“This is my boss – Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. He’s quite a guy. This is Mrs. H – she’s gorgeous. What a terrific lady. By the way, my name is Max. I take care of them, which ain’t easy, ’cause their hobby is murder.”
When Hart to Hart arrived in the late summer of 1979, it ushered in the ’80s with it’s glitzy lifestyles, shoulder padded fashions and copious wealth. But the Harts didn’t merely flaunt the fact that they were supremely rich. They put their put their money and time to a good use. They solved crimes that cropped up in their social circles. Mostly it was murders since rich people seemed more prone to killing people and doing it themselves. Guess they had to skimp on hitmen. The show is like Murder She Wrote for people with American Express Black cards. This was Lifestyles of the Rich and Famouswith a bodycount. And now all fives seasons have been boxed up for Hart to Hart: The Complete Series.
Robert Wagner (The Pink Panther) was extra suave as Jonathan Hart. His dashing handsome looks made him look great living the life of multi-millionaire. Stephanie Powers (The Boatniks) was a natural as his wife who was also an investigative journalist. She knew how to snoop. Lionel Stander (Pulp) was Max their chauffeur and all purposes servant. With his gruff accent he broke the trend of Brits in suits being the hired hand. The final part of their clue crew was their dog Freeway. It was a solid team. What’s also important to point out was that Wagner didn’t merely throw his money at crime fighting toys like Bruce Wayne. He mostly used his cash to fly to where the crimes were happening and rent lavish hotels.
“Harts and Flowers” starts out innocent enough. Max has created a rose in honor of Mrs. Hart. He entered it into a major competition under Mrs. Hart’s name since he’s too shy to take all the credit. Things get nasty as other competitors begin to push up daisies. Natural the Harts must uncover the killer especially since he might hit one of them next. “A Couple of Harts” ruins the Hart’s vacation in Mexico when a senator gets killed. The FBI needs to back off and let the Harts uncover the murderer. The guest stars include Gregory Sierra (Barney Miller), Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks), Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit) and René Enríquez (Hill Street Blues). “Hartland Express” puts them on a train with David Doyle (Charlie’s Angels), Ron Glass (Barney Miller), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Bernie Kopell (The Love Boat) and a killer. “Rhinestone Harts” involves a jewelry heist and bad country music outfits. “My Hart Belongs to Daddy” makes Ray Milland (Man With the X-Ray Eyes), Jennifer’s old man. He’s on the trail of Nazis. “Hart of Diamonds” reunites Wagner with his Pink Panther co-star Capucine. “Harts and Palms” beams down Jonathan Frakes before he’d take command of the Enterprise.
On a Bed of Harts” starts the season with a sweet premise. Jonathan wants to buy their honeymoon bed. However things get mixed up in the shipping. Instead of sweet memories, they get delivered into the middle of an art smuggling ring. “Million Dollar Harts” turns Jennifer into an unsuspecting mule for transporting money back to America. Who will notice a few extra million in her pocketbook? She’s rich already. “Harts on Campus” has a former high school crush of Jennifer decide to be her man. He figures out a way to get Jonathan out of the way. This episode was directed by Peter Medak, the man behind the class film The Ruling Class. “Rich and Hartless” makes Max a millionaire himself. Naturally he quits his job to enjoy the rich life. But it turns out this all a scam set up by the new staff that wants to do more than solve crimes.
“One Hart Too Many” has a health farm transforming their guests. Except they do it by swapping the guests with lookalikes. This place was previously responsible for the Darren switch on Bewitched. “A Christmas Hart” tears the roof off outlaw singing telegram services. Max’s party is ruined by these jingling crooks. “As the Hart Turns” makes the couple part of a Soap Opera. As if their life can be tamed down for daytime television. “Hartstruck” lets Jonathan have his delusional wannabe lover. “A Lighter Hart” is more trouble at a health club. This time it’s drugs being pushed on clients. Healthy places weren’t good for your health in the Harts’ world.
“Two Harts Are Better Than One” starts the season with a tale of how the couple met. They came together over a body in London. “Straight Through the Hart” mixes polo with diamond smuggling. “Harts and Hounds” brings the couple back to England. Their desire to fox hunt gets interrupted by another dead body. “Love Game” includes a match with Martina Navratilova. “Silent Dance” brings an ice skating twirl from Tai Babilonia. “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch” has the couple needing to rescue their beloved helper Max (Lionel Stander) from kidnappers.
Over the course of five seasons and 110 episodes plus the pilot, Hart to Hart remained a fun mystery show. This was charming fluff to the murders so you weren’t too scared of Freeway getting snuffed. It felt good seeing rich people using their talents to make the world a safer place instead of opening up another Super PAC. Hart to Hart: The Complete Series takes us back to time when we could root for rich people.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the luxury life lived by the Harts. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The levels are just right for hearing Max’s voice. The episodes are Close Captioned.
Audio Commentary with Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers and Writer/Director Tom Mankiewicz is on the pilot episodes. The trio explain so much that made the show popular. Mankiewicz was behind several James Bond scripts.
The Hart of Season One covers the highlights of the first season.
Shout! Factory presents Hart to Hart: The Complete Series. Starring: Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers and Lionel Stander. Boxset Contents: 111 episodes on 29 DVDs. Rated: Unrated. Released: May 30, 2017.
Tags: Hart to Hart, The Pink Panther