the Harts decided to pretend they were splitting up to figure out who was going to all this trouble. Jennifer never believed for a second that Jonathan would ever think of betraying her.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted in one episode involving a health drink that's laced with amphetamines. Two people who've been drinking the stuff on a regular basis eventually have trouble breathing and suffer numbness in their arms.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Subverted with Vitalite, a health drink that's addictive specifically because the formula contains amphetamines. When the creators switch to a clean version after one person goes into a coma, the rest of their customers start going through withdrawal symptoms.
  • Idle Rich: They are when they aren't solving crimes. Subverted with Jennifer, who's a professional writer and is often attending literary conventions or working on essays or newspaper articles.
  • Imaginary Friend: One of Jonathan's stalkers had a habit of dialing some sort of evangelical hotline and would carry on a one-sided conversation with a nonexistent friend while recordings of bible verses played over the phone. It was in fact the earliest indication this woman was insane.
  • Impersonation Gambit: In one episode, a professional con artist stages an elaborate gambit to steal some jewelry by hiring lookalikes to pose as the Harts in their own home. Trouble is, he's never met the Harts in person so he has no idea he's dealing with the real Jonathan and Jennifer who arrived at the house before their doubles. The Harts have to pretend to be people impersonating themselves long enough to expose the scheme, while Max deals with the actual impersonators.
  • Jerkass Fa├žade: Jonathan and Jennifer pull this off rather convincingly to fool whoever is trying to split them up, by having staged arguments in public and acting rather nasty to each other at home (which has been bugged).
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: A villainous example in one episode, where the week's villain is a man who wants to kill Jonathan because his sister committed suicide over her unrequited love for him.
  • Loving a Shadow: One episode involved a murderous fan of a romance novel heroine, convinced she's real and that she's really Jennifer (whose professor friend has been ghostwriting the novels with said character and asks Jennifer to stand in for him at a convention because his pen name is female).
  • Made-for-TV Movie: Eight of them.
  • Mystery Magnet
  • Mystery of the Week
  • Nice Guy: Jonathan and Jennifer are honestly two of the best people you could ever have as a friend or ally. Many times the Mystery of the Week involves a friend of theirs that's gotten into some form of trouble, and the Harts do everything they can to try and help them. Provided the friend isn't Evil All Along.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Though Jonathan is the CEO of a very large company, he seems to spend plenty of time solving crimes. Might be justified, since it's likely a huge company and there are plenty of employees who handle the day-to-day affairs. It helps that many of the mysteries are directly linked to Hart Industries, such as numerous shady employees who try to exploit the company for their own benefit.
  • Phony Psychic: Jennifer pretends to be one to expose a superstitious killer in one episode. Ironically in an episode involving a woman with real psychic abilities.
  • Pretty in Mink: Jennifer often wore a fur when they went to a special event. One episode focused around Jennifer's involvement for an ad campaign around faux fur.
  • Scenery Porn: Notably when several final season episodes had shooting outside Hollywood.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A recurring plot point. Either Jonathan and Jennifer would attract one of these.
  • Stalking Is Funny If Its Female After Male: Averted hard. Both times Jonathan ends up being stalked by another woman, the stalkers are portrayed as seriously and dangerously as the men who've stalked Jennifer.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: In "Hit Jennifer Hart," Jennifer is preparing roast goose to put into her oven at home for supper. She sets the timer, not realizing that hit man Stephen Thomas (who got into the Harts' house under a cover story of being a struggling writer (also being a supposed long-lost cousin once or twice removed) has rigged her oven to explode. After she sets the timer, and just as she is about to put the goose in, the phone rings. This phone call saves her life, because not long after the phone rings, as she is about to finish with the goose, the oven blows up violently. This explosion also evidently unsettles Jennifer, because she is unable to answer Jonathan, who repeats her name in an increasingly worried tone of voice.
    Jonathan: Jennifer? Jennifer?!? JENNIFER!!
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The head jewel smuggler in "Hart-Shaped Murder" is fond of offing people with poisoned chocolates. He disposes of one underling believing he was working with Jennifer to swipe their diamonds, and then sends the Harts a giant box of assorted toxic sweets. Thankfully, at the time Jennifer imposed a diet on the household but both Harts and Max repeatedly came this close to eating one of the deadly chocolates. Another of the underlings eats one of the candies not knowing they're poison and dies in front of the Harts.
  • Undying Loyalty: Max is completely devoted to the Harts, and likewise they would do anything to help him if he asked or needed it.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: One involving jewel smugglers operating out of a chocolate shop.
  • Villain Ball: Marilyn in the Vitalite episode is too greedy for her own good even as her partner Barry keeps pointing out how their scheme's unraveling by the second.
  • Wheel Program: NBC attempted to use the 1993 reunion movies as an anchor for a new Friday Night Mystery Movie series, but the idea didn't take off.