“Aunt” Jillian?

Hart to Hart marathon on cable Sunday May 17, 2015.

For a couple of reasons, I’m not usually all that enthused when H2H is on television. One, I hate how scenes in the episodes and movies are cut out to accommodate commercials and air time. Two, between my VCR tapes- yes, I said VCR, and I do still have a player- and the discs, I have the episodes, several times over, in their entirety. I also have all the latest released DVD’s, except the fifth, which has been preordered and is scheduled to arrive early next month. But on Sunday, I did tune in. That was because I’ve seen most of the episodes of “Snapped”, my normal all-day Sunday fare, at least twice, so I thought I could do with a change. Since I had some other things to work on, I wouldn’t have to actually watch the H2H episodes; I could just listen and not worry about what visual I was missing. After all, I’ve seen most of them too many times to count.

But by the time “Long Lost Love” came on, I was finished posting grades, and was pretty much finished, period, so I was able to give that one my full attention.

For some reason, that episode irritates me. Always has, and it wasn’t any different on Sunday. I have harbored a vague idea why that was, but I haven’t ever taken the time to pinpoint exactly what it is about it that bothers me. So, I decided to use a blog entry to get my 500 Words Daily writing commitment met while I work it out on paper- so to speak.

Although I absolutely love Hart to Hart, there are several episodes of the show I detest: “Silent Dance”, with the hearing- impaired ice skater; “Harts on Their Toes”, the episode with the ballet dancers, and any of the others that focus solely on a plot, forsaking the romantic interactions between the Harts.

jen jon sleep“Long Lost Love”; however, wasn’t one I disliked. For me, it was more of a disappointment. It had the potential to be an intriguing story, but that didn’t happen. Jonathan and Jennifer had a few satisfying intimate exchanges, so the romance quota was kind of met, but the plot…. I think this was yet another H2H episode that might have played better if  it had been written as a two-parter. The plot needed more time to fully develop.

As I think on it more, the one thing that sticks out to me every time is how Stephen is written, and to some extent, Jennifer. In trying to fit all the details into the one time slot, the writers got too much wrong.

I always figured Jennifer’s father for being dignified, intelligent, stern, benevolently vigilant. In this episode; however, he comes off looking more like a foolish and naive old man. He too quickly concludes that Jillian is his daughter by a nurse he met while recovering from an injury incurred during the war, with whom he had become intimately involved.

Casting Samantha Eggar in the role of his would-be daughter was a good choice because her features and build might have had her pass as Jennifer’s half- sister, thereby further leading Stephen to suspect she might be his child. Stephen says Jillian looks very much like her mother. If I’m remembering correctly, he tells Jennifer she, too, is very much like her mother. That would leave both his daughters favoring their mothers’ genetic codes for appearance rather than his. But being ex-CIA, which had been established by this time in the series, I would think he would have had the woman checked out before allowing his heart to fully accept her. Instead, he chooses to rely on looks and some dates lining up to conclude that Jillian is his daughter.

I also found him a bit too casual, almost callous in his treatment of Jennifer, his bonafide child. I remember watching this episode for the first time and being a bit unnerved by the manner in which he so abruptly terminated his phone call with Jennifer when he saw the woman pass by that day at the museum. It was as if Jennifer was just an aside at that moment rather than his only child phoning from long distance. At that moment, it was clear that she was not as important to him as finding out who that stranger was.

It was also strange to me how he so quickly invited Jillian to his home and inviting her while Jennifer was there visiting him. At his age, Stephen would have been from a time period where an illegitimate child wasn’t something he would just nonchalantly spring on his family, particularly on his daughter. His character had been established as pretty stiff and uptight.  In my mind, he would have kept Jillian under wraps until he was sure of her being his. Bringing her to his home the way he did in the episode also abruptly brought Jillian into Jennifer’s world. Stephen hadn’t been forthcoming with Jennifer about his professional past until he was forced to reveal it. I doubt he would have been so comfortable disclosing to her that he had sex with someone other than Jennifer’s mother- even if it was before he met Suzanne- and that the relationship bore him an out-of-wedlock child of whom he had only recently become aware.

Jennifer, too, seemed much too quick to accept Jillian as her sister. Of course, one could say that she would believe what her father told her, but as an only child with only one parent left, her reaction felt odd to me. I felt she would have been a little more territorial in the beginning, and perhaps gradually warm up after a bit of coaxing from her father and Jonathan- after it had been verified that she was legitimately family. Jennifer is written as being generous and open-hearted, but she, too, seemed too gullible in this story line. It certainly didn’t ring true that she was so eager to give her trust away to what essentially amounted to a perfect stranger as far as she was concerned.

I did appreciate that Jillian turned out to not be as cold and calculating as she first appeared to be and that in the end, she wound up telling the truth.

Jonathan; however, was written correctly. I loved the way he wasn’t going for the story until he had things checked out for himself. He took a risk doing that. Stephen’s reaction to Jonathan’s findings about Jillian was believable, but sad. Depite Jonathan’s proven loving and protective relationship with his daughter, Stephen accused his son-in-law of only being interested in protecting Jennifer’s trust. Coming to that conclusion made Stephen look small. I felt sorry for Jonathan at that point, but I admired the way he didn’t get angry or belligerent with the older man.

By the end, once the bomb went off and everything had been blasted out into the open, I pitied Stephen for his foolishness, and I didn’t like feeling that way about him.  Maybe that’s what bothers me so much about this episode.

I was glad, though, that things worked out the way they did. I’m one who loves it when truth wins out over lies and other evilness.

But of course, lying there on the couch, trying to work out some trying details of this hard-struggle-of-a-current unfinished story, I did divert to picturing J.J. being part of that “Long Lost Love” scenario; her Pa claiming to have another daughter by another mother, an “aunt” popping up out of the blue.

I got tickled running dialogues in my head of what J.J. would have thought, what she might have to say to Jonathan about this new individual to their scene. Would she have questioned her grandfather’s odd acceptance of the woman? His judgment? Would she have had the nerve to ask Stephen how he could be so sure Jillian was his? How would J.J. have acted toward Jillian once Pa invited her to his home?

Because J.J. isn’t real trusting either.

What lengths might she go to in her attempts to find out who the woman really was and what it was she really wanted from them? I can see in my mind J.J. Hart sitting up in bed upon hearing someone in the hall, peeking out and spotting Jillian creeping by on her way up the hall, then her spying Jillian from the window as she meets her man out by the garage.

Would J.J. have gone down to check them out? To confront them?

Would Jonathan have been alone in chasing the guy in the night? Imagine his face as he turned around to find the person chasing him was not Walter, but his daughter trying to catch up to him.

And how much lockdown would the Duchess put J.J. on after the girl went off on Jillian about hurting her family? How much heat would Jonathan get for attempting to come to J.J.’s defense on the matter?

And finally, isn’t it funny how a show that has been off the air for over twenty-five years is still so thought-provoking and entertaining?

6 thoughts on ““Aunt” Jillian?

  1. Jennifer Wellman

    You know it’s interesting, watching the show now verses over 30 years ago ( with a fresh new set of eyes ) I see things way differently. What I do remember was that this wasn’t my favorite episode back then and it isn’t one of my favorites now. I agree with your whole assessment, Jonathan was the only one in this episode ( playing true to character ) I do believe Jennifer was way too quick to think Jillian was her step-sister. I also think that only having 45 min, to wrap things up is hardly anytime for character building ( or plot building ) If this were a 2 hour movie, it might have been achieved.


  2. teacher4

    This episode wasn’t my favorite either. I agree with your blog. Stephen would not have exposed his Jennifer to Jillian before throughly checking her background out. Jonathan was exactly as Jonathan would have been. Jennifer would be accepting because that’s what her father would want except she would be disappointed that her father lived another woman even if it was before Suzanne came into the picture. JJ would have been exactly like Jonathan and followed Jillian to the garage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hart2hart4ever

    both would be on lockdown!!! Jonathan and his partner in crime JJ. The Duchess wouldn’t have it! She would be on lockdown and he would be on much more punishment….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rockbird

    Well reasoned argument as usual. I’ve always liked this episode, probably because it’s the Harts by themselves, on family turf where you get to see a bit more of what makes them (in this case Jennifer) who they are. But I have the same misgivings about Stephen’s gullibility and Jennifer’s blithe acceptance. I defy anyone to not feel their nose slightly out of joint in the same situation.

    And funny you’ve named another couple of episodes, also my least favourites. In particular anything to do with ice skating as that was my other obsession and I could not bear the mistakes and convenient changing of rules and facts in that episode. Even as a small child I was shouting at the screen!

    Liked by 1 person


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