10/5/2014 Getting Started….
Like J.J. in her Journal:Part One, I don’t really know what I’ll be putting here, but we’ll play it by ear. I’m for anything that keeps me writing when I feel like doing anything except write, which happens a lot lately. Distractions are everywhere; procrastination at an all time high. Mind going in a million directions, hand accomplishing little.
For today, though, I’ll talk about my love for Hart to Hart and how J.J. Hart came into existence.
It’s probably evident from my stories that I loved the show, Hart to Hart, especially the lead characters. In fact, I have been a fan since the promos first aired for the original episodes. When it was announced that Wagner and Powers would be playing as husband and wife, somehow I knew it would be a winning combination. It might have been that single episode of “It Takes a Thief,” where Powers played the guest role of Mona that had me so sure of the pairing. The chemistry between those two actors, even that far back was absolutely convincing.
Powers has always fascinated me as an actor, although many of her pre-H2H roles failed to showcase her real range and abilities. I always felt because she had brains and purposely avoided ‘going Hollywood”, choosing instead to pursue her personal interests and maintain her privacy, she wasn’t given the opportunities afforded to others who were more willing fit the bill 24-7 or play along to gain favor.
Wagner I never really followed as an actor, per se. Rather, I more enjoyed the characters he played, particularly in both Thief and Switch. It didn’t hurt that he was terribly handsome, the epitome of suave and debonair, and could fill out a tux better than most. In addition, I was impressed at so often reading what a nice guy he was considered to be by his peers despite his celebrity status and being twice married to a long-time movie star.
For five years, I tuned in faithfully to the show, loving the Harts and their mature, mutually respectful, and childless relationship. I envied how they could pack a bag and travel at the drop of a hat without the worry of arranging for babysitters, or strapping in car seats or what bill they wouldn’t be able to pay when they got back from the most recent lavish cruise, New York shopping spree, or South American adventure.
To say the least about it, I was devastated when the show was so abruptly canceled and replaced with “Jessie”, which I REFUSED to watch out of bitter spite brought on by my loyalty to the Harts. When Jessie failed to thrive, nobody could have been more delighted than I was; no offense to Ms. Lindsay Wagner, I had nothing against her personally, I actually enjoyed her work in general, but Jessie was not Hart to Hart.
But then came the movies, and I was excited to see what the Harts had been up to while they were gone from my TV screen.
The first one, Hart to Hart Returns, was pretty good. A couple others were okay, but for the most part I found the movies disappointing. Despite the passage of time, in which so much could have happened or developed with them, the Harts hadn’t really evolved. They were in the same place emotionally, which was fine, but not much else was different, not even the kinds of things they were involved in. Most of story lines in the movies were extended, slightly adjusted rehashes of story lines from the episodes. Secrets of the Hart, Crimes of the Hart, and the one with Elliot Manning, Harts in High Season, had potential, but by time their end credits rolled, the story lines in each had flattened and then petered out in a less than satisfying manner. There were two that didn’t ring true at all, Old Friends and the one shot in Germany, To Death Us Do Hart, which I believe was the last one. By that time, it was painfully obvious the thrill was gone. I found myself wishing so badly that the writers had “asked somebody” before they put those tired, and sometimes silly, ideas into play.
Somehow the powers- that-be never seemed to get it, either in the TV series or the movies, that most of us tuned in for the relationship and interaction between the principal characters more than we did the so-called mystery aspect.
Around the time the series was cancelled, one of the last ideas being floated was for the Harts to have a late-in-life pregnancy. I wasn’t crazy about the idea at the time; I couldn’t see them with a baby since part of their magic was how unencumbered they were. I was especially against the idea since the plot called for Jennifer being hit by a car and losing the baby. That would have been too much reality for a one hour episode and for the escapism the show itself offered. I was; however, intrigued by thoughts of what their kid would have been like.
Once the movies did air, and we were presented with the plots as written, I thought how nice it would have been for the Harts to have had a child during their hiatus, and through the magic of television, said child had grown into a teenager by the time the movies rolled out. Intelligent, curious, and adventuresome like the parents, a child would have given the Harts another focus, a different spin without them losing their own investigative tendencies or their loving relationship. It also would have afforded the writers some fresh material to develop, and the viewers another dynamic to their favorite couple.
Those thoughts stayed in my mind until one day, on a random H2H Google search, I ran up on Nolene’s Hart to Hart Fan Site, where I found Susan’s Fan Fiction Archive. That was my introduction to fan fiction, and needless to say, I was hooked! I had no idea people wrote stories that extended the lives of their favorite fictional characters, and I can’t describe how delighted I was to find a treasure trove of stories about the Harts.
Shortly after having discovered the site I went to every free moment I had, my family flew to Vegas for a family reunion. I printed out a few of the stories to read or reread on the the flight as laptops and WiFi weren’t the available options then as they are today. On the way back from Vegas, in a tablet I had purchased for that purpose, I hand-scripted the first draft of Queen of Harts, featuring J.J. Hart, the late-in-life daughter of Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, and I began to do with the Harts the things I wished the writers had done for those movies.
As a teenager, I loved writing, and I wrote stories all the time. I entered college with the goal of becoming a journalist, but my experiences there revealed I needed to pursue something a little more solid and secure, and do the writing thing on the side. Beginning a career in teaching, then marriage and children moved writing to the back shelf of my life until I began writing about J.J. Hart. That’s when I rediscovered how much I enjoyed the act of moving what was going on in my mind to paper.
Publishing my first story on Susan’s site was the first piece of writing I ever offered for anonymous general public perusal. It was scary, but the feedback was pretty positive, and I was encouraged by it to continue. A couple of stories later, I realized I needed more control over posting and revision, so I took a class and learned to build a simple website where I could post my own stories how and when I wanted and be able to make changes I needed to make when I needed to make them, thus J.J.’s Room. I had no idea at that time how much this site would grow and how many stories I would wind up writing, but I’m happy and proud that it did.
J.J. has opened worlds to me that I might never have experienced, and I have met people I might never have come into contact with had I not written the stories. In fact, my first trip to Europe was a direct result of the writing. I met and got a hug from Ms. Powers as an direct result of my love for H2H and indirectly because of these stories. It has been a lot of fun, and a great source of mental exercise for me, although as the plots grow more complicated and J.J. is getting older and more complex a character, it’s not as easy to quickly crank out the stories as it used to be. I feel I do a better job now than I used to do, but the process is a lot more involved, and thus, a whole lot slower.
As I struggled to build this new website and reformat the stories to reload them, I noticed how much my writing has changed since the beginning, and to be truthful about it, I’m shamed by the mistakes I made when I didn’t know any better. I will certainly be getting a some writing exercise, doing the editing and rewriting that needs to be done, but I guess that’s a good thing. It can fill those dry moments I get as I work my with the current story. But I guess that’s what growth is all about making mistakes, learning from them, making the appropriate changes, and evolving.
And doing the best you can with what you have for the benefit of yourself and, hopefully, others.
I wonder if the writers of H2H realize the one thing they did do extraordinarily well was create a show that brought people together from all around the world. Over thirty years later, the original viewers and some born after the last episode aired are still in love with the characters and the relationship they created for them.
At least that’s how it is for me ….