I’m working on tightening up an exchange I wrote between Jennifer and J.J. as J.J. is getting dressed for her prom date. As you may have already read, J.J. is experiencing some reservations and hesitations about what to expect of the upcoming overnight date with Teddy. There are set plans in place, but the two of them have some plans of their own ….
In an effort to help herself make some personal decisions, J.J. finally works up the courage to ask Jennifer a tough question about her own life as a seventeen year old girl on the threshold of womanhood.
She was always the more interesting of the TV pair for me because, in my humble opinion, she was given the wider range of emotions. At least that was the case in the series; things flattened out some in the movies, but I’ve said that already. In the series, she was allowed to get mad, get scared, cry, be sassy, be sexy, be smart, be a ditz, lean on Daddy,
and just be a person. On the other hand, Jonathan, while I loved him, too, ran the emotional gamut from A-B. He was either happy or angry and on a mission- cute and sexy as all get out while being either one, but that was pretty much it with him.
Back in the day, even when I wasn’t writing, I was always thinking about characters that caught my attention, either in books or on the screen. I’d be wondering what the person’s life was like before the story started. Or what happened to him after the story ended. Did something occur at another point in her life to make her the way she is or do things the way she does them in the current plot? What secrets do we, the reader or the viewer, not know about this individual?
Bullied at some point in school? Smoked weed or dropped acid a couple of times as a teen? A flirt? A heartbreaker? Cheated on tests? Worked at a rescue mission? Stole out of Mom’s purse or petty cash? The class clown? Village idiot? Slept around a lot? The one everyone else looked to for answers or protection?
Jennifer Hart was the kind of character that left me thinking long after the episode was over. I wondered what her relationship had been with her late mother. Or with her father? After all, he was always asking her forgiveness for neglecting her. Did he feel guilty for sending her to boarding school or had he been an aloof parent in general? Did she really forgive him or was she just saying that to make him feel better?
Off topic, but Ray Milland was an excellent choice for that role. Arrogant, aristocratic, with just the right amount of crustiness.
Did she have other significant relationships in her past? Who was Andy Seagren? Were there other significant relationships before she met Jonathan? She was pretty. Did other woman like her? Or was she the kind of girl who had mostly male friends? Ever notice how in the series she largely avoided being touched by other male characters? Jonathan kissed another character, but when she had the chance with the tennis coach, it didn’t happen. The only other guy Jennifer kissed was Jonathan’s double or Jonathan with amnesia. In the movie, Elliot Manning alluded to having slept with her and that he liked how she scratched his back in the act. I wanted to know more about her and how she arrived at the elegant, charismatic person who snared Jonathan Hart’s heart.
It’s interesting the things that come out about her as a result of J.J. coming into her life. Sometimes even I’m surprised at what I find out about her through her interactions with this other character, this girl she’s raising to womanhood in this series of stories. Those details that reveal the layers of her personality, the deeper levels of bond with her husband and with her own father as her relationship with J.J. evolves.
And funny enough, the things I’m learning about myself through all of it.
Lots to come. It’s a more thought-provoking, intriguiging struggle as J.J. comes of age, but it’s one I’m thoroughly enjoying.