Coming to a TV near you: The World Television Day Blogathon!

When I published my review of Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels for August’s Buzzwordathon, I announced I would be hosting a new blogathon this November. I also said more details were to follow. Well, the time has come to reveal more information about the event! As I mentioned in the aforementioned review, the theme is ‘World Television Day’. Because this particular holiday takes place on November 21st, my blogathon will happen between November 19th  and November 22nd. Television is such a broad topic, so here is a list of ideas if you are interested in participating:

  • Television Shows (favorite or least favorite, specific episodes, talent involved, etc.)
  • TV Movies and Mini-Series
  • Films based on or inspired a show (Downton Abbey: A New Era, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, etc.)
  • Books based on or inspired a TV show (Murder, She Wrote, etc.)
  • Songs used in TV productions
  • Sports Events (Super Bowl, Olympics, etc.)
  • Televised Contests (pageants, Eurovision, etc.)
  • Historical Events (Challenger Disaster, etc.)
  • Podcasts or Youtube videos about TV shows
  • History of Television
  • Lost/Found Media related to TV (Sesame Street’s infamous Wicked Witch episode, etc.)
  • Public Service Announcements (PSA) or Public Information Films (PIF)
  • Commercials, Trailers, or TV Spots
Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express

Once you’ve selected an idea, take a moment to read the official rules:

  1. Please be respectful toward other participants and the subject(s) you’re writing about (especially if you choose to write about historical events on television).
  2. Please let me know in advance if you plan on publishing your post(s) earlier or later than the allotted time-frame (November 19th to 22nd).
  3. Only new posts will be eligible for the event.
  4. Because of how broad the subject of television is, I will not be allowing duplicate entries.
  5. There is a three-entry limit for each participant.
  6. All entries must be original work.
  7. Subjects from any genre, year, or country are allowed.
  8. If you’re interested in participating, please share your idea(s) in the comment section below.
  9. Pick one of the four banners and spread the word about the World Television Day Blogathon!
Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express

World Television Day Participants

Sally from 18 Cinema Lane — The Flamingo Rising: Book vs. Movie, Review of Murder, She Wrote: Dying to Retire

Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews — Review of Baywatch (1999) (Season 9, Episode 18 — Water Dance)

Rebecca from Taking Up Room — List of Top 10 Gilmore Girls episodes

Andrew from The Stop Button — Review of Jericho Mile (1979 made-for-tv movie)

Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express
Created by Sally Silverscreen at Adobe Creative Cloud Express

Have fun at the blogathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels’ by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain + Blogathon Annoucement

For August’s Buzzwordathon, the theme is ‘Items/Objects’. Originally, I was going to read Redwood Curtain by Lanford Wilson. This is because a) a curtain could be considered an item/object and b) I already own a copy of Lanford Wilson’s play. But I ended up watching the film adaptation of Redwood Curtain earlier than expected. Therefore, I decided to write an editorial on how similar and different Redwood Curtain’s adaptation is from its source material. That editorial will be published during The Fifth Broadway Bound Blogathon. In the meantime, I have selected Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels for this month’s Buzzwordathon, especially since ‘jewels’ could also be considered an item/object! I have blogathon news of my own as well, so keep reading to find out what’s to come!

Here is a photo of my copy of Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Back in 2019, I reviewed Murder, She Wrote: The Highland Fling Murders. One of the favorite aspects of that book was how distinctive each character was, as there were a lot of characters in the story. Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels contains the same strength. Whether in Cabot Cove or on the Queen Mary 2, each character was unique from one another. At the beginning of the book, the readers are introduced to Maniram, Cabot Cove’s newest resident. He is a jeweler who owns his own jewelry store, sharing his knowledge of valuable gems with Jessica and her friends. Also in this story is Maniram’s cousin, Rupesh. He is a man of many talents, from being a skilled karate athlete to being very knowledgeable with computers. Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels presents him as a room steward on the Queen Mary 2. But as the story progresses, readers find out just how different Rupesh is from Maniram.

Cruise ship near an island image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/holiday-background-on-a-cruise_1182003.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Out of the Murder, She Wrote episodes I’ve seen so far, my favorite one is “Film Flam”. What makes this episode great is its educational and insightful approach to the movie premiere process. In Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, part of the book takes place in London. Instead of bringing up locales that many readers would be familiar with, locations that aren’t often talked about are included in the text. One of them was Grosvenor Square. According to the book, this area was known as “Little America”. A reason is General Eisenhower’s headquarters were located in the Square. During her London adventure, Jessica has dinner at a restaurant called The Ivy. This establishment does exist, boasting a fine dining experience, according to The Ivy’s website. In the book, Jessica describes the restaurant as a “celebrity-driven restaurant that has long been a favorite of London’s theatrical and motion picture crowd”. Meanwhile, The Ivy’s website states “With an enduring celebration of the arts and culture that have defined it since its naissance, The Ivy remains part of the fabric of London life, and a home away from home for its many loyal guests”. Because of reading Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, I learned more about London’s landscape that I didn’t know before.

Sketch of London image created by Archjoe at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-houses-of-parliament_1133950.htm’>Designed by Archjoe</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Archjoe – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I like about the Murder, She Wrote books is how the stories aren’t novelizations of pre-existing episodes. While this is the case for Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, it didn’t really feel like the show. That’s because so few characters from the show and previous books were featured. In Murder, She Wrote: The Highland Fling Murders, a Scotland Yard agent and friend of Jessica’s, George Sutherland, was working alongside Jessica to solve that book’s mystery. When I found out George would be in Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels, I was excited to read about his and Jessica’s reunion. But as I read this book, I discovered George only made a handful of appearances. Compared to other mystery books I’ve read, the sense of urgency in Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels was weaker. What contributed to this flaw was how most of the story focused on Jessica’s trip instead of the mystery. Another contributor was how two intelligence agents were responsible for solving the case. That creative decision made the mystery seem like it was out of Jessica’s reach. It affected her ability of getting involved with the book’s case, especially compared to the show.

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

I haven’t read many of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But out of those I have read, Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels is my least favorite. This book was fine, interesting enough to keep me invested in the story. However, I was expecting more. There was a short period of time where I lost motivation to read this book. Not wanting to experience another Buzzwordathon fail, I finished the story, especially since I wanted to find out what happens. I do plan to read more Murder, She Wrote books. One of them will be reviewed for my upcoming blogathon. As I stated in the introduction, I had blogathon news to share. That news is I’m hosting a blogathon this November! The theme is ‘World Television Day’. More details about the event will follow…

Overall score: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: Because Murder, She Wrote: The Queen’s Jewels is a murder mystery story, the subject of murder is brought up on more than one occasion. A suicide is also briefly mentioned and swearing does occur a few times.

Evenings At The Shore: Have a Good Night

When you hear the phrase, “have a good night”, it’s usually spoken right before bedtime. But what exactly does “have a good night” mean? Perhaps one wishes their loved ones a good night’s sleep. Maybe it is hope for an evening event going according to plan. Another possibility is the anticipation of a nighttime adventure. At the end of the day (no pun intended), I guess “have a good night” is what you make it. Because the O’Brien family contains multiple members, each one of them could have their own definition of this phrase. This is especially the case when it comes to the events in this episode.

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores season six poster created by Hallmark Media and Hallmark Channel

Season: 6

Episode: 3

Name: Night and Day

Abby and Evan’s story: As a team building exercise for his business, Evan announces the arrival of the annual scavenger hunt. He doesn’t want to participate, as he feels it should only be reserved for incoming employees. But Abby insists Evan should join in on the fun, as he is a part of the Kincaid team. Evan agrees to take part, only if Abby is his partner. The next day, Abby and Evan are ready for the scavenger hunt. They receive a series of instructions, which Evan wants to bend. Abby encourages him to follow these rules, such as only using their phones for taking pictures and calling for help. All seems to be going well. But when it comes time to drive at night, Evan is apprehensive. Like the team player he is, Evan agrees to drive his car at night. But during this trip, one of the tires blows out. At this point, Evan wants to call it quits, due to his mother’s fatal car accident. But after Abby successfully changes the tire, Evan changes his mind. He even tells Abby about his mother’s accident. This revelation was done because of how much he cares about Abby. At the end of the scavenger hunt, Abby and Evan go to their last stop; the park. While there, they discover they didn’t win. However, Evan and Abby do share their first kiss.

Mick and Megan’s story: Megan is preparing to travel to Los Angeles for her new job. Before she leaves, she wants to have dinner with Mick. During this dinner, Megan wants to talk about what happened between their divorce and when she returned to Chesapeake Shores. The following evening, she and Mick share a lobster supper. It’s at this time the pair have a discussion they have been putting off for over ten years. Megan discusses the relationships she’s had while in New York. Mick shares his previous relationship with a woman named Martha. While the evening progresses, Megan and Mick get into an argument over a custody agreement. But during dessert, they decide not to talk about the past. The next morning, over breakfast, Mick and Megan agree that talking was the right decision. They also feel their long-distance relationship can work.

Vintage style kitchen image created by karlyukav at freepik.com Light photo created by karlyukav – www.freepik.com

Connor and Margaret’s story: While Connor appreciates his family’s support, he feels smothered by their constant care. During one of Margaret’s visits, Connor shares his desire to move back into his apartment. Margaret doesn’t want to interfere with personal family matters. However, she does eventually agree to drive Connor back to his place. In the middle of the night, Connor packs a backpack and leaves the O’Brien family home. He walks down the street, where Margaret is waiting for Connor in her car. A few scenes later, they arrive at Connor’s apartment. Their time together starts with sharing a kiss. It leads to them talking all night. During their conversation, Margaret reveals her dreams for the future. These dreams include becoming a lawyer, being recognized as a well-known litigator, then achieving status as a member of Maryland’s Supreme Court.

Bree and Luke’s story:  At Luke’s apartment, a pipe has sprung a leak. The problem is so bad, it won’t be fixed until the following day, at the earliest. When Bree asks where he’ll sleep, Luke confesses he’ll sleep at The Bridge. Believing that idea won’t do, Bree invites Luke to stay at her place, which Luke agrees. When they arrive at her home, Bree reveals it has always been her dream to live in her current house. She tells Luke she has admired the house since she was a child. Luke ends up spending the night on Bree’s pull-out sofa. This is when Luke’s secret is revealed. During the night, he experiences a nightmare. Embarrassed by this, Luke thinks it’s a better idea to sleep in his truck. Bree confesses she’s experienced nightmares before. She also tells Luke it’s ok to turn to someone for help. Eventually, Luke falls back asleep. Bree’s stays up late reading a book.

Sleepover guest image created by Macrovector at freepik.com.<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/infographic”>Infographic vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a&gt; Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Megan and Mick’s conversation has been teased on the show for several seasons. While I am glad this loose end was finally tied up, it ended up being a whole lot of nothing. Sure, Mick and Megan are now on the same page when it comes to their relationship. But what did they expect to accomplish by bringing up their past relationships? I guess with the show coming to a close, there’s not much explaining that could be done. However, after spending six years watching Chesapeake Shores, perhaps I expected a little more.
  • From what I remember, this is the first season Bree’s and Connor’s home have been featured on the show. With Bree’s home, only the living room has been shown. However, the space boasts a nice, airy atmosphere! My favorite part of Bree’s house are the large windows, as they make the room feel larger in scale. Meanwhile, I loved the combination of warm wood and lights in Connor’s apartment! These elements created a cozy environment, which looks aesthetically pleasing on-screen.
  • I’m aware this is only the season’s third episode. However, I do wonder if David and Jess’ story is going to become drawn out like Mei’s story was on When Calls the Heart? The couple was not featured in this episode. In fact, we still don’t the truth behind Mr. Peck’s choices. Whatever the resolution to this story is, I just hope it’s a satisfying one.
Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts of this episode? Do you think Mick and Megan’s conversation was underwhelming? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: In The Good Old Summertime Review

Earlier this month, I said I would review In The Good Old Summertime for the Van Johnson Blogathon. Now, with the arrival of the aforementioned event, it’s time to talk about this film! There are two reasons why I selected the 1949 movie. The first is it was recommended to me by Becky, the same reader who suggested Easy to Wed. The second was how the summer season is winding down. Because the movie is titled, In The Good Old Summertime, I figured it would serve as a sort of last hurrah. As of 2022, the 1949 title is the fourth one of Van Johnson’s I’ve seen. While I found both Plymouth Adventure and Easy to Wed just ok, I was not a fan of Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see what I thought of In The Good Old Summertime!

In The Good Old Summertime poster created by
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, In The Good Old Summertime is the fourth film of Van Johnson’s I have seen. Therefore, I knew what to expect from Van, talent wise. While portraying Andrew, Van utilized emotions well. A great example is when Andrew and Veronica are attempting to sell some sheet music to a customer. The sheet music in question was “Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey”. During this song, Andrew looks threatened, like he knows Veronica is doing a better job at selling the music than he would have. Because of the quality of his acting talents, Van was able to make scenes like this one feel believable.

In The Good Old Summertime is the fifth movie of Judy Garland’s I have watched. Looking back on those films, I have noticed how Judy is a more versatile actress than I feel she gets credit for. While waiting for her secret admirer, Veronica, Judy’s character, appears visibly nervous. She’s glancing around the restaurant and constantly readjusting her flower and poetry book. When Andrew arrives, Veronica’s unpleasant feelings toward her co-worker grow stronger. Her face appears troubled, frustrated over the fact he won’t leave. At some points during this interaction, Veronica raises her voice. When she eventually returns home, Veronica appears deflated, her night not going as she expected.

I am not familiar with Spring Byington as an actress. Despite this, I enjoyed her portrayal of Nellie Burke! Her on-screen personality was so pleasant. Even when she was upset at Otto Oberkugen, she was still a character worth rooting for. Spring and S.Z. Sakall had good on-screen chemistry. One good example is when Nellie is trying to explain a misunderstanding. During this conversation, Otto reveals his insecurities as a musician. This explanation comes across as genuine, as a businessman trying to save face. Meanwhile, through gentleness and kind words, Nellie reassures Otto he is the only man she cares about. It was nice to see two older characters fall in love, especially since this type of romance story doesn’t seem as common as those featuring younger couples. Through the acting performances and screenwriting, Spring and S.Z. brought forth a couple that was interesting to watch!

The musical numbers: At Otto’s music store, a harp is introduced among the instrumental stock. In order to sell the harp to a potential customer, Veronica plays the harp to a song called “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland”. With the combination of Judy’s vocals and the harp instrumental sound, the song exuded the dreamlike tone the film’s creative team was striving for. Even with the inclusion of a piano, these sounds complimented one another. The aforementioned song, “Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey”, was performed in two tempos. At Veronica’s suggestion, the first tempo is slower, providing a romantic tone. But with the second, faster tempo, a jollier tone is presented. Because of this musical, creative decision, it was interesting to hear how one change can make a song sound so different.

The historical accuracy: In The Good Old Summertime takes place around the late 1800s to early 1900s. With that said, there are many aspects of this movie that appeared historically accurate! One of these areas was the wardrobe. Louise Parkson, portrayed by Marcia Van Dyke, is Andrew’s friend. She is attempting to win a prestigious audition. When this audition arrives, Louise wore a white dress with a full, floor length skirt. The sleeves are medium length, covering Louise’s upper arms. The dress also had a higher neckline. These design choices represented modesty in women’s fashion from that time.

The Sixth Van Johnson Blogathon banner created by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Buster Keaton: I haven’t seen many of Buster Keaton’s films. But based on what I know about his filmography, he seems like he’s a comedic actor who utilizes physical comedy. In In The Good Old Summertime, however, Buster wasn’t given much material to work with. There were two scenes where Buster’s character, Hickey, trips and falls. But these felt like weak attempts at giving Buster something to do. If anything, it seems like Buster was cast in the film just for the sake of it.

A drawn-out plot: The story of In The Good Old Summertime revolves around Veronica’s and Andrew’s search for their respective pen-pals. While this plot can lend itself to a good story, it was drawn-out throughout the entire movie. It got to the point where, after Veronica’s secret admirer was revealed, she was being manipulated into believing the secret admirer is someone else. This was likely done to keep the plot going. But it just felt too cruel for my liking.

No strong subplots: So much time was given to the aforementioned main plot in In The Good Old Summertime. As a result, there were no strong subplots. Some aspects of the narrative could have lent themselves to good side stories. But because the script focused so much on the main plot, these ideas weren’t able to reach their full potential. For example, Otto is experiencing difficulty selling some harps. This felt like a running joke that didn’t lead anywhere. An interesting story idea would have been if a wealthy customer was looking for a specific harp. Otto would then spend the rest of the movie trying to locate this instrument.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

This is the third time I have participated in the Van Johnson Blogathon. While I reviewed Van’s episodes of Murder, She Wrote the first time around, I wrote about Plymouth Adventure last year. Both Plymouth Adventure and In The Good Old Summertime have one thing in common: there were ok. With the 1949 film, I enjoyed the musical numbers. They were not only entertaining, but creative as well. But there were times where I felt more effort was placed in the musical numbers than the script. This movie adopted the “enemies to lovers” trope, which could work in a story. Unfortunately, this part of the script was drawn-out. While watching In The Good Old Summertime, I kept thinking back to Meet Me in St. Louis. The 1944 musical not only takes place in the early 1900s, but also stars Judy Garland. Personally, I think In The Good Old Summertime is a weaker version of Meet Me in St. Louis.

Overall score: 6.9 out of 10

Have you seen any of Van Johnson’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Lake Effects Review

‘Family Vacation Films’, that’s the theme of August’s Genre Grandeur. When one mentions this subject, the idea of happy times or fun destinations usually come to mind. What also comes to mind is how a family chooses to go on these trips, mostly to have a good experience. But what if a family takes a vacation out of necessity? And what if it wasn’t possible for that family to take a literal trip? Perhaps a “staycation” would have to be in order. A figurative trip away from personal hardships, doubt, and stresses of everyday life. This is the case of Lake Effects, the movie I’ve selected for this month’s event. While Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, could be a vacation spot, the protagonist and her family live in that location. But due to a family tragedy, they are forced to take a break from their daily lives. Whether a family vacation is close to home or travels abroad, what’s important are memories shared together.

Lake Effects poster created by Life Out Loud Films (LOL), Hallmark Channel, and Anchor Bay Entertainment 

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Around the time of this film’s release, 2012, Jane Seymour appeared in several Hallmark productions. Whether starring in Dear Prudence and Perfectly Prudence or in a supporting role in A Royal Christmas, these roles have been enjoyable to watch. In Lake Effects, Jane’s portrayal of Vivian was one of the strongest performances in this movie! A tradition Vivian and her husband, Ray, shared was Ray giving Vivian a pink rose every Friday. While cleaning out the closet, Vivian finds a box of old roses from Ray. Out of the blue, she starting sobbing. Because of Ray’s death, all Vivian’s bottled-up feelings bubbled over.

Another strong performance came from Scottie Thompson, who portrayed the protagonist, Sara. While sharing a drink with her sister, Lily, Sara reminisces over memories of her father. But when she remembers a secret her father kept from the family, Sara’s demeanor quickly changes. Her face falls in a serious expression, not sugarcoating anything she’s saying. Sara’s tone of voice is also serious, attempting to get Lily to see things from her perspective.

I was pleasantly surprised by Ben Savage’s performance in Lake Effects. His character, Carl, was very different from his portrayal of Corey Matthews from Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World. Carl was an enthusiastic man who was passionate about finding a mythical creature called the Smithy. But there are times when he can be awkward. This is the case when being interviewed by a television host. During the interview, Carl has a blank look on his face, unsure of what to do. Sitting tense on a couch, Carl is nervous about being filmed, especially since he’s never been interviewed before. What made this performance work was how believable it was.

The scenery: At the end of Lake Effects, on-screen text states the movie was “filmed entirely on location at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia”. As someone who never knew this location existed until I watched this movie, I was impressed by the natural beauty it had to offer! The film opens with the sun rising over the lake. The peach-gray glow of the rising sun reflected off the water, creating a peaceful environment. In an overhead, cutaway shot, the lake was shown during the day. The clear, blue water was surrounded by green lawns and a mixture of green and orange trees. Topped off with a clear sky, this location appeared inviting!

Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

On-the-nose music: As I’ve stated before, music can highlight a scene’s intended mood and elevate emotions among the characters. Even if there are lyrics within the music, those songs should appropriately fit what’s happening on screen. But in the case of Lake Effects, the music was so on-the-nose, it was, honestly, cringey. One example happens when Sara and Lily are sharing drinks at a local restaurant. A live band performs a song containing the lyrics “there’s a storm that’s brewing outside”. A few minutes later, Sara shares Ray’s secret, causing animosity between her and Lily. Because this happened on more than one occasion, the on-the-nose music became annoying.

Inconsistent elements: There were some elements of the story that were inconsistent. Technology was one of them. When Sara is arriving at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, she is experiencing technical issues with her Bluetooth earpiece. She even says “is it still stringing tin cans around here”? A few scenes later, Sara accepts a call on her cell phone in her parents’ driveway. Based on that short call, it seems like her phone is working perfectly fine. As I already mentioned, Sara has a Bluetooth earpiece, as well as a cell phone. This phone looks like a smartphone from around the early 2010s. Meanwhile, Carl receives a call on a flip-phone from the previous decade. In one scene, a cassette boombox was featured at an event. With all that said, it seems like Hallmark forgot when Lake Effects was meant to take place.

Too many cliches: Back in 2020, I reviewed JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift. One of the flaws of that film was how many Hallmark movie cliches were featured in the story. Lake Effects has the exact same issue. The 2012 production was filled with cliches typically found in Hallmark Channel movies. A few of these cliches are the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché, the “save the (insert establishment here)” cliché, the “business person is a jerk and/or out of touch” cliché, and the “small town festival conveniently taking place” cliché. What’s frustrating about Lake Effects is how it was originally shown on what is now known as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This second network has historically created films that were more dramatic and serious from Hallmark Channel’s lighter content. The inclusion of these cliches made the purpose of this story confusing. Was this film meant to be a Hallmark Channel movie, but Hallmark ended up premiering it on the second channel? Or was Lake Effects always meant to have a serious tone, border-lining Hallmark Hall of Fame?

So many story ideas: Like I just mentioned, there were too many cliches found in Lake Effects. These cliches lent themselves to several story ideas. Because of the inclusion of the “save the (insert establishment here)” cliché, part of the story revolved around Sara attempting to save her family’s home. Since so much emphasis was given to this part of the plot, other story ideas weren’t fully developed. In Smith Mountain Lake, there was a group called the “She-Doos”. This group consisted of women who take occasional trips on their jet-skis. With the “She-Doos”, there was an interesting story idea waiting to come to fruition. Unfortunately, it was competing with several other story ideas, trying to win over the audience’s attention.

Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Lake Effects is a movie Hallmark fans typically don’t talk about. It also seems to have been forgotten over the years. Now that I’ve seen the film, I think I have an idea why this is the case. The 2012 title is uninspiring. It’s filled with too many cliches, but doesn’t take the initiative to try anything new. Lake Effects attempts to adopt many different stories. However, the execution of these stories was weak. I will admit the scenery was aesthetically pleasing. But, as I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, “the scenery can’t save you”. Like I’ve also said, a film’s script can make or break a production. If the script isn’t strong, there’s only so much a creative team can do to remedy the issue. While watching Lake Effects, there were a few story ideas trying to burst out of the murkiness of poor content. Sadly, these ideas couldn’t reach above the surface.

Overall score: 4.5 out of 10

Have you seen Lake Effects? Are there any lesser known Hallmark movies you’d like to see me review? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Evenings At The Shore: The Second Time Around

I’ve been busy lately with several upcoming blog related projects. But I’m back with a new re-cap of Chesapeake Shores! In this episode, Abby is figuring out what her and Evan’s second date will be. Until this season, I hadn’t thought about the significance of a second date. Granted, any date is an important one. But Evan, in the previous episode, brought up an excellent point; the second date is where both parties feel comfortable enough to enjoy each other’s company. Both Bree and Jess share memories of their second dates in this episode, looking back on them fondly. While Jess and David have become married since their second date, Bree has moved on to a new relationship. With that said, I wonder if we’ll see her and Luke’s second date this season?

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores season six poster created by Hallmark Media and Hallmark Channel

Season: 6

Episode: 2

Name: Memories Are Made of This

Abby’s story: Abby is trying to organize the perfect second date. Overwhelmed by the possibilities, she turns to her sisters for advice. Jess recommends a picnic, like she and David shared years ago. But, Jess warns Abby of the food poisoning potential, as David became ill after eating bad clams. Bree reminds Abby of the time she and her ex-boyfriend went to a carnival. Unfortunately, no carnivals are taking place at the time of Abby and Evan’s second date. Later in the episode, Abby shares her idea with Evan of attending a jazz concert. To Abby’s misfortune, Evan is not a fan of jazz music. What she comes up with instead is a two-in-one date: Abby and Evan catch crabs and then eat them in a shoreside picnic. Since this is an activity she used to do when she was younger, Abby feels this is a great piece of her life to share with Evan. The date is a success, with Evan eager to learn how to catch crabs. During the picnic, they even hold hands. Afterwards, Abby tells Jess and Bree that her and Evan’s second date was “perfect”.

Jess and David’s story: To Jess and David’s surprise, David’s mom arrives at The Inn at Eagle Point. She fled there in an attempt to escape the paparazzi and social ridicule. David’s mom tearfully confesses how her friendships have become destroyed because of her husband’s choices. Fortunately, there is a room at the bed and breakfast for Mrs. Peck to stay. A few days later, David’s sister arrives in Chesapeake Shores. She came to The Inn at Eagle Point for the same reason as her mother. David’s sister claims her boyfriend broke up with her after the news of Mr. Peck was first reported. Jess and David have a room available for David’s sister too. The next day, a group of photographers and reporters show up at the bed and breakfast, somehow finding the location of David’s mom and sister. In an effort to drive them away, Jess approaches the photographers and reporters, telling them to leave the premises or else they will be charged with trespassing.

Bree and Luke’s story: Bree has finished writing her short story. To receive some constructive criticism, she asks Luke to read her work. But before letting him read it, Bree tells him the story’s inspiration was his time in prison. After Luke reads the story, he tells Bree that even though her writing was good, it didn’t feel believable. In order to make her work better, Bree asks Luke about his prison experience, taking notes along the way. Later in the episode, Luke rereads Bree’s story. This time, he enjoys it more, as his suggestions improved the piece. Meanwhile, at The Bridge, Luke notices Mick seems off during their conversation. Mick appears distracted, like he’s not fully paying attention to anything Luke is saying. Troubled by Mick’s demeanor, Luke remembers how his boss was prescribed painkillers. He warns Mick about the dangers of a painkiller addiction. Unfortunately, Mick becomes upset and storms out of The Bridge.

Breakfast tray image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/composed-healthy-fruit-and-coffee-on-tray_1441643.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Mick and Megan’s story: Mick finally has his cast removed, the same one he received toward the end of the previous season. While his arm was healing, Mick was prescribed painkillers by his doctor. When he asks for a refill of his prescription, his doctor tells him he no longer needs the painkillers. In fact, Mick’s doctor tells him he only prescribes painkillers when necessary. Frustrated by this news, Mick frantically searches his bathroom for any remaining painkillers. He finds one in a drawer, satisfying his fix. Meanwhile, Megan turns down the job offer from Los Angeles. She claims Connor’s health is her number one priority. Feeling guilty over this, Connor tries to convince his mom to change her mind. Over the course of the episode, he recruits the rest of the family in his attempt. They agree to discuss the matter over dinner. When the dinner arrives, the O’Brien family encourage Megan to take the job offer, telling her how she should do what her heart desires. After their convincing, Megan agrees to accept the job in Los Angeles.

Connor’s story: Connor is still recuperating from his recent heart attack. However, his health is improving. Even his doctor is impressed with his progress. During that time, Margaret has stayed true to her word: keeping the law firm afloat and delivering Connor his mail. She has also been studying for the upcoming LSAT. Connor offers to help Margaret by going over flashcards with her. When the day of the LSAT arrives, Margaret feels confident about her test performance. But, she only completed the first part of the test so far.

Chess game strategy image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I know this is only the second episode of the season. But, so far, it seems like Kevin and Sarah are, once again, receiving the short end of the stick, story wise. In this episode, Kevin shares how he and Sarah are taking a trip to Maui. While the trip is not necessarily a bad thing, I’m hoping Sarah and Kevin are given a satisfying conclusion to their story. With this upcoming trip, does that mean Sarah and Kevin are only going to appear in a short amount of episodes? Now that I’m mentioning it, I’ve also noticed Nell has not been featured this season so far. I wonder how many appearances she’ll make in the last season?
  • Before this episode aired, I predicted Abby and Evan’s second date would be mini-golfing. This is because we’ve seen the O’Brien family mini-golfing in a past episode. But I was pleasantly surprised by what Evan and Abby actually ended up doing. The idea itself was not only creative, but thoughtful as well. If we get to winess Luke and Bree’s second date, I would be curious to see what Bree comes up with!
  • The third season of Chesapeake Shores revolved around the fallout of Bree’s infamous manuscript about her family. Every member of the O’Brien family had their reason for opposing their involuntary involvement in Bree’s story. Now, three seasons later, Bree wrote a short story, using Luke’s time in prison as inspiration. Even though each writing situation is different, I’m surprised Bree chose to take inspiration from someone close to her, especially after receiving so much backlash for that manuscript. At the same time, I’m also surprised Luke wasn’t upset about his prison experience being used as literary inspiration. For Bree and Luke’s sake, though, I’m glad this writing experience was better than the manuscript’s was.
Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? What do you think Luke and Bree’s second date could be? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Evenings At The Shore: Tired of Waiting

When it comes to a new season of a television show, there’s a certain amount of waiting the viewers are expected to do. Whether it’s casting updates or the resolution of a particular story, things don’t often happen as quickly as we, the fans, would like. But this season of Chesapeake Shores is different. Since it is the final chapter, ‘Chessies’ (fans of the show) want the story to last a little longer. They want to hold on to these characters and this world as much as possible. Unfortunately, because it is the last season, time is a luxury that isn’t available. So, the only option ‘Chessies’ have is to enjoy the time the show’s creative team has given them. As Connor says in this episode, “Every day is a gift”.

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of Chesapeake Shores, there will be spoilers within this re-cap.

Chesapeake Shores season six poster created by Hallmark Media and Hallmark Channel

Season: 6

Episode: 1

Name: The Best Is Yet To Come

Abby’s story: Abby, along with most of the O’Brien family, are waiting at the hospital. During their wait, Abby receives a visit from not only Evan, but Jay as well. Throughout the night, it is revealed the voice-mail from the previous season was intended for Evan. However, he didn’t hear it until he left the hospital. The next day, Abby worries Evan doesn’t want to give their relationship a chance. But, while paying Abby an unexpected visit at work, Evan reveals how his delayed response was due to a misunderstanding. Once that small conflict is resolved, Abby and Evan agree to organize a first and second date. Because of Connor’s recent medical situation, this first date will have to be scheduled at a different time. Later in the episode, while sharing ice cream with Bree and Jess, Abby learns what Evan has planned for their first date. He shows up to the O’Brien shore with a yacht, dressed in a suit rented from Rome. After Abby dresses up in a green, floor-length gown, they share a lobster dinner created by Evan himself. They also dance, while almost sharing a kiss. However, Abby and Evan agree to take their relationship slowly.

Connor’s story: Connor is rushed to the hospital after suffering from a heart attack. He does, however, pull through, even promised a full recovery by his doctor. But due to the severity of the heart attack, Connor will have to make some healthier lifestyle choices. For the time being, he is just thankful to be alive. These new health concerns make Connor worried about his relationship with Margaret. However, Margaret reassures him they will work things out. Connor eventually returns home. When Margaret visits him at the O’Brien family’s house, he shares how, because of his recent health issues, he’ll have to take a break from working. To prevent his law firm from closing, Margaret agrees with help in any way possible.

Bree and Luke’s story: Bree and Luke spend more time with one another. This catches the attention of Mick. At The Bridge, Mick warns Luke what will happen if he hurts Bree. He also offers Luke a manager job, which Luke accepts. Later in the episode, Bree finds out about Mick’s conversation with Luke. She confronts Mick about this at the O’Brien family home. Bree feels she can take care of herself. Meanwhile, Mick just wants what’s best for his daughter. For now, though, Bree and Luke are still moving forward with their relationship. During bonding time with Abby and Jess, Bree reveals she is planning on writing another story. This time, though, it won’t involve the O’Brien family.

Illustrated image of yacht created by pongpongching at freepik.com. Ship sailboat vector created by pongpongching – www.freepik.com

Jess and David’s story: David’s father is still on the run overseas. This upsets David, as the news is also upsetting his mom and sister. Throughout all of this, Jess has become David’s shoulder to cry on. However, she is having doubts over whether her support for David is enough. One day, at the Bed and Breakfast, an FBI agent pays David a visit. She even gives him a business card, hoping he’ll give her the information she’s looking for.

Megan’s story: Megan is still upset over her and Mick’s conversation from the previous season. When he tries to apologizes, Megan senses he’s lying. Despite this, Mick attempts to be as honest with Megan as possible. Before Connor comes home, Mick and Megan agree with Connor staying in the O’Brien family home. Megan also agrees to help Connor in any way she can. Mick wonders if this means Megan is giving up the job offer from Los Angeles, the one that Megan was offered in season five. Megan confirms this by stating how her son needs her, also stating how she will never leave him again.

Heartbeat image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/medical-logo_763775.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/logo”>Logo vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • It’s honestly a shame this is the last season of Chesapeake Shores. One of the reasons why is how the show’s newer characters didn’t receive much of a chance to truly shine. Take Evan, for instance. He made a splash in the previous season, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Because of his background and Robert Buckley’s acting talents, the sky is the limit for Evan and his story. We even learned a little bit about Mandrake in this episode, with him revealing to Kevin how he was once in the military. I guess one way to look at it is the show’s cancellation is a blessing in disguise. At least we, the fans, don’t have to worry about these newer characters receiving terrible character development or stories.
  • With Chesapeake Shores’ final season receiving very little marketing and because last seasons more often than not garner bad raps, I’ve been lowering my expectations. It’s only the beginning of the season, so I’ll hold judgment for now. With the final season premiere, however, I thought it was fine. The stories weren’t deep, but they did attempt to tie up some loose ends from the previous season. From a storytelling perspective, I appreciate that effort.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see a cat in this episode. From what I remember, there has never been a cat on any of Hallmark’s TV shows. I’d like to think Felix (the cat) will eventually become Evan’s pet. But because of how quickly he left, I’m wondering if Felix is meant to represent a symbol of some sort? Maybe he’ll visit the show’s other characters?
Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Did you like the season premiere? Which story resolution are you anticipating? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

The Winners of The 4th Annual Gold Sally Awards + the Future of the Gold Sally Awards

Since 2019, I created the Gold Sally Awards. What was once a way to recognize the best Hallmark had to offer, it evolved into a series of polls highlighting the films covered or discussed on 18 Cinema Lane. In the beginning, voter turn-out was strong. The polls served their purpose of allowing readers to interact with my blog’s content. But as time went on, voter turn-out dwindled. There were times when I’ve had to select the winners because a particular poll didn’t receive any votes. With all that said, I will continue the Gold Sally Awards. But starting next year, there will no longer be voting polls. Instead, I am going to create separate, individual awards that are more unique/creative/fun. Now that this update is out of the way, it’s time to announce the winners of this year’s Gold Sally Awards!

Similar to last year, I created a collage on PowerPoint of this year’s winners. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Best Movie: The King and I

Best Story: The Three Musketeers

Best Ensemble: The Karate Kid

Best On-Screen Couple: Marshall Williams and Natalie Hall — Sincerely, Yours, Truly

Best Actress: Janel Parrish – Holly & Ivy

Best Actor: Marshall WilliamsSincerely, Yours, Truly

Best Supporting Actress: Jean Porter – Bathing Beauty

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Mitchum – Cape Fear

Sally’s Star of the Year: Bai Ling

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Easy to Wed Review

As the dawn of August arrives, so does the Esther Williams blogathon! Like last year, I have decided to review another movie from Esther’s filmography. But this time, I selected the 1946 title, Easy to Wed! Similar to the previous year, Easy to Wed was recommended to me. However, this film was suggested by a reader named Becky. That’s not the only reason why I’m reviewing the movie. I’m also participating in The Sixth Van Johnson Blogathon. Since Van happens to star in Easy to Wed, this is a good segue to that event. In the 1946 film, the characters’ trip to Mexico contained the “summer vibes” one would expect from the season. This is an interesting coincidence, as the movie I’m reviewing for the Van Johnson Blogathon is In The Good Old Summertime! My readers will have to wait a little while for that review. For now, though, it’s time to talk about Easy to Wed!

Easy to Wed poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Loew’s Inc.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: In Easy to Wed, Esther portrayed Connie, a socialite who is wrongly accused of stealing another woman’s husband. Before she meets Van’s character, Bill, the employees at the New York newspaper that accused Connie label her as “spoiled” and “arrogant”. But when Bill meets Connie, he, and the audience, sees she is the complete opposite. In fact, Esther’s on-screen personality was very sweet! I enjoyed watching Connie and Bill’s interactions. The gentle sweetness of Connie’s personality and the charming yet cunning personality of Bill worked, as opposites attracted. Connie’s wittiness also helped this relationship’s favor. One of my favorite scenes is when Bill is riding on an inflatable raft in Connie’s pool. In an attempt to get him to join her in the pool, Connie tries to deflate the raft. Since she wants to catch Bill off guard, she deflates the raft with her foot during their conversation. Not only do Esther’s and Van’s acting abilities add to this on-screen relationship, so does their on-screen chemistry!

When it comes to Lucille Ball’s filmography, I’ve, so far, stuck with I Love Lucy. Therefore, I had an idea of what to expect in her portrayal of Gladys, the fiancé of Warren. Expectations aside, Lucille’s performance was enjoyable to watch! Not only did she work well with the other cast members, she used comedy to her advantage. During Bill’s stay in Mexico, he learns how to use a duck call whistle. While attempting to make a duck call, Gladys opens the door to Bill’s main sitting room and loudly yells “Happy New Year”. Personally, I found this scene hilarious, as the moment itself was unexpected. Speaking of Warren, let’s talk about Keenan Wynn’s performance. His portrayal reminded me of a more dramatic version of “Rooster” from the 1982 adaptation of Annie. What I mean by that is Warren was a cunning man who had a way with words. Another scene I liked was when Warren visited Bill about the newspaper’s libel suit. Because of how cunning both Warren and Bill are, they went toe-to-toe with each other, never missing a beat. What also helped was the quality of both Van’s and Keenan’s talents!

Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe: I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe in Easy to Wed! However, there were three outfits that absolutely stole the show! Lucille wore the first outfit in the aforementioned duck call scene. A shiny gold top was covered by a velvety blue suit jacket. Deep blue slacks match the jacket, with the outfit complimented by shiny gold shoes. The blue and gold color palette paired beautifully with Lucille’s red hair and blue eyes! During a hunting trip, Connie wore fishing boots over a pair of black pants. A gray turtleneck shirt is under a red and orange plaid jacket. Finished with a maroon cap, the outfit is a classy ensemble that reminded me of the fall season. A few scenes later, Esther wore a light green sweater with cattails on them. A medium length black skirt compliments the cattails on the sweater, as well as Esther’s headband. A pair of brown boots helps pull off a look that would look great during fall or winter.

The “Boneca de Pixe” musical number: Toward the end of Easy to Wed, Connie and Bill perform in a musical number at a party. This number reflected their time together in Mexico. Both Esther and Van sung in Portuguese, dancing alongside each other and a large ensemble of dancers. The dancers’ costumes are so vibrant and colorful, boasting shades of red, yellow, and green. A small orchestra provided the sound, teaming up with Ethel Smith on the organ. Leading into this musical number, Ethel performed an organ solo that was fun to watch! This solo added the energy and excitement this piece needed. Overall, this number made me wish Easy to Wed was a musical.

The Third Esther Williams Blogathon banner created by by Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood

What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: Easy to Wed’s conflict revolves around Warren and Bill’s plan to prevent the libel suit from going to court. While it was interesting to see this plan unfold, it was drawn out for most of the story. In fact, this conflict was drawn out for so long, its resolution was delivered in a rapid-fire style within the last ten minutes of the movie. Had this script been a little bit tighter, the resolution’s delivery could have been more satisfying.

An inconsistent use of music: As I’ve said before, music can elevate the mood or tone of a given scene. It can also help make a scene more memorable. The film’s first half featured less music than its second half. Because of this, the memorability of some scenes was weaker. One example is when Bill is hosting a dinner party in his hotel’s sitting room. If music had been playing in the background, it would have heightened the anticipation of Connie’s arrival. The accompanying melody would highlight the growing feelings Bill and Connie have for one another as well. Instead, the scene felt mundane, slogging along to the next part in the story.

No subplots: Like I already mentioned, the conflict in Easy to Wed was drawn out for most of the movie. There are no subplots in this film, as the script focuses on the aforementioned conflict. Personally, I wish the story received a subplot. It would have given the audience additional intrigue to carry them through the film. The newspaper’s photographer could have formed a romantic relationship with the female organist. Maybe his camera goes missing and he has to find it. To me, the lack of subplots felt like a missed opportunity.

Since I loved the outfits described in this review, I decided to share screenshots of them, so my readers could see how great these outfits are! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

In my opinion, Easy to Wed is a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are things about the movie I liked. The acting was strong, the “Boneca de Pixe” musical number was great, and I loved Lucille’s and Esther’s wardrobe. On the other hand, the script could have been stronger. Tighter writing might have helped the conflict reach a satisfying resolution. The conflict could have also been paired with at least one subplot. As I watched Easy to Wed, I was reminded of another movie with a drawn-out conflict: Anchors Aweigh. Because that movie’s musical numbers were more consistent, the audience had something to occupy their time until the conflict could be resolved. As I mentioned in this review, the music was inconsistent in Easy to Wed. Therefore, parts of the story felt longer than necessary. So far, I’ve seen three of Esther Williams’ films. Out of those titles, Easy to Wed is my least favorite. Hopefully, the next picture of Esther’s I watch will be better.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Esther Williams’ films? Are you looking forward to my review of In The Good Old Summertime? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s O Pioneers! Review

When I participated in the Legends of Western Cinema Week last year, I reviewed the Hallmark Hall of Fame film, Durango. Unfortunately, the movie was weaker than I hoped. While thinking about what to write about for 2022’s event, I remembered how I had never seen O Pioneers! Therefore, I thought the Legends of Western Cinema Week was the perfect time to finally see the film! In the 1990s, Hallmark Hall of Fame had a history of adapting stories from the western genre. After the premiere of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the story’s sequels were released; Skylark in 1993 and Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter’s End in 1999. Outside of this trilogy, Hallmark Hall of Fame created O Pioneers! (in 1992), Rose Hill (in 1997), and Durango (in 1999). While looking back on this history, one has to wonder if this was done in an effort to capitalize on Sarah, Plain and Tall’s success? Whatever the reason, these films provide more than one perspective of westerns. Now, with that introduction out of the way, let’s review O Pioneers!

O Pioneers! poster created by Craig Anderson Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Lorimar Television, and Prairie Films

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: I’ve seen a small handful of Heather Graham’s projects from her filmography. Based on what I’ve seen, she seems to receive one of two types of roles: a “damsel in distress” or the “ditzy” girl next door. But in O Pioneers!, Heather’s role was different. Portraying Alexandra Bergson in her younger years, she not only displayed a motherly persona, she also showcased a quieter strength. After trying to find more fertile farm land, Alexandra comes up with a plan to purchase the surrounding farm land near her family’s home. When she discusses this plan with her brothers, Alexandra explains it in a sure, yet calm way. Even when her brothers doubted her enthusiasm, she consistently maintained her composure, never letting uncertainty get in her way. Through her performance, Heather does a good job at foreshadowing who her character would become!

The majority of O Pioneers! revolves around Alexandra after her family’s farm is established and successful. Because this part of the story takes place fifteen years later, Alexandra is portrayed by Jessica Lange. Throughout the film, Alexandra experiences a variety of situations. This allowed Jessica to utilize different facial expressions, body languages, and emotions. As she reads a letter from her brother, Emil, a warm smile lights up Alexandra’s face. She appears to be sitting in a comfortable position, a friendly demeanor plain to see. Two scenes later, as Alexandra is sharing bad news with Emil, a sullen look is seen on her face. Her tone of voice is serious, as she’s trying to break this news as honestly, but gently as possible. The strength of Jessica’s acting abilities helped her performance appear believable!

One of the most important people in Alexandra’s life is Emil. Portrayed by Reed Diamond, Emil had a personality that was pleasant. Reed adapts to each situation in Emil’s life as well, similar to Jessica’s performance. In the aforementioned scene where Emil receives bad news, a concerned look is shown on his face. He also listens intently to what Alexandra had to say. Emil’s bottom lip quivers, as shock quickly morphs into sadness. The scene ends with Alexandra consoling her brother as he crumbles into tears.

Historical accuracy: O Pioneers! takes place between the late 1880s and early 1900s. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to note how the production looked and felt like the viewer was transported back to that time! In one scene, a man named Frank is walking around the interior of his house. On the wall in the kitchen, a telephone can be seen. The style of this phone is similar to those featured in programs like When Calls the Heart. Another timely piece of technology was the kerosene lamp hanging from the ceiling. This lamp was found in the dining room of Alexandra’s house. Three more kerosene lamps are located in Alexandra’s posh sitting room. Even though these props are smaller components of the movie, it shows how detail oriented this film’s creative team was!

Reed Diamond and Anne Heche’s on-screen chemistry: Anne Heche portrays Marie, a friend of Emil’s since childhood. Most of Emil and Marie’s interactions take place after they grew up, when they are able to live their own lives. During these encounters, I found their on-screen chemistry very sweet! Marie carried herself with a sense of whimsy, almost like she’s a “child at heart”. Meanwhile, Emil is more headstrong, choosing to ground himself in reality. Instead of clashing, these differences worked in Anne and Reed’s favor. The opposites attracting created a balance between their characters. During Marie and Emil’s interactions, they seemed to share an understanding with each other. Their shared history provided that layer of understanding, as well as Anne’s and Reed’s performance.

Legends of Western Cinema Week banner created by Heidi from Along the Brandywine, Olivia from Meanwhile, in Rivendell, and Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy.

What I didn’t like about the film:

An episodic story: The story of O Pioneers! revolves around Alexandra’s attempts at creating a successful farm with the land she inherited. But instead of those attempts providing an overarching conflict, the movie is filled with smaller conflicts that are resolved in a shorter amount of time. Ivar is a man Alexandra and her family have known for many years. He claims to have powers from God, which causes him to receive some negative attention. At one point, Ivar is threatened of being sent to an asylum. But in the very next scene, Alexandra simply talks to her brothers about what she’ll do if something happens. After that, the issue is unceremoniously resolved.

Too many characters: O Pioneers! is based on a book I haven’t read yet. Despite this, I could clearly see how large of a cast this production contained. Stories with a larger number of characters can be hit or miss. In the case of O Pioneers!, it didn’t work. Because of how many characters were in this story, some of them didn’t receive the amount of attention I feel they deserved. One of these characters was Amedee, a friend of Emil. A European baseball player, Amedee was such a charismatic character I wanted to learn more about. But with all the other characters trying to compete for attention, he only appeared in two scenes.

Some loose ends: Despite the movie having an hour and thirty-seven-minute run-time, there didn’t seem to be enough time to tie up some loose ends in the story. A good example is when one of the characters gets in trouble with the law. Alexandra visits this character in jail and claims she will help them. However, this issue is never resolved. That’s because this conflict takes place within the last eighteen minutes of the movie. It made me wonder why the creative team would include this part of the script when there was no intention to find a resolution to that conflict?

I know this is a screenshot of Wilma’s house from the Walker, Texas Ranger episode ‘The Lynching’. But Alexandra’s house in O Pioneers! reminded me of Wilma’s house, especially that wrap-around porch! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

My overall impression:

There are some movies where the style is executed better than its substance. O Pioneers! is one of those films. As I said in my review, the project looked and felt like the story’s respective time period. The acting as a whole was good as well. But when it comes to the script, it could have been stronger. A major flaw is the movie’s run-time, which was an hour and thirty-seven minutes. This was not enough time to address the story points and characters within the narrative. Personally, I think O Pioneers! should have been adapted into a multi-part mini-series or a television show. With more time, the creative team would have been able to explore more stories and give some underrated characters more attention. Having an episodic narrative for a mini-series or television show would also make sense, as each story would be more condensed than a film’s plot. Like I mentioned in my review, I haven’t read this movie’s source material. Therefore, I don’t know if it’s better or worse than the 1992 Hallmark Hall of Fame production.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen or read O Pioneers!? Is there a book-to-film adaptation you like? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen