When Calls the Heart, Season One (2014)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Based on a popular book series, this show is clean family entertainment along the likes of Christy.
Passionate and somewhat idealistic Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) goes "out west" in Canada to teach the students in a coal mining town, leaving behind her posh lifestyle in the process. She encounters a town devastated through a mining accident in which half the population died, leaving most of the children fatherless. Upon her arrival, she is warmly welcomed and invited into the home of Abigail (Lori Loughlin), who becomes a confidante and personal friend despite battling her sadness over the loss of her husband and son. But she also quickly gets on the wrong side of Mountie Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing), who accurately discerns that his sudden re-assignment to Coal Valley was at the behest of her father's financial interference.
He puts in for an immediate transfer, which is largely ignored as he goes toe to toe with her on various levels, and tries to keep order in the relatively peaceful town. Unfortunately, it has its own established villain in the owner of the mine, who intends to force the widows out of their row houses so as to accommodate new employees. Sparks fly in all directions -- romantic and otherwise -- as Elizabeth takes him on, and the women venture into the mine for the right to keep their houses. What follows is a full season of memorable characters, children adjusting to new parental figures in their lives, a ruckus over a "last message" from one of the miners, the visit of Elizabeth's sister, an entanglement with notorious outlaws, and, of course, the shy and often dynamic romance blossoming between Elizabeth and a man she cannot stand. Much. Maybe a little. He's nice.
Though not as openly faith-filled as the books, the series does involve storylines revolving around the local pastor and the burning of the church. Prayer is mentioned a few times. There is talk of God and divine intervention. Mostly it sticks to a format of being sweet, and innocent entertainment. When it touches on dark elements of human nature, it does so with class. It nicely builds suspense when it places familiar and favorite characters in peril, and progressively takes everyone somewhere -- on a journey of personal development. Abigail moves toward letting go of the past and becoming a businesswoman. Jack calms down and comes to appreciate the appeals of such a settled life. Elizabeth puts aside her personal biases to open up to others. And, her sister learns a valuable lesson about being naive. Some of the plot lines are predictable, but overall it's quite addicting ... and very sweet.
A woman alludes to the fact that a man wanted to be her "special friend" in exchange for favors; she turned him down. Several kisses.
Occasional mild abuse of deity ("oh, Lord!").
Fist fights. Sabotage. A man is knocked over the head and kicked. Some skirmishes with outlaws.