May 24, 2024

WCTH – Season 9 – In Like a Lion

When last we left Hope Valley, Elizabeth had made her fateful decision– she was going to date Lucas, the roguish owner of the Saloon that helped her get her work published– rather than date the new Constable Nathan. This lead to Hearties everywhere either claiming that they’d never watch the show again, or that they were happy with the outcome as it seemed that over the three-seasons(!) that they played up this love triangle, Lucas was the more interesting character with the better chemistry with Elizabeth.

This show is the longest-running of Hallmark’s original content, with a spin-off show on another station, but if the season can be judged based on the show’s first episode, it is missing some of the spark that it had in the earlier seasons because of structural issues:

Too Many Characters

Last season saw the departure of Dr. Carson Sheppard, which allows Faith to be the only character that does the doctoring, removes her relationship with Carson from having to be a focal point, and simplifies that area– although we are treated to her trying to make a name for herself on/at the clinic. Literally.

They also wrote out Jesse and Clara, and that is also an improvement because all they could seem to do with this young couple is show dysfunction– first, before they were getting married and then married life. You were always wondering whether these two ever got along, what they saw in each other, and it was a bit jarring considering the other couples in town.

But this still leaves the following characters that all have to get some screen time:

  • Elizabeth and Lucas – they’re the leading couple, and we have to grow their relationship, even if it has less chemistry than it had
  • Elizabeth and her class – Does she still teach school? We seem to need at least one scene in the classroom, even if it only appears that she has time for this now
  • Rosemary and Lee Coulter – I could watch an entire show that had these two as the featured characters. They click well together (although at times a bit goofy), and they need more screen time.
  • Bill & Molly – The utility guy that feels like a stand in because we don’t have characters to play other parts. Doubt me? The guy is the town’s mayor, judge, attorney, owns/runs the only cafe, subs for the constable and is an investigator, and organizes just about anything. Molly hangs around the infirmary and is a love interest of Bills… maybe?
  • Ned and Florence – Newlyweds they are trying to give more screen time to by having them run just about everything in this town: The merchantile, the phone system, the new Ice Cream parlor and pharmacy, they count votes, deliver the mail, and do on the spot musical numbers
  • Joseph Canfield and family – Perhaps my new favorite additions. I love how they make faith look believable, and they add a spiritual depth this show hasn’t had in a while.
  • Henry – Why is he still here? Why do we have the oil plot?
  • Fiona and Hickam – I mean, I know that the actor that plays Nathan is dating the actress that plays Fiona in real life, but I’m not sure why she’s still around… to wear pants and run the barbershop?
  • Laura and Little Jack – We have to remember big Jack, and Laura has to be around because Elizabeth has to be able to write, flirt and occasionally teach school, you know?

I’ve probably missed some, but you get the idea. If you’re trying to get all these actors and actresses into the show and try to come up with something for every show, it just can’t work. The first few seasons had Jack, Elizabeth, Abigail, and Henry. It took time to introduce and bring in some of these people, but a bulk of the show was following Elizabeth’s path in the aftermath of the mining disaster. Now it’s just, how do we string a long bunch of scenes showing all the different people and new sets we can afford at the cost of a genuine story.

What’s the Point?

For the last few seasons, they’ve put filler together with the “which one will she choose” and “she really misses Jack” motif, killing time with seeing dysfunctional Jesse and Clara and introducing other people to Hope Valley. It’s been a while since there was a villain like Henry was or the railroad that almost came to town. There’s been no rallying point like when Jack went missing in the river. It’s just floating from episode to episode with perfect people all trying to get along, and smiling or making silly faces when things don’t go their way.

In Like a Lion

So, for the latest episode, it was more of the same. A balloon came to town, so the class took turns riding it, and Lucas, the perfect guy, took Elizabeth up in it because now he’s an expert in balloon piloting. Henry came back and is all upset because Fiona is trying to get Lucas a good deal for the oil business. THey open the ice cream parlor with a mysterious woman who stood in for her husband to claim the pharmacist job, and Nathan gets hit by a car (which they foreshadowed the entire show by him almost getting hit at the beginning by Henry and him talking about why he prefers horses and asking Elizabeth to ask Lucas to give him driving lessons).

And there is still flirting going on between Nathan and Elizabeth.

So, if you’re wondering about this season, I expect more of the same. If you want to see this when it was really good, go pick up the early seasons and check them out. I’ll keep you posted if this one turns out to be worth it.

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Great Scott, have I really been watching movies for more than 40 years?! Follow along as I review for the message/moral of the movie as well as what to watch out for. Blogging as "A Bee" here, but Adam everywhere else, if you want to read about technology or theology, follow me on

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