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 brings to life her Canadian series in an all-new original series for 2014. Today we look at episodes one and two of When Calls the Heart, Season One.
When Calls the Heart, Season One: Episodes 1 and 2 (2014) Hallmark Review
Life for young Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) is one of privilege. 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 wilderness life, she’s determined to strike out on her own. To do this, she makes her way to the mining town of Coal Valley. Armed with fortitude and trunks full of knowledge, Elizabeth plans to work as a teacher. During travel, robbers attack her stagecoach, and once there, things don’t get better. She discovers that the town recently went through tragedy. The women are left widows after their husbands die in a mining accident, and many of them lost older children. In a ripple effect, the families now face eviction threats.
With little confidence from the mothers that she can do this job, Elizabeth finds an ally in Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin). Abigail is healing from her own loss, but in Elizabeth she recognizes a friend. 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). To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s better for a viewer begin with it or to start afresh with this series. Some of the story in the movie overlaps – briefly, but effectively, it dismisses the presence of the Mountie movie Elizabeth knew. In his place steps this entirely new character, Jack. Perhaps her beau didn’t receive a good reaction so the writer’s pursue another character? Or is it purely because writer’s no longer like his character? Either way, unless you wish to see Elizabeth and Wynn’s story (Oke’s original novel couple), you’re not missing any knowledge by skipping over the pilot film.
If we are to assume that what transpires in the film holds up (and I’m not sure it’s meant to), then fans should know that this series follows 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 is 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 like both actresses. I do. But I think Erin suits the role better. Poppy portrays Elizabeth as a lovable, clueless city girl, and Erin plays her with sass and fire. After the premiere (‘Lost and Found’) and second episode (‘Cease and Desist’), I should mention the chemistry between Erin and Daniel impresses. They had some amazing moments together. Particularly cute is a school room scene involving her standing atop a table, and the end of the second forty minutes says a lot. It takes me longer to warm to Daniel though I think he’s going to be an interesting character.
The introduction could be better – especially because of the pilot film framework. However there are some cute throwbacks to Elizabeth’s family life, and her constant journal scribbles. Setting off, this series has all it needs to be successful. It’s family-friendly (a rarity), features some beautiful costumes and scenery. Plus, the production joins a talented cast which is of the upmost importance to any series. To top things off, there is a troublemaker of a mining boss who, I suspect won’t make anything easy. If you like 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.Remembering the premiere of #Hallmark Channel's popular 'prairie romance,' #WhenCallstheHeart. #Hearties, who else thinks these early episodes were the best!? Click To Tweet
Photos: Hallmark Channel / Crown Media Press