Sunday, December 14, 2014

WHEN CALLS THE HEART – SECOND SEASON COMING IN 2015

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The Hallmark Channel has announced, to the glee of many, a “second season” in 2015 for the well-received When Calls the Heart, with no given start date.  To find out what the excitement was all about I viewed on DVD the 11th (out of 12) season one episode entitled Rules of Engagement.  In fact, I sat down recently with my wife, my daughter, (none of us are big TV fans), my son-in-law who prefers action movies, and three of my seven grandchildren (13 and 11 year old girls, and a 9 year old boy) to watch it.  We were all thoroughly engaged throughout it and found it a pleasure to watch and discuss.

It all takes place in sleepy Coal Valley, in the Canadian West, where a young Miss Elizabeth Thatcher (played by Erin Krakow) teaches school in a saloon because the local church has burned down.  At the same time a mining company whose owner runs the town is being investigated for an explosion that took the lives of 46 of the Coal Valley miners a while back.

Besides her father, there are two other men in Elizabeth’s life – Jack Thornton (played by Daniel Lissing), the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable overseeing Coal Valley with whom she is deeply in love, and 16-year old Wyatt Weaver (played by Ty Wood) who although brilliant cannot to go to school since he has to work in the mines to help feed his fatherless family (his dad having died in the mine explosion).

Miss Thatcher also has some competition for Jack in the person of Rosemary LeVeaux (played by Pascale Hutton), a woman who had been engaged to Jack but dropped him and now has come to claim him.  There’s also a forensic investigator (Bill), who takes an interest in Abigail.  She runs the local and suffered the loss of her husband and a son in the mine accident.  The ‘bad guy’ that every good film needs is the mine owner and big shot in town.

The script is rich with great lines and dialogue time and time again.  Clearly not an extremely big-budget production as one could see some aspects that could have benefitted from additional research and/or some shooting expertise.  For example, I question the plausible existent of a female church leader back in the 1800’s and the scene where Rosemary jumps on a horse is just a tad phony visually.

But let me take you back to the incredible script.  Thomas Edison is quoted as having said, “We will make electricity so cheap, that only the rich will burn candles.”  That makes the 21st century viewer stop and think.  As did much more in the film.

There’s a wonderful scene where Jack the Mountie is drawing a comet in the classroom, improving on the dismal attempt that Elizabeth had made.  It is a special moment indeed.

From a theological perspective, the movie is more than acceptable, and the only questionable thinking I found in the 85 minute episode was some teaching regarding lost loved ones, which may be comforting to hear, but also deceiving in many cases.

Ah, but back to the script.  When the café owner (Abigail) is challenged by her friend (Elizabeth) regarding the obvious amour that is developing between herself and the forensic investigator (Bill), Elizabeth says, “Maybe you’re not just mourning the past, [a reference to the death of her husband and her son], but looking towards the future as well [a reference to what might be between Abigail and the investigator].”  Is that not what life is all about for many of us who have suffered loss?

At one point the mine owner accuses Abigail’s husband himself of killing the people in the mine, pushing them to take risks because he was paid bonuses based on production rates.  And Abigail’s husband allegedly had personal debts that many didn’t know about.  When Bill asked Abigail about how she was feeling with what had just happened, she replied with a classic, “I’ve been better and I’ve been worse.”  Again, that is life.

The problem with these ‘series’ productions is that they (intentionally and for good commercial reasons) leave you hanging about what happens next.  What did the Judge Jedidiah Black (played by James Brolin) really decide, if anything, about who was really at fault with respect to the mine accident?  Did Wyatt Weaver ever get out of the mine and become famous?  Did Bill and Abigail marry?  You get the idea.

The productions are inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West.  Neal Dobrofsky and Tippi Dobrofsky are the writers, and the Executive Producer and Director, is Michael Landon, Jr., known to many of us for his memorable roles in the Bonanza and Little House on the Prairies series.

Will I watch it again once it starts in 2015?  You bet.  Either that, or I might as well cancel my cable services for, besides enjoyment of FoxNews (and that even during major political or major news events only), there’s very little for a family of three generations to watch together.


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