Hallmark Movies Now’s streaming service recently premiered its first streaming series When Hope Calls.
Ten episodes later, and the first season now completed of WHC, in a chaotic news cycle and personal schedule, watching each 45-minute episode is akin to going into a little past utopia where community and love of family were still the center of importance.
However, there were other things brought out about this fictional 1916 NW Canadian town (Brookfield) that made it a parallel to a complicated modern world.
Introducing a roster of terrific Canadian actors to American audiences
Most of the Canadian cast of When Hope Calls have worked in American TV, though were still largely unknown to some in the U.S. Veteran Canadian names like Wendy Crewson, Neil Crone, and Jefferson Brown were all excellent additions to this series with their expert expressions and ability to dig deep into a complex character.
Then you have the younger actors who just assured themselves becoming bigger stars. Morgan Kohan, Ryan-James Hatanaka, Greg Hovanessian, Hanneke Talbot, Marshall Williams, and Kate Moyer are just some cast names proving their appealing screen presence.
Of course, this was also another star-making turn for Jocelyn Hudon who made this series more layered with her beguiling, natural talent in displaying various emotions.
Hallmark continually proves their casting departments are astute to finding actors who generate the most compelling chemistry on-screen. This cast is unique, believable, and deserves to reunite for a second season to expand on their characters.
How did this series play to the casual viewer, though? The plots were a little surprising in reminding how much deception and crime are often going on behind a seemingly safe environment.
The crime under the purity
The feel-good aspect of the show was a welcome catharsis from our upside-down world that seems to always be falling apart. With an additional appealing mix of child actors playing orphans living in the Brookfield orphanage (started by orphaned sisters Lillian and Grace), the warm family moments were acted genuinely and done at just the right moments.
Some of this included the two sisters enacting bedtime stories to the orphans in a very entertaining way.
At the outskirts, though, we saw a major criminal conspiracy unfold behind-the-scenes involving the haunted Stewart family. Part of this centered on a mafia-like criminal who becomes involved in buying out the town’s hotel.
Investigating these crimes is Canadian Mountie Gabriel (Hatanaka) who, by the finale, found himself in a situation not unlike a plot seen in an old episode of Law & Order.
These nefarious criminal underpinnings didn’t take away from the magical community moments never failing to warm hearts, including showing the very This Is Us value of adoption.
How the show played to casual viewers beyond the fan base is unknown, yet the short and easily digestible episodes were no doubt a welcome escape.
In the final episode of Season One, we saw Grace take off for London with an orphan girl in tow who’s going to meet her real grandfather. At stake was a shaky romance brewing between Grace and Chuck Stewart (Hovanessian), one coming to a head with an overdue kiss/bittersweet goodbye scene.
As emotional as this outcome was, it’s really impossible to think this turns into a one-season wonder.
What are the chances of a second season of ‘When Hope Calls’?
As with Netflix and other streaming services, Hallmark Movies Now doesn’t release rating information or even how they tabulate viewership. Some online evidence from fan sites at least show each episode was rated high by the Hearties fans.
There should be every effort by Hallmark to bring it back considering the devoted fan base and the continuing hunger for more family programming.
If upcoming Disney+ is any indication, the push for more family streaming will turn into a burgeoning business opportunity to create meaningful content to watch on the go.
When WHC does return, let’s see different sides to Brookfield beyond their devotion to adoption, community, and family, including how they survive winter in NW Canada without the conveniences of modern-day gear. Also, there’s every indication radiant Grace has more surprises under the surface as evidenced from a “report” compiled about her and given to Tess at end.
We’ll be continually reminded the simple innocence of small-town life in the early 20th century was almost as complicated as living in a large metropolis 103 years later.