Hey, everybody! How’s it hanging for the weekend? Anything exciting? Well, something VERY exciting just recently happened for two of our younger stars on “When Calls the Heart”: Imogen Tear and Christian Cooper. They both received awards at the Young Artist Awards; Imogen won Best Teen Actress for Television, and Christian the Best Performance in a Guest Starring Role. Isn’t that amazing??? In view of this terrific news, I thought it would be fun to do a #FlashbackFriday on Timmy and Hattie.

Let’s start with Timmy. I think we can all agree that his shining moment is when he plays the piano for Elizabeth, but I’d like to rewind just a little further to when the kids are planning the talent show with her. It happens quickly, but I think it’s very pivotal. We all know Timmy is a little on the shy side; he probably loves playing the piano in the classroom because it’s a casual atmosphere, no pressure to perform. I think he got excited about the recital because it would be the only real chance he’d get to play for the foreseeable future. So when Robert declares that music is for babies, Timmy probably wants to jump right back into his shell. Thankfully he has not one, but two adults stick up for him. Bill plays Mr. Tough Guy so Robert backs down very quickly. With that one act, Bill restores Timmy’s desire to perform. Imagine how Timmy WOULD have reacted if one of the most intimidating men in town didn’t reinforce the “masculine appropriateness” of being a musician. But still,  he remains apprehensive. Remember he’s only played during recess at the school. Elizabeth could have easily said something like, “Well, don’t worry. You’ll be fine come recital time.” But she’s not about to take the risk of that spark being snuffed. Like the true teacher she is, Elizabeth puts herself out there, forgets about her own problems, and gives him someone to lean on.

Hattie time! Once again, I picked a pivotal, albeit obscure, moment. It’s the dance at the end of Kindness Week. We see Hattie open up in a way we never thought possible through the whole episode; I don’t think Hattie imagined herself ever feeling friendly again. After refusing to offer any kindness to any of her new classmates upon arrival, she offers 2 in the same evening. First, she loans Anna one of her party dresses for the dance. It seems small, but think what it means. We know from later episodes that Hattie and Anna become best friends, so this is “the start of a beautiful friendship”. And this after vowing to never have another friend to replace Janie. She’s opened her heart to love again. Moments later she shows more friendly love to Cody. Remember she had rejected his offer to dance during practice. So by now asking HIM, she accomplishes several things: 1) she acknowledges she was wrong, 2) she offers an apology of sorts, 3) she makes it right, 4) she shows Cody she really does want to be his friend, and most importantly, 5) she leaves Elizabeth open to dance with Jack! 😀

Okay, time to go! Join me next week; I’ve got a special surprise brewing…hee hee! And yes, I’m rubbing my hands together with a devilish smile on my face. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday!

So sorry this is a day late. I was taking care of sick kids yesterday.

This is quite the occasion! Once again, we have not one, but TWO groups coming together here today. So a very heartfelt welcome to the Hearties AND the Postables! That’s right, today’s movie review is “Signed Sealed Delivered: To the Altar”, THE best edition of the SSD series YET! We got lucky this time, I almost couldn’t review it. Thank HEAVENS for Jill Morrison, the one visible link between WCTH and SSD. In WCTH, she was Carla, the woman who stayed with Abigail and Elizabeth, then gave birth to twins. She’s also the reason we all got to see Jack hold a baby! In SSD, she is Hazel, an adorable fellow postal worker. But they took her a step further this time. She keeps popping up, filling in plot holes and linking the stories from previous installments of the series to this one. She’s like a trusty sidekick, quietly hanging in the background, but ever present to make the story richer.

Rich it was! To be totally cliché, “I laughed, I cried”…literally. I was laughing hysterically 4 minutes in. My MOTHER cried. My mother does NOT cry in movies; during songs, maybe, but never movies. That’s how incredibly executed this film was, by everyone involved. Eric Mabius (Oliver O’Toole) said in an interview that the script was “impeccable”. I am very inclined to agree! Martha Williamson really outdid herself. I don’t know how she does it! SSD was a TV series first, now this is the 12th movie, (including the pilot and Christmas films,) and EVERY ONE has such an inspirational and UNIQUE storyline. My mind is boggled at Martha’s genius and the cast’s talent to keep their characters’ charm, but still make them grow. I always take notes while watching the shows I plan to review, and I was writing something new every 5 seconds! So many intricacies, jokes, poignant moments, and great dialogue. Even the silent mannerisms, (Norman smelling the paper as a clue to its origin,) and the throw-away lines, (Rita’s offhand comment that the South American tribe Norman’s grandmother lives with is so happy because there’s no Internet,) are brilliant! I think I sprained my wrist!

Even the very first words, a voice over monologue by Oliver, captured my attention with how profound it is! He spoke of how a stamp is the smallest contract there is. When we put a stamp on a letter or package, we are trusting a complete stranger to deliver something valuable to our loved ones. And if that contract is broken, “hearts are broken too”. Did you ever think of a stamp that way, because I certainly didn’t!

I felt for Norman in this movie. He dealt with a lot; too bad we laughed at most of his problems. It all starts at the very beginning with both women squealing his name almost simultaneously. It only escalates from there: all the problems with the wedding, him being told he has to fix some of those said problems, his best man throws him to the wolves with solving the problems by merely suggesting, “Surely you have a cousin…”, that same friend frequently drops the “best man ball” because he is feeling “contemplative” about his own romantic future, then has to have couple’s counseling and dancing lessons with RAMON! (If you’re not familiar with SSD, Ramon is an annoying but elegant Latin character who frequently was putting the moves on Rita.) All this while trying to help Rita work through losing her mother, and being HORRIBLY nervous about the wedding night! And let’s not forget that he received a canoe for a wedding gift when he can’t even swim! The poor man can’t drive, can’t swim, and has never had any…experience! Triple threat!

Although I personally approved of that last one, and that was an excellent moment when Oliver DIDN’T drop the best man ball. Didn’t you LOVE that scene? Norman admits he’s never done anything with anyone by saying he’s never “gone to the movies”, nor has Rita, and he can barely speak for all the nerves. But like the perfect big brother figure, Oliver jumps in with his wise and calm voice telling Norman that he and Rita aren’t GOING to the movies, they “are the movie”. They “are the stars”, and when the time comes, they will know their lines, and “it will be beautiful.” Oh my gosh, that SCENE is just so beautiful! Hats off to Geoff Gustafson

Rita is not to be outdone in the poignancy arena. Her character was so profound! Yeah, she’s still the same quirky and naïve Rita, but Crystal Lowe has such a knack for giving her depth while remaining childlike. When she and Shane deliver the news to Jessica Gordon that her mother has agreed to meet her after a several – year absence, Jessica excuses her reluctance with, “Maybe it’s too late.” Ordinarily, Rita might be too shy to speak up, but not this time! She gives an emphatic, “No!” She declares she “knows what too late feels like”, because she “lost [her] mother this year.” She gently, but firmly reminds Jessica that she can still do things with her mother, ask her questions, and just hug her; all things Rita can’t. Anyone who wasn’t in tears in that scene has a heart of stone!

Well, now we come to Oliver and Shane. I hate to couple them together, but honestly, I don’t know how I would discuss them separately. They’re quite the duo, and play off each other so well, despite the fact that their personalities are so different. Can we start with that wedding dress scene??? Somebody hand me an oxygen mask, because I couldn’t breathe! I love the lead-in: Shane literally kicks off her heels to go chase down an undeliverable box that is supposed to be auctioned off. Oliver catches her, and calls her shelving the item for herself “highly irregular”. He then tries to pull the supervisor card, saying he can’t bend the rules simply because they’re…but he can’t finish. Why? Because Shane slowly leans in, whispers a sweet nothing in his ear, then ACTUALLY bats her eyelashes at him! All the while, Oliver is desperately trying to remain professional, and not smile…and she gets her way.

But I’m glad she did, because that gown was breathtaking. AND MY breath DID get taken when Oliver comes in unseen, then reaches out to help her finish buttoning the dress. HOLY MACROLE! I am amazed again at how writers and actors can get the hearts of their audience POUNDING without being vulgar. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we never thought we’d see Oliver do something so “risqué”, at least for him! But there he is, smooth as silk, even gently shushing her so as not to ruin the moment. And if that weren’t enough, he takes his turn teasing HER. Shane tries to talk her way out of the fact that her boyfriend has just seen her in a wedding dress by saying she thought it would make a nice cocktail dress. He then follows suit by suggesting a shawl or a tablecloth, all the while flashing a knowing smile to her in the mirror as he finishes the long line of buttons. BE STILL, MY HEART!

Oh there’s so much more I can say about this movie! It might take me 3 weeks! I could embellish upon how much I love Gregory Harrison as Oliver’s dad, the way those two played off each other so well when telling the green tie proposal story, or how natural he was when laughing under his breath at his son’s stoic interpretation of a bachelor party. But I think I better end with THE end. There were 3 major happenings in this end alone: the wedding ceremony, the marriage proposal, and the good wishes speech. I admit, I was worried when I saw that Ramon was officiating, because I thought it would be too goofy. But he delivers the perfect blend of humor and reverence. Norman gets all excited to have a ring on his finger; Rita joyfully spots an owl (her obsession!) right after they kiss, as though her mother is blessing the marriage; Shane sees Oliver wearing an ugly green tie, so she knows he’s going to propose; and Oliver’s face shines with quiet triumph that Shane has figured it out.

Let’s chat about that proposal, shall we? He didn’t get to propose with a green tie (an O’Toole family tradition) to his first wife, so you know this is almost sacred for him. He takes her hands so deliberately, then delivers the same speech his multi-great grandfather delivered to his bride-to-be. Among other things, he says, “Don’t look at my tie, look at my eyes,” and “I promise never to wear this tie again.” What woman could resist? But my favorite was, “I’ll love you forever.” Of course she says yes! As he slides the ring on her finger, Oliver tells Shane it belonged to his grandmother, the finest woman he ever knew… “until you”. Shane tries to be calm while controlling her tears, and plays coy by fiddling with the tie. Suddenly, she yanks him forward, and those two share a kiss I can only describe as “unearthly”.

Then it’s just a quiet moment with only the 4 Postables. I think an incredibly touching moment that might be overlooked is Rita asking to see the ring again. She just got MARRIED, for crying out loud! But she’s so unselfish that she shares the joy with her closest friends, and is giddy over THEIR news. Then Oliver delivers the FINEST ending monologue I think I’ve ever heard; no offense, Shakespeare! He calls Shane “MY Shane, my love”. He says he realizes how very lost he was, and through “friendship and faith”, they delivered him. Get it? He ends with the quote on their awards they won in the TV series: “ ‘Through rain, and snow, and dark of night,’ here we are, and I LOVE US!” (That’s very special because it’s what Shane said in passing, when Oliver spontaneously decided to say “I love you” for the first time.

 

Hello, hello, hello, all you lovely people!  Are you ready for the week?  Hope so, because it’s HERE!  Have you seen pictures and heard news about what’s going down for Season 6?  I was on a break from social media last week, (besides posting,) so I haven’t seen everything.  But I’ve been texted and messaged the REALLY important stuff.  Like the two new…gentlemen we’ll be seeing strolling down the sidewalks of Hope Valley?  We’ve got what I think will become “The 2 Mc’s”: Kevin McGarry (as the new Mountie Nathan Grant,) and Chris McNally, (as gambler Lucas Bouchard).  An actual gambler in Hope Valley???  I smell trouble; not sure we’re going to like him very much. But I’m glad there’s going to be another Mountie in town.  We need the presence of red serge in that “dear little hamlet”.  I don’t know what they’ll do with him story-wise, but he’s got the look.  And I’ve seen him in some other projects; he’s very good.  I think we’ll like him.    

By the way, if you visited the blog on Friday, or if you’ve seen Friday’s post, you’ll know I “semi-interviewed” Loretta Walsh.  Well, she liked the tweet I posted with the blog link, so I guess she approved!  Hooray!  Thanks, Loretta!

One more thing I have to share before I get to the post, and this will make all you Heartie mothers out there SO proud!  Several days ago, my son, who’s not quite 2, pulled out on of my DVD cases of WCTH, and brought it to me.  I asked him if he wanted to watch it, and he nodded very enthusiastically.  Then just a few days ago, I had it on while I was doing stuff around the house.  He saw Elizabeth and Jack onscreen, went to the cabinet, dug through the movies, pulled out one of the WCTH cases, and started pointing back and forth between the TV and the case.  He’d recognized them and associated them enough to know which movie to pull out.  I was one pleased Heartie mama!

Well, let’s get this week off to a good start! For today’s #MeetYouMonday, we have a special guest, a fantastic person to get to know! May I introduce to you my husband’s sister, Michelle Clements. Little bit of trivia: Michelle knew about When Calls the Heart WAY before I did! When I first started watching, then told her about it, she said nonchalantly, “Oh yeah. I love that show.” I couldn’t believe she hadn’t shared it with ME! But I forgave her. 😉 So take it away, Michelle!

1. Where are you from? If you’re living elsewhere, where are you living now?
-I am from several places in Texas. Now, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2. Tell us about your family.
-I have the best family. Oldest sibling of 7. Several of my siblings have married and brought wonderful spouses to be a part of our family. I have adorable nieces and nephews. I would say I am lucky in the family department. (Yeah, she HAS to say all that because her sister-in-law runs the blog. Just teasing, Michelle! Love you and thank you! 😀 )

3. What do you do for a living? What are your hobbies? What are you studying/did you study in school?
-Hobbies: I love to get outdoors and hike or kayak. I also enjoy staying indoors to catch up on TV shows. I enjoy traveling and seeing new places and painting to name a few. For my day to day work I am a Health Coach and a Benefit Advocate. In school, I studied Exercise Science.

4. How did you find/discover WCTH?
-Netflix, the first season had just been put on, and they were advertising it. I binge watched the first season, loved it so much and went on a search for the 2nd season. I started watching the 2nd season on YouTube in a terrible view, but dealt with it because I was thirsty for more. I finally checked to see if they had the season on Amazon and bought the season to finish it up. I have been enjoying it ever since.

5. What is your favorite episode? Season?
-Probably the first season when Jack and Elizabeth have their moment on the hillside. They are so cute together. I really loved the faith inspiring story lines of trusting in God. That is one of the main things that got me hooked.

6. Who is your favorite character? Star of the show?
-It is a toss-up between Elizabeth and Abigail. I really like the two of them. Doctor Shepherd is easy on the eyes though.

7. Why are you a Heartie? Why do you love the show?
-Because it is something that I know I will always feel comfortable watching without having to turn off or skip scenes. Also, as mentioned earlier, I really appreciate the faith component. Also watching the show introduced me to a new author that I was not aware of, and I have read the series.

8. Anything else you enjoy, or anything you’d like to add?
-I think it is hilarious that there are all these attractive single people in this town they live in the Wild West. Ha ha. That has never been my experience.

Well said, Michelle!  It does seem to be a hubbub for good-looking, unattached people.  We’ve got one featured married couple in the whole town!  And I didn’t know you’d read the series!

We learn something new everyday, don’t we, Hearties?  And sometimes, it’s in the strangest places…like a blog.  I hope you have a great week, full of productivity, health, and joy in little moments, as well as big.  See you soon!  Wednesday, to be exact!  Hooked Heartie, signing off!

Hearties, this is a HISTORIC DAY for the hookedheartie blog! I didn’t think something like this would happen…not when I’ve been up for less than a year anyway. It’s amazing! I have received communication from not one, but TWO “When Calls the Heart” personnel for the blog today. Two “guest stars” in ONE post! That is SO exciting! It just goes to show how personal and down-to-earth all of them are. They really do care about their fans, and keeping touch with us!

The first came from Brian Bird, Papa Heartie himself! If you remember, I mentioned on Wednesday that I had received a question for discussion in my feedback survey from someone with the partial name mnavin in their screenname. Here is the question one more time:

“I was curious why Jack never got a promotion. When Doug came to town Jack called him constable and Doug said no I got promoted to Sargent when I took the job you refused. So Jack served and then even went to train mounties but never got promoted. Just curious WHY??”

Thanks again for that, mnavin! So, I sent an inquiry to Mr. Bird to see if he had any insights on the matter. This was his reply:

“No reason. The storytelling just never went there.”

That may seem a little too concise an answer for some, but Mr. Bird is a busy man. The fact that he was even ABLE to answer seems miraculous with the hefty schedule of filming at the moment. And when you think about it, I’m betting it was something they didn’t just want to pass over. If they were going to do it, they wanted to do it right. Sure, the visiting Mountie from Jack’s squad, (who took a note to him from Elizabeth,) could have called him “Sergeant” instead of “Constable Thornton”, but there wasn’t really a chance to tell the story of the promotion. And with all the storylines they had to jam into Seasons 4-5, I guess I can understand that they would rather just let the sleeping dog lie, and leave it at him being a commander of squads. Either way, that’s the answer we’ve got. Thanks so much to Papa for taking the time to answer.

The other “interaction” comes from a very special lady. As it was Loretta Walsh’s birthday on Monday, I thought it very appropriate to feature her in today’s #FlashbackFriday. So what we have here is a #FlashbackFriday for #FeistyFlorence! Whoa! Try saying that 5 times fast!

Rather than picking a moment at random, I thought it would be fun to try to find out what HER favorite moment was. So, my friend Sarah and I asked her, and she ALSO responded. She’s got to be exhausted at the end of filming days, so I was so appreciative of her connecting with us. Can you deduce which moment she picked without peeking? You probably CAN guess what it is because we all loved it, but here was Loretta Walsh’s response to her favorite Florence moment:

“Thank you for asking! My fave Florence moment is from Season 5, when she gets a msg from her late sweetheart husband. It still gives me ‘all the feels’ :)”

Thank you, again, Loretta! I’m so grateful for your response! So, who guessed it right? I wondered if that was going to be the one she picked; it’s just so sweet, and it gives us a chance to dig deeper into Florence’s past. I went back to my #MondayMusings post to see what I had said when I reviewed this episode, and I found this line:

“Who would have thought crusty, grumpy Florence would be loved for her laugh?”

Isn’t it the truth? We’re talking about the person who was the first to accuse Elizabeth of being “a princess”, the substitute who let the children go to lunch at 10:00 am because she couldn’t handle them anymore, and the woman Rosemary described in her town essay as “ the one who finds a cloud to every silver lining.” Not much of a sunny personality when she’s not sporting a new spider brooch, or spreading the latest piece of town gossip. And other than her crush on the imposter of Pastor Frank, I’ve never seen her really…gush…not about anything personal.

This moment gave Florence a chance to show how far she’s come since the show’s inception, and to return to her persona from before we met her. Let’s review the note again, shall we?

“Lovey,
Your constant laughter fills my heart. Never lose the joy you find in everything around you.”

First of all, one thing I didn’t point out the first time I saw this episode that is such a truth: the fact that Bill would think someone wouldn’t want a note like this back…he’s obviously a man! And I found it just the slightest bit funny that Bill thinks the name on the note might be “Livvy” when Jack Wagner’s character in the Wedding March series calls Josie’s character that.

One thing I noticed storyline-wise when I watched the episode again, (something I had never thought of before,) was the color of the coat. It’s pink; a very youthful, carefree, warm, and loving color. Maybe that’s why the costumers made it Elizabeth’s signature color. And I think it characterizes what Florence used to be; the way she’d probably like to be again. Compare and contrast that to the colors she wears in the episode: greens, grays…very stoic and formal. Can she get back to pink?

Well, her reaction is a step in the right direction. Let’s think back on it again. First of all, the look on her face when she reads the word “Lovey”. How long had it been since she’d been called that? It’s been years since the explosion when she lost her husband, but did life get in the way before that? Did Paul remind her often, or not? We just don’t know. And I love the fact that she calls him her childhood sweetheart before calling him her husband. It more fully points out that she got the note when she was 16; and it also lets her mentally return to the innocent joy they had before the cares and worries of life took over, before Paul’s life was taken. She says herself that she’d forgotten what he saw in her. Now she has a physical reminder that “means the world” to her, and she promises to “treasure it”.

This brings up a point I said previously, but it’s worth repeating: the power of the written word. It’s a lost art. There are so many notes in this episode, and it’s adorable to watch their effects! Now, hand-written was one of the only communications possible in the 1900’s, but it shows thought, care, and effort. I always hand-write my #FanFictionFriday stories before I type them. My feelings flow so much more freely, and then I have it as a memory I can return and look back on, not just click on. That’s something, in a sense, I think Florence was reminded of. As she walks away, she is clutching that note to her chest, trying to return to business, but basking in the glee. You know she’ll keep it forever!

Let’s write a note to someone we care about today, not just send them a text. Deal? Great! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Thanks for joining me, and a very Happy Belated Birthday to Loretta Walsh!

Ho, ho, ho, Hearties! This completely goes against my self-proclaimed “Christmas Purist” nature, but what kind of hip, up-to-date blogger would I be if I didn’t do ONE post about Christmas in July; especially a blogger who talks about Hallmark Channel?! That sounds completely unthinkable! But before I get to that, we have some…Hooked Heartie Guild business to address. I received a question on my feedback survey from the screen name: mnavin. Here is the question:

“I was curious why Jack never got a promotion. When Doug came to town Jack called him constable and Doug said no I got promoted to Sargent when I took the job you refused. So Jack served and then even went to train mounties but never got promoted. Just curious WHY??”

Thank you for the question mnavin!  And thanks for answering the survey!  That IS a really great question; one that I wondered myself.  To be completely honest, I don’t KNOW the answer.  I’ve put the question to someone who knows more about the script than I, so we’ll see if I get a response.  I will let you know the moment I get one.  

So, I shall now bend my holiday principles with a movie from 2015, “Dashing Through the Snow”, (I cannot BELIEVE it’s been that long!  I thought it was from last year!)

The WCTH stars in this one aren’t any from the main cast, but they’re two good ones.  There’s Aaron Craven.  He played Mr. Elliot Garvey in WCTH, (one of the men who tricks Rosemary into going back to the States with them…before Jack intervenes,) and FBI Agent Sam Monroe in Dashing.  And then there’s Andrew Walker.  Oh boy…Andrew Walker.  He probably needs no introduction, but just in case…He played the conniving Billy Hamilton in WCTH, (which is a huge tragedy to many Hearties since they want him as Elizabeth’s new love,) and Agent Dash Sutherland in Dashing.  Get it?  Did you know he’s been in 15 HALLMARK MOVIES?  That’s a lot!  Kurt Evans, who played Agent Fletcher in Dashing, isn’t in WCTH, but there’s a fun link.  He played Stanley Malcolm, the real estate tycoon in “A December Bride”, Daniel Lissing’s movie.  We are all connected in the Great Circle of Hallmark!  Tee hee

To kick things off, I noticed that the carolers at the beginning were singing “Jingle Bells”, of course.  BUT, they started singing at “…in a one-horse open sleigh,” leaving out the very obvious first line.  Did they do it on purpose?  Who knows, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  There is also the year 1914 embossed on the café window, and the teenage baristas joke about putting a foam heart in a crush’s latte.  No, those tidbits probably weren’t purposely directed at Hearties, but as I said, worth mentioning.

And speaking of shows, did you hear all the show and movie talk?  I thought I was a movie buff, but these two, plus the mom, got me beat.  It was great to hear them quote so many lines, sing show tunes, even act out parts of “It Happened One Night”.  It just added to the charm.

Charm.  That describes Ashley to a T!  I LOVE the character of Ashley!  She is just precious!  She’s savvy, yet optimistically naïve; she’s grounded, but still has dreams; she has an eye for detail, but not obsessively; she sees the good in others, but is cautious when needed; she’s finds the joy in almost everything; and she has great philosophies and Christmas spirit.  Here are the prime examples:

  • She considers being a 35-year-old man and never married (because you just don’t want to be) a red flag
  • She reasoned a comparison of how long a broken leg needs to heal, so why shouldn’t the heart need as much, if not more, time.
  • “I’ve seen this movie, and I know how it ends!” (Explaining her trepidation of getting into a car for a 2-day ride with a total stranger. She also looked him up and down before calling him “quasi-attractive”
  • She has a “truth-o-meter”. And thinks someone is a good person if they believe in the idea of Santa Claus
  • She wants Dash to call his mom so she knows it’s okay to get in a car with him.
  • She tells Dash’s “mom” he could use a shave. YES!!! Ashley doesn’t like scruff.  A woman after my own heart!
  • She decorates the inside of a car for Christmas!
  • She sees nothing wrong with squealing, or hanging an ornament on a tree in front of a crowd.
  • “Miracles happen, and tomorrow is another day.” (Agent Hobbs said that, and Dash said Ashley said almost the same thing.)
  • There are no disabilities, only challenges. (wisdom learned from her recently deceased father
  • She thinks everyone should have someone to believe in them.

That sounds like an all-in-all amazing woman to me!  Add to that list that she can knit and craft, and speaks 3 languages.  I’ve been in love with sign language practically my whole life, so when she started signing, I about fell over.  Dash asks her how she learned, and she reveals that her father was deaf.  By this point, the movie is more than halfway through, and it’s the first time we hear that.  I think that says a lot about Ashley as a person, that she didn’t see her dad as “different”.  I think it also says something about her mother, who is hearing.  I’ve heard disturbing stories of deaf people being snubbed simply because they can’t hear, and it’s obvious Ashley’s mother didn’t think that way.  It didn’t stop her from falling in love with him, when someone else may have just written him off as disabled.

Compare that with Dash Sutherland, the FBI agent stuck (in his opinion) in the car with Pollyanna, and he’s recovering from a failed assignment…and he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder.  I really like that Andrew didn’t play him bitter, just sarcastic.  He had a hard job, having to find a way to get in the same car with Ashley, and make it look perfectly normal; but he had some great lines and mannerisms to illustrate his feelings.  They got off to a great start when she’s expressing concern over riding with him.  She calls him a “quasi-attractive, charming, friendly, wrinkled-shirt stranger.”  He retorts, as he’s walking away, with “My shirt’s not THAT wrinkled.”  He also calls the car a “squeal-free zone”, calls Ashley’s road knowledge “a minor in geekdom”, and asks if Ashley’s driving instructor was a little old lady from Pasadena.  And he’s an Eagle Scout to boot!  My brothers are Eagle Scouts, so that just made me smile.

Some of my favorite moments of him, though, were the unspoken ones.  For instance, the puppy.  When Ashley brings the puppy to the car window, all he does is look forward, and roll it up.  It was such a subtle move, but for some reason, he made it hilarious!  Then, also with the dog, he does the “I’m watching you” gesture, and I burst out laughing.  There are somber ones too.  Andrew did this really well.  After we find out he’s an agent, he’s struggling not to tell Ashley.  His face is so telling!  He has such a haunted look in his eyes, but tries to keep the carefree and sarcastic persona.  It makes for a really great juxtaposition of characters seeing him sit next to a joyful Ashley.  And his best silent moment: actually shivering and acting cold when he gives her his jacket, instead of the macho, “No, it’s 20 degrees out here, but I’m totally fine.”  Hard to do when filming in summer, even in Canada.

I really love how Andrew and Meghan work together.  The car banter is especially important to the plot since the two main characters are sitting still in a car so much of the time.  But they kept it moving; I never felt like the film was moving too slow.  They even play the jinx game with each other.  The BEST part, however, was the first kiss.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “Duh!”, but this kiss was really well done.  First of all, it’s not at the very end, thank heavens.  The lead-up is fantastic too.  When Dash discovers Ashley’s innocent of any wrongdoing, he drops his phone in a billiard pocket on their way out of the bar where they had dinner.  Now the other agents can’t listen in.  Immediately, you can tell the difference in his tone.  He asks Ashley to tell him basically everything about her, something he couldn’t do when they were being monitored.  When she tells him she wants to open a craft store called “Crafty”, he calls it terrible since that can also mean shifty and dishonest.  Then he stops her, and says, “You’re not any of those things, are you, Ashley Jane Harrison?”  He leans in, with a slight hesitation, for an absolutely adorable kiss, asks her if it was okay, then kisses her again.  May I say, that man is a GREAT screen kisser!  Sorry, Meghan, I forgot to watch you too!

Then the end.  Ashley’s found out Dash is an FBI agent, so of course, she feels betrayed, and plans to “sulk all day”.  But at the town’s festival, who shows up…and in a HAY WAGON?  Earlier, Ashley had expressed her sadness that there would be no hay rides because her father recently passed away.  So he shows up, in a hay wagon, and tells her he thinks she needs someone to believe in her the way her father did; and he wants that someone to be him now.  The man was LISTENING!  Smart man indeed!  Ashley, in return, doesn’t make him suffer.  She took him coming back in said hay wagon as a true sign that he wants to be with her.  She doesn’t pull the coy, cold, “What are you doing here?” routine; she runs straight into his arms, and they share a tight hug…and lift.  Not only is that great for the storyline, I think it gives one last indication of her trusting and caring character.  And that, my friends, wraps this Christmas movie up with a nice little green bow!

Thanks for joining me for Christmas in July.  Join me Friday for what I guarantee will be a #FlashbackFriday you don’t want to miss.  Cheerio, Hearties!