Welcome to #WonderWednesday…albeit a day late! Sorry. Family stuff. Time to reveal who our mystery spotlight is. Funny coincidence, or maybe it was planned from the get-go, that the weekend of this man’s birthday, (there’s your hint! It’s a man!) coincides with the same weekend he’s being featured in a marathon. Does that give it away at all. Well, let’s do the big reveal, and find out, shall we? Drum roll please…………………………………….

 

 

 

And the mystery guest is…………….

 

 

 

 

This guy!

 

Photo credit: hallmarkmoviesandmysteries

 

Mr. Niall Matter is celebrating his 39th year of life this Sunday. And beginning this Saturday, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is airing an Aurora Teagarden Mysteries marathon. Seeing as how Niall is a key character in 4 of those films, looks like several #Sleuthers will celebrating Niall’s birthday WITH him.

Quick sidenote since we’re talking about Aurora Teagarden – the other man I suspect to be front and center in the run of librarian mysteries is Yannick Bisson. He portrayed Martin, the spy boyfriend. But I just finished the BEST series on Hallmark Movies Now that was aired in the early 2000’s called Sue Thomas: FBEye. He plays an amazing FBI agent named…wait for it…Jack! So if you own the app, or you’re thinking about getting a free trial, try that show on for size. You will NOT regret it, especially if you love American Sign Language…and that’s all I’m going to say. 😉

Photo Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States

Okay, back to Niall. In honor of his birthday, I am reviewing Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse, the first of the trilogy that premiered in August. This is the first Aurora movie in which Nick is officially a significant other; he’s only been potential up to this point. It’s only fitting that we spotlight the installment in which the villain is obsessed with “Professor Charming”, as she calls him. Actually, there are THREE women obsessed with him in this film: Aurora, Valerie the housekeeper, (hence the socks in the title,) and Tammy’s character. Funny enough, Tammy’s character, Brie Carson, celebrated her birthday in this movie.

I admit, the saddest thing to me is when a murder mystery begins, and it becomes obvious that one of the victims is engaged. Just the thought of someone being taken down right before they begin their life with someone. It makes the homicide doubly tragic. And when we see the ransacked home of the first victim, there’s a knocked over vase of pink roses that I’m betting were from her fiancé, so it’s just sad.

But she doesn’t move on well, because she tries to kill the woman dating the next object of her affections. Nick’s (Niall) face upon learning that all this could be surrounding an obsession with him reminds me a lot of Lee when Bill asked him to fill in for him as sheriff. He laughs at the absurdity, then sobers when there’s no joke about it. You gotta feel sorry for the guy, discovering that people are getting hurt because of someone’s fixation on him. Interesting how she tries to justify and explain it. When she’s holding Roe at gunpoint, she lays into the killer’s soliloquy, saying that when “you study murder long enough,” you begin to wonder, “What are the rewards?” She answers herself immediately: “Control, power, the ability to right wrongs”. Apparently in her mind, Nick and Roe is a wrong to be righted, because she goes into a little tantrum, talking about how she quit her job to be with Nick, and it wasn’t fair that Roe cut in line when it was Brie’s turn…talk about childish!

To quote Oliver on Signed Sealed Delivered: From Paris With Love, it seems like “poetic justice” that Nick figures out that Brie is the murderer. He is the one who connects the handwriting Brie scribbles on the photos to her notes on students’ papers, then links that to her compulsions and habits that remove all doubt. The real justice, I think, is when Brie is searching through a barn for Roe, gun raised at the ready. Nick has come after Roe, thanks to a location app, and he’s searching the barn with a crowbar in hand. They stumble into each other. Busted! If she HAD gotten away with getting rid of Roe, I’m very doubtful she would have succeeded in securing his affections after THAT encounter. Hard to develop feelings for a person who offed your significant other; right, Gowen fans? 😉

Okay, let’s talk about the man of the hour. Niall plays really great romantic leads, and his characters are always so easy to talk to, among other things. For one thing, when Roe’s best friend, Sally, (not Roe herself, but her friend,) is in danger, Nick spends the night on the couch. He’s awakened in the middle of the night by a prowler, and chases after the shadow. He tells Roe to go back to bed, promising to stay up, and keep watch. And after all that, he leaves to teach an early class. And even though Roe brazenly declares, “I read modern detective novels, where women know how to rescue themselves!” he’s always there to “aid” in the rescue, (even though, in my opinion, he does quite a bit of rescuing!) What a guy!

My favorite moment, though, is toward the end, after the harrowing experience is finally over. Nick asks Aurora if she’s okay. She graciously and gratefully admits, “I’m okay because of you.” When she reciprocates the question, at first he just passes it off with, “Yeah.” Then he thinks better of the mundane answer, and starts spilling: “No. This past hour, thinking I might never see you again…” He interrupts himself to take her into his arms, and plant a very desperate kiss on her. He pulls back, very relieved, and almost sighs, “Now I’m okay.” Hard to resist that!

And that is where I leave you. If you haven’t seen A Game of Cat and Mouse, I’m betting you’ll have the chance this weekend, so stay tuned. Then we have a brand new episode of When Hope Calls dropping on Friday, the Good Witch Halloween movie on Saturday, and another Crossword Puzzle Mysteries on Sunday. Busy, busy! And stay tuned for Monday’s post, which will have another recap of When Hope Calls. See you then! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Hello to Monday! Happy Columbus Day here in the US, and Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian Hearties! We are winding down on When Hope Calls, then we really WILL have to wait a while before we see anything close to When Calls the Heart…unless you go back and watch reruns for the zillionth time like I am. But I’m watching with a brand new Heartie friend, so I have an excuse. 😉

So here is the link to the podcast audio for Episode 8: About a Girl. I’ll put the YouTube link in the comments. We’ve been having some trouble with the website, so please comment on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook if you’re having trouble, and I’ll get my tech guy (aka my hubby) on it right 

 

 

 

And here are the clues for this week’s mystery guest. Sadly, I didn’t get an interview with this person, but he/she is a favorite. Of course, all will become clear on Wednesday. 😉

1. This person eloped to Hawaii when they married their spouse.
2. This person has been in at least 4 other movies involving WCTH actors, plus the show itself.
3. This person worked for an oil company before becoming an actor.

You get to be your own Sleuther now! Happy figuring! Also please remember how appreciated your actions of clicking on ads and/or doing your Amazon shopping through this website would be. Every little bit helps! Thank you so much! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Happy Wednesday, and Happy Fall! I say that because two days ago, we had our first day of actual autumn weather. The boys and I even went on a walk while the girls were in school, something we haven’t done in so long, simply because it’s been far too hot. So break out the sweaters and the jack-o’-lanterns, because we are in season!

And speaking of the season, time to reveal our first mystery guest for October! This one wasn’t very easy to guess, but the timing couldn’t be better because the premiere of a movie she directed is coming up THIS Saturday: “Love, Fall, and Order”. Her name is Clare Niederpruem. If you remember way back to May, you might have read the interview with Maclain Nelson, my childhood friend who directed “Small Town Christmas”.

Well, this is his lovely wife; they’re in the business together! Not only did she direct the film coming up this Saturday, but she directed “Holiday for Heroes” coming in November, AND the first new movie to be released straight to Hallmark Movies Now, “In the Key of Love”. That one just HAPPENED to star our own Andrea Brooks in the very early stages of her pregnancy, so that’s the one I’ve focused on. And now, to gear us up for this weekend’s premiere, and to give you some fun tidbits for when you get Hallmark Movies Now, (or when you start your free trial,) here’s Clare!

Photo credit: Clare’s Facebook  

HH: Hi, there! Thanks so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to chat with me!

CN: Oh it’s not a problem. Happy to!

HH: It’s so weird that you and I have never met with me knowing Maclain all my life! I don’t think I even know how you two met.

CN: We met in an improv acting class. He was teaching it, I was taking it. I got a A. 🙂

HH: Nice! Okay let’s jump right into “Key”. Were you brought on from the very beginning? Did you have a part in the audition process?

CN: The script was all written when I was asked, but other than that, yeah. I even had 3 weeks of prep time in Vancouver. Hallmark picks the two leads, then I got a say in the smaller roles

HH: The title sequence was so catchy with the movement snapping into still shots to reflect the photography, then to have “Can’t Hurry Love” as background music. Was that a design team, or was that you?

CN: It was an idea I had. I really wanted to set the tone. The network executive Ashley Squires chose “Can’t Hurry Love”. I think it turned out well.

HH: It certainly did! Where did you film? It was such a beautiful location,

CN: We shot in Vancouver, Canada. There were two island locations: Bowen Island, and Deep Cove Bay.

HH: Did the weather cooperate? I know it can be sketchy up there sometimes.

CN: We lucked out! During prep week, it was POURING! Then during actual filming, we had 3 weeks of sunshine.

HH: Laura Osnes is a fantastic Broadway star, and I know from experience that transitioning from stage to screen can be a difficult process. But Laura seemed to do really well. What was your take on the experience?

CN: It was definitely an adjustment for her, but Laura just cares SO much, and she really put in the work. We had a pretty close relationship, so she was comfortable with me directing her. She was good within 3 days, playing to the camera really well. Scott (meaning Scott Michael Foster) was also a really great help to her.

HH: Since a few of the characters are photographers, did any of the actors have photography experience?

CN: Laura is actually married to a photographer, so he gave her some pointers, and she came very prepared. Being a stage actress, she loves having a prop in her hand.

HH: Speaking of pictures, one of my favorite shots is when Laura’s character, Maggie, uses her camera lens like binoculars to see her ex, Jake, on the ferry. Was that scripted, or an idea you wanted to try out?

CN: It WAS scripted, but we weren’t sure it would work. But we just shot it, then put the filter on afterwards to make it look like a lens, and it worked!

HH: Are the any other scenes or lines you felt you wanted to try, that turned out great in the final cut?

CN: The shots of the rowboat and the trolley turned out really well. One I’m really proud of is the final kissing scene. We had 30 minutes left to shoot for the day, and that scene wasn’t ready. So I said, “Let’s go to the balcony over the water.” The sun was setting, we did the scene 4 times in a row with no break. Scott and Laura were so professional about it, and it was a great shot!

HH: Any other fun BTS (behind-the-scenes) stories to share?

CN: We got to take the ferry to work almost everyday as a cast. That was nice! The scene when the canoe tipped was so fun! It was a cold Vancouver night, at 3:00 in the morning, on our second to last day of shooting. Laura and Scott both had stunt doubles that we used for the really far shots, but I told them it would looked better if they fell in the water themselves. They were really comfortable with each other by this point, so they did it themselves!

HH: The singing was really beautiful; it made me melt! My husband asked me if the actors could really sing. I looked at him, and said, “She’s a Broadway star, hon!” He said, “Oh,” very sheepishly. Was any of the music LIVE singing, or was it all prerecorded?

CN: Most of it was prerecorded, but the campfire song was LIVE.

HH: That’s the one when my jaw really dropped! Cool! Andrea Brooks has revealed that she was in early stages of pregnancy while filming “Key”. She had just found out, so she wasn’t sharing yet, but she thinks everyone suspected because of the weird food she was craving. Did you suspect anything?

CN: I didn’t notice anything, but I never have time to go to craft services. 😉

HH: Can you describe what it was like working with her?

CN: She is such a lovely human, a fun and joyous person, and FUNNY! She brings such a positive energy to set! She was such a good sport. It was freezing cold, so she put a hoodie over that beautiful wedding dress to stay warm.

Photo credit: hallmarkchannel.com  

HH: What kind of chemistry-building activities did you guys do? Did Andrea and Scott do any to get the sibling feel?

CN: We’d go out for sushi all together; we also watched “Game of Thrones” together. Andrea and Scott didn’t meet until their first day of shooting together. But they’re both from families with siblings, and they’re both so talented that they got the feel. After that, they’d sing songs together between takes, and he always helped her with her dress.

HH: What is your favorite scene from the movie?

CN: When Jenny (Andrea) asks Jake (Scott) if he still has feelings for Maggie (Laura).

HH: Well, I can’t tell you what a great pleasure it’s been talking to you. Thank you again so much!

CN: It was my pleasure. Maybe one day we’ll actually get to meet.

HH: Here’s hoping!

 

Well, that wraps that up. Isn’t she great! You’ll really love her handiwork! So start that free trial of Hallmark Movies Now, or grab a subscription, and enjoy! And don’t forget to tune in to Hallmark Channel this Saturday for #LoveFallandOrder. I know #POstables will enjoy it, as it stars Gregory Harrison!

Photo credit: hallmarkchannel.com  

And here’s a tip: watch for the pretty Asain lady playing a lawyer alongside Erin Cahill for a scene; she’s my sister-in-law! Fair warning: even if there are no WCTH actors therein, I may have to claim familial connection, and review it anyway. Gotta keep family happy, right? I’m sure you get it! Only kidding, Shelly! I love you! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Hello Hearties, and hello Monday! Those of you who were privileged to attend the Hearties Family Reunion, how was it??? Silly question, I know; no doubt you had the time of your lives! For anyone who doesn’t know, the Hearties Family Reunion, or HFR, is basically the Comicon of When Calls the Heart. The cast even comes up for an event on Saturday, and a tour of the set is thrown into the trip! I have yet to attend; it’s a dream of mine to travel there one day. This is the fifth one, and hopefully there will be many more! Those of you traveling home today, I hope this gives you something fun to watch or listen to as you make your way.

So here is the Hallmarkies Podcast for When Hope Calls Episode 7, entitled “Surprise!” And boy, were there a bunch of surprises surrounding this episode! As most of you know, Daniel Lissing’s birthday was on Friday, the 4th. But check this out! Not only was it Dan’s special day, but it was RJ Hatanaka’s as well! Two Mounties with the same birthday! And, icing on the cake, (pun intended!), this episode surrounds a birthday party. What are the odds? Have a listen, or a watch. One link is just below, and the other is in the comments. And below this link, you’ll find the clues for my first mystery guest of the month, who will be revealed on Wednesday.

 

httpss://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/when-hope-calls-podcast-s1-ep-7-recap/id1296728288?i=1000452489026

 

1. This person loves to go out for sushi with cast.
2. This person has been involved with June Weddings, Fall Harvest, and Miracles of Christmas
3. This person is a Hallmark director

Cheerio for now! I’ll see you all back here on Wednesday for the answer, and ensuing post. 😉 This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Welcome to October, and welcome to Hooked Heartie’s Mystery Month. Sorry I’m a day late: crazy home life happenings. But this way, I get to do a very special job! I get to wish a very happy birthday to our two wonderful formers. Today, it’s for Jack Wagner, Hope Valley’s former sheriff. Happy birthday, Jack! Tomorrow, it’s Daniel Lissing, our former Mountie. Happy birthday, Dan! We #Hearties hope both of you have fabulous days!

               

Photo credits: tvguide.com and famousbirthdays.com 

This month, not only will I be covering “thriller” films from Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, I will also throw in some mystery guest guessing games…to give the blog that real “Halloween feel”. 😉 Now be forewarned, since Hallmark’s #FallHarvest is coming up, I reserve the right to throw in one of those movies if it seems right. I hope one of them involves Halloween somehow; that always makes them fun!

So, to start us off, we’re running with “Witness to Murder: A Darrow Mystery”. This is now the fourth installment of these all-in-the-family lawyer dramas. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving these! If I could only use one word to describe this whole series, it would be this: banter. Tom Cavanaugh and Kimberly Williams-Paisley are the king and queen of witty words; and yes, I’m including other television and blockbuster movies. I’ve seen great chemistry, and I’ve seen quick exchanges, but these two have a knack for combining both in a way that is unsurpassed. Of course the writers deserve a lot of credit, and then the actors take those written words, and are as smooth as honey in their delivery. One of my only complaints about this movie is that Claire and Miles spend a lot of time apart, so we don’t get as much of the back-and-forth that we do in the previous three.

Something else I will admit to enjoying is that both lead characters are competent professionals; being around crime scenes, and interviewing suspects or witnesses is what they’re supposed to be doing. While some of the dialogue between the cop and amateur sleuth is extremely entertaining in our other mysteries, it’s kind of nice to not listen to a quarter of the script involving one chasing the other away. They’re very much on the same level in the playing field. It makes for a nice change of pace.

 

Speaking of playing, who are all our WCTH players? Well, we have Lilah Fitzgerald, (Jolene) who stars in all of these as Clare’s (Kimberly’s) highly intelligent daughter, Lou. But then we have several newcomers. There’s Michelle Harrison, staying on the right side of the law in both shows. In WCTH, she plays prosecutor Georgia Pardell; and in D&D, she is Lieutenant Lang, better known as Miles’s ex. 🙂 There’s the ever-present Jill Morrison, (Carla in WCTH) who we can’t get enough of; and fortunately, neither can Hallmark casting directors, because she keeps popping up. She plays Gail Reed, extremely flirtatious turned vindictive ex-girlfriend. And of course, we have everyone’s favorite bad guy, Martin Cummins (Gowen) as the snake of an executive, Brian Herriman.

He’s not from WCTH, but here’s a fun bit of trivia about Barclay Hope. He plays Raymond, the father-figure of the office, and the one I think keeps Claire grounded. He’s the only one to whom Claire could declare “You’re fired!”, (which she does!), and have him laugh at her without a second thought. If you’ve seen the 2003 ABC Family movie “Lucky 7”, Kimberly once again plays a lawyer, but this time, Barclay plays her boss. Fun turn of events. There are also several of WCTH actors in it: Adrian Hough, Jennifer Copping, Lochlyn Munro, and Michelle Harrison again. 🙂

Back to the film itself, let’s talk about Martin for a minute. No surprise that he got cast as the greedy, conniving, backstabbing villain; he plays that type so well. But I thought since he’s the obvious choice for the face of the murderer, they might write him in as the too-obvious suspect, but have him turn out to be innocent. SPOILER ALERT! He’s not. He is the culprit, and Claire exposes him. Paying someone to shoot him in the shoulder to take suspicion off him, and simultaneously killing off his “pesky” paralegal was devious and clever! Going after the shooter himself to silence him, thus turning on him and his sister was downright devilish…and it led him to his downfall.

©2019 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

One good thing about Martin’s evil character is that I learned something from him. When he said Cassie, (the woman suspected of shooting him,) took off “like Dale Earnhardt,” I had absolutely no idea who he was talking about. So I did a little research. Turns out that not only is he a race car driver, his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is also a racer. You learn something new everyday, even from Hallmark movies.

I want to take a quick moment to mention the music. Music is an interesting concept in movies. It’s supposed to set the mood, so you usually notice it if it’s poorly done. I’m a musician though, and I’m trying to make more of an effort to concentrate on a film’s score, because I don’t always. This was not the case here. I had to go back to the opening credits, and find out the composer’s name because I was so impressed. His name is Terry Frewer, and he has created the score for 99 films! Apparently Hallmark is very pleased with his work, because most of his credits are for one of the two channels, including LOTS of mysteries. His use of the piano in the beginning is such a stimulating pairing with the gunshots! But I first noticed it in the middle, when the figure in black, (who we find out is Tammy’s brother) hides a burner phone behind a couch cushion in Cassie hotel room. The flute is downright haunting, and the flute is usually such a light and gleeful instrument. But this time, I was on the edge of my seat when I heard it. Well done, Mr. Frewer!

Final subject: my very favorite part. Call me cliché, but it was the first kiss. This is actually the very first smooch the two characters have ever shared. It took them three and a half movies to lead up to it. Not as long as Oliver and Shane in Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but that was uncommonly lengthy. 😀 One of the best things about it was how the events of the film led up to it. First, Miles’s ex-girlfriend shows up as the lead detective on the murder case, causing a slight twinge to come over Claire. Then Miles gets assigned to prosecute the case Claire is defending, so Miles initiates a motion to “press pause” in their far-too-casual (because he’s so patient, and she’s so slow) “thing” they seem to have.

Photo credit: ©2019 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

After Miles questions Lieutenant Lang, and helps her down from the witness stand, Claire breaks her pencil…literally! Apparently her green eye has taken all it can. So thanks to her jealousy, and some wise words from Mom about building a “firewall”, she pulls him into the conference room, and after a few flustered words, lays one on his very dazed, very astonished face! The exchange is brilliant!

M- (a little dizzy) “Did you just do that?”
C- “Yes…”
M- “Can I do that?”
C- “Sure.”

BOOM! He grabs her in his arms, and lands one on HER, something he’s wanted to do since way before the first movie. Of course since they’re in the middle of a case, they have to inform the judge and their clients, which they do very coyly. 😉 Finally, everyone can BREATHE! And hopefully, we get another movie, in which we see them progressing along in a happy, comfortable relationship.

Well, that’s it for me. Thanks again for your patience. I’ll be back on Monday with a podcast from When Hope Calls, and our first mystery guest. Enjoy WHC’s brand new episode tomorrow! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!