Hallmark Channel’s brand has focused on their original films. That is until recent years. Their track record consists of popular dramas like Good Witch and perhaps, most popular, When Calls the Heart, as summer fades, they invite us to Chesapeake Shores and into the lives of the “messy” O’Brien clan. Based on the best-selling series by Sherryl Woods, this drama is, without question, a favorite.
Chesapeake Shores, Season One Hallmark Review
Since she left home, New York is treating Abby O’Brien Winters (Meghan Ory) well. As a Wall Street executive she works with the best of the best in business and at home, she has two beautiful daughters (Abbie Magnuson, Kayden Magnuson) waiting for her. Everything changes when a spur-of-the-moment trip home to visit her sister, Jess (Laci J. Mailey) uncovers their grandmother (Diane Ladd) is harboring a secret. This forces Abby to reexamine her own life and that of the relationship she has with her father (Treat Williams).
Also newly returned to Chesapeake Shores is Trace Riley (Jesse Metcalfe). Trace is the high school sweetheart Abby left behind without explanation. As Abby settles into her father’s home, she discovers she’s become the person she never thought she would: her father. This forces her to reexamine her priorities and face the fact that she’s missing milestones in her daughter’s lives. As if the complications with Trace and her mother (Barbara Niven) weren’t enough, her ex informs her, he’s suing for custody of their daughters.
Without hesitation, I can confidently say, Chesapeake Shores is my pick for favorite of Hallmark’s series. The pilot episode is a kind of magic and what follows dovetails from this “starting point” with “messy” complications, yes, but also grace and forgiveness. Though it’s these messages that tug on our heartstrings and pull us into the stories, there’s so much beyond this to love. There’s its care free setting (filmed in Canada, set on the Eastern shore) for one. Not to mention the characters, and romance that play into the “bigger picture” story arcs.
Let’s talk about these characters. I adored them in the pilot, and that doesn’t change as the story progresses. They continue to work their way into the hearts of viewers. True youngest brother Connor is a grown man with Peter Pan syndrome. Eldest brother Kevin suffers from horrors no one but his sister, Jess understands. Bree makes bad decision after bad decision about her mates, and Abby tries to hold them together as only her “big sister” title allows. Nonetheless, it’s their flaws, these tears, cracks and imperfections that make them endearing. Though they squabble, it’s this distance and discordance that, in many ways brings them closer.
Of course the characters outside of the O’Brien group are equally memorable. Namely Trace who’s played perfectly by Jesse Metcalfe. Speaking of that cast, everyone is brilliant. Unlike some series, I don’t think I felt like anyone was ill suited to their roles or a drag. From Once Upon a Time’s Ory (The Memory Book, Dashing Through the Snow) to Dallas’ Metcalfe (A Country Wedding) and everyone else (including many familiar Hallmark favorites like Brendan Penny and Andrew Francis), you’re sure to enjoy this lineup. A familiar cast that feels more like friends than TV characters.
To wrap up, know this. Chesapeake Shores, season one is a wholesome series sure to delight Hallmark fans. There’s a new OTP that, in my opinion, has all the right “stuff” to succeed. To place my finger on exactly what I loved best about this pair is impossible, but I know I do (already) adore them. The chemistry is there (as is a moonlit swim) and there is plenty of flirty banter to keep a smile affixed on the viewers’ face.
Don’t miss making a stop on these beautiful shores. Despite the comfort of a familiar theme, there are some unique threads (three cheers this one is not going down the villain road) which I hope are kept intact. There is poignant themes about love, family, forgiveness and realizing ones weaknesses, to say nothing of a story that manages to balance it all with genuine heart and soul.
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