‘When Calls the Heart’ Pilot: Western Period Drama Romance


Some of my most favorite childhood memories are of winter nights when my family read books aloud together. There was everything from C.S. Lewis to Janette Oke. It’s no surprise that when the Hallmark Channel undertakes some of Janette’s most beloved novels, I’m first in line to see them. Now following the somewhat disappointing Love Comes Softly series, they tackle her Canadian West novels. This is the When Calls the Heart pilot.

When Calls the Heart Pilot (2013)

Young Beth Thatcher (Poppy Drayton) has only ever wanted one thing; to make a difference by becoming a teacher. After earning her teaching certificate, Beth’s cultured upbringing assumes she’ll get a post not far from her home in the east only to instead be given a posting in the rugged mining town of Coal Valley. When indecision over the post plagues her along with her sister’s taunting she wouldn’t survive she finds her Aunt Elizabeth’s journal, and life suddenly changes. Reading about the life of Elizabeth (Maggie Grace), Beth slowly begins to learn more about the aunt she never knew…

When Calls the Heart Pilot

Leaving her Eastern life to become a teacher in the unforgiving frontier, Elizabeth Thatcher faces the harsh realities of adjusting to a new place without the amenities of home, but with love for her students and all the joy they bring to her life, Elizabeth adjusts. Then she meets Wynn Delaney (Stephan Amell), a handsome Mountie whose courage and kind attention to Elizabeth slowly makes her rethink what she thought she always wanted.

Like Janette’s popular Love Comes Softly series, this foursome is a childhood favorite. I like that it’s so different than the ‘Love’ saga and if memory serves, I did have a soft spot for Elizabeth. Of course, the leading man being in uniform has nothing to do with my adoration either. I mean, it’s not like I have a thing for noble guys who “serve and protect” or anything like that. Really, I don’t. The cast list is also another pro since I’ve seen Amell (Arrow) and Grace (Taken) in prior roles. Now they bring to life the charming characters of Wynn and Elizabeth Delaney splendidly along with the rest of the cast which includes newcomer Drayton (who is a lovable heroine) Cheri Lunghi and briefly, Lori Loughlin.


When Calls the Heart Pilot
Not only does he play #Arrow, Stephen Amell also played beloved character, Wynn Delaney. Who else watched this #WhenCallstheHeart Pilot film? Now for the important Q: Erin Krakow or Poppy Drayton!? #WCTH Click To Tweet

The closer the release of this 2-hour film came, the more conflicting news there was about it. If you’re confused by there being two “Elizabeth Thatcher’s,” never fear, you aren’t seeing double. Here are the facts of this Michael Landon Jr. script. Instead of being a one-time TV film, this is actually the launch (a pilot film) for an upcoming original series on Hallmark Channel. Set to premiere in 2014, the series (also titled When Calls the Heart) will recast primary roles. Its main story line will chronicle Elizabeth Thatcher’s name sake; here Elizabeth and Wynn’s story timeline is through flashbacks. Beth is the girl we follow in the “present” timeline. Though all sweet, as a girl who expects to watch Elizabeth and Wynn’s story come to life, a part of me is disappointed. when calls the heart pilot

That being said, perhaps this is better since I won’t count on the series to follow beloved novels religiously. What is charismatic about this script is the unexpected humor – it adds sass and permits more personality. Then there is the “missing” element; the romance. Sure, there are some great pairings however because of limited screen time, we never feel swept away by the love story. Beth I can forgive because unless I miss my guess she’ll be dealing with plenty of romantic angst. Assuming that the Delaney’s story is over, it’d have been nice to see a more complete picture of their story rather than focus on Beth. The pretty costumes make up for any minor quibbles though some of the details are “too big” or “gaudy” for the otherwise simple albeit pretty dresses. Adding atmosphere are the shots of countryside and the script isn’t half bad.

If you like sweet prairie romance or fiction, this movie is for you. The ending is ambiguous however since this is the origins of a series, I do understand. Imperfections aside, this is a sweet period drama film for those of us who want something gentle and pretty.

CONTENT: a man hints that he’d be willing to allow for certain working privileges if a woman were to sleep with him; a woman assumes a married man is flirting with her. There’s a stagecoach robbery. The film is TVPG.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


    1. Ella!!! Hello, hello. It's lovely to "see" you over here again. Hope things are going well with you. :)

      Yay! Hope you enjoy the film – it was a sweet prairie story.

  1. Oh my word, I am literally FREAKING OUT!! I didn't know they were making a movie from those books!!! They're one of my favorite series and Janette Oke has been one of my all-time favorite authoresses for years! She and I were actually in correspondence for the longest time and I still have all the letters we exchanged. She's an amazing lady and I love her to pieces.

    Wow…what a great thing to find out this morning!:D

    1. Oh, Raquel, that is an awesome story! How fun to correspond with your favorite author. I remember loving these stories way back when which was both a good and bad thing to pin hopes on; I do wish the movie (which was the pilot for a Hallmark TV show) had followed their original stories better, but it was still worth watching.

      Glad this made you happy. :)

  2. Thanks Rissi!
    I am doing good.
    I've started a new blog called A Book in the Hand.
    I hope you"ll stop by it and leave a comment.
    ~God Bless~

    1. Great! Funny you should drop by because just the other day I was wondering if possibly I was missing posts from Ella in my dashboard. :) Glad you are doing well – and of course! I'd be delighted to stop by your new blog – I'd no idea you'd started a new blog.

  3. I always love reading your blog because you always reviews on movies that would interest me. As an aspiring teacher and Anne of Green Gable fan, I know I'm going to love this new movie. I love stories about teachers set in historical times. I watched Love Comes Softly before, I didn't know it was a book. Thanks for making my day. Yay new film to watch!

    1. Awesome! I'm glad this film is of interest to you, Carlyn. Hope you can get a hold of the film then… I understand the excitement of finding a new one. It's getting rare to find ones that are good. :)

      Yes, both the Love Comes Softly films and this are based on novels by Janette Oke. I've read both series when I was lots younger and have fond memories of the novels. :)

      Wishing you all the best with your dreams – hope they work out!

  4. I just watched this on Friday and quite enjoyed it. So far I am more drawn towards "Aunt Elizabeth's" storyline and wish they had given us more from her, but I'm assuming they are saving that for the first season of the show.

    1. To be honest, Lydia, from what I understand, the show will only cover "young" Elizabeth's story. I'm quite disappointed by this just because it's "Aunt Elizabeth" who the novels are about. That being said, I think a lot of the Wynn/Elizabeth plots will be included in the show, only it'll revolve around Elizabeth the younger and her beau(s), so we'll see how it plays out…

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