Title: When Calls the Heart
Director: Michael Landon Jr.
Starring: Maggie Grace, Stephen Amell, Poppy Drayton, Daniel Sharman, Jean Smart, Lori Loughlin
Running time: 89 minutes, Unrated
Special Features: None
Elizabeth Thatcher is an aspiring teacher at the turn of the 20th century who is looking forward to the start of her career and leaving her sheltered life behind. She and her sister discover the diary of their Aunt Elizabeth who took a teaching job on the prairie so many years before. While reading the diary, she becomes entranced with stories of heartbreak and adventure. Determined to have such a life, Elizabeth accepts a teaching position in a frontier mining town, escorted by a handsome Royal Canadian Mountie.
The good: It’s a Hallmark Channel pilot/ TV Movie with promise of safe and sane viewing for sheltered and religious viewers.
The bad: The lead characters remind me of being a little kid and trying to play video games with my mother. She would get flustered when she couldn’t quite understand the controls and how they worked. I remember thinking to myself, “Dude, relax.” Were women really like this? Young Elizabeth’s sister lets loose a shoebox full of mice in her room and Elizabeth sounds like she’s being murdered. Everything is a disaster and filled with drama about nothingness. Aunt Elizabeth accusing a woman’s husband of being unfaithful and then becoming mortified when she finds out the man is the woman’s brother? Then she travels to a far away town for the “Mountie’s Ball” and has to stay in a hotel. Oh, the scandal! It probably was that way, but that was so long ago it’s too ridiculous to comprehend. Maybe if this film was done 90 years ago, it would’ve made more sense. It seems also geared to those who enjoyed the Avonlea series, but that’s not my bag. I dig things historical, but leave the cutesy-poo drama out of it.
I had no idea this was a pilot for possible series pick up this year, but since the ending kind of ended with the handsome heroic Mountie running off into the sunset after the 3 highway robbers that stole Young Elizabeth’s father’s compass with her looking longingly at his exit seemed a little forced and flat, I guess they need somewhere to pick up the story when the show actually airs. The film did show some promise when Jean Smart and Lori Loughlin’s characters appeared as two coal miner widows holding fort in the mining town that have turned the town’s saloon into a school house. I won’t be watching it, but I guess there’s a niche for this somewhere.
Total rating: C
Reviewed by: JM Willis