Weird old title sequences: Hart to Hart

Hart to Hart

Not especially weird, but today’s weird old title sequence is an example of just how good US title sequences used to be, but rarely are these days (notable exceptions: Dexter, Chuck and a few others). It’s Hart to Hart‘s.

Hart to Hart was one of the numerous private investigator shows that used to clutter the airwaves, but that have long since been replaced by police shows. Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) was – as Max his butler explains during the title sequence – a self-made millionaire; Jennifer Hart (Stefanie Powers) was his wife, a freelance journalist who now gets to enjoy the benefits of the multi-millionaire lifestyle (oh, if only).

When they met, it was murder, and pretty much every episode after that, there was a murder, too, which they solved in typically flamboyant style. Originally, it was a script by Sidney Sheldon about married spies, but Bond movie scriptwriter Tom Mankiewicz was offered the rewrite duties, with the instructions that he was to update it to make it more contemporary.

In retrospect, it was a slightly weird show. It aired in 1979 and Wagner and Powers hadn’t been true stars for some time: they were famous for shows of the 60s – It Takes A Thief and The Girl From UNCLE respectively.

But as you can probably tell from the fact that Cary Grant was first choice to play Jonathan Hart, taking advantage of a nostalgia amongst an older generation was the name of the game, something that also drove Murder She Wrote and Dynasty to ridiculous popularity. Also key to its success was the glamour of incredible wealth (cf Dynasty) and the fact it was a romantic programme that didn’t have a husband and wife at each other’s throats. Having said that, I remember watching it and loving it when I was about nine, so clearly it had a charm that appealed to all ages.

In combination with that charm, the chemistry between the leads and its knowing humour, Hart to Hart went on to 110 episodes, as well as reunion movies during the 1990s. Notably, the first episode didn’t show how Jonathan and Jennifer met – the show relied on this title sequence to introduce viewers to them until all was revealed in a later flashback episode set and filmed in London: Two Harts Are Better Than One – yes, there were a whole load of punning episode titles.

You can get the series on DVD, you can watch the pilot episode on YouTube but for know, enjoy its weird old title sequence.

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