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Friday, January 10, 2014

When Calls the Heart, Season One - Episodes 1 and 2 (2014)


Synonymous with prairie romances is the name Janette Oke. Her novels have sold millions worldwide in addition to her books being part of the reason inspirational fiction is what it is today. This accomplishment has not escaped the notice of the Hallmark Channel; the network has brought to life her Canadian series in an all-new original series for 2014. 

Life in the East has been privileged for young Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow); she’s accustomed to parties, pretty gowns and an unlimited source of books. But in spite of her pesky sister’s best efforts to dissuade her with horror stories of life in the wilderness, she’s determined to make it as a teacher in the mining town of Coal Valley. Armed with her fortitude and trunks full of knowledge, Elizabeth heads west only to be robbed along the way. Once there, things don’t get any better. She discovers that the town just recently experienced a tragedy when the women were left widowed after their husbands were killed in a mining accident and many of them lost older children that day and in a ripple effect, the families are being threatened with eviction.

With little confidence from the mothers that she can do the job of teacher justice, Elizabeth finds an ally in Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin), one of the women who lost her family that horrible day. Things get worse on her first day in the tiny town when Elizabeth burns down her house and to add more complications she clashes with the new Mountie posted to Coal Valley, Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing).

As a kind of introduction to this premiere, Hallmark aired a two-hour film with an entirely different cast (with exception to Loughlin) and I’m not sure if it’s better for a viewer to first watch that or to start afresh with this series. Some of the story told in the movie overlaps - briefly, in the opening of episode one and effectively dismisses the presence of the Mountie Elizabeth knew and traveled with from home, Edward Montclair. In his place steps this entirely new character, Jack. Perhaps her beau wasn’t well liked so writer’s decided to not pursue his character or maybe it was just a chance for the primary writer’s to reflect and make changes they felt would better the story. Either way, unless you wish to see Elizabeth and Wynn’s story be told (the characters who Oke’s original novels are about), you’re not missing much – speaking in terms of understanding the story, by skipping over the pilot film. If we are to assume that all that transpired in the film holds up (and I’m not convinced it’s meant to), then fans should know that this series is actually following the niece of Wynn and Elizabeth Delaney, not the same Elizabeth Thatcher we meet in the Canadian West books.

With fresh faces and a new leading lady, there was some skepticism as to whether or not fans would like the series as well however I have to say I think Erin makes a better heroine than Poppy Drayton. I liked both actresses… but I think Erin suits the role better whereas Poppy portrayed Elizabeth as more of a loveable, sputtering city girl, Erin puts more sass and fire into the role. After watching the premiere ("Lost and Found") and second episode (“Cease and Desist”), I was also impressed with the sparks of chemistry between Erin and Daniel. They had some amazing (read: stares across the room *wink*) moments together – such as him realizing Elizabeth wasn’t going to be bested (particularly cute is a school room scene involving her standing atop a table) and the ending of the second forty minutes was also telling. It took me a bit longer to warm to Daniel in the role though I think he’s going to be an interesting character and quite the match for Elizabeth’s stubbornness.

The introductory of the series could have opened better – especially considering the framework had been laid in the film, however there are some cute throwbacks to Elizabeth’s life with her family and of course, her constant scribbles in a journal. Setting off, this series has all it needs to be successful. It’s family-friendly (already a rarity), features some beautiful costuming and scenery and has also managed to assemble a talented cast which is of the upmost importance to any on-going series. To top things off, there is a troublemaker of a mining boss who, I suspect won't make anything easy. If you like anything of this genre or family programming in general, I’d love to know what you think of this series. If the first two installments are any indication, it’s going to be something worth tuning in to on Saturday evenings.

Are you looking forward to this series? 

Catch the premiere of When Calls the Heart this Saturday, January 11th. Take a look at the promo video:

                                       
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Rissi
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60 comments:

  1. I had no idea that was a series. I grew up reading Janette Oke books so I think I'd be willing to tune in for pure nostalgia alone. :)

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    1. That's my thought, too, Melissa! If you liked Christy or other frontier TV shows, I think you'd enjoy this one... it airs tomorrow, the 11th on Hallmark. If you try it, hope you enjoy. :)

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  2. Thank for posting about this Rissi. I hadn't heard about it.
    I think it's kind of weird that hallmark made a tv show and movie based on the same story.
    Despite that both the movie and tv show look cute.

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    1. Glad I could introduce you, Ella. :)

      ...well, the movie is sort of the "introduction" to this story. It runs about 90 minutes and through flashbacks tells the story of Elizabeth and Wynn (the characters Janette wrote about in the original novels) and also we meet Elizabeth's grown-up niece, who is also named Elizabeth. Young Elizabeth is following in her aunt's footsteps and travelling to her new teaching post which just happens to be Coal Valley, and that's basically where the TV show picks up... so really the 9-episode show is going to be about young Elizabeth's teaching days at Coal Valley.

      The show is indeed off to a cute start! Really enjoyed the first two episodes. :)

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  3. I loved the film so I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about this series. I liked the cast of the film so I'm a little disappointed that they aren't in this one. :-( I'll still probably watch this just because like so many others, I pretty much grew up on the books. Thanks for sharing, Rissi!

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    1. Presumably, Wynn and Elizabeth's story is over(?) or at least it is for now and surprisingly, I liked the new actress who plays young Elizabeth and Daniel plays a brand-new character. On the plus side, Erin and Daniel have ADORABLE sparks (so far!) and I cannot wait to see what comes next...

      Hope you enjoy if/when you watch it, Renee. I'd love to hear what you think. :)

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    1. It really is, Silver Petticoat! I enjoyed the first two episodes much-ly. :)

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  5. I'm so freakin' excited for this!!! =D

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    1. ...I can tell, Natalie. Give me a shout-out once you see it; I'd love to know what you think. :)

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  6. So excited for this, but like many others was disappointed to hear that they weren't continuing with the story from the film. However, I will still watch as I love Daniel Lissing. Also for the fact these stories are kind of a cross between The Love Comes Softly series and Little House on the Prairie. :)

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    1. I'm watching this based off the assumption that this series is following the niece of Elizabeth Thatcher, the character Maggie Grace played in the film and then Poppy Drayton played young Elizabeth in the film. What IS different in the show is that Edward isn't mentioned... or he hasn't been thus far. I really liked Daniel in this role - he and Erin played off each other REALLY well, so there is that.

      Hope you enjoy the series, Alyssa! :)

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  7. Okay so I'm a little confused here...I saw a preview for the movie version (that one has Steven Arnell (the main guy from Arrow - not sure if that's his name or not), which looked super good, but now there's a tv series about the same story but w/ a different cast? That seems interesting and kind of confusing that there would be both versions. Anyhow, they both look good :)

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    1. The story only overlaps a little, Rachel - just a little. Mainly it picks up young Elizabeth's story where the movie left off. (And yes, the film starred Stephan Amell as Wynn from Arrow though sadly he isn't going to be a character in the show.) The film is good but tells TWO stories. It flashbacks to Elizabeth and Wynn's story (which is who Janette Oke wrote the series about) and introduces us to their niece, also named Elizabeth who is following her aunt's calling by journeying to Coal Valley and taking the teaching position. What the series does is eliminate a Mountie from the movie named Edward and instead we meet Jack and yes, young Elizabeth is played by a new actress. It is a bit... confusing. ;)

      ...nonetheless, both are sweet! :)

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  8. I would watch it! And I'm glad the main guy is changed cause I thought Edward looked wimpy. =)

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    1. It premieres on Hallmark tomorrow night (January 11th), Maria! If the first two episodes are anything to judge by, this will be a keeper of a show for the network; it was fabulously charming.

      LOL, I agree. Edward didn't really "fit" the Mountie character. :)

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  9. I've been a Daniel fan since his performance on Last Resort. I love his acting talents! When you said that it took you a bit longer to warm up to his character, what did you mean? Was there something off about Jack or were you referring to Daniel's acting abilities? :) And I'm a huge fan of romance. So I LOVE that you said that Daniel and Erin have amazing chemistry. Do we get any adorable scenes with them in the first episode which is about to air in less than 2 hours? :) Or is episode 2 a bit more romantic in terms of there being more moments with them?

    Thanks for the review. I'm already liking the show simply based on promos. I love these type of shows where it's a period drama with a lot of romance and a beautiful lead couple.

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    1. Hi, Jules! Lovely of you to stop by with a comment - thanks for visiting my blog. :)

      I've not seen Daniel in anything but have been super curious about Last Resort. Perhaps now I'll have to try it. :) I think it took me longer to warm up to him because of the actor... it wasn't that I didn't like him, it was just something about him that I cannot quite put my finger on. (I know that doesn't make much sense, but there was just something...) That being said, it only took the first two episodes for me to fall head over heels for Jack. He's pretty awesome. Oh, yes! There are adorable scenes in one though I think the specific scene I'm thinking of was in episode 2, and yes, probably this week's episode is more "romantic" as the character's don't start off on the right foot. ;)

      Thanks for commenting with your impressions - I hope you enjoyed the premiere; what'd you think...?

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  10. I believe they chanced Elizabeth ( the niece)"s love interest because, Janette Oak and her daughter actually wrote a book about the niece and this new Mountie, Jack in it. I read an article about the show and the movie some where. they also said they would like to continue telling Wynn and Elizabeth's story like the original books, in movies after they are done with the tv show. I think the article was linked from there facebook page if you would like to read it. It answered a lot of questions for me.
    Can't wait to watch!
    Emily

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    1. Ooo! It'd be fun to get Wynn and Elizabeth's story though I am confident I'll enjoy Elizabeth and Jack's, too. I read the synopsis of Janette Oke's upcoming book too and it makes mention to two love interests so I did assume that writer's would leave the door open for Edward to possibly make a return though I didn't necessarily expect him to be in every episode it might have been nice to leave that door open. Either way, I'm going to like Jack. So, it's all good. ;)

      Thanks for commenting, Emily! I am glad you visited... and what'd you think of the premiere...? :)

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    2. I didn't read the synopsis my sister had just mentioned it so that neat. I think I'm really going to like Jack! I loved the premiere and I can't wait for the other episodes!! I'm so excited!

      Emily

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    3. Me, too, Emily. I'm quite fond of Jack already so here's hoping episode 3 shows similar results. Glad you're excited about the series... so am I. It's starting off delightfully. :)

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  11. I enjoyed the movie and the first episode of the series equally. The book from Janette Oke and her daughter comes out on February 4th I think, and it's called "When Courage Calls". I'm an obsessive reader and have read all of the Love Comes Softly and Canadian West series, so I was really excited to find out that they are publishing a companion book. Although according to the reviews/description it looks like Edward sticks around in the books. I'm a little disappointed that they didn't keep Edward in the series because I loved their interactions in the movie, but I wouldn't have wanted them to recast the part - I love Daniel Sharman, and I'd imagine his Teen Wolf schedule wouldn't allow for him to film this one as well. He looked adorable in that Mountie uniform. But so does Daniel Lissing, enough to keep both of my teenaged daughters capitivated!

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    1. I did too, Anon, although I think I prefer Erin in the role of young Elizabeth (did you have an opinion either way...?). Since I read all of Janette's other books ('Love Comes Softly,' 'Canadian West,' etc.) I'll likely read the new novel at some point though since I already "know" the general story, I won't rush. It seems funny to have new fiction from such a revolutionary author. She was one of the leader's in Christian (inspirational) fiction. :)

      That was my thought, too. I wouldn't mind Edward being absent from some episodes but to close the door on his character... Given the fact that they recast Erin, I wouldn't think a second thought would be given to possibly re-casting Edward if or when he'd return. Ah, well. Jack is an adequate substitution - I'm quite liking him. ;)

      Thanks for visiting.

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  12. Wow, I haven't even heard about this. I like Janette Oke and I even liked the Love Comes Softly series, though the first few movies were really my favorites. I'll definitely be looking into this!

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    1. Fun! I hope you enjoy the series, Fayehope. It has a similar vibe to the Love Comes Softly series though like you, I preferred the original movie. It was so good. :)

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  13. I watched the first show. I kept wondering where I had seen Erin Krakow, then I remembered, she was on Army Wives for a few seasons. I enjoyed her on that show. I thought she did a great job last night. The only thing that threw me off was how they changed the beginning of the show from the ending of the movie. Since the movie was a the kick off to the show, I would have thought they could have recreated the intro to tailor it to the movie.

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    1. Erin did indeed do a fabulous job... I actually preferred her in the role over Poppy. :)

      That was what confused me just a bit too, Kate. My guess is they overlapped the beginning of the show with the film just to write away Edward's character...? I'm not sure but that's my best assumption. Either way, I'm excited about the series and am glad you liked it. :)

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  14. I haven't heard about this before, but the trailer looks so interesting! I'm a fan of shows like this so I'll definitely check it out. Too bad I missed the January 11th premiere...

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    1. It is really sweet, Jillian! If you liked the other Oke movies Hallmark produced or series like Christy or classics Little House on the Prairie, then this is the show for you! :)

      Sorry you missed the premiere. :/ Keep an eye out - Hallmark may re-air it at some point.

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  15. I cannot tell you how excitedly and impatiently I waited for this series to air. I have not been disappointed. I absolutely ADORE this series!

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    1. Wonderful; I've enjoyed everyone's comments on this one, Sarah and am so pleased you shared your thoughts. I agree. This series was worth the wait - I love that Hallmark is the alternative to network television today, everything they do is sweet and wholesome, and that is why it's so awesome. :)

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  16. Since I just discovered this site a few days ago (with the discussion of epsiodes 10/11) I missed the discussion until now. Since it seems that people are still watching reruns of the series, I hope I am welcome to post my very late thoughts. Here goes:

    Episode 1: One of the hightlights of this epsiode was at the dinner of Abigail, Elizabeth, and Jack. What struck me as being so beautiful that these three strangers, from three completely different walks of life, had such enormous respect for each other's lifestyle. (Yes, Jack and Elizabeth supposedly disliked eachother, but not really, as I mention below.) Elizabeth, who was very wealthy and educated and thus could have worked anywhere (or nowhere at all) chose the community of Coal Valley as the place to start her career. During the dinner, Jack expressed admiration for Elizabeth's profession of teaching, the profession of coal mining, as well as Noah Stanton's talent as an artist. Similarly, Abigail expressed admiration for the mounties. The sharing of dinner between a long-time resident, an enthusiastic newcomer, and a reluctant yet gracious newcomer was incredibly heart-warming to me.

    As for Jack and Elizabeth's rocky start. Although a rough start is an often-used romantic cliche, the thing I liked about their meeting was that there was really no mean-spiritedness to it. Jack was justifiably disappointed at the reason he was in Coal Valley; Elizabeth was justifiably indignant at his assessment of her as weak. But, there was no nastiness. I laughed when the next time Elizabeth saw Jack was when she spotted him splitting wood and started fanning herself. And by the end of the episode he was requesting that she call him "Jack." Well, they like eachother, they just don't know it yet.

    So, a great combination of decent people with good values, and the hint of fun to come.

    Episode Two:

    Well, Jack certainly had to change his opinion about Elizabeth, didn't he? He wacthed in awe at her clever desktop gravity demonstration. On a more serious note, he had to admire all the work she put into helping the widows fight eviction. She worked all night at the saloon doing research, and ultimately worked in the mine. He wouldn't admit it at this point of course, but he was acting very much like a concerned boyfriend when Elizabeth left Abigail's to go to the mine.

    Charming epsiode.

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    1. Jordan, of course, you’re welcome to join in. I’m not sure if anyone else will be commenting, but I’m always reading readers lovely comments. :)

      I’m going to enjoy re-watching these now I’ve had all these conversations with people and will soon – I hope. Part of what endears Elizabeth as a character is her determination not to be intimidated by a life of harsher realities than those she’d known and actually if the pilot film is to be trusted (I say this because there were several changes), she also accepted this position as a kind of “dare” between her and her family who didn’t think she could cut it living in Coal Valley. Either way, I admire her for taking the job and further still, she really cares about her students and their families; so many of the latter episodes focused on the antidotes of helping her charges and tender moments between Elizabeth and her students. Similarly, Jack is a fabulous hero. He’s considerate and when it really matters he knows what to say and how to react. Abigail is likewise a wise woman – it’s nice writer’s didn’t get “all caught up” in only the romance because many of the Coal Valley storylines are what makes this series work.

      Rocky starts to TV relationships is almost a given. Or that’s what I’ve found. ;)

      LOL, yes! I thought episode two was adorable (especially Jack coming in and finding Elizabeth asleep with a note on her forehead… or whichever episode that scene was in…!), good for the ladies of Coal Valley, saving their homes and taking the initiative.

      I’m definitely looking forward to re-watching these and getting a bigger perspective as I’ve only seen them on-line. You’ve got great insights and thanks for sharing them.

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  17. Hi Rissi. I just submitted a post but it disappeared. Are you able to retrieve it? Thank you.

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    1. I certainly did receive your comment(s), Jordan! Thank you! Cannot wait to reply to them (I recently put comment moderation on posts older than 10 days or something so I have to approve those). Thanks again for the comments - I'll be replying later! :)

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  18. Okay when I first heard that they were making When Calls the Heart, I was so excited, because the book has always been one of my favorites. I was disappointed though when half of the pilot was about the niece since I love Aunt Elizabeth and Wynn (especially Stephan Amell's portrayal of him!) and there are so many great scenes from the book I would've loved to see. I did think it was a bit strange/confusing when the beginning of episode one made the pilot pretty much irrelevant during the scenes when she was attacked and had to walk to Coal Valley by herself.
    But overall, what I've seen so far (episode 1-2) has been cute! (Haha I just needed someone to rant with about the little things that bugged me ;)
    -Mallory

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    1. That was my reaction, too, Mal. Maybe it was because, like you, I adored who was cast as Wynn/Elizabeth (though I'm grateful since Stephan wouldn't have returned having found success on Arrow) or maybe it's just because that is who the book is about, however yes, finding out the show takes a different path than the pilot film set up is a bit "hard." Especially since they introduced young Elizabeth's childhood friend then had him leave - like, really! Okay, so you cannot get the same actor back, you've already explained his absence from the opening of the show so just keep the option open for his possible return...! Or that is my thought. ;)

      The show is cute as you say and it's been lovely to find something so wholesome. Rant anytime you want - it's fun. ;)

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  19. I made comment just wondering if you received it let me know please will the complete series ever show again?my husband and i got in on part 2 and we have really enjoyed it i really hate it that we missed part one.we have always looked forward to sitting down and watching. every week .

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    1. I did receive your comments, Mary - thank you! Sorry about the time it took to respond, I took the weekend "off" from any on-line work and if posts are older than 10 days or so, I have to "approve" the comments so that it why these didn't show up at first. :)

      I'm not sure if Hallmark channel will show the entire series again or not (I suspect they will) but you can find the entire first season on iTunes or Amazon if you'd like to purchase them. Hope you can watch the rest of the series! It's really sweet. :)

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  20. This was a great series!! My husband and I enjoyed watching it together, we missed the very last episode though :(

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    1. It was, LJ. And it's nice that it got a second series! Hope you can see the final episode soon (it was perfect); they are up on Amazon and iTunes. :)

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  21. I grew up reading Jannette Oke and have thoroughly enjoyed the Love Comes Softly movie series that Hallmark did so I was thrilled when I saw they were doing this TV series. I watched every episode and plan on watching the next season too! :)

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    1. Same here, Rachel. Janette Oke was my "go-to" reading in my younger years, so it's been fun to watch the series and movies Hallmark developed. Glad this got a second run. :)

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  22. Here's my other comment for the DA S5 giveaway. :) I watched the whole first season of "When Calls the Heart" this past fall/winter. I didn't realize that it was so recent. What a bummer to find out that the next season wasn't filmed/released yet. :( But how cool to know that they are making another season! :) :) :)

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    1. Awesome. Thanks for commenting, Kerry. :)

      When Calls the Heart is sweet. Definitely a show worth checking into. Especially for those of us who like this genre or wholesome television. As for S2, it'll be here before we know it! :)

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  23. I have been wondering about this series! Thanks for writing about it !
    Becky

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    1. It's really very entertaining if you don't mind some minor production quibbles. Hope you enjoy, Becky. :)

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  24. I loved this video and the movie. Wish it was on every week of the year. Maxie (mac262(at)me(dot)com )

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  25. I liked and commented on your post about Love Comes Softly. I love those shows and enjoyed the Video. Thanks
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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    1. YAY! I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Maxie! Its second season premiere is just around the corner. :)

      Thanks for letting me know your comments as confirmation about your entries. Good luck. :)

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  26. Apparently, I've had my head in the sand lately, because I just discovered this series over the weekend
    (Thanks Netflix). I have truly enjoyed it. Janette Oke was my first "grown up" author, so her stories have a very special place in my heart.

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    1. Yay! That's so fun, Heather. I found this series really sweet despite its differences to the books. I guess this is more about the original Elizabeth Thatcher's niece rather than the character we met in the books. Either way, it's still cute. Thanks for the comment and sharing your thoughts. :)

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  27. I really like the episodes! Thanks to Netflix that put it on there! Even my brother likes it (of course because of Jack) We almost went through the first season in one week.
    ~Ellie;P
    www.uniquelyyou1.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm so glad you and your family are enjoying this, Ellie! It's a really sweet and wholesome show, which sadly, we're lacking today. How fun. It's always cool to binge-watch our latest TV addictions, isn't it!? :) :) :) Happy season two watching (if you continue on).

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  28. I love Janette Oke's books, but I didn't know this series had been turned into a real series on TV. Would love to see it.

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    1. If you like Janette Oke, then I think you'd certainly enjoy this series, Debbie. It's very different than the books but sweet and full of lovely stories. :) It's on Hallmark Channel and about to air its third season finale.

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  29. Such a fun series. Can't wait for the next one!

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    1. I agree! This is a fun, heartwarming series, Tina. Glad you enjoy it too. :)

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