Hello, Coal Valley residents! If you are looking at the dates on this post, you’ll probably think I got a late start, and that is true; but I’m really honestly not that far behind, because I am going to start from the very beginning. I’m going to talk to you about the very first time Elizabeth Thatcher stepped into our dear Coal Valley!
Now let’s talk about this very first episode:
Let me start off by saying, although I am a fan of Mrs. Oke’s works, a huge fan in fact, I have not read all of the Canadian West series. I did read the beginning of it while I was in college several years ago, but have not finished it due to my dyslexia. I’ve been trying hard to find it available in audio, but it seems almost impossible to find the entire series in audio, and I would like to start out reading it from the beginning since it has been so long. I was happy to see that it was being put into a television series, although I know it will deviate from the books. I knew Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird, even with deviations, would do Mrs. Oke’s work justice, and was eager to see the artistry that they had created with it.
Let’s start out by talking about the three main and, in my opinion, most noticeable characters of this episode. Just a reminder, these reviews are my opinion only, and I am in no way affiliated with the Hallmark Channel or any of these actors, actresses, Believe Pictures, or Janette Oke. This is just a fan review.
We start off with the new school teacher, Elizabeth Thatcher. From what we can tell in the beginning episode, Elizabeth comes from a well-rounded, wealthy family, but was looking for an adventure of her own to prove to her family that she could stand on her own two feet. Miss Elizabeth’s adventure leads from misfortune, to clumsy and naive misadventure by accidentally burning down the teacherage, not giving her confidence a very good boost. The story is set up well with laughter and smiles all the way. The tone becomes serious as Elizabeth is told about the mine collapse, and more loved ones are uncovered from the rubble of the mine cave-in during her first day of school. The families are called to claim their loved ones, and a fight breaks out over who should have a note left by an unknown miner.
No one was more shocked by this mysterious note that was uncovered than Abigail Stanton.
Abigail Stanton seems to be the leader of all the coal miners’ wives and the town, if you don’t count the much-disliked owner of the coal mines, Mr. Henry Gowen. Abigail, a strong-willed woman, lost her husband and son in the coal mining accident, along with many of the other husbands in the town. We are told this happened just months before our next character arrives, which would be….
Constable Jack Thornton, a Canadian Mountie
When he first arrives in Coal Valley, Jack is not quite sure why he has been assigned to such a small, sleepy town as this; but he is quick to learn of Miss Elizabeth’s status and realizes that the man of importance that sent him here was more than likely her father. He blames her for being sent to such a quiet town, and is certain that he will not be here long; because someone who was raised so delicately cannot last in such a town as this. He vows to get reassigned as soon as possible, if the teacher can even last that long. Before his reassignment comes through, he realizes there may be something wrong with this whole coal mining disaster, and it may not be all that it seems. He also has to help settle the goodbye note dispute, so he orders Gowen to investigate which family it belongs to. Meanwhile, Jack secretly starts an investigation about the disaster that has befallen the the town. He is disgusted with his situation and impatient about his transfer, but he can’t help but wonder if there is more to Miss Elizabeth than meets the eye. Although he doesn’t say this, you can tell by his sly, little smirk and sideways glances, as well his quiet comments when they pass each other in frustration. Is this Landon and Bird setting the stage well for our Miss Elizabeth and Jack to have the perfect “you frustrate me” type romance that fans ache for in any Christian romantic novel, let alone a TV series? It is heart-warming and something that every family can enjoy!
Let’s talk about casting for a minute.
IMDB does not have a casting director listed, so I will have to look at the credits before I do my next review to give credit to our casting directors of the show. The casting is absolutely phenomenal!
Is Elizabeth Thatcher. Erin brings a quirky, spitfire of a character to life without the blink of an eye, and makes it look effortless to do so. The chemistry between Jack and Elizabeth is undeniable. It’s easy to see there is a friendship between the two in real life as well, based on their tweets as you watch them on Twitter bantering back and forth between one another. The good-natured fun can be humorous to watch, and the candid snapshots from backstage that Hallmark is willing to show their fans on Facebook, bring a smile to your face. According to IMDB and Google, Erin is originally from Pennsylvania and is best known for her role in the Lifetime TV series, “Army Wives”, and the Hallmark movie, “Chance at Romance”. As a novelist myself, you may or may not have already guessed that I watch a lot of TV and movies, as well as read many books. In all of the years that I’ve been writing, as well as watching talent on television and movies, I’ve been keeping an eye out just in case my dreams come true and Hallmark makes at least one of my works into a series or a movie. I may need to know the names of actors, just in case I get the chance to choose the cast. I must confess that I had never heard Erin’s name before, or seen any of her work until now. I have not only been watching “When Calls the Heart” since the beginning, but I now stumbled upon her hallmark movie “Chance at Romance”, and was equally impressed with her work there. She is a very talented actress who can seamlessly pick up on the thoughts and feelings of her character, and draw you in without hesitation. I can’t wait to see more of her work!
Lori Loughlin -
Is Abigail Stanton. This is the name I was more than happy to see on another regular TV series, once again; and this is information that I did not get from IMDB or Google, it is information from my personal experience. Lori, in my opinion, is best known for her role as Aunt Rebecca in the TV show “Full House”. I remember coming home from school and watching that every single afternoon, along with any Hallmark movies and many Lifetime Movies. Since then, I have longed to see her in a family show like this. In my mind, this was the role tailor-made for Lori herself. Abigail Stanton seems to be much like Lori’s actual personality. I have never met her in person, only seen her in TV interviews and such, but whenever you see her in an interview or read articles in a magazine about her, she seems to carry herself with the same strength and grace, just as her character does. I greatly look forward seeing her on the screen in weeks come!
Jack, our Canadian Mountie, plays the part with ease and determination like I could not have imagined. As I said earlier in this blog, I have read the first few books in the series, so I do had a picture in my mind of how a Mountie should be portrayed before I even started watching the show. I could have not picked a better actor myself, if I had to pick someone to play this part. I only hope being a novelist, that one day I am fortunate enough to work with actors as talented as these on a show. Originally from Australia, Daniel is known in the U.S. for his first US series called the “Last Resort”. Although I have never seen “Last Resort”, I know that I have seen Daniel from somewhere before, but after seeing his list of work, I’m finding it hard to put my finger on where I have seen him on screen. Some of the titles listed do indeed sound familiar, so I’m going to have to search my memory banks for that one. I know for a fact that I’ve seen his work before because the minute I saw him in the previews before the season even started I was excited that they had chosen him for the lead role. That smile fits the Mountie perfectly, that I had pictured in my mind as the young woman in college when I read the novels. My information on his career comes from a mix of IMDB and Google.
Let’s discuss the wardrobe!
As far as I’ve been able to tell with the time period, the wardrobe is perfect. Costume department has been absolutely spot-on, but being this is the first episode I will not go into detail about the wardrobe today. I will further discuss the wardrobe in other blogs since I’m only discussing our cast in this first blog. I will see you after I have thoroughly combed through the second episode.
In this first episode, Michael Landon Jr., Brian Bird, and their cast and crew have outdone themselves from the moment the episode started. From the voice over of Elizabeth in the stagecoach, to the ending as she finished writing a letter to her father; everything was picture perfect - without a hitch, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds from here. See you soon! :-)
Written by Amy J. Falk