Before I give my official review, let me share a few brief items.
First of all, I have read the quartet of books by Janette Oke which inspired this series. I was incredibly excited when I heard about this series, and I fully expected the series to follow the books–at least to a degree. When I saw the original movie that preceded this series, I was intrigued. I fully expected to see something very similar to this once the series started.
However, once the series began, I was a bit disappointed. All the actors (except for Lori Loughlin) were different, and I was not certain I was ready to embrace the way in which this story was headed. Why would Hallmark change everything I knew and loved about a book series that was so near and dear to my heart?
Thankfully, this series was so masterful, and the two main actors (whom I will discuss later) as well as Lori Loughlin made me fall in love with this series. When you add the expert writing, directing, and the fact that this is suitable for any age level, I became a champion for this series. Not only that, I highly recommend this series to everyone. Furthermore, later on this month, season two will premiere–April 25 to be exact. You still have time to get caught up on season one! (Although you could watch season two without watching season one, why would you want to do something so non sequitur?)
One additional item of note–the fans of When Calls the Heart are fiercely loyal to the show, the actors, and each other. Go to any social media site and type in #hearties, and you will probably see a massive amount of posts including fan art, news, and just general discussion of the show. These fans have watched season one more than you can possibly imagine. Show them a picture of any scene, and they will be able to tell you what episode, what was happening, etc. I have only recently become active in their community, and let me tell you that these fans are some of the best people on the planet. My loyalties are divided (I’m a #COVer at heart–Cedar Cove). However, the entire reason that season two happened is as a result of these fans. Others could take a hint from this community.
For the purposes of this review. I will not be able to individually review every character of Coal Valley, but I will pick out my favorites. I will have additional sites for you to check out for more information after the review.
I am perhaps commencing with one of the most despised characters in this series–Rosemary LeVeaux. Speak the name Rosemary to the #hearties community, and you will hear an almost audible groan. She is played by Pascale Hutton (I am not familiar with any of her other works, but she has quite a resume), and she is the “other woman” who tries to separate the two principals. Quite honestly, I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Rosemary. Her character emerges just like she should–conceited, brazen, and divisive in relation to Mountie Jack and Elizabeth. She is the consummate “jilted fiance,” (but you might wish to check out the entire story before making assumptions) and quite sincerely, no one but Pascale could play her with such fervor. In order for a quality story to be presented, some kind of villain is absolutely imperative. After all, I am not a fan of the sugary-sweet Hallmark movies where nothing genuinely untoward occurs. Rosemary provides that necessary sinister element; moreover, I also believe she is there to force Jack and Elizabeth to ultimately make a decision. Without a doubt, there is no one who could play this part as exceptionally as Pascale. She plays the part with impeccable precision–so much so that I believe she has gotten a lot of “hate communications” from fans of the show. That alone should demonstrate just how well this actress tackles this role–she is extremely convincing. I have no doubt she will show up in Season two and still wreak havoc, but time will only tell.
Let’s talk about a true criminal–Henry Gowen played quite plausibly by Martin Cummins. He is yet another actor with an impressive resume, but again I have seen him in nothing else. In this show, he is the peerless criminal and mean-spirited character who attempts to woo Abigail (you’ll find about her a little later on). He owns the mining company, and he believes that entitles him to dictate how the town is to be run. He cares nothing about the personal safety of his workers; it is all about money and what he can get. I always say that it requires a certain level of skill to portray a genuine villain. And indeed Martin gives that kind of performance. While there may be other actors who could have played this part, he seems to have a complete grasp on what his character should be. This is shown in his skillful use of mannerisms, voice inflections, and interactions with the other characters. No doubt he will be back in season two after the accusations he made in season one.
As one of the more colorful widows of the town, Loretta Walsh does an exceptional job of capturing the very essence of Florence Blakeley. As we understand that the entire town if practically composed of widows and children, it makes sense that there would be a few that resonate with viewers to the point of becoming an unforgettable character. Indeed Loretta’s portrayal of this feisty lady certainly does just that. Not all characters have days of the week named after them, but true #hearties know about “Feisty Florence Friday.” On that day, fan art revolving around this character is shared all over the internet. And rightfully so. Although I have never seen her in any other works, Loretta completely immerses herself in this character who cannot be overlooked. The hat and facial expression says it all. Anything you may expect about this character you will receive in Loretta’s portrayal. There is no denying that Florence is strong, but she is nosy and sometimes a bit ostentatious. However, no one can deny that in the episode where she helps to deliver twins, you could ask for no better woman in your town. I have had the privilege of connecting with the actress a bit on twitter lately, and she is warm, gracious, and very devoted to promoting her character and this show. I certainly look forward to more of her in season two.
I could spend much time discussing the other widows, the children, and more. Honestly I cannot think of an actor or actress who does not fit perfectly with this series. But for the purposes of the review, I am now going to focus on those who have become the four principals.
I am not a soap opera fan, so I am unfamiliar with this actor. However as Bill Avery, Abigail’s potential love interest, and the Mountie investigator of the mining disaster, he is handsome, suave, and perfectly suited to this role. If I were in Abigail’s shoes, I’d sure be swept off my feet too. Jack plays his character so effortlessly, and I was always captivated with him when he was on the screen. Nothing against Mountie Jack at all, but I might just pick Bill (I am older after all so maybe that’s why). The thing we all hope is that in the end, he will prove to be the “good guy” who can work out Abigail’s situation with grace. His caring and consideration of Abigail and her situation is enthralling and heart-warming. While I won’t be looking up soap operas any time soon, I will certainly keep my eyes peeled for this multifaceted actor in the future (definitely looking forward to season two).
Lori Loughlin has always been a favorite of mine. I grew up watching Full House, and I had no idea what she did afterwards. When I first noticed her on this series, I knew I recognized her, but I didn’t instantly place her. When I discovered who she was, her character of Abigail quickly rose to become my favorite character of the series. And that has not changed. Lori is such a talented actress, and I think sometimes her ability is underrated. I am so grateful that Hallmark has recognized her talent and used her extensively in so many of their works. I have seen her play everything from really sweet to psycho, but this is one of my all-time favorite roles for her.
No matter what she is doing on the screen as Abigail, I have an instant connection with her. I believe everything she says and that she will be totally in control of the situation. Abigail has this way of being the one who is always calm and cool, and no matter what comes her way, she will be the victor in the end. She is the absolute representation of all the is good and true in Coal Valley. Her determination is incredibly inspirational, and I look forward to her family’s ultimate vindication in season two. Additionally, her interactions with all the actors on-screen (especially the other three principals) is sheer delectation. I truly believe that her character could charm practically anyone in town (debatable in reference to Mr. Gowen). Lori is just one of those actresses who is genuinely likable from the moment you see her on-screen!
This is the guy that seems to always make all the #hearties swoon. Yes Daniel Lissing plays the part of Mountie Jack Thornton, and the girls just absolutely go bonkers over him! And I guess I can’t say that I blame them.
First of all, Mountie Jack is a Mountie. He wears a red uniform, and already his ruggedness and the uniform makes him a “swoonworthy” person of interest. Daniel himself is a relatively new actor to the U.S. (he is Australian), and he’s a musician, too. You might think that all he has going for him is his uniform and good looks, but you would be very wrong indeed.
Every Monday, the #hearties celebrate his features, smile, personality, and more. But more than anything, Daniel is an absolute natural in this true gentlemanly role. His character always treats women with that old-fashioned respect and charm, and his smile is certainly legendary. Again, Daniel has created this character in a way few actors can, and there is no one else who could fill this role as well as he does (at least in my humble opinion).
Add to that his on-screen chemistry with both of his co-stars, and you practically have a match made i heaven. Abigail is always giving poor Jack the motherly advice he so needs, and Elizabeth is always the perfect foil for his character. They play off of each other so well–you just cannot teach that kind of acting. It is pure magic
Whenever these two are on-screen together, I was always captivated. The way in which Jack treats Elizabeth is perfect down to the last detail. The writing is superb, but the way in which the actors execute the scenes is purely phenomenal. In fact, trying to think of Daniel as anyone other than Mountie Jack is almost an impossibility. He has become so identified with this character. The push-pull relationship the two principals have is purely heavenly.
Almost forgot–his loyal companion Rip is absolutely ideal as well. That dog is fantastic, and provides much of the humor in the story. Oh, and the humor that Daniel brings to Mountie Jack’s character is also marvelous. I am enraptured with the fact that Mountie Jack loves to tease Elizabeth and string her along. Their interactions are priceless!
And now to the lead female role–Erin Krakow. First of all, I may have seen her on Hallmark previously, but there is a good chance that this was my first time seeing her. She is a genuinely beautiful woman with an unbelievable figure (my mom and I are constantly commenting on how petite she is), but that is certainly not all she is. She is a superlative actress who truly has brought the character of Elizabeth to life in every detail. There is something pristine and untouched about her look and mannerisms that make her seem the character without even trying (oh I know she’s acting–just meaning that she makes it look natural).
No matter how she’s dressed nor how she wears her hair, she is completely matchless in the role. Though young, this actress has a very bright future ahead of her. I don’t believe she could pull off playing a mean role (unless they completely gave her a makeover), but she plays the part of teacher so well. And since I’m a teacher, I certainly can relate.
I always love seeing her in the classroom. In fact, those are probably my favorite scenes as all of her interactions with the students is authentic in the extreme. She brings all the enthusiasm and knowledge to this role–I wish there were more teachers like Miss Thatcher in today’s society. Erin has so transformed herself into her character, I never questioned that she was Elizabeth Thatcher.
Erin brings to the role something truly special. She plays the rich girl who is now learning to survive on the prairie. But no matter what, even when disheveled, exhausted, or wallowing in the dirt, she always looks as fresh and as clean as a daisy.
As stated when I covered the characters of Abigail and Mountie Jack, her interactions and chemistry with them are ideal and genuine. Abigail is like a mother to Elizabeth when she needs one, and a compassionate friend when she needs that as well. She and Jack absolutely detest each other at first, but by the end of season one, sparks definitely fly.
–or enjoy their first kiss, you can rest assured that you will treasure these two together. I don’t think anyone wants to see them split up by anyone, but there is also much these two need to learn about each other. So as season two beckons, we have no idea what is in store for our two lovebirds, but we can only hope that they will discover the true desires of their hearts and follow them.
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