Take 3: Holly and Ivy Review

For the third year in a row, I am participating in the Christmas in July Blogathon, hosted by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews! This time around, I went back to the Hallmark well. When I first joined the blogathon, I reviewed a Hallmark film titled Christmas Camp. If you read that article, you would know that I wasn’t a fan of it. Last year, I wrote about Little House: Bless All the Dear Children, a film that was a fine, family-friendly picture. Since I still had the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie, Holly and Ivy, on my DVR, I chose to review this title for the 2021 blogathon. In 2020, I didn’t see a lot of Christmas films from Hallmark. In fact, the only newer release I watched and/or wrote about was The Christmas Bow. Within a year, I have heard good things about Holly and Ivy, with my family sharing similar sentiments. Therefore, I figured it was time to finally check the movie out. How does it compare to The Christmas Bow? Like a child counting down to Christmas Day, you’re just going to have to wait to find out!

Holly and Ivy poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: If the interactions between the characters feel like they are having real-life conversations with each other, that’s how you know the acting in a given film is good. That was certainly the case within Holly and Ivy! All of the characters got along well with one another, as they had good on-screen chemistry. It also helps that the cast as a whole was talented! I’ll be honest, I have never seen any of Janel Parrish’s projects from her filmography. However, I did see her on Dancing with the Stars. The way Janel’s character reacts to various situations came across very naturally. While Melody and her neighbor, Nina, are decorating Melody’s Christmas tree, she shares her reason for collecting elf ornaments. The tone of Melody’s voice and the look in her eyes highlights how reminiscent she is over something as small and simple as ornaments. These acting techniques helped make Janel’s performance feel believable. While we’re on the subject of Nina, let’s talk about Marisol Nichols’ performance. While portraying this character, Marisol embodied what a good mother should be. Despite dealing with her own medical issues, she always tries to take an active role in her daughters’ lives. While decorating her family’s Christmas tree, Nina reveals a special tradition that involves Nina performing a dance routine with Holly and Ivy. This scene shows how much she enjoys the life she has created for herself. While I like the performances of Sadie Coleman and Piper Rubio, the actresses who portrayed the titular characters, I want to talk about Jeremy Jordan’s performance. Similar to Janel Parrish, I am not familiar with Jeremy’s filmography. However, I still liked seeing his portrayal of Adam. His on-screen personality was easy-going and care-free. While he took his profession and hobby seriously, Adam just wanted to have a good time. When he interacted with Melody, you could tell just by watching them that these characters were made for each other. It helped that both Adam and Melody had similar personalities, but were traveling on similar paths in regards to their respective careers.

The presentation of Christmas tropes/activities: Hallmark is known for featuring a plethora of Christmas related tropes and activities within each story. But sometimes, these films are oversaturated with them, as if there is a checklist that needs to be completed. Holly and Ivy shows some Christmas related activities that have been featured in other Hallmark films. It’s the way they are included in the story that sets Holly and Ivy apart from the network’s other titles. In one scene, Melody is decorating homemade Christmas ornaments with Holly and Ivy. The purpose of showing these characters creating Christmas decorations is to give the audience some of Melody’s backstory. That small piece of information was emphasized more than the activity. This scene is an example of how there was enough presentation of Christmas tropes and activities for the viewer to get the intended point. At the same time, if you were to put this same story around any other holiday, it would still work.

An emotional balance: In films that revolve around a serious, real world topic, such as a potentially terminally ill relative, the overall tone tends to be heavy. There are times when viewers warn one another to “have a box of tissues at hand” or share that the film will “pull at your heartstrings”. While there are somber moments in Holly and Ivy, the movie itself never felt sad. In fact, feelings of sorrow and despair never crossed my mind. That’s because the script doesn’t rely too heavily on the sadder parts of the story. Instead, the creative team strives for a balance by also focusing of happier, more joyous moments. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Nina is dealing with medical issues. Even though these issues are discussed and an emergency plan is created if the worst-case scenario happens, Nina puts her energy toward helping Melody and being present in her daughters’ lives. In fact, I can think of more scenes where Nina is enjoying the company of her friends and family than worrying about her medical situation.

The 2021 Christmas in July Blogathon banner created by Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

Adam’s conflict: It’s typical for the male and female protagonist to have their own conflicts within a Hallmark picture. However, I didn’t like Adam’s conflict in Holly and Ivy. Throughout the film, Adam’s parents wanted him to come work at the family car dealership. But Adam would rather stay a contractor and focus on his woodworking hobby on the side. This conflict reminded me of a young, college-bound adult not seeing eye-to-eye with their parents on a potential degree. Because of this, it felt a bit immature for a character that appears to be in his early 30s. One of the film’s messages and Adam’s parents’ mantra is “help where help is needed’. By being a contractor and taking up woodworking, Adam is doing exactly what his parents wanted; helping where help is needed. It baffled me how his parents failed to realize this until the end of the film.

 Chippewa Falls Library being unbelievably ill-equipped: I understand that some libraries deal with more challenges than others. But based on what the movie presented, the town of Chippewa Falls appeared to be doing just fine. There’s no evidence of the town being a predominantly low-income community or having a high crime-rate. What the characters said about the library’s issues didn’t match up with the visuals. During her time volunteering at the library, Melody comes up with several ideas in order to solve some of the library’s problems. Two of these ideas are renting out meeting rooms for events and setting up a “Mitten Tree” to collect hats and scarves for citizens in need. I can only speak from my own experience, but my local library already does these things. With that said, I find it hard to believe that the Chippewa Falls Library wouldn’t utilize these resources already.

The inclusion of Betty the dog: Holly and Ivy have a dog named Betty, who periodically appears in the film. While I don’t have anything against the dog itself, I don’t think it was necessary to include a dog in this story. Having Betty in the movie felt like she was there just for the sake of being there. If you had written the dog out of the script, I don’t think it would make a difference.

Christmas family image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/nice-family-christmas-scene-singing-together_1458033.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.

My overall impression:

Like I mentioned in the introduction, this is my third year participating in the Christmas in July Blogathon. Out of the three movies I’ve reviewed, Holly and Ivy is, by far, the best one! Within the past few years, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has, in my opinion, made stronger films than their companion, Hallmark Channel. This is because Hallmark’s second network appears to try different things when it comes to storytelling. Holly and Ivy is a good example of this, as I highlighted in my review. There wasn’t a heavy emphasis on Christmas tropes/activities like in other Hallmark films. Creating a balance between the happier and sadder moments of the story also helps shape the film’s identity. I ended up liking this movie almost as much as I liked The Christmas Bow. Come to think of it, I wish Holly and Ivy was the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie for 2020. This story certainly has the ingredients for that to have been a reality. But I guess that wasn’t meant to be.

Since we’re still talking about Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, it’s time for me to share who I’d invite to Drew’s Christmas party! This year, I chose John Christian Plummer! For those who are not familiar with him, John is the father of Charlie Plummer and is one of the screen-writers of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Mystery 101 series. When I look back on the celebrities that have been “invited” to Drew’s Christmas party in the past, actors and actresses made up the majority of the guests. While choosing an actor or actress as a guest is totally fine, I wanted to change things up a bit. To an extent, screen-writers are underrated, especially from Hallmark. Therefore, my invitation will, hopefully, give recognition to at least one of them. Like in 2019 and 2020, my invites are about giving “standing ovations”.

Overall score: 7.7 out of 10

What are your thoughts on Holly and Ivy? Which Hallmark movies do you wish had become Hallmark Hall of Fame titles? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at Drew’s Christmas party!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse Review

So, it’s been five months since I last reviewed a mystery film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (yes, you read that right). And I was surprised to discover, recently, that my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game is one of my more popular reviews. Currently, it has four likes and 390 views! Because of these two factors, I decided to review all three films that will premiere during the first ever Aurora Teagarden Month! This is one of my favorite series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so I wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to talk about these movies! The first one to air was Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse. Not only was I excited to revisit these characters, but also to see some newer faces return. What are we waiting for? Let’s begin this review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse

Aurora Teagarden 10 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+A+Game+of+Cat+and+Mouse.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The acting performances in the Aurora Teagarden series are, always, a highlight. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse is no exception, as the entire cast did a great job with their on-screen performances! Once again, Candace Cameron Bure shines in the lead role! She helped carry the film with a likable personality and charm. I also liked seeing Niall Matter again as Nick Miller. Even though this character hasn’t appeared in the series for very long, he has already become a favorite! Supporting actors and actresses also did a wonderful job, whether they were series regulars or newcomers! Since the very beginning of the series, Ellie Harvie has portrayed Lillian Tibbett, Aurora’s co-worker at the library. She only makes limited on-screen appearances, but her performances make up for that. With enough believability, Ellie has been able to bring her character to life and give the audience the impression that Lillian is not Aurora’s biggest fan. The Aurora Teagarden series would not be the same without her.

 

The mystery: In almost every mystery film on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the main mystery revolves around a murder. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was about a different kind of mystery; where thefts, vandalism, and danger were the key ingredients. While there was a murder associated with the story, it was not the primary focus. Enough suspects and clues allowed the audience to stay invested in the story. Incorporating Aurora’s occupation with the mystery itself was not only clever, but also showed how well-written this movie was!

 

The surprises: I’m not going to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t seen this movie yet. But I will say that there were a few surprises that were well executed. One of them was so effective, that it made me jump in my seat! As I’ve said, this movie was well-written when it came to the film’s mystery. I also felt this way about the surprises in this movie. This was a good way to try to help the audience stay focused on what was happening on-screen.

City Library Isometric Illustration
Interior view of library image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A slower pace: Most of the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have a faster pace. This is to maintain the suspense and intrigue that the mystery provides. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse, though, the overall pace was on the slower side. While the story itself were intriguing, the slower pace made the film feel like it was a little bit drawn out. This also made the movie seem like the suspense was very limited.

 

Rehashed material: There are two ongoing narratives in the Aurora Teagarden series: people disapproving of the Real Murders Club and the police not wanting Aurora to help them solve the case. I understand that things like this help a series maintain its continuity. But when this is the tenth movie in a four-year-old movie series, those narratives start to become stale. In every film, Aurora ends up solving the mystery without the help of the police. As for the Real Murders Club, the mayor of Aurora’s town became a member of the group a few movies ago. Hopefully, these narratives can be dropped or changed within the next two films.

 

Lack of comedy: Even though the films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are known for having a more serious tone than the movies on Hallmark Channel, comedy is, more often than not, incorporated into their projects. The reason for this is to give the audience some distance between the darkness of the film’s murder. The overall tone of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was serious, which left very little room for comedy. Sure, there were a few moments that made me chuckle. But the humor that is usually found in this series was sorely missed.

Private detective office interior cartoon vector
Interior image of detective’s office created by Vectorpocket at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage vector created by vectorpocket – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

As a film, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was decent. But, as the first movie in Aurora Teagarden Month, this was a good start! There are very few times when this series disappoints. This film definitely did not do that, as interesting creative choices were made and the story itself was thoroughly thought out. I’ve been a fan of this series since the very beginning, so I’m glad that it finally got its own month! Because I enjoyed this entry in the Aurora Teagarden story, I am looking forward to the next two installments! Based on the commercial, it looks like the eleventh movie will feature a murder mystery party. From what I remember, there hasn’t been a party like this featured in any of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ mystery films. It looks like August is shaping up to be a very fascinating time of year!

 

Overall score: 7.3 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts on the start of Aurora Teagarden Month? Are you looking forward to the next two films? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Everybody, Celebrate

Well, this is it. The final episode of Season 6. I have to admit that this has been one of the most memorable seasons in the show’s history. There was enough content for Hearties to talk about, whether these things happened on or off screen. But, nine episodes later, I’d say that this season was a success! When the seventh season was announced, it proved this season’s, as well as this show’s, success. It showed that When Calls the Heart has the endurance to live on as long as it wants to. If the creative team focuses on making this show the best that it can be and if they fans continue to support it, then this dream can come true. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. My re-cap of Season Six’s finale of When Calls the Heart!

Just a reminder: If you did not see the season finale of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart Season 6 poster 2
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%206&episodeIndex=6004.

Season: 6

Episode: 9

Name: Two of Hearts

 

Major Stories:

  • At the beginning of the episode, Elizabeth’s sister, Julie, arrives in Hope Valley. She and Elizabeth are so excited for Jack’s Baptism ceremony. Before the event, Julie presents her sister with the Christening Gown that all of the Thatcher daughters had worn on their Baptism. The day of this event goes according to plan. Not only does the library officially open, but the Baptism and Baptism party end up being wonderful. At the Founders Day Festival, Elizabeth spends some time with Ally and Nathan. A fishing pole prize at the Strength Test game catches Ally’s eye. Nathan tries to win the prize for her, but fails. Lucas, who approaches the group shortly after, tries to win the fishing pole for Ally. Unfortunately, his attempt fails as well. Finally, Carson, who also approaches the group, tries his luck at the game. He finds success and wins the fishing pole for Ally. Later in the episode, Elizabeth overhears Bill and Henry’s confrontation about Hope Valley’s mining tragedy. When she discusses this with Henry, he reveals that everything in the letter was true and that he felt guilty about the situation ever since. Elizabeth suggests that Henry try moving forward from the past, even though he feels he doesn’t know how. At the Founders Day Dance, when it’s time for the Ladies’ Choice dance, Elizabeth chooses to dance with Lucas instead of Nathan.

 

  • Before the Founders’ Day Festival, Bill is recruited as the judge of the Pie Baking Contest. He also fulfills his responsibilities as Jack’s Godfather. The first order of business is attending the Baptism ceremony. At the Festival, he and Lee bond over their duties as Jack’s Godfather and Guardian. Later in the episode, Bill is searching for something in the Mayor’s office. Rosemary soon enters the office to inform him that some of the pies have already been eaten due to a misunderstanding. After agreeing to help Rosemary with the situation, Bill finds a piece of paper at the back of a desk drawer. He discovers that the piece of paper is a letter from the Northwestern Mining Company to Henry Gowen. In this letter, it reveals that Henry had concerns about the overall safety of Hope Valley’s mine. The Mining Company, however, told him that he had nothing to worry about. Shortly after making this discovery, Bill confronts Henry about the letter. Henry admits that everything in the letter was true and that he feels guilty about the situation. The next day, Elizabeth talks to Henry about his confrontation with Bill. Henry shares with her that he has been haunted by the tragedy at the mine. Elizabeth suggests that he move forward from the past. Henry says that he does not know how to do that.

 

  • After Spencer and Grace receive the iron pills from Carson, the three of them spend some time at the Founders Day Festival. Spencer is still upset, so Grace takes him to various attractions to help lift his spirits. A few things make him smile for a little while, such as winning a Sheriff pin and petting a rabbit at the Petting Zoo. But, no matter what, Spencer returns to his state of unhappiness. When he sees other children with their parents, he decides to run away when Grace isn’t looking. When she discovers that Spencer is missing, she immediately tells Carson what happened. Grace, Carson, and other citizens from Hope Valley join in the search for Spencer. Carson ends up finding Spencer hiding in his office. Spencer tells Carson that he misses his parents. After the Festival, Grace tries to convince Spencer to come to the orphanage that she and her sister are going to own. As she’s sharing her story of what it was like to be an orphan, Grace also shares all the fun things that the orphans and care-givers will be doing at this orphanage. Spencer ultimately decides to go to this orphanage with Grace.

 

  • After the contract gets approved, Lee promotes Jesse to the Manager of the lumberyard. Jesse goes straight to Dottie’s Dress Shop to tell Clara the exciting news. During the Founders Day Festival, Clara volunteers to host a hair-dressing booth. Even though she learned how to create the hairstyle the night before, her execution of the hairstyle at the festival doesn’t go according to plan. She ends up asking Fiona for some assistance. Meanwhile, Jesse asks for Lee’s help in planning a surprise for Clara. At the Founders Day Dance, Jesse surprises Clara with a marriage proposal. With much excitement and happiness, Clara says yes.

Jewels sparkle in the golden wedding rings lying on the leather
Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor Stories:

Because all of the stories surrounded the Founders Day Festival, there were no minor stories in this episode.

59204-O9FTZU-909
Carnival game image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I was honestly surprised when Elizabeth decided to dance with Lucas at the Founders Day Dance. After her talk with Henry, I thought that Elizabeth would pick him as her dance partner. I understand that the screen-writers of this show want to draw this guessing game of who Elizabeth will fall in love with for as long as possible. But, I think having Elizabeth choose between Lucas and Nathan in this episode was a little too soon.

 

  • I was also surprised that Lee and Rosemary didn’t adopt Spencer. I realize that this creative decision was probably made to a.) provide When Hope Calls with some familiar faces and b.) not overshadow Jesse and Clara’s engagement. However, it just felt like the emotionality of Lee and Rosemary’s talk about the possibly of not having children didn’t have a satisfying pay-off.

 

  • Since we now know that When Calls the Heart will receive a seventh season, I wonder when a Christmas movie will be announced? These movies have acted as a “bridge” between the previous season and the next season. Maybe it’ll be announced at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event? What would be shocking is if this show didn’t receive a Christmas movie.

 

  • Overall, I thought this season finale was, at best, fine. I understand that after last season’s finale, the creative team behind this show would choose not to include a lot of shocking/surprising moments. The only thing that came the closest to being surprising was Jesse and Clara’s engagement. But even that wasn’t really surprising because it was hinted at in the preview commercial for this episode. To me, there weren’t as many surprises as I had hoped.

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Now that this season is over, what are your overall thoughts on it? Do you think this show will receive a Christmas movie? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Something to Talk About

After being out of town this past weekend, I have returned to 18 Cinema Lane with another Sunset Over Hope Valley post! Season six has provided Hearties with a lot of content to talk about. Some of it has been related to the story, such as Lucas’ arrival in Hope Valley. Others have been unexpected, such as the “Abigail situation”. But, through it all, things have worked in When Calls the Heart’s favor. With a seventh season on the way, Hearties will continue to have more things to talk about! In this episode, there is plenty of material to address. From the legalities of Hope Valley’s new-found oil to Ally’s backstory, there is something for everyone to contemplate and think about. If you want to learn more about all the things that Hearties could talk about, keep reading this When Calls the Heart re-cap post!

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

When Calls the Heart Season 6 poster 2
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=When%20Calls%20the%20Heart%20Season%206&episodeIndex=6004.

Season: 6

Episode: 7

Name: Hope is With the Heart

 

Major Stories:

  • One day, Jesse comes into Henry’s office to inform him that he is going to sued by Jesse himself. When Henry tells Bill what happened, Bill says that he has been appointed as Hope Valley’s official judge. This means that Bill has assigned himself to Henry and Jesse’s case. On the first day of court, Jesse asks Henry a series of questions relating to the case. He believes that Henry was purposefully trying to take advantage of Jesse, using connections with people he knows in order to steal as much money as possible. After this court session, Clara remembers that Lucas exchanged some money with Henry. Because of this, Jesse decides to question Lucas in the next court session. The next day, on the second day of court, Jesse asks Lucas a series of questions relating to his business relationship with Henry. Lucas answers the questions, but doesn’t provide a lot of details. After assessing the information, Bill declares that there is not enough evidence to determine if Henry intentionally took advantage of Jesse. The next day, Nathan notifies Bill that Johnny Boone, a famous criminal, is on the loose. They both track down Johnny and arrest him. As Johnny reminisces about the other time that Bill arrested him, Bill informs him that he is also the town’s official judge. Later that day, two other Mounties arrive to take Johnny to Union City. When Johnny asks Bill if he can stay in Hope Valley for one more night to receive a warm meal, Bill reluctantly agrees.

 

  • After several attempts, Elizabeth finally gets her library. In order for this wish to become a reality, Lucas surprises Elizabeth by donating one of the buildings that he purchased. With his help, Elizabeth and her students get to work on building bookshelves and stocking the library with used books. During this activity, Robert finds a copy of The Fall of the House of Usher. After Opal insists, Robert reads some of the story to the entire class. When the story gets to a good part, Elizabeth ends this impromptu story-time. As the students go back to preparing the library, Ally shares that she knows where a “real” haunted house is located. At first, Harper and Robert are uninterested. But, as Ally describes the house to them, Harper and Robert decide that they want to see this house for themselves. Opal wants to join them, but they tell her that she’s too young to come. Later, that night, Harper and Robert travel through the woods in an attempt to find the haunted house. On this trip, they discover that Opal has followed them in order to see the house. When they do find this house, the rocking chair on the porch starts moving on its own. This causes all three children to run away. When Robert gets as far away from the house as possible, he discovers that Harper and Opal are gone. He immediately goes to Elizabeth for help. Elizabeth recruits Nathan to help her find these children. While searching for Harper and Opal, Nathan tells Elizabeth that not only does he not know where Ally is, but that the “haunted” house Ally was talking about is just an abandoned house that she and Nathan found on a fishing trip. Moments later, Ally shows up and tells them that Opal has been hurt. When Nathan and Elizabeth find Harper and Opal, not only does Opal have a hurt arm, but Ally confesses that she was pulling a prank on Robert, Harper, and Opal by moving the rocking chair and pretending that the abandoned house was haunted. After they take Opal to Carson for medical attention, they discover that Opal’s arm has been sprained. When Nathan learns that this situation started because Robert read The Fall of the House of Usher in the library that Lucas was volunteering to coordinate, he feels that he has another reason to not like Lucas. The next day, when walking home from school with Elizabeth, Ally reveals that her grandfather is in jail. When Elizabeth confronts Nathan about this subject, she tells him that he needs to talk to Ally about her grandfather. The next day, Nathan and Ally have a heart-to-heart conversation about Ally’s grandfather.

342407-PA9PYX-915
Library image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stack-of-books-on-library-desk_2509490.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school”>School image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor Stories:

  • Toward the beginning of the episode, Faith thanks Carson for helping her reconnect with her father. She and her father have been having more phone conversations in recent days. While eating at Abigail’s Café, Faith reveals that her father would like Carson to spend Thanksgiving with the Carter family. Carson agrees to her father’s request. Later in the episode, Faith tells Carson that her father had a heart attack. Because of this, Faith has to travel out of town to visit her father. After being with her father, she calls Carson to let him know that her visit might be longer than expected.

 

  • What was on Rosemary’s mind in the previous episode is still on her mind. While she is dealing with this, Fiona comes into the dress shop looking for a new dress. When Rosemary asks her if she has any personal requests, Fiona shows her a picture of a skirt from a magazine advertisement. Rosemary has her concerns about making this skirt, especially since she doesn’t know if women in Hope Valley would want to purchase it. Fiona reassures her that the skirt will, hopefully, be purchased by at least one customer. That evening, Rosemary finally talks to Lee about what’s been bothering her. She reveals that there’s a possibility that she will be unable to have children. Lee comforts her by telling her that they will get through this time together. Later in the episode, Rosemary finishes Fiona’s skirt and decides to have some of her friends model her new skirts. She is surprised by how successful her creation has become, with more people buying the skirts than expected. At the end of the episode, Elizabeth asks Rosemary and Lee if they would like to be Jack’s guardians. They both end up accepting Elizabeth’s offer.

Sewing color background
Sewing pattern image created by Nenilkime at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Nenilkime – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/sewing-color-background_1380853.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • The plots of the court case and the Johnny Boone arrest didn’t feel like they connected. If anything, these plots seemed like they were from two separate episodes. Based on the commercial for this episode, I assumed that the court case would last longer. Maybe this case will be brought up in another episode?

 

  • Even though her heart was in the right place, I found Elizabeth’s decision to make Rosemary and Lee Jack’s official guardians to be very confusing. Clearly, Elizabeth is not going to give Jack to another family, especially since it seems like she’s been doing a good job when it comes to raising Jack. Plus, in the synopsis for the next episode that was shown on my television, it said that “an old friend arrives with a new orphan”. So, it’s highly likely that one of the care-givers from When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing will arrive in Hope Valley and Rosemary and Lee will adopt this “new orphan”. This means that Elizabeth’s decision wouldn’t have much weight and meaning.

 

  • During the commercial for the next episode, the plot that was highlighted the most was about Lucas and his past. I really hope that Lucas’ story is worth the build-up. Throughout the season, it seems like the script has been working up to a big reveal when it comes to the character of Lucas. I do think it’s interesting that Lucas’ story is finally being told in the second to last episode of the season.

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Photoangel – Freepik.com</a>.<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/red-sunset-clouds-over-trees_1254327.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you have any predictions for what’s to come? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game Review

It seems like my posts and reviews about Hallmark Movies & Mysteries films are a big hit on 18 Cinema Lane. My most popular movie review is my Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill review at 131 views and counting! The Word on the Street post about Marrying Father Christmas going into production is the most popular post on my blog at 212 views and counting! To keep up with this apparent demand, I decided to review Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game. Back in April, I reviewed Reap What You Sew: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, giving the movie the score of 7 and receiving pretty good feedback on the review itself (that review got 3 likes and 10 views). Then, in May, I shared the official synopsis for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game in a Word on the Street post. In that post, I speculated that Niall Matter’s character, Nick Miller, could replace Martin as Aurora’s love interest. Was my speculation correct? Solve this mystery by reading my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game!

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries -- The Disappearing Game poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Aurora+Teagarden+Mysteries+The+Disappearing+Game.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This cast was solid! Everyone in this movie gave such a memorable performance! While watching this film, there were two actors that really stood out to me. One of them was Niall Matter, who, I think, gave the best performance in any Hallmark movie he’s starred in this year (so far). There was one scene where his character, Nick, was talking to Aurora about the murder victim. In that moment, his eyes looked as if they contained so much pain, showing just how much emotion Niall gave to that portrayal. The other actor is Curtis Tweedie, who portrayed Brian, one of the students at Lawrenceton College. Curtis packed so much emotion into his role that my heart actually went out to his character, feeling bad for him whenever he was upset. Though Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game was Curtis’ first Hallmark movie, I would love to see him star in more Hallmark productions, especially a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie!

 

The interactions between characters: Something that always remained consistent in the Aurora Teagarden series is the various interactions between the characters. It’s always nice to see favorites from the series, such as Aurora and Aida, interacting with new characters, like their cousin/nephew Phillip. Anytime a new character is introduced in this series, it feels like they are effortlessly woven into each story or the series as a whole. The characters’ connections to each other and the conversations they share are always a delight, especially in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game. Nick, for example, was introduced in this movie as a new character in the series. However, Niall not only fit in amongst the cast, but his character fit in amongst the different characters as well, whether they were new-comers or veterans to the series.

 

The mystery: In most mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the primary focus is placed on solving the murder mystery. With Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, Aurora and her friends were also trying to solve a kidnapping case. This second mystery added a new layer to this series and told a story that is rarely written into a mystery movie on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Having more than one mystery also maintained the amount of intrigue that is expected in the Aurora Teagarden series.

101994-OM0XMB-226
Money image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/bills-and-coins-in-isometric-design_1065328.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Arthur’s lack of screen time: For three years, the Aurora Teagarden series has introduced their audience to several memorable characters. One of them is Arthur Smith, who is portrayed by Peter Benson. Known as the husband of Captain Lynn Liggett-Smith and for telling Aurora to let the police solve the mystery on more than one occasion, Arthur has appeared in all nine Aurora Teagarden films. However, in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, it seemed like Arthur didn’t receive as much screen time compared to the other films in the series. In the latest Aurora Teagarden film, it felt, to me, like Arthur’s significance as a character got reduced.

 

Aurora and Nick’s limited amount of time together: Nick Miller, one of the newest characters in this series, is Aurora’s next-door neighbor. Throughout Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, there were subtle hints to the idea of Nick and Aurora pursuing a romantic relationship. While it’s understandable for the screen-writers to take their time when developing this on-screen relationship, I feel that Aurora and Nick didn’t spend enough time together. The amount of time they spent together on-screen was so limited, it was hard to determine if Candace Cameron Bure and Niall Matter had good on-screen chemistry.

 

The mystery’s start time: Usually, the start of a mystery movie’s mystery takes place within the first few minutes of the film. For Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, the start of the film’s mystery didn’t happen until about 20 minutes into the movie. Personally, I think this length of time was a little too long. The ideal amount of time for a movie’s mystery to start, in my opinion, is somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes.

342407-PA9PYX-915
Library image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stack-of-books-on-library-desk_2509490.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/school”>School image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I really enjoyed Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game! It was better than Reap What You Sew: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery and it continued to spark my interest in this series. Something that I’m definitely looking forward to seeing in these movies is the growth of Aurora and Nick’s relationship. As Rick said in Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. His quote can definitely be applied to Aurora and Nick’s friendship, as their story is far from over. As for the Aurora Teagarden series, I would still like to see an Aurora Teagarden Mystery Month, similar to the Garage Sale Mystery Month in August and Hailey Dean Mystery Month in June. The Aurora Teagarden series is still one of the strongest movie series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, so I do think this idea could work. As long as there are stories to tell, there will always be a mystery for Aurora to solve.

 

Overall score: 7.7-7.8 out of 10

 

Have you seen the Aurora Teagarden movies? Which movie in the series is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen