Hello, Hearties. Welcome to another #FlashbackFriday. I apologize for it being so late today. Last week, the worldwide leader of my faith, (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) our prophet President Thomas S. Monson, passed away from old age. His funeral was LIVE today, broadcast from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I knew I needed to watch it. It was, indeed, very emotional and very moving. So thank you for your patience so I could pay my respects.

Now for our topic: I’ve mentioned before that, like many of you, I started over so I could have everything fresh in my mind when Season 5 premieres. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, but I’m still amazed at how much I’d forgotten. I’ve had lots of new insights I’ll share in future posts. For right now,  you know how we’ve talked about a season having “all the feels”? Well, as far as I’m concerned, we don’t have to go any farther than Season 1 Episodes 9-10 to get ALL of them!

Think about it: These are the episodes when Julie comes to visit, Jack FINALLY asks Elizabeth out to a PROPER dinner, Gowen gets closer to hanging himself morally, (with the help of Abigail and Jack,) Jack gets reassigned, and the Tolliver gang strikes.  We’ve got excitement, trepidation, butterflies and nerves, ROMANCE, embarrassment, disgust, giddiness, cunning, plotting, surprise, fear, danger, heartbreak, deception, longing, gratitude, wondering, relief, anger, heroism, timidity, shame, regret, even sibling rivalry. I’d say that just about covers the spectrum.

These episodes are the reason I personally think Abigail can’t become a couple with Henry. Redemption and forgiveness, TOTALLY possible. But to become ROMANTICALLY involved with the man who knowingly caused the death of her husband and son, AND tries to bribe the authorities, AND steals money from the town. It just doesn’t fit with me. It would always be a dark cloud hanging above their heads.

Julie…hmm…Julie. How do I describe my feelings for her? Blatantly and bluntly put, I think she’s ridiculous! If I were to be diplomatic,  I would say she’s extremely naïve, and has SO much to learn. The best way to express my feelings would be a line from Elizabeth: “Do you even hear yourself?!” She only gets the picture after she’s been threatened at gunpoint, and held hostage in cabin.

Now the fun part, the dinner! Sigh! I still remember the first time I watched it. I was beside myself! And when he said, “Please consider this an act of courtship,” and kissed her hand! I thought I would melt right then and there! My heart skipped a beat right now just remembering it. When Elizabeth walked down the stairs dressed in all that finery, she looked just like a princess. Why couldn’t my first date with my husband have been that enchanting? Then to see all the effort he went through, and the evidence of how long he had been planning, (“How long have you been planning this?” Smile. “That’s a secret.”), it became very evident they were getting this relationship started, and the roller coaster ride was beginning. Of course, we knew something she didn’t know, i.e. the new orders; so that was the only dark spot in that beautifully candlelit café.

Did you think they were going to kiss? I was certain it would happen, but they kept us hanging on through all that heart-rending separation. Who cried when he left? Guilty! I thought it was an excellent touch that he had her picture in his journal/notebook. It was such a little detail, but it rounded out the character even more, and added one more insight into Jack’s mind and heart. Season 1, especially, was REALLY good at those small details. Plus it showed he was truly becoming devoted to her.

Well everybody, once again I could go on and on, but then I’d be writing all night. So I will exercise self restraint and stop here. I hope you’ll come back to read all those new insights I was talking about. It’ll be fun!

 

Good mooooorning, Hearties! How’s everyone doing? Welcome to #WonderWednesday. Today I’m going a bit off the beaten path I usually travel, but not too far since the show is now on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. We’ll be talking about Psych Season 1 Episode 1. Why, you ask? If you haven’t already watched it, let me enlighten you. You are NOT going to believe who guest stars in it! Pascale Hutton… aka Rosemary LeVeaux Coulter! I didn’t remember seeing her, but I found I didn’t remember almost any of the plots from Season 1; I haven’t watched them since they premiered.

As a matter of fact, there is a HUGE collection of WCTH alumni in the series. I’m not even done with Season 1 yet, and I’ve already spotted 4! There’s Pascale, Steve Bacic (Spurlock), Anne Marie DeLuise (Aunt Caroline), and Chelah Horsdal (Cat Montgomery). To add to that, all this time I thought Psych was filmed in California, but SURPRISE! It was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The things we learn, right?

So, back to Pascale. Wow, does she look young! And since I didn’t remember seeing her in Psych, WCTH was the first thing I saw her in, as far as I was concerned. Even though I’ve been acting or into acting my whole life, I still find it startling to see someone I’m so familiar with in such a different setting. And even though she plays a comedic character of sorts in WCTH, she was in a show that has almost no serious moments whatsoever. Quite different. She’s still just as beautiful though. Playing a rich girl, and being costumed in beautiful clothes didn’t hurt either. It was so funny to see the character of Shawn Spencer flirt with her so shamelessly while she’s desperately trying to hold in a laugh; totally out of her league, am I right? How many takes did they need for that scene?

And that beach picture with what Shawn called a “very unfortunate perm”! It’s nice to know even famous people we adore went through awkward teenage years.

Probably the best part reaction-wise was when Shawn was wrong about her being the murderer. He pulls stuff from the big black bag expecting to find ransom money, but out comes her donations to a thrift store. Her reaction is the perfect blend of annoyance and the smug “I was right” mouth.

Unfortunately, that’s all I can write because she isn’t in anymore of the episode. Tragic loss! But it was fun watching her do a completely different character, and see more of her work since I had never seen her in anything else.

Happy Hump Day, Hearties! Here’s hoping you have a lovely rest of your week!

 

Hello, Hearties! For today’s #MeetYouMonday, my darling sister-in-law agreed to let me spotlight her! She’s such a good sport! And I was surprised to find out how much I didn’t know. So here’s how the interview went down:

Where are you from: I’m from the great state of Texas!

Tell us about your family: (This made me giggle, since I know all about her family. But I wanted her point of view.): I have a big family, and they’re loud. We like to hang out together. I have 6 siblings, 4 brothers and 2 sisters, 4 siblings-in-law, 2 nieces, 2 nephews, with a nephew on the way, and I’m their favorite aunt. We raise animals, we like board games, and we’re very active in LDS faith, i.e. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

What are you studying? What are your hobbies: I’m studying psychology. I like kayaking, hiking, reading, movies, and WCTH. I also enjoy running, and I recently discovered a love of tennis; I’m still learning though. I have a goal to do more extreme sports, and be more athletic. I want to try bungee  jumping and water rafting one day, and I’m currently training for a 5K marathon.

How did you discover WCTH: Stumbled across it on Netflix. I was REALLY sad Season 3 wasn’t loaded on there before I left on my 18-month missionary service to Brazil. I left with the Season 2 cliffhanger in my head.

What is your favorite episode: It’s a toss-up between the mine and the proposal. Love those!

Who’s your favorite character: Abigail. She’s just so cool! She is independent, and gets things done. She’s also super friendly, strong, funny, caring, service-oriented. On top of that, she bakes and she’s mayor of the town! She’s great all around.

Favorite star: Pascale Hutton. She has a wide range of acting ability, and fills the role very well.

Why do you love the show: It gives me something to talk about with my sister-in-law. 😉 It’s a good, clean, and moral show, and it also has a love story. It’s hard to find a good TV show today. They’re too crazy or too vulgar, and this one can be enjoyed by whole family.

 

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to interview Laura is I wanted to include a Facebook post she did a few weeks back. I think all of you will have a giggle! Don’t worry! I have her permission.

“After watching several hallmark Christmas movies these last few days I have discovered the secret to finding the perfect man and getting married.

Step 1.) Go to a small town that loves celebrating the holidays, located near the mountains and stay in a cabin.

 

Step 2.) Find the 1 extremely good looking man in the town, argue slightly and then begin to fall in love with each each other.

 

Step 3.) Have a pivotal argument that makes you two go separate ways. Then realize how much the two of you love each other and run back for the other.

 

Step 4.) kiss and make up and live happily ever after.

I need to make plans with Michelle Clements for us to do this next Christmas. If it works for hallmark it should work for us!”

Then my husband got in on it, and commented this:

“You forgot the part about being in a dead end relationship where they care for each other and one is unwilling to take the next step or they are completely incompatible in every single way and you wonder how they even got together in the first place.”

 

My sister-in-law Michelle, who is being dragged into these plans, had this to say:

“Why wait Laura, with Hallmark channel this could happen at any time of the year. Winter fest is next which will include meeting a prince, then it will be Valentine movies in small towns, then spring fling movies, then June weddings….   I think we could make this happen before Christmas. Now what small town to go to? 😊”

Well, Laura, I think you’ve got the perfect plan pegged!

 

That’s what Elizabeth said to Jack. Well, good afternoon/evening, fellow Hearties who are desperately attempting not to foam at the mouth; or at least trying to contain the foaming inside the mouth. It’s difficult to wait for Season 5, isn’t it? But we must endure, and endure well! We’ll plow through this…together. Just like the title says, we HAVE been here a good long while, haven’t we? And we will also be staying “a good long while,” won’t we? Like many of you, I’m partially filling these empty weeks with all previous seasons, and I’m starting at the top with Season 1, Episode 1. I have no clue how many times I’ve done this, so we’ll go with umpteenth. But this time, I get to do it with my new set of DVD’s: my mother’s Christmas present to me! HOORAY!

 

One bit of fun trivia is I counted how many characters were in the very first episode, and are still a part of the series today. There are nine, which I think is a pretty decent record. There’s Elizabeth and Jack, of course. There’s also Abigail, Henry, Ned, Florence, and Molly. Surprisingly, there are also two children left: Emily and Anna. I do miss Cat Montgomery, though. I even had a dream a few nights that I was watching a WCTH promo announcing her return. But in the words of Sleeping Beauty, “And then…I wake up.”

 

I also admit to missing the portrayal of the townspeople. I miss the BEAUTIFUL period hats and hairstyles, and I especially miss the language: Ma, Pa, post, pleasant, fellas, etc. Those are some of my favorite things about Season 1. The town looks SO DIFFERENT from the 1st episode to now. I guess the sawmill was really good for its prosperity.

 

 

Let’s get to the specifics of this episode. It starts at the very beginning with the contrast in Elizabeth’s face. Her voice over talks about “stubborn pride”, and her face looks so serene as she gazes at the scenery. Then in an instant, her face twists into horror at a mere rock in the road. It only contorts further at the sight of the outlaws, and I LOVE how her voice quavers at the same moment she says “capable” and “independent”. That look is only rivaled by the look of horror and helplessness when the teacherage burns to the ground. A close 3rd is the look of fear and disgust at the outhouse. I had to giggle at that image since it’s what Brian Bird used to prepare us for the Season 5 drama that’s coming.

 

I just have one thing to say about Elizabeth: WHAT WAS SHE THINKING??? She didn’t have a single practical skill to survive on her own, she’d never done anything without servants, and there were no microwaves or washing machines back then. How was she planning to live? I presented the question to my husband, and his opinion was maybe she thought she could hire someone. Who knows, really?

 

Let’s go to her complete opposite: Abigail, homemaker extraordinaire. But looking beyond those skills, I love how she is immediately established as the nurturing one. My favorite aspect of that is how little of a snob she is. Even when people have started out like someone else, memory often fails them, and they think the new person should be just like them from the beginning. Abigail goes to great lengths to soothe Elizabeth’s troubled soul, and help her realize she started out just like she did. Plus, her makeup job even makes her look like she has traces of coal dust on her face, which makes her fit the role perfectly.

 

Now let’s move on to our Jack, BEFORE he was perfect. First thing’s first: his entrance. I’m noticing he gets most, if not all, of the dramatic entrances. He doesn’t even appear until 14 minutes into the 1st episode; but that really establishes Elizabeth’s character to us before…more complications arise. And something hilarious that I noticed: the child Elizabeth is holding gives Elizabeth a totally giddy “Teacher’s in lo-ove” smile when Jack rides off.

 

Jack’s emotions, though: WOW! They change on the face of a dime! Their first conversation, for example. Daniel Lissing said in an interview that Jack was really excited to meet Elizabeth. Pretty woman, she’s new in town, he’s new in town; he’s totally flirting! Then with a snap of the fingers, he completely resents her, and holds her personally responsible for his assignment change. Then when he shows up at Abigail’s front door for dinner all smiles and friendliness, and it instantly melts to a cold glare when Elizabeth answers…changeable! And so cocky! That “I was right” smile with the pinching shoes, tight dress, and not being disappointed…so infuriating! I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing Gabe was being truant either.

 

She throws it back at him though. Some of her best lines are: “I can take care of my own stubbed toes, thank you very much!”, and “You better get used to a steady diet of coal dust. I’m a Thatcher! We don’t run from a challenge.” My favorite lines of them playing off each other are: “Instinct is for Mounties, not for teachers.” “Students are for teachers, not for Mounties.”

 

Funny thing about Erin Krakow: she has a habit of playing characters who are very attracted to men chopping wood, (WCTH and Finding/Engaging Father Christmas). Can’t say I blame her! Somebody get me a cool cloth for my head! And thanks to her voice over, I found out what “P.S.” meant: “Post Script”.

See ya Monday, friends!

 

Hello there, dear Heartie friends!  How is everyone?  If you’re like me, you’re trying to get back in the swing of things without the kick of the holidays to motivate you.  Sound about right?  Well, the outside may be getting darker as people take down their Christmas lights, but we have our own light at the end of that tunnel: the premiere of Season 5!  I just watched the Christmas special for the 4th time with my niece, (her 1st,) and it got me more excited than ever for some weekly family-friendly, romantic entertainment.  

Speaking of which, that brings me to today’s #WonderWednesday.  With permission from Papa Heartie himself, I am sharing with you Brian Bird’s amazing article about the desperate NEED, not want, of clean and wholesome media in the world today.  We all knew he was articulate, but his writing here is straight-up and to the point, with no apologies.  Well done, Pot Stirrer! 

 

By Brian Bird

I’ve been writing and producing films and television shows in Hollywood for three decades, but I’ve been a consumer of media for a lot longer. Some of the moments I treasure most from my childhood were those evenings sitting with my family watching TV… together.

When I was young, the TV set was a destination all of us shared and enjoyed. I don’t believe we were alone in that. At one time, American homes were filled with that glowing, flickering warmth of families spending time together, gathered to watch their favorite shows. And we would laugh, cry, and most of the time, be uplifted by the story-telling. It was a special time – not just for my family, but I believe for tens of millions of American families.

But that’s not the case anymore. Shared family media is a lost cultural experience. Advances in technology have left us in separate rooms watching niche media content on our own TV sets, PCs, electronic book-readers, tablets or smart phones – all disconnected from one another.

But that’s just part of the problem. As the media landscape has become fractured by a thousand different entertainment choices 24-7-365 (for instance, there were 500 original, scripted TV programs produced in 2017 alone), the competition for eyeballs has become fiercer than anything I have experienced in 30 years of telling stories. And the race for sensational ratings or “click-throughs” in a more competitive marketplace has given rise to more sensational programming choices. It’s inevitable. If you are a programmer trying to steal market-share from your nearest competitor, you think the only way to do it is by getting louder, edgier and more controversial. If all your competitors follow that same path, it leads everyone over a content cliff.

Consequently, entertainment choices today have been coarsened to the point that some of the most popular shows/films/web series with viewers and critics are grisly dramas with graphic depictions of violence and protagonists pursuing their darkest instincts. However well-made they might be as art, content featuring crystal meth dealers, serial killers, vampires, zombies, shameless fathers or politicians and other anti-heroes who routinely lie, cheat and steal, now rule the airwaves and cyber-space. Rather than come together around entertainment that is life-and-hope-affirming and suitable for family viewing, we are a culture voraciously consuming content that appeals to our basest desires and temptations. Is it any wonder that every aspect of our cultural experience, from politics to religion to social movements, is coarser, less civilized and more polarized than ever? In effect, I believe we are becoming what we consume. No wonder we need a #MeToo social re-education.

And families now have very few opportunities to connect over media because there are precious few programs they can actually watch together.

For full disclosure, I am currently producing one program that is unapologetically a throw-back to the kind of shows we all watched back in the day. It is a one-hour, period drama called When Calls the Heart that airs in the U.S. both on the Hallmark Channel and Netflix. Now in fifth season, it is a series about hope, faith and love set in a 1910 coal-mining town struggling to overcome all manner of hardship, but doing it together with… faith, hope and love. And it is has built a loyal following of several million fans who call themselves “Hearties” and ravenously consume the show like it’s the last food on earth. That’s because they are underserved and underfed by an entertainment business that, with very few exceptions, has forgotten how to create content for them, or strategically decided to ignore them. And our show has spawned a non-profit movement to lobby for more family-friendly media content called “Hearties International,” along with “Hearties Parties” that meet together weekly all over the country for food, fellowship and mutual love of the show.

I have also written, with my co-author Michelle Cox, a 40-day devotional, When God Calls the Heart (coming February 1, 2018) that families can read together while watching our show as a resource to spur discussion of the important virtues in each episode. They will be able to use it both as a tool to teach important values of citizenship and civility and frankly, the Golden Rule – treat others as you would wish to be treated – which seems to be completely MIA in our culture today.

If you’re looking for drug-dealers, dead bodies and morally relativistic storylines, you won’t find them here. Hope Valley is a place where the Great Virtues rule, where life is filled with soul-nourishing themes like forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, courage, honesty, integrity and dependence on God.

The legendary broadcaster David Frost once said, “Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you would never have in your home.” Everywhere I travel, I meet people who are weary of those daily home invasions. They long for a return to a time when the airwaves (and now bandwidth) were filled with content suitable for whole families to watch together. The content providers once competed with each other to fill their schedules with those kinds of entertainment choices. Today, “family hour” is absolutely on life-support and facing extinction. Is that really a good thing for our society?

I believe there is a vast, underserved audience starving for a new renaissance in family media content. My colleagues and I stand ready to keep our chisels working round-the-clock.

Brian Bird is Executive Producer and co-creator of When Calls the Heart and co-author, with Michelle Cox, of the devotional book, When God Calls the Heart.

On set of When Calls the Heart.
From Left to Right: Daniel Lissing, Brian Bird, Erin Krakow, Neill Fearnley.