I Participated in the Murder, She Wrote Cookalong + Episode Review!

I first discovered the Murder, She Wrote Cookalong on Wide Screen World. At the time, I thought, “What’s a cookalong”? I learned from Rich, the creator of the aforementioned blog, that a cookalong is pretty much a blogathon. Only this time, participants are required to cook a meal from a list of pre-selected recipes. Since I’ve never heard of on event like this before, I decided to join in on the fun! Out of all the recipes that were selected by Jenny, the creator of the cookalong and the blog, Silver Screen Suppers, I chose to make Martha Scott’s Coffee Ice Cream a la Star! After picking this recipe, I discovered that Martha Scott starred in 1959’s Ben-Hur, the movie that I reviewed back in January. The episode that Martha Scott guest-starred on, “The Days Dwindle Down”, was requested by Robin from Pop Culture Reverie. So, I was very excited to create this dessert and talk about this episode! Since the recipe itself is so short, I decided to review Martha’s episode of Murder, She Wrote. But first, let’s showcase the reason why this article exists: the step to step instructions of how to make the Coffee Ice Cream a la Star!

Murder She Wrote Cookalong banner
Murder, She Wrote Cookalong banner created by Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers. Image found at https://www.silverscreensuppers.com/the-murder-she-wrote-cookalong.

Martha Scott’s Coffee Ice Cream a la Star

(all of the pictures in this part are screenshots I took with my phone)

 

Ingredients

  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Instant Coffee

 

Step 1. Leave vanilla ice cream out of the freezer until it is slightly soft.

Step 2. Put 2 pt. of vanilla ice cream into a bowl

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Step 3. Take another bowl and put 4 teasp. of instant coffee in it.

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Step 4. Put a few tablesp. of ice cream into the same bowl as the instant coffee.

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Step 5. Mix the ice cream and the instant coffee with an electric mixer. After pouring the blend into the bowl with the vanilla ice cream, mix the batch with the electric mixer. It’s important to not let the ice cream melt.

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Step 6. Pour the blend into an ice cube tray. After that, place the tray in the freezer until the serving is consistent.

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I tasted the dessert before I put it in the freezer and I absolutely enjoyed it! It reminded me of a milkshake style coffee drink found in cafes or created by national chain coffee companies. I’m very thankful that I picked this recipe because it was not only easy to make, but it also tasted so good! Now onto the second part of this post, my review of “The Days Dwindle Down”!

Episode Name: The Days Dwindle Down

Season 3, Episode 21

Premiere Date: April 19th, 1987

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Unlike other episodes of Murder, She Wrote, this intro had a lighter tone and style. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I liked about this episode:

Before watching “The Days Dwindle Down”, I was told, by Robin, that this episode was a “sequel” to the 1949 movie, Strange Bargain. I had planned to watch the film prior to the episode. However, I was unable to rent the movie. Fortunately, clips from Strange Bargain were incorporated into “The Days Dwindle Down” as a way to explain what was happening on screen. This helped eliminate any confusion for audience members, like myself, who are not familiar with this story. The movie clips themselves were placed at moments that made sense within the context of the overall narrative. It never felt like Murder, She Wrote was trying to capitalize on the pre-existing material. The way the movie’s story was treated as an event from Jessica’s world and not as a film was very creative.

 

What I didn’t like about this episode:

The mystery within “The Days Dwindle Down” was a cold case. This means that the climatic moments of this story have already happened. The chosen direction of this episode caused the mystery to not feel as interactive as mysteries from other episodes. Very few clues were featured and the story was dialogue-heavy. While Jessica’s interactions with each suspect played an important role in this narrative, the overall mystery felt observant rather than engaging.

 

The mystery itself:

As I just said, the mystery in this episode was a cold case. While this type of mystery had its flaws, I liked seeing Murder, She Wrote take a creative risk. In most episodes, the mystery takes place in present time, while a good portion of the story revolves around answering the question of “whodunit”. “The Days Dwindle Down” focused on figuring out the truth behind the mystery’s final verdict. This made the story very unique from others on the show. It also brought a sense of variety to Jessica’s overarching narrative.

 

The other factors from this episode:

  • In “The Days Dwindle Down”, there was a brief discussion about justice and trying to achieve that idea. Murder, She Wrote is not known for introducing thought-provoking dialogue and encouraging conversation. But the way this concept was incorporated into the story brought some interest into the episode.
  • If you read my post called “Sally Watches…Murder, She Wrote”, you would know how impressed I was by the locations featured in the episodes. The Jarvis house is yet another location that looked appealing on screen. The interior of this house was eye-catching as well, appropriately fitting the role of a regal style for a wealthier group of people. Whoever scouted locations for this show deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award!
  • I like how some of the original cast members from Strange Bargain appeared in this episode! It gave this story a sense of authenticity and it satisfies the role of a continuation.

 

My overall thoughts:

I found myself liking “The Days Dwindle Down” more than I thought I would! This episode told a type of story that isn’t often found on Murder, She Wrote. Yet, it made this chapter of Jessica’s journey interesting and, at times, thought-provoking. I’ve never seen a tv show try to incorporate a movie into an episode’s story where the movie itself was not treated as a movie, but rather as a part of the tv show’s world. But it helped make “The Days Dwindle Down” stand out from the other episodes. As much as I enjoyed watching this mystery upfold, I’ll be one of first people to admit it wasn’t perfect. The biggest flaw was how it wasn’t interactive. Despite this, I think this is one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen!

 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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The Jarvis house was so large in scale, that it couldn’t fit in one frame. However, this doesn’t take away it’s grandiose nature, with both interior and exterior. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2018

As the sun sets for December, as well as 2018, lots of movie bloggers have participated in creating the lists of movies that they have liked and disliked. What I’ve noticed about these lists is that they’re filled with movies that are newly released films. While I have also decided to partake in making end-of-year movie lists, my lists will be slightly different from the rest. This difference is any movie that I saw within the year of 2018 is fair game. Like I said in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time post, both of my end-of-year movie lists are not only based on my opinion, but also based on movies that I have personally seen. Before I talk about the list itself, I just wanted to mention that both of my movie lists were not created to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are simply a way for me to be honest about the films that I liked and disliked within 2018. Now, as the title suggests, this is the list where I will share the Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2018. I’ve been very grateful to have had a really good year in terms of movie-viewing. I’m not going to lie, this list was not easy to create. There were a good amount of films I saw, and sometimes reviewed, this year that I really liked. However, with the nature of any Top 10 list, there are bound to be movies that don’t make the cut. Speaking of which, let’s begin with this short list of 2018’s Honorable Mentions:

 

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas Everlasting, The Dark Knight, Love, Of Course, Christmas at Pemberley Manor, Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder, Escape to Witch Mountain, Return from Witch Mountain, Shoelaces for Christmas, Flicka: Country Pride, Strangers on a Train, Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill, Pearl in Paradise, The Bad Seed (2018), Christmas on the Coast, Love, Once and Always, and Runaway Romance

new year 2018 text made with particles bursting upwards
2018 in gold dust image created by Starline at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Starline – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-year-2018-text-made-with-particles-bursting-upwards_1472355.htm’>Designed by Starline</a>.  Image found at freepik.com.

Now, the moment has come to start the official list! Let’s start with number 10:

 

10. Wedding of Dreams

Like I mentioned in my review for Wedding of Dreams, I said that, in 2016, I would have debated about why For Love and Honor was more deserving of a sequel than Summer of Dreams. However, Wedding of Dreams was not only a good movie individually, but also a great continuation to this particular story! One of my least favorite clichés that Hallmark has ever incorporated into their films is the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché. While this cliché does appear in Wedding of Dreams, it was written in a way that actually makes sense for that specific story. What also helped this movie is not having this cliché be the primary focus. Instead, it serves as an interconnecting subplot that works together with another subplot. To me, this was the best wedding themed movie that Hallmark released in 2018!

 

9. Avengers: Infinity War

Despite the fact that I wasn’t a fan of this film’s ending and end-credit scene, I still found it to be an enjoyable film. All of the key components of Avengers: Infinity War looked and felt like they are handled with great care. Every detail, from the acting to Thanos himself, were put at the right place and time in order to create an entertaining cinematic experience! Besides the ending and end-credit scene, I was disappointed by the movie being more of a “set-up” film than I had expected. But, as I said in my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Infinity War, I will take Dale Travers’ advice to “trust the timing” as I patiently wait for the arrival of Avengers: Endgame.

 

8. Oliver!

Yes, I know I just reviewed this movie recently. But, when I look back on all the movies that I’ve seen, and reviewed, in 2018, Oliver! just makes me smile. Honestly, this has quickly become one of my favorite movie musicals, with an engaging story and memorable songs. Even as I list these movies one by one, I still think of the song “Consider Yourself”. A great thing about movies is they can have the ability to find a special place in your heart. For me, this is exactly what Oliver! did, finding a special place in my heart in order to be carried and remembered as time goes on. As I mentioned in my review, this movie is one of the reasons why I’m thinking about reading Oliver Twist in 2019!

 

7. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa

Out of all the Christmas movies that were released from Hallmark in 2017, Christmas in Evergreen was one of the last movies I would have expected to receive a sequel. However, this sequel pleasantly surprised me by how good of a film it was! What’s so great about Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa is that it adds something new to the story, as well as expand the world of Evergreen. It was nice to see two interesting, on-going mysteries in this film, with one of them leading to one of the best plot-twists in Hallmark movie history! Hallmark has proven that Evergreen is a truly special place, creating a likable environment filled with likable characters. I really hope Hallmark considers continuing the series, as I’m sure more stories can be found within this precious town.

 

6. Cowgirls ‘N Angels

This year, I was pleasantly surprised to find two horse themed movies that I really liked! One of these films was Cowgirls ‘N Angels, a movie that I had heard about, but never seen until 2018. The story within this movie was very sweet and emotional, keeping me invested throughout this cinematic journey. Bailee Madison’s performance was so great, it was actually one of her best acting performances that I’ve ever seen! Even though she was the youngest cast member in Cowgirls ‘N Angels, she still found a way to bring so much versatility and emotion to her character. It makes wish to see Bailee receive a dramatic role in a Hallmark movie. Yes, I know Bailee is an important member of the Good Witch television show. But, it’s been two or three years since we’ve seen Bailee star in a Hallmark movie that wasn’t Good Witch affiliated.

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I think it’s safe to say that my friends, Bucky and Bucky, had a pretty good 2018! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

5. L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew

I have seen all of PBS’s Anne of Green Gables films starring Ella Ballentine, with the first movie being good and the second movie being just decent. However, I thought this third movie was the best one in this trilogy! Something that really impressed me about this story was the messages and themes that were found within the film’s narrative. These messages and themes, such as the importance of education, were not only worth promoting, but were also presented in a way that seemed very realistic. This made me feel good about what I was watching, like that time was well spent. I hope that PBS considers creating more movies for this series, as I would definitely like to see Anne’s story continue. For the most part, this particular Anne of Green Gables series has had a pretty good track record when it comes to quality. PBS has proven that they have what it takes to make entertaining and meaningful films.

 

4. Jurassic Park

I had such a great movie-going experience when I saw Jurassic Park at a Fathom Events screening. One of the reasons why is how great of a movie this was! For me, Jurassic Park has almost everything I could want in a movie, making the movie itself such a memorable masterpiece. I mentioned in my review that I saw Jurassic Park for the first time in 2018. Looking back on this film, I’m glad I chose to review this movie when I received 25 followers on my blog. Otherwise, I might have missed out on a truly spectacular film! I have not yet seen the other films within this series, so I might have to make time to see them in 2019.

 

3. Saving Mr. Banks

This is a film that I’m so glad to have finally seen! I said in my review of Saving Mr. Banks that I have wanted to see this film for a while. When I received five followers on 18 Cinema Lane, I decided to make the time to see this movie. I can only speak for myself, but I think I made a wise choice. There were several great things about this film that helped make it the gem that it is. Similar to what I said about Avengers: Infinity War, everything about Saving Mr. Banks seems like it has handled with such great care. Because of this, my experience with watching this film ended up being a great one!

 

2. Cooking with Love 

This was the first movie to receive a perfect score (10 out of 10) out of all the movies I reviewed in 2018! Even after all these months later, I can still remember how excited I was to share my thoughts about Cooking with Love with all my readers and followers. This movie took something that I love (the Hallmark movie, This Magic Moment) and added even more creativity to it. There were so many great elements in this film, that it truly makes me smile just thinking about the film as a whole. While there were a few things that I didn’t like about the movie, these things were minor and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the movie. I would definitely love to see Cooking with Love receive a sequel, especially since there are enough story elements within this narrative to naturally lend itself well to a second chapter.

 

1. Royally Ever After

While Cooking with Love was the first movie to receive a perfect score on 18 Cinema Lane, it was definitely not the last. Royally Ever After also received a score of 10 out of 10! There is no such thing as a “perfect” Hallmark movie. But, to me, this film was the first Hallmark movie I’ve seen in quite a while to be as close to “perfect” as possible. The best part of Royally Ever After is how the creative team behind this project went out of their way to use as few “Hallmark royal movie” clichés as possible. It felt like Hallmark had taken a concept that had been told so many times and give it a much welcomed “breath of fresh air”. Like Cooking with Love, Royally Ever After has enough story elements to naturally lend itself towards a sequel. Besides, as far as I know, Hallmark has never made a movie that featured a royal wedding. This would be a great way for this movie to, potentially, be the start of a new series!

Royally Ever After poster
Royally Ever After poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Royally%20Ever%20After&IsSeries=False.

What did you think of my list? What was the best movie you saw in 2018? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in 2019!

 

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cooking with Love Review

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of viewing one of Hallmark’s newest releases, Cooking with Love. I cannot wait to share my thoughts on this movie with you! In fact, this is the first time I’ve reviewed a movie for 18 Cinema Lane that I was truly excited to talk about! This movie made me remember how much I enjoy sharing my love of movies with others. Well, when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, then that’s my cue to review Cooking with Love!

Cooking with Love poster
Cooking with Love poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Cooking+with+Love

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: Cooking with Love’s cast was fantastic! From the leading actor and actress to all the child actors, everyone brought the best of their acting abilities to Hallmark’s table (get it? Tables? Cooking?). Ali Liebert has come a long way since appearing in her very first Hallmark movie six years ago and, as a Hallmark fan, I couldn’t be prouder. Her character reminded me so much of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) in terms of her mannerisms and how Ali’s character interacted with the other characters. Brett Dalton pulled off an amazing performance, especially for his first time starring in a Hallmark movie! A much-deserved kudos to everyone in this cast!

 

  • The incorporation of Valentine’s Day: Even though this movie was a part of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Valentine’s Day” line-up, the film’s use of the holiday didn’t come off as overbearing. Also, the story was fueled on the moral aspects of Valentine’s Day instead of relying on the typical visuals and symbols (such as heart decorations, conversation candy hearts, etc.). Things like being kind, helping others to be the best they can be, and getting to know someone and keeping their best interests in mind are aspects to Valentine’s Day that don’t always get prominently showcased in a Valentine’s themed movie. However, these elements are what made Cooking with Love seem like a breath of fresh air.

 

  • The behind-the-scenes element: The majority of this movie featured a peek behind the curtain of the process involved in creating a television show. Hallmark doesn’t tell stories like this often, but when they do, it’s a real treat (see what I did there? Treats? Cooking?)! This aspect of Cooking with Love reminded me of one of my favorite Hallmark movies, This Magic Moment, where a good portion of the film explored the filming of a movie from a behind-the-scenes perspective. I felt this behind-the-scenes look at television shows made Cooking with Love’s story educational in an engaging and entertaining way!

 

  • The messages and themes: I really liked the story of Cooking with Love! One of the reasons why I found this story captivating is the messages and themes that were effortlessly woven into the script. Ideas such as the power of kindness, making a positive and influential difference in someone’s life, and not being afraid to speak up are morals and beliefs that Hallmark should continue to promote! These morals and beliefs made the story not only feel believable, but also uplifting.

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    Valentine’s Day image created by Sergey_kandakov at freepik.com <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Sergey_kandakov – Freepik.com</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/valentine-background-design_1389799.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • There’s only a few, minor things in this film that bothered me. However, I need to point out that these things did not affect my overall enjoyment of the film. The things that did bother me are the following:
  • Not showing anyone who was cooking washing their hands beforehand, as well as not mentioning hand washing
  • The two-or-more-people-taste-testing-the-sauce-with-the-same-stirring-spoon cliché
  • Not featuring an elimination process for the show’s contestants

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    Young chef image created by Iconicbestiary at freepik.com <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com</a> <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/young-cook-background_1311107.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

My overall impression:

Even though it’s only February, this is, so far, the best Hallmark movie I’ve seen in 2018! It’s also one of the best Hallmark movies I’ve ever seen! The all-around quality of this film has instantly made it one of my new favorites. I really hope Cooking with Love gets released on DVD and I would love it if Cooking with Love got a sequel.

 

Overall score: 10 out of 10

 

Did you watch Cooking with Love? What are your thoughts on it? Please let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen