Original air date Mar 1, 1983
Directed by Paul Krasny
Teleplay by Donald Ross
Robert Wagner as Jonathan Hart
Stefanie Powers as Jennifer Hart
Lionel Stander as Max
Peter Brown as Ray Martin
John McCook as Damian
Alex Henteloff as Richard Bauer
Hart to Hart was a Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man) melodrama in which a couple keep their marital romance hot by solving murders. Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a self made millionaire and freelance journalist, cared for in their Beverly Hills mansion by Max, the gravel voiced but kind hearted chauffeur/cook/assistant.
In this episode, Peter was the guest villain playing an actor on a soap opera, Doctor's Hospital, playing a doctor reminiscent of the doctor he played during his seven years on Days of Our Lives. There wasn't much of a mystery to this story. Peter's character is the only person with a motive to kill the first victim and the audience sees him kill the second. And since Jennifer is the potential third victim, we know he'll get caught at that point.
Cast Note: Peter had a relationship with Stephanie Powers prior to his marriage to Sandra Edmundson, his second wife. Peter apparently has a gift for break-ups that leave no aftermath of hostility because even his exs like him.
The show opens with the murder of a nurse who has just left the company of a doctor (Peter). The shot of the strangler shows him wearing a coat much like the one Peter was carrying but the audience soon realizes that its a "soap" murder not a real one.
Flash to Max and his faithful companion Freeway the dog watching said Doctors Hospital. He's joined
by a skeptical Jennifer and eventually by an even more skeptical Jonathan. Shortly thereafter, Max tells Jennifer that he bought a slew of raffle tickets in her name. The raffle is to be held at a hoity, toity society charity luncheon. At the luncheon, the Harts meet Ray Martin (Peter) who is there because his show has donated the raffle prize the nature of which the Harts are still unaware as Max wanted it to be a surprise.
Before he goes off to pick the winning raffle ticket, the show's publicity agent gives Ray the unwelcome news that he will be leaving the luncheon for a call-in talk show and then a supermarket opening. Ray is pissed and feels he's being dissed. When Ray picks a ticket, Max triumphs and Jennifer has won a walk-on part on Doctor's Hospital. She is less than enthusiastic.
The Harts go to dinner with the publicist who ends up dead outside the restaurant. Of course, that doesn't prevent Jennifer from making her appearance the next day on the set. Ray gives them the tour but is interrupted by Damian, the show's very popular villain. Jennifer asks Damian to sign a script for Max, something that doesn't thrill Ray.
When Damian walks off with Jennifer, Ray lets his bitterness toward Damian show, he gets the fan mail, he gets the scripts rewritten to suit him and he gets the big salary. Ray, the classically trained actor gets the leavings. Jennifer does her walk-on without a hitch. But she really shines in a discussion with the writers over a plot point. She comes up with a way for a divorcing couple to reconcile and they immediately hire her to help doctor scripts for a couple of weeks.
And one of the scripts she'll be doctoring is the serial killer's next victim. Ray listens from behind a closed door to the script conference and finds he may be out of work shortly. Rays first reaction is to kill the writer assigned to work on the death scene.
Ray then proceeds to the Hart mansion. When he finds Jennifer has already left with a rewritten script, he asks to use the phone. Max is thrilled to have a star in the house. Once inside, Ray gets out of Max that Jennifer left carbons of the script behind. He claims he needs to make a private call and gains entrance to the study.
Although Freeway is suspicious, Max insists Ray needs privacy. He finds a script that indicates the camera panning to Dr. Scott's lifeless body. Richard the head writer leaves Jennifer waiting alone in the studio for Bill, who we know will never arrive, being dead and all. But she does get some company, Ray. He's ever so inquisitive about the direction the script is taking.
While the police detective talks to Jonathan about Bill's murder, Ray gets hostile with Jennifer. He grabs the script out of her hand and starts ranting about how he's really the greatest actor ever because he's being playing a good guy when he's really evil. When Ray comes after her with a bandana made for strangling, Jennifer decamps. Ray chases her down, warning her he has this all planned out and she can't get away.
He catches up with her and holds a knife to her throat just as Jonathan arrives with the police. Jonathan gets Ray to release Jennifer by putting spotlight on him and announcing he's won an acting award. While Ray stops to give heartfelt thanks to an imaginary audience for the recognition, the police grab him. The episode ends at this show always ended, with a little scene to show the Harts were still hot for each other.
NiteOwl Review: Despite Peter's presence, this episode had little to recommend it, nothing in the way of surprises or clever dialogue. The Thin Man it wasn't, at least not in this episode. Peter's final scene was horribly over the top, something undoubtedly attributable to the writers and the director, not to Peter. The concept of Peter playing a soap doc written out of a long-running part was promising but not carried out very well, he started killing before he even knew his character was in danger. On the other hand, Peter does have a lot of screen time for a guest star so a collector might want this for that reason alone.
Thanks: We thank Jo Anne Roberts for taping this for us off the Hallmark channel. We may not have particularly liked the episode but when it comes to collecting Peter parts, we're completists. If Jo Anne or anyone else liked this episode better than we did, we'd be happy to include their comments.
Official Peter Brown Fan Site