Now look me in straight the eye and tell me you don’t love this show. Having been obsessed with ‘The Thin Man’ films since birth, it seems only natural that I transferred my affections to this series when it hit our screens in the late 70s/early 80s.
Jonathan and Jennifer are the ideal couple: sharp witted, wry and happily married. When they found themselves in some truly ludicrous situations, be it embroiled with international drug smugglers, jewel thieves or dubious dog food manufacturers, they never lost their humour or verve.
The fundamental reason for the success of this series, despite its ridiculous premise, is the amazing rapport between the show’s two stars: Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers. Like Powell and Loy, their wisecracking seemed to come naturally and you never once questioned the authenticity of their relationship. They seemed very comfortable together. In times of trouble, and there were many, Jonathan was always there flailing around with some unscrupulous miscreant while Jennifer stood on the sidelines playing the archetypical ‘damsel in distress.’ Lara Croft she may not have been but that didn’t matter; who said chivalry was not allowed to exist in the 1980s?
The weakest point has to be the plot. Actually, ‘plot’ ought to be used in the loosest sense term when referring to this show. It was more like a dubious concoction of implausible coincidences. Each week the Harts would find themselves caught up in some form of espionage, murder or fraud, purely by accident. Quite how Jonathan had time to run such an internationally successful company is beyond belief. Again though, does it really matter? Not in my book. As the series progressed things got more bizarre, and I loved it even more. In today’s world of reality television and self-promoting celebrities, there is a dire need for inconsequential escapism where ‘the baddies’ are quashed after one hour, not put on the front cover of some magazine.
Yes it is exceptionally cheesy, but that was what the 80s and escapism are all about. No, I have not had a cup of altitude too many, I simply love this show!