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When Calls the Heart, Season One - Episodes 4-5 (2014)


The halfway point is usually a fair place for viewers to know if a show is going to suit them or not. From personal experience, I believe that before you give up or pass judgment on any serial drama, you have to watch anywhere between 3-5 episodes to be fair. Here we are at that mark with Hallmark Channel’s latest television adaptation and episode four opens with Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) pursuing his suspicions about Cat Montgomery (Chelah Horsdal) – he sees that the evidence against her suggests she is indeed guilty of burning the church. Much to the horror of Elizabeth (Erin Krakow), Jack arrests the widow leaving her children in the hands of Elizabeth – who manages to ruin dinner on more than one occasion and generally making a mess of the goings-on in the well-run Montgomery home.  

Since the death of the miners, Coal Valley has been struggling to upkeep its successful mining industry and the next big stir that divides the townspeople is the arrival of new miners who take up lodgings in the rooms above the saloon which is just in time for the annual miner’s dance but manages to interrupt Elizabeth’s school days… it turns out, it also gives her a reason to turn her mind to a possible romance when the charming Billy Hamilton (Andrew Walker) sweeps into her life.  

So many of the topics of this series are lessons that can be applied to life today and often will earn the genuine “aww…” reaction from its viewers – everything from a young boy crushing on his schoolteacher to a brooding gentleman looking longingly across the room at the woman who has stolen his heart but he feels is out of his reach, writers have hit all the right highs for this romantic frontier drama while also tangling with some lows.  

Before saying anything else, bottom line, this series has been delightful. It earns points for just being something that families can watch together every Saturday night and the programming is actually legit for families unlike certain other networks that have no business being thought of as “family friendly” however I will say that the supporting cast lends some disadvantage to the script. The leads are really quite… perfect – some of the momentary glances between Elizabeth and Jack say more than a million words and in a world that tries to shove off love as nothing more than a “physical” reaction, it’s refreshing to watch a burgeoning romance that isn’t focused on the passionate physicality while still dishing up plenty of chemistry – though many of the supporting actors seem “awkward” in their dialogue. I’m not really sure how to describe it but it’s as if they are “timid” in delivering their lines which in turn makes it painfully obvious they lack the conviction or passion of the scene.  

Up to this point, this has been my favorite block of episodes. Romance is blossoming in more than one corner of Coal Valley and I just adored the character, “Pockets.” Also beautiful was the episode, ‘The Dance’ in which the costuming of Erin was the most stunning her character has worn – and of course, it doesn’t hurt matters that we get to watch Jack give her dancing companion a smoldering stare of (*cough*) jealously. Despite my aversion to love triangles, the brief instance it appears in this series is full of mirth more than actually being a threat to Jack and Elizabeth’s love – though it did have potential to be setting itself up for heartbreak, plus it was fun to see a bit more of the would-be feelings between Jack and Elizabeth spark and it doesn’t hurt that I’ve seen Walker in prior roles and really liked him in both. If you’ve enjoyed the series up until this point, you’ll find more treasure in these episodes. One mystery is solved though naturally by episode five writer’s find another reason to keep us in suspense by ending on a cliffhanger of an entirely different kind.  Such teases, they are!  


Watch a promotional video for episode four, ‘Secrets and Lies’ airing tonight, February 1st on Hallmark Channel then mark your calendars for ‘The Dance’ on February 8th.
                      
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Rissi
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22 comments:

  1. Hey Rissi!! Once again great review! Also I am so happy to hear that the love triangle will be brief. I hate when love triangles go on & on for countless episodes. Can not wait for the new episode tonight! :)

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    1. Alyssa. Hello, hello! Thanks for dropping by - as always.

      I think you'll be okay with the whole "love triangle" subject. Or I hope so anyway! I'll be eager to hear what you think of episode 4, though I am sure given your reaction to the series thus far, you'll love it. :)

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  2. I think I'll be okay with it too. lol From what I have read on future episodes, it looks like it only lasts two episodes or so. I know I'll love tonight's episode. I'm just so happy Hallmark is now in the original series business and giving us true family-friendly programming, so I don't have to worry when I am babysitting or myself for that matter. No I'm waiting on "Signed, Sealed, & Delivered" to start. :)

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    1. Yay! That's great especially considering you, Kate and myself were bemoaning that plot. ;) Thank goodness writers saw the wisdom in not playing up a love triangle.

      I agree, I think it's sweet that Hallmark has some series now - how refreshing not to worry over profanity or other needless content! They have three and I think there are plans for another in the not-too-distant future. Did you watch the pilot movie of Signed, Sealed & Delivered? Read about it but never watched it. :)

      Hope you enjoyed tonight's episode!

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  3. was the baseball card in Pocket's emptied pockets Honus Wagner?

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  4. Yes! It was Honus Wagner. Nice observation!

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  5. Love this show! Does something happen to Elizabeth in episode five, the dance?

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    1. No, everything is all good in episode five - aside from some cute competition for Jack. ;)

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  6. Girl, I just noticed your Arrow header...and I'm kicking myself for not having kept up with that show, cuz I didn't know Oliver and that one cute office girl got together! At least, I'm assuming they did, since they're together in the photo. ;)

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    1. Aren't they adorable together, Kellie?! I sure hope they end up together - haven't seen S2 yet either - and if the teasers are any indicator, I'd say at the least, they are leading up to that. ;) Hooray!

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    2. I made probably about half-way through S1 before it got too hard for me and my schedule to get to Starbucks to keep up on my shows last year! I see it every day as I walk through the media section at work but it's a little pricey right now! But definitely will be having to make the plunge before too long, at least when S2 is released!

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    3. TV set prices are INSANELY pricey. Even on Amazon, it seems like they've jumped up. I purchased the last season of Burn Notice as a Christmas gift (which wasn't too badly priced) only to see it about two weeks ago on Amazon for like, $8.00. Ugh. Bummer when those deals escape us. Lucky if you can snag them. :)

      Hope you can finish seeing S1 soon - I enjoyed it, and am now anxious to see S2. It sounds terribly exciting! :)

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  7. I love this series of books so I should check out the show! Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts in your reviews!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Heidi. Hope you enjoy the show; it's really quite cute. :)

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  8. Do you know how many episodes will be in this season?

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    1. Right now there are ten episodes planned. The sixth will air this coming Saturday. :)

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  9. who plays Billy Hamilton in When Calls the Heart? It looks like Jake Pavelka from the Bachelor.

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  10. His name is Andrew W Walker. :) He also played in Hallmark's movie A Bride for Christmas.

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  11. Rissi, Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed your review. I especially agreed with your note that the lessons from this show are very relevant today. That's part of the fun for me: I get to visit 1910, but find numerous themes that are very relateable in 2014. My thoughts:

    Episode 4: I liked how most of this episode was focused on the suspense of the fire investigation. I thought they did a great job of having so much evidence indicating that Cat was guilty, only to show in the end that she was not. Well done! And the boat ride was terrific.

    Episode 5: I really liked the story of Mary Dunbar, Caleb Dunabar, and Dewitt Graves. I was moved by his kindness about the groceries: he paid for her groceries twice, but did it in a way that was very face-saving for her. By inviting himself over for a meal, he made it seem reciprocal: she would shop and do the cooking; he would pay. And I found it very sad and quite touching to see how very special a roast was to both Mary and Caleb.

    There were two scenes involving Wendel Backus that, while brief, added a lot of depth to the show. (In a previous episode, he was the man originally suspected in Rosaleen's disappearance. When Jack came to his house to investigate, Mr. Backus revealed that he was sick the day of the explosion, and a friend was killed covering his shift. He had been practically drinking himself to death out of guilt, and had become an outcast. After Jack encouraged him that there was a reason he was spared, he immediately quit drinking.)

    I this episode, as the new miners were about to enter the bar after work, Jack was standing on the jailhouse porch with a coffee mug and motioned for Wendel to come over. Wendel went inside and returned to the porch having coffee along with Jack. Together they watched Billy starting to woo Elizabeth.

    At the dance, he was shown by himself, tapping along to the music. Abigail spotted him, and asked him to dance the waltz with her.

    Though very brief, I really adored those scenes. I thought that the show of kindness and respect to someone who had previously been an outcast by Abigail and Jack was quite lovely. A lot of the tiny but meaningful scenes in this show give it a lot of depth. The romance of Elizabeth and Jack is a terrific story, but it's a lot of other small pieces that make this show a delight in so many ways.

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    1. Well said, Jordan… it IS nice to enjoy a period drama while still being able to pull thing form its story that we can understand or maybe even had dealt with in the 2014 society.

      The fire investigation was well written and the only thing about it that surprised was that writers didn’t play with it longer – I expected the plot to stretch itself for one or two more episodes. In a way, it was nice it didn’t because the overall theme throughout the entire series is solving the mine disaster and whose responsibility it was.

      I was just thinking about the Mary Dunbar subplot and how they didn’t re-appear in later episodes. However in their two-episode arc, I really liked their story. It was heartwarming and special. Here’s wishing that if a season two (or series of films) is produced, we’ll see more of their family – I really liked how he treated Mary’s son. He really cared about his feelings.

      The entire dance episode was special. Despite Elizabeth courting Billy in this episode, it was definitely one of the more entertaining episodes – especially watching Jack’s expression while Elizabeth danced in Billy’s arms. Oh, and her dress was gorgeous. ;) Yes, that was a great act by Abigail, it was a redemptive episode in more ways than one.

      Glad you shared your thoughts. Great perspectives. :)

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  12. I've 'finally' started watching this show. Your reviews put it on my to-be-watched list and now I got to it! I've just watched episode 5, so thought 'Let's go back to Rissi's reviews!'

    I'm really enjoying WCTH so far. It's sweet, but not sugarcoated or unrealistic, there are some real issues tackled. I love the setting, it makes me all nostalgic for the times when I watched Dr. Quinn and Christy. But most of all I love Elizabeth and Jack, their scenes together are the best of them all!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad that you enjoyed it - it's always a tiny big nerve-wrecking when someone watches (or reads) something on a recommendation. Thanks for letting me know, Birdie. :)

      I enjoyed it too! There are some things I wished were done differently, but I admire these series for being wholesome entertainment. I think my favorite from Hallmark thus far is Signed, Sealed, Delivered - they tackle serious issues and aren't afraid of dealing with the aftermath, which as you suggest for WCTH, is something to love.

      Ditto. Oh, my! I adore Jack and Elizabeth together - the actors have such fun chemistry it's hard NOT to smile at their banter. :)

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