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…
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.
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.
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.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
(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details.)You can purchase When Calls the Heart (2013) from Amazon, now on DVD!
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.