Take 3: Death on the Nile (2022) Review + 415 Follower Thank You

When I reviewed Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate for my last Blog Follower Dedication Review, I figured by writing about a mystery film, I would be giving the readers what they wanted. Well, for my 415 Blog Follower Dedication Review, I decided to give my readers yet another mystery, as both reviews for Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate and Cut, Color, Murder have been quite successful. This time, though, the movie in question is a more current mystery production from the big screen. Recently, my family rented the 2022 adaptation, Death on the Nile. This is the follow-up title to the 2017 adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express. On 18 Cinema Lane, I have gone on record to state I was not a fan of Murder on the Orient Express’ ending. I would say why, but then I’d have to spoil that movie for my readers. With that said, I watched the 2022 film with an open mind, hoping the ending would be better. But was that enough to be stronger than the 2017 title? Join me as I review Death on the Nile!

Death on the Nile (2022) poster created by Kinberg Genre, Mark Gordon Pictures, Scott Free Productions, TSG Entertainment, and 20th Century Studios

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Sometimes, in ensemble films, there is at least one performance that steals the show. In the case of Death on the Nile, I can’t say that happened, as everyone’s performance was equally strong. So instead, I’m going to talk about how all of the actors and actresses appeared at ease in their roles. Every interaction among the characters seemed natural. Despite the talent being on different journeys in their career, there was a shared chemistry to be found. Gal Gadot did not star in Murder on the Orient Express alongside Kenneth Branagh. However, when they interacted together, it felt like their characters, Linnet and Hercule, had known each other longer than their total screen time. Even actors and actresses whose characters developed their own relationships created a believable on-screen connection. Bouc is a close friend of Hercule’s, but wasn’t brought up or featured in Murder on the Orient Express. Rosalie is a character who made her debut in Death on the Nile. Despite never meeting prior to this film, Rosalie and Bouc formed a romantic relationship that felt genuine. Their bright smiles and warm embraces present the impression they were always meant to be together. It’s interactions like Bouc and Rosalie’s that allowed the overall acting performances to be enjoyable to watch!

An atmospheric setting: The majority of Death on the Nile takes place in Egypt, specifically on the Nile River. Despite a cruise ship being the primary setting for the story, the characters make an excursion to an ancient Egyptian tomb. I’m not sure if Death on the Nile was filmed on-location, on a set, or if everything was green-screened. No matter where the movie was filmed, this particular location was very atmospheric! The structure was covered in a warm sandstone, reflecting the nearby natural landscape. The interior walls were covered in hieroglyphics, only seen through torch light or a flashlight. Before the characters entered the tombs, a long, overhead shot showcased their entry. Even though a structure like this one would likely never be done justice through filmography, it emphasized the scope of a location of that scale!

The Egyptian tombs were not the only atmospheric location in this film. When it comes to the S.S. Karnak, the creative team knew what style they wanted to execute. Boy, did they stick the landing! This ship was posh, bearing the word “elegant” like a badge of honor. The floor was a dark wood, which nicely contrasted the white shiplap walls. Polished glass windows surrounded a grand sitting area, separating patrons into an isolated, beautiful world. Even this aforementioned sitting area was a sight to behold! A detailed oriental rug hosted an island to a set of plush armchairs and a sofa. An elegant bar overlooked both the seating arrangements and the windowed walls, which showcased a perfect view of the river. When I first saw this ship on screen, it looked, to me, like a miniature version of the Titanic.

The use of black and white imagery: Within the mystery genre, black and white imagery has been, in my experience, used rarely in more recently released titles. Even in Death on the Nile, this kind of imagery had a limited incorporation in the movie. But the use of black and white imagery is what stood out to me. This film’s very first scene is captured in black and white. However, it took place during World War I, with the rest of the story taking place in 1937. The distinction of past and present through imagery was clever and visually interesting. This creative tactic was used again later in the story. But this time, color was included to force the audience to focus on that scene’s particular aspects. Like I said about the previous scene, it was an interesting and clever way to use black and white imagery!

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.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The mystery’s delayed start time: One of my least favorite aspects of the mystery genre is when the mystery starts at a later time in the story. This is because I prefer mysteries to be more interactive and get to the heart of the matter sooner. Unfortunately, Death on the Nile did not ask me what I wanted, as the mystery in this movie started at the halfway point. That means the audience was given half a movie to attempt to solve the mystery alongside Hercule. To me, this felt reminiscent of episodes of Murder, She Wrote, where the first half of the story is devoted to the mystery’s build-up. This creative decision caused a much slower start to the movie, as well as a delay in suspense.

A mystery overshadowed by relationship drama: Drama among the characters can work in a mystery’s favor, as it provides possible motives and suspects. Various types of relationships can also create tension within the overall story. But in Death on the Nile, the relationship drama ended up overshadowing the mystery. In fact, it dominated the film’s first half. While characters fell in and out of love, or simply reflected on love, one of my family members asked, “Isn’t someone supposed to get murdered in this story”? I could easily sense this family member’s impatience, as I too felt my good will toward the movie slipping away with each of the characters’ romantic embrace. I have never read any of Agatha Christie’s books, so I’m not sure if these relationships are straight from the source material. However, this part of the story was over-emphasized.

A past detail that doesn’t lead anywhere: Death on the Nile starts with showing Hercule during World War I. In that time, it is revealed he developed romantic feelings for a woman named Katherine. For the rest of the movie, though, this part of the story was never revisited. If Katherine was brought up, Hercule only talked about her in passing. Hercule’s past relationship and his time during World War I getting ignored was confusing to me. Why include these details if there was no plan to follow through on them? It felt like they were added to the story simply for the sake of being there.

Egyptian hieroglyphic image created by wirestock at freepik.com. Luxor photo created by wirestock – www.freepik.com

My overall impression:

Before I share my overall impression of Death on the Nile, I would like to thank my followers for helping make this review a reality! In four years, my blog has achieved far more success than I ever imagined. All of that is thanks to you. Now, back to sharing my overall impression. While the ending/resolution in Death on the Nile was stronger than Murder on the Orient Express’ was, the overall execution was weaker than the 2017 adaptation. The 2022 film contained a similar flaw to Knives Out: the drama among the characters overshadowed the mystery. Having the mystery start at the movie’s halfway point didn’t help Death on the Nile’s case either. Like Murder on the Orient Express, though, the cast was strong in Death on the Nile. In fact, it was difficult for me to choose a favorite performance. The locations in the 2022 production were atmospheric as well. At the publication of this review, I’m not sure if Kenneth Branagh has plans to adapt more of Agatha Christie’s books. It depends, at this point, if the potential is there.

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work? Have you read any of Agatha’s books? Don’t hesitate to comment in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Mightier Than the Sword

While working on the next issue of the Valley Voice, Lee and Rosemary talk about how “the pen is mightier than the sword”. As I reflect on this episode, I have to agree with the Coulters. The spoken or written word is a very powerful tool. But as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben put it, “With great power comes great responsibility”. In Hope Valley alone, words have been used to help and hurt. In Elizabeth’s case, words have been utilized in the name of learning. Joseph is now using words to bring people closer to the Lord.  And Mike is trying to use words to be a better leader. What I get out of the quote, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, is how accessible pens are compared to swords. When one learns how to use a pen, it can empower and inspire them in a way they may not have realized before. So far, on When Calls the Heart, there are three writers: Elizabeth, Rosemary, and Lee. If this show continues for a tenth season, who knows who’ll be encouraged to pick up the written word?

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 8

Name: Hope Valley Days: Part 2

Major stories:

Geoffrey is still in Hope Valley, claiming that Mei needs to be arrested. Curiosity getting the better of him, Nathan asks Mei for the truth. Mei confesses that, before she came to town, she worked with Geoffrey as a friend. When Geoffrey wanted to be more than friends, Mei turned him down. Refusing to take no for an answer, he created a rumor that he and Mei not only got engaged, but also eloped. Nathan takes Mei to jail, but only to protect her from Geoffrey. In the meantime, he tries to find legitimate evidence against her “ex”. Nathan sends a telegram to Chicago, in the hopes of finding out more information about Mr. Lewis. Later in the episode, when he does receive a call from Chicago, Nathan informs Mei of the charges against her. The newly elected mayor of Chicago has connections to Geoffrey. When Nathan tells her the mayor wants Mei to be transferred to Chicago, she recognizes this as a manipulation tactic on Geoffrey’s part. But instead of following the mayor’s orders, Nathan finds a way to help Mei. As Nathan is letting Mei out of jail, Geoffrey shows up. Nathan uses this as an opportunity to present a marriage license in Geoffrey’s name. This license reveals that Geoffrey was married this whole time, but abandoned his wife in pursuit of Mei. After being confronted with this truth, Geoffrey leaves. Mei not only hugs Nathan, but also thanks him for his help.

Bill is still dealing with his cough from the previous episode. After visiting with Joseph and Minnie, congratulating them on their new loan, Bill discovers he is now coughing up blood. At his recent doctor’s appointment, both Faith and Mollie are disappointed he didn’t receive the X-Ray he was prescribed in “Hope Valley Days: Part 1”. However, Faith does prescribe him medication he has to take once every hour. But Bill doesn’t listen to Faith’s recommendation. Instead, he drinks the whole medicine bottle in one sitting, causing him to become drunk. While Mei is in jail, Bill ends up resting in the cell across from hers. As was mentioned in the previous episode, Bill is representing April Fools’ Day for ‘Hope Valley Days’. People in town comment how he still hasn’t done anything in correlation with the holiday. What they don’t know is that Bill has a trick or two up his sleeve. After church services one day, Hope Valley’s citizens discover a Christmas tree residing in the center of town. No one can figure out who put the tree there. But the audience discovers it was Bill all along.

Image of Thanksgiving dinner 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.

Minor stories:

While walking through town one day, Elizabeth meets a woman who has chosen to homeschool her children. After reading the Valley Voice’s bulletin board, she would like to know if Elizabeth could help her receive school supplies. Elizabeth not only agrees to help, but she also gives the woman suggestions on how to locate educational materials for older students. Elizabeth finds a way to help Anna as well. When visiting the café one day, Elizabeth tells Anna she talked to Anna’s mother beforehand. In that conversation, they came to an agreement that Anna could stay in Hope Valley and continue working at the café, until she has enough money saved for college. As for lodging, Joseph has agreed to set up the café’s rooms into boarding house rooms. That way, Anna could stay at the café and pay Mr. and Mrs. Canfield monthly rent. Anna agrees with this plan and is grateful for Elizabeth’s help.

Rosemary and Lee continue to find the voice of Hope Valley’s newspaper. They’re not opposed to writing in an honest manner. But, at the same time, they seek to discover a literary voice that doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Rosemary also gives Lee a typewriter, in the hopes of helping Lee learn how to type. Lee has been impressed with Mike’s idea for ‘Hope Valley Days’ and decides to write an editorial about that. When Lee tells Mike about his editorial plans, Mike doesn’t want to hear it, as he fears Lee will only give him more criticism. Despite these concerns, Lee still publishes the editorial. Rosemary likes it, claiming she can sense Lee’s change of heart when it comes to Mike’s leadership. At Elizabeth’s Thanksgiving feast, Mike privately tells Lee how much he liked the article.

Blue sparkly Christmas tree image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/merry-christmas-card_2875396.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I’m glad Mei’s story has finally concluded! While it contained a good twist and the explanation was straight-forward, Mei’s secret was not as shocking or scandalous as the show’s marketing made it seem. In fact, the creative team behind this season “pulled an Achara” on the audience. For those wondering what “pulling an Achara” means, let me provide some context before I give you an answer. Achara is a character that made a guest appearance in the Lost episode, “Stranger in a Strange Land”. In that episode’s flashback scenes, Achara mentioned to Jack (the show’s protagonist) and the audience that she had a “gift”. But for the majority of the episode, she purposefully withheld any information related to her “gift” and strung both Jack and the audience along. When that information was revealed, some could argue it was underwhelming. To sum all that up, “pulling an Achara” is when a character spends more time withholding information than sharing it, which ends up stalling the story. Like I mentioned earlier, the explanation of Mei’s secret was straight-forward. But if the show’s creative team knew that was the case, why would they string that story along for more than half the season? Looking back on Mei’s story, I wish that information was revealed sooner, so the audience could spend more time getting to know Mei.
  • I like Joseph and Minnie’s idea to use the café’s rooms as boarding rooms for future tenants! This could encourage more people to visit Hope Valley, as the saloon only has a certain number of rooms in their establishment. But this begs the question; where have the Canfield family been living this season? Toward the end of season eight, the Canfield family moved out of the log cabin they moved into within that season. Are they currently living in the row houses like Elizabeth and the Coulters? Having they been living in the café this whole time? Even though we have about four episodes left this season, I would like to receive an answer to this question.
  • After Bill coughed up blood, I wondered if he’ll stay on the show much longer? Usually when a character coughs up blood, it’s not a good sign for them, health-wise. However, I haven’t heard anything about Jack Wagner, the actor who portrays Bill, expressing any desire to leave When Calls the Heart. Granted, there has been no official word about a tenth season, as of late April 2022. Personally, I hope Bill pulls through, especially since he has appeared on the show since the very beginning.
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? What do you think Bill’s fate will be? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: ‘Aurora Teagarden’ Series Ends as Candace Cameron Bure Walks Away from Hallmark

Earlier this week, it was reported Candace Cameron Bure, one of the most popular actresses in the Hallmark community, has chosen to start a new chapter at GAC Family. With this decision, she will not only star in the network’s future projects, she will also be involved with the behind-the-scenes process of these projects’ creation. Now, Emily Longeretta, from Variety, writes that “there are no plans for new “Aurora Teagarden Mysteries” films”. Emily’s article states that Candace’s partnership with GAC Family “is not exclusive”. Despite this, she will not participate in Hallmark’s ‘Countdown to Christmas’ or ‘Miracles of Christmas’ line-ups either. An official spokesperson for Hallmark gave a statement about Candace’s choice. The spokesperson mentioned how Candace has worked with the network for “over 10 years”. They also said, “We respect her decision and thank her for her many contributions”.

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

The unceremonious end of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries does not look good for Hallmark. Including this series, the network has cancelled eight programs since 2021. These programs are the following:

  • Home & Family
  • The Bubbly Sesh Podcast
  • Good Witch
  • Matchmaker Mysteries
  • Hailey Dean Mysteries
  • Picture Perfect Mysteries
  • Chesapeake Shores
  • Aurora Teagarden Mysteries

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries is, arguably, the most popular series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. In fact, as of late April 2022, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder has the highest number of viewership, with 1.7 million viewers. With this series gone, that means Hallmark’s second network will receive less viewership. Less viewership means less sponsorships, which equals less revenue. As for Candace, I’m curious to see what her talents and acting experience have to offer to GAC Family. I haven’t seen any original programming from this network. But I have heard good things about them. Who knows? Now that Candace has an executive role with GAC Family, maybe she and the rest of the network’s leaders can transfer the Hallmark Hall of Fame collection to GAC and rebrand it “Great American Hall of Fame”?

What are your thoughts on Candace’s new partnership with GAC Family? Are you interested in her future projects? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links to the references in this articles:

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/candace-cameron-bure-aurora-teagarden-canceled-hallmark-movies-1235235735/

Sunset Over Hope Valley: A Little Light Goes a Long Way

Looking back on this episode, it seems light is the theme of “Hope Valley Days: Part 1”. The candles on a Menorah begin to be lit and a bonfire takes place in the middle of town. But literal light is not the only kind to be found in the episode. Bill and Nathan shed light on secrets from the past. Elizabeth gives a former student the light of hope. Joseph and Minnie rely on God to shine a light on a brighter future. If you think about it, light appears to be a common subject on When Calls the Heart. The most obvious is, for the most part, the show is light-hearted. The majority of the characters try to be a light in someone else’s day. I could go on and on about how light comes into play in other ways. But, right now, we need to get started re-capping this episode of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 7

Name: Hope Valley Days: Part 1

Major stories:

In an effort to put his best mayoral foot forward, Mike hosts Hope Valley’s first annual ‘Hope Valley Days’. This holiday is a collection of other holidays wrapped up into one. Some of the town’s patrons are not only responsible for decorating their place of employment, but for also preparing activities based on their respective holiday. These participating patrons are Elizabeth (representing Thanksgiving), Ned and Florence (representing Hannukah), Bill (representing April Fools’ Day), Rosemary and Lee (representing Halloween), and Mei (representing Valentine’s Day). Throughout the festivities, the aforementioned patrons really get into their roles. From Lee and Rosemary dressing up in costume to Elizabeth planning a Thanksgiving dinner, everyone seems to be enjoying the new holiday. Among the festivities, Faith becomes interested in purchasing an X-Ray machine for the Infirmary. This interest begins after Bill needs to take a chest X-Ray in another town. But Mike created a rule that doesn’t allow her to receive financial grants from the town, as she now owns the Infirmary. Faith tries to ask Mei for financial help, but Mei thinks Mike’s rule is reasonable. Faith also tries to convince Mike to change his mind, but he thinks she will find a way to afford the X-Ray machine. At the town’s bonfire, Faith decides to burn the old Infirmary sign. She tells Mike this is the first step to truly creating the Infirmary as her own.

A man claiming to be Jeffrey bolts into Bill’s office. Jeffrey wants Mei to be arrested, but all Bill wants is for Jeffrey to, politely, leave his office. After Jeffrey refuses and punches Bill in the face, Bill puts Jeffrey in jail. When Bill goes to Nathan with this information, Nathan discovers there are no arrest warrants for Jeffrey, but there are three for Mei, all from Chicago. It is revealed these charges are Arson, Forgery, and Abandonment of a Spouse. Shortly after Mei accepts a permanent position at the Pharmacy, she is called to Bill’s office. Nathan is upset Mei never told him any of the information he discovered. She says no one knows the whole story. Later in the episode, Mei is still in Bill’s office, but alone this time. Ally unexpectedly shows up, still wanting advice about what she should do about Robert. After Mei tells Ally to be herself, she suddenly knows how to handle the situation with Jeffrey. When Mei goes to the jail, Bill tells her he will have to release Jeffrey, as no one saw Jeffrey punching Bill. Jeffrey tries to explain what has been happening, but Mei wants to hear none of it, as she claims he accused her of crimes she didn’t commit.

Things are not going according to plan for the petroleum plant. Henry called Fiona, only to find out she wasn’t successful in driving away the investors. After telling Lucas this news, Henry decides to travel to San Francisco, in order to give Fiona a helping hand. Meanwhile, Lucas is recruited in teaching Nathan how to drive, after Elizabeth was unsuccessful in doing so. But instead of learning how to drive, Nathan shares his worries about Mei to Lucas. Lucas suggests Nathan ask Mei for the truth. Nathan leaves the vehicle, immediately taking Lucas’ advice. After school one day, Lucas comments on how passionate Elizabeth is about teaching. When she asks him what he has always wanted to do, Lucas simply says he has always wanted to set roots in one place, a place to call home.

Valentine’s Day 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/happy-valentine-s-day-red-background_1725125.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> Image found at freepik.com

Minor stories:

Minnie receives some promising news. She tells Joseph Bill told her Abigail is interested in selling her half of the café. But before any purchases can be made, they need to receive a loan from the bank. When Elizabeth visits the café, Minnie shares her good news. Elizabeth says Abagail also told her this news during a phone conversation. Before they go to the bank in Buxton, Joseph and Minnie pray for a good outcome. But when they arrive back in Hope Valley, later in the episode, they confess to Rosemary and Lee they didn’t receive the loan. Though no reason was provided, this news upsets both Lee and Rosemary. But Lee isn’t going to give up without a fight. After Minnie and Joseph leave, Lee makes a phone call to his bank teller in Buxton, demanding he give Minnie and Joseph a loan. Toward the end of the episode, Joseph and Minnie tell Rosemary and Lee the good news, as they ended up receiving a loan.

When picking up some biscuits at the café, Elizabeth discovers Anna, one of her recent graduates, has started working there. Though everything looks fine on the surface, Elizabeth can tell something is bothering Anna. Later in the episode, Anna visits Elizabeth at the school. Anna confesses she and her mother are moving to Bellingham. However, Anna doesn’t want to move out of Hope Valley. In fact, she took the job at the café in order to earn money for college. Anna knows she has what it takes to look out for herself in town. After asking Elizabeth for help, Elizabeth vows to help Anna any way she can.

Hanukkah menorah image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/mehorah-with-flaming-candles_3299423.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.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • At the Mercantile, Ned brings out a Menorah. He tells Florence he hasn’t used it since his previous wife passed away. Florence then says what is important to him is also important to her. I was surprised to discover Ned is Jewish. Faith/religion is only brought up a limited number of times, with Christmas and a baptism being the only religious specific events ever brought up on When Calls the Heart. With that said, Christianity has made more frequent appearances in the show’s script. A few days ago, I realized there has never been an Easter episode of the show. There also hasn’t been a Passover episode either. If When Calls the Heart receives a tenth season, I hope Passover and/or Easter appears in at least one episode.
  • While ‘Hope Valley Days’ is not a bad idea, I was really confused by its concept. If you’re going to create a new holiday, why not create a whole new reason to celebrate? Why take several pre-existing holidays and pair them together? It felt like the show’s creative team wanted to create holiday specific episodes, but never found the time or reason to write them into the script. In order to make up for lost time, my guess is ‘Hope Valley Days’ was the result of all those abandoned ideas.
  • When Elizabeth visits Rosemary and Lee at the Valley Voice, she compliments them on their costumes. For ‘Hope Valley Days’, they chose to dress up as Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. Thinking back on this episode, I have to agree with Elizabeth. Lee and Rosemary looked amazing! Their whole ensemble looked so good, it appeared to come straight out of a Broadway show. Whoever was in charge of Pascale and Kavan’s wardrobe, make-up, and hair should receive an applause!
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 theories about Mei? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Enjoy the Compliment

At the Soda Fountain, Mike gives Faith a compliment on her hair, which was styled by Fiona in the previous episode. Faith then asks Mei what she should do about it, with Mei telling her to “enjoy the compliment”. While the advice itself is vague, both Faith and Mei bring up a good point. When someone gives us a compliment, we, more often than not, accept it. But once we’ve accepted it, what do we do with that compliment? Sure, we could use that to boost our confidence. Or we could “pay it forward” and give a compliment to someone else. But I feel there must be something more that could be done with any compliment. Sadly, I don’t currently have the answers to solve this dilemma. Until then, let’s begin this re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 6

Name: Past, Present, Future

Major stories:

Henry, Lucas, and Fiona are still dealing with the woes of the petroleum plant deal. At the plant, Lucas asks Henry why he is against the new investors and Jerome. Henry reveals that, in the court hearing from the earlier seasons, the Pacific Northwest Mining Company was forbidden from re-opening the mines. With Jerome now on board, Henry fears Jerome will try to re-open the mines under a new company name. Lucas and Henry, along with Fiona, visit Bill at his office, in an attempt to remedy the situation. Because money has already exchanged hands, Bill says there isn’t much that can be done. However, he still thinks they should find a way to dissuade the investors without showing their hand. Bill tells Fiona, Lucas, and Henry to keep quiet about their conversation for the time being, especially since several Hope Valley residents lost a family member or friend in the mining accident. When Elizabeth visits Lucas at the saloon, he tells her how much her concern means to him. She then addresses Wyman’s interaction with her in an earlier ninth season episode, asking Lucas if he’ll sell the saloon. Lucas reveals that not only has Wyman left with no forewarning, but how he won’t ever be selling the saloon. Later in the episode, Fiona leaves for San Francisco again, attempting to fix the mess she made. But before she leaves, Henry apologizes to Fiona for how he treated her. This is because he realizes Mike placed Fiona in a situation she was ill-prepared for. Accepting his apology, Fiona agrees with Henry to start their business relationship over.

There have been several changes taking place in Hope Valley. One of them has been increased traffic. Even though some of the town’s residents have not been pleased about some of these changes, Lee has become the most vocal about them. He approaches Bill to see if anything can be done. After Bill reminds him how Mike is now Hope Valley’s mayor, Lee comes up with an idea. This idea is to write an editorial in the Valley Voice about the changes that have taken place. While Lee hopes some issues can be addressed in his editorial, there are some issues that have suddenly popped up. One day, at the Valley Voice office, Lee notices a group of men building something just outside of town. When Lee approaches the men in order to ask questions, one of the men is standoffish with him. As Lee tries to help him carry a plank of wood, the man pushes Lee, which starts a fist fight. Not only is Joseph able to stop the fight, but Lee was able to walk away with minor injuries. Before his article is published, Lee discovers the group of men were building a billboard to advertise jobs at the incoming foundry. But when Lee’s editorial is printed, it causes a buzz in the town. Rosemary warns Lee that even though his words are important, they might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. Her words of wisdom encourage Lee to cancel additional prints of the new edition of the Valley Voice.

Newspaper image created by Zlatko_plamenov at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-psd/newspaper-mockup_1386098.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/mockup”>Mockup psd created by Zlatko_plamenov – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

One morning, Nathan decides to reacquaint Newton to their Mountie duties. But just as Nathan is about to put the saddle on his horse, Newton becomes skittish. The situation gets worse when Nathan and Newton arrive in town. Nathan is attempting to direct traffic. But the noise and commotion frighten Newton. So, Bill agrees to look after Newton during Nathan’s traffic directing. After the morning’s events, Bill informs Nathan that, for the time being, he has to get permission to ride Newton. This is because Newton’s current demeanor could put both horse and man in danger. Later in the episode, Nathan addresses what Bill told him to Mei. He says she shouldn’t have told Bill about Newton’s issues, as they were none of Bill’s business. But before this conversation, Nathan shared with Mei a past memory that has contributed to his current apprehension toward riding. When he was first learning to ride horses at thirteen, Nathan was thrown off a horse, which caused him to acquire a concussion. This recent apprehension led Nathan to take up Elizabeth’s offer, so he can learn how to drive a vehicle.

Mei is still secretive about her past and reasons for coming to Hope Valley. When Nathan asks Mei why she came to town, she tells him she wanted to see the world. She also tells Nathan Faith sold her on how great Hope Valley is. At the Soda Fountain, Faith asks Mei what happened between her and Jeffery. Mei simply says that her marriage with Jeffery was never going to work. Later in the episode, Bill arrives at the Soda Fountain to get some strawberry ice cream. While there, he wonders if Mei has anything to hide. Mei claims that she has been telling the truth the whole time. But Bill tells her that anyone who fears the truth is hiding more than they’re letting on. Meanwhile, Joseph and Minnie have been considering new steps in their careers. Joseph is still thinking about becoming a partner in Lee’s lumber yard. Minnie also wants to purchase the café from Bill. For now, though, they will continue to pray about it.

While showing Ally how the seltzer squirt bottle works, Robert unintentionally causes a food fight with some of Elizabeth’s students. Not only do these students have to clean up their mess, but Robert is also required to take care of Newton with little to no pay. Ally is proud of her throwing arm, as she claims she threw some ice cream right at Robert’s face. But she also claims the food fight was all meant in good, friendly fun. Later in the episode, Ally visits Elizabeth seeking advice. Even though she had a good time at her grandparents’ house, Ally now feels left out. She says her friends are either too busy interested in “childish” things or are moving on to graduation or taking jobs. Ally is also jealous of Angela’s new friendship with Robert, especially after hearing about their bike ride that happened earlier this season. Elizabeth tells Ally the same thing Nathan told her: to simply remain friends with Robert. She also tells Ally to find people who she feels comfortable with. That way, Ally will have a place to belong, no matter where she is.

<a href=”http://<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by bluelela – http://www.freepik.comStrawberry background image created by Bluelela from freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Toward the end of this episode, Elizabeth asked Joseph to build a book wagon. After seeing a notice on the Valley Voice’s bulletin board, Elizabeth became inspired to deliver books to neighboring towns in the summer. Not only do I like her idea, but I honestly wish this was the basis for When Calls the Heart’s spinoff show. The overarching story could have been similar to shows such as Highway to Heaven and Touched by An Angel: where a new person is helped each episode. Maybe if the spinoff show had a more unique identity, I would have a stronger interest in watching it.
  • As I mentioned in the introduction, Mike gives Faith a compliment. He then invites Faith to dinner at the saloon, with Faith accepting the invitation. Even though Mike is not romantically involved with Faith or Fiona, it makes me wonder if we’ll witness a second love triangle in the future? At this point, it’s way too early to speculate. But after the love triangle that took place from seasons six to eight, I really don’t like the idea of another one.
  • While looking back on Henry’s overarching story, I realize it has, more often than not, been unhappy. Yes, he’s come a long way since the beginning of When Calls the Heart. And we did see a happier side to him in season eight. But giving Henry basically one happy story in nine seasons is, honestly, disappointing. If When Calls the Heart receives a tenth season, I hope Henry catches a break. If he’s not ready to fall in love, that’s ok. As long as Henry is happier than he usually has been.
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What are your thoughts on this episode? How are you enjoying this season so far? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Buzzwordathon 2022: Review of ‘Private L.A.’ by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Three days ago, I reminded readers and followers that my blogathon, the Travel Gone Wrong Blogathon, was on its way. For those who aren’t aware, this event highlights stories where a trip doesn’t go according to plan. Whether these trips go hilariously or horrifyingly wrong, they have one thing in common: attempting to reach a desired destination. This leads me to address my selection for March’s Buzzwordathon! The theme this time around is ‘Locations’. Since L.A. (Los Angeles) is a real-life location, I selected Private L.A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan!

Here is a screenshot of my copy of Private L.A. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The first book co-written by James Patterson I had read was Confessions: The Private School Murders. Unfortunately, this book was, for me, a disappointment, as a side mystery monopolized the overall story. Private L.A. avoids that issue by devoting a satisfying amount of time to the novel’s main mystery, which involves the disappearance of a powerful acting couple. This book also highlights a mystery featuring a group of criminals called ‘No Prisoners’. However, the text provides an equal amount of attention to both mysteries, going back and forth between first- and third-person narration. When I purchased my copy of Private L.A., I didn’t know it was the sixth book in a series. Despite this, the book does not heavily rely on events from the previous installments. If a character or situation is introduced in the text, Jack (the protagonist) informs the readers of their significance to him. It should also be noted how Private L.A.’s chapters are shorter in page length. This allows the story’s overall pace to be faster, which works for mysteries taking place in “real time”.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

There are some parts of Private L.A. I felt were unnecessary. Breaking the book up into sections was one of them. Throughout the story, there was a prologue, five separate parts, and an epilogue. I recognize this creative decision was made to group certain areas of the story together. But since the chapters were so short, these sections felt like they were included for the sake of being there. Along with the two aforementioned mysteries, Private L.A. contained two subplots. The first one focused on preparations for the murder trial of Jack’s brother, Tommy. Even though I haven’t read the Private series in its entirety, I’m guessing this is an overarching story for the series. However, I wish this subplot was one of the main plots in another book, in order to receive enough time to reach a resolution.

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The second subplot, revolving around Justine Smith, also didn’t receive a resolution. Justine is a close friend and co-worker of Jack’s. Her subplot is comprised of two narratives; dealing with PTSD and her growing feelings for a man named Paul. While it was interesting to read about Justine coming to terms with her PTSD symptoms, her interactions with Paul were lackluster. Justine’s story grew frustrating after she witnesses Paul interacting with a woman, causing her to assume his relationship status with little to no proof. Honestly, I wish Justine’s story had solely focused on how she dealt with PTSD. Some parts of Private L.A. needed descriptive imagery. When characters from the LAPD and ‘No Prisoners’ were incorporated into the story, I found it difficult to decipher who was who. This is because the characters seemed, more often than not, interchangeable.

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Prior to this year’s Buzzwordathon, I had never read any books from the Private series. Despite jumping into the middle of the story, I enjoyed Private L.A for what it was! It was interesting to read how each mystery unfolded, as well as seeing how each of the dots connected. But because of this book’s subject matter, the story might not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. I wouldn’t say Private L.A is a “good” book, but it was better than being just fine. It was an intriguing and well-written story that was also a nice introduction to the series. Therefore, I wouldn’t oppose reading more Private books!

Overall score: 3.8 – 3.9 out of 5 stars

Have fun during Buzzwordathon!

Sally Silverscreen

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in this review, the subject matter in Private L.A. prevents the book from being everyone’s “cup of tea”. This content is the following:

  • Swearing on several occasions
  • References to sex toys on a few occasions
  • In Justine’s subplot, it is mentioned she and Paul had sex. However, this interaction is not described in detail.
  • Several murders take place in this story. Some of them are described in detail.
  • References to children in danger
  • References to a dog in distress (the dog in question is never harmed)
  • The use of slurs on two occasions
  • One member of ‘No Prisoners’ disguises himself as a woman. He only does this in an attempt to carry out his mission.
  • Two chapters that feature sexual assault

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Growing Pains

Every show experiences “growing pains”. Characters come and go each season. Even when they stick around, characters change as the seasons go by. Stories begin and end, some of them taking longer than a season. But no matter how a show begins, its landscape is not the same as when the show ends/continues. This can be said about When Calls the Heart. So much has happened within this show’s lifespan. There has even been a lot going on in the ninth season, despite it not reaching the halfway point yet. Whether you’ve been watching When Calls the Heart since the very beginning or have just recently tuned in, we can all agree that this is not a stagnant show. With all that said, it’s time to start this re-cap of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart season nine poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel

Season: 9

Episode: 4

Name: Straight from the Heart

Major stories:

Mr. Landis has returned to Hope Valley. As he’s about to approach the Jack Thornton School, Elizabeth reminds him how she went to Hamilton and received her certification to teach Angela. Problem is, she was supposed to obtain that certification in her respective school district, which is not located in Hamilton. Because of this error on Elizabeth’s part, Mr. Landis claims her certification is invalid. He ends up sitting in on Elizabeth’s class because of this news. During a spelling test, Cooper accidently breaks his pencil. When he receives a new pencil, Cooper tells Elizabeth he doesn’t like Mr. Landis. While he didn’t state in that moment why he didn’t like Mr. Landis, Elizabeth believes it has to do with the superintendent causing Angela and her trouble. One day, during class, Elizabeth and Mr. Landis discuss the situation in private. Elizabeth feels that as long as the school is not officially a part of the Valley school district, she gets to control the school how she wishes. But Mr. Landis disagrees, saying her school will have to join the district sooner or later. Before Mr. Landis leaves, he discovers his hat was glued to a table. Even though the students think the prank is funny, both Elizabeth and Mr. Landis are not pleased. The next day, Cooper confesses to gluing Mr. Landis’ hat. In an after-school meeting, Cooper says he isn’t sorry for pulling the prank. But he is sorry for causing Elizabeth and his sister any trouble. His parents agree to have Cooper earn extra money to purchase a new hat for Mr. Landis.

Bill is still suspicious about Wyman. He continues to inspect Wyman’s gun, which was confiscated in the previous episode. When the gun doesn’t reveal any clues, Bill turns to Lee and Rosemary in an attempt to find answers. Rosemary says she has newspaper related connections in several towns, volunteering to find any information about Wyman’s whereabouts. With Rosemary’s help, Bill discovers Wyman was detained in Brookfield before returning to Hope Valley. He wasn’t held for long, though, because he didn’t receive any official charges. While Wyman was in Brookfield, he tried to take advantage of businessowners, similar to how Wyman tried to take advantage of Jesse in season eight. A businessowner was also shot, currently in a coma. Later in the episode, Wyman comes into Hope Valley with Julius Spurlock. When Nathan and Bill ask the men to hand over their weapons, Julius and Wyman conveniently don’t have them in their possession. Lucas even warns the men to stay away from Elizabeth and Jack Jr.

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Minor stories:

 Toward the beginning of the episode, Mei visits Nathan at the jail. She wants to know if Nathan would like to work with Newton. Nathan agrees, with this decision working out in the long run. Through these interactions with Mei and Newton, Nathan is able to regain his connection with his horse. Mei reminds him situations like this one take time and trust. To thank Mei for her help, Nathan invites her to dinner at any restaurant of her choice. Mei accepts this offer, choosing the saloon as their destination. At the dinner, Mei arrives with an ointment. She claims this will help relax the muscles in Nathan’s shoulder, which is still in a sling. But before the dinner took place, Mei asked Bill for his help. She hires him as her attorney, claiming she’s a fugitive against her husband. This statement was never clarified in this episode.

Because Laura is sick with the flu, Elizabeth is left without a babysitter for Jack Jr. After overhearing a conversation between Florence and Ned, Lucas volunteers to help. Despite having little to no childcare experience, Lucas tries his best to make the most of his time with Elizabeth’s son. During the day, he takes Jack Jr. for a wagon ride in Hope Valley. They ride past Henry, who wonders where Fiona is. This is because Henry wants to tell Fiona he is staying with the petroleum plant, especially if the investors agree with his decision. Lucas and Jack Jr. also meet up with Rosemary. Lucas tells Rosemary Jack Jr. appears to be feeling down. When she suggests giving him ice cream, Lucas dissuades this idea, as Elizabeth told him not to give Jack Jr. any ice cream. Rosemary then suggests visiting Faith for help. Faith discovers Jack Jr. has inflamed gums, though the situation can be easily taken care of. She also reassures Lucas that he is doing the best he can looking after Jack Jr. Elizabeth is pleased with Lucas’ babysitting efforts. But she’s not pleased he installed a phone in her house without her permission. Over an ice cream date, Elizabeth explains to Lucas why she doesn’t want a phone. Lucas does apologize and explain the benefits of having this piece of technology. After this, Elizabeth reconsiders having a phone.

Joseph has accepted a bookkeeping job at Lee’s lumberyard. While discussing this new job with Minnie, he brings up the idea of purchasing half of the company. Joseph believes by doing this, he would have something for himself. This statement causes Minnie to consider her responsibilities at the café. They both agree to focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past. Cooper’s behavior in school concerns both Minnie and Joseph. Their son’s attitude toward Mr. Landis also concerns them. While at the café one day, Joseph and Minnie discuss how to handle the situation. As a car drives up to the café’s porch, Joseph notices the car’s damaged front end. When he questions the driver how the car got in that condition, the driver runs away. Joseph not only chases the driver, but also catches him. It is revealed this driver is the one who hit Nathan and Newton. The driver is taken to jail, with his identity never being revealed in this episode.

Old fashioned telephone image created by Kues1 at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage photo created by kues1 – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I know Mr. Landis’ presence is meant to cause drama and conflict within the overarching story. However, it’s kind of a shame that he is portrayed as a villain. As far as I can tell, Mr. Landis is just doing his job. If anyone is to blame, it’s, in my opinion, Elizabeth. She spent the previous season avoiding the process to obtain the aforementioned credentials to teach Angela. Yet, during this same season, Elizabeth somehow found the time to maintain her love life and write her book. Even when she did obtain these credentials, Elizabeth didn’t seem to take the time to learn how to receive them properly. If anything, she needs to take responsibility for her actions.
  • I’m kind of disappointed the mystery of Nathan’s car accident was wrapped up so quickly. This story could have been drawn out for a little bit longer. The guilty party could also have been discovered by an unlikely character, leading to a shocking reveal. But the reveal in this episode was anti-climactic. We don’t even know who committed the crime. The mystery reminds me of Dylan’s arrival in season eight’s premiere.
  • In this episode, we learn a little bit of information about Mei. But by this point in the season, I was hoping we’d get more information about her. Granted, we’re not halfway through the season yet. So, there’s still plenty of time for Mei’s story to be told. I just hope her story isn’t drawn out for too long.
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? Which story has been your favorite so far? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches…Diagnosis Murder!

For the We Love Detectives Week Blogathon, I was originally going to create a tier rank list of every film from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries I’ve seen. But the more I thought about this idea, the more ambitious it became. Instead of following through on such a daunting task, I decided to submit an entry that was simpler in nature. I’m currently reading The Magician’s Accomplice by Michael Genelin. But I might not finish the book within the blogathon timeframe. So that’s how I came up with my back-up plan! Recently, while on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website, I came across an episode of Diagnosis Murder titled “An Education in Murder”. What caught my attention was the episode’s synopsis, as it reminded me of an episode of Murder, She Wrote I reviewed back in 2019: “School for Murder”. Curious to see how similar or different “An Education in Murder” was to “School for Murder”, I thought now would be a good time to introduce myself to a “new” mystery show! Before I continue with my review, I’d like to point out the irony of the situation. That aforementioned review of “School for Murder” was not only the first time I had watched Murder, She Wrote, but that was my submission for a mystery themed blogathon!

Episode Name: An Education in Murder

Season 5, Episode 19

Premiere Date: March 5th, 1998

The title card for “An Education in Murder”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I liked about this episode:

I was impressed by the acting in “An Education in Murder”! But there was one performance that really outshined the rest. Portraying a student named Noelle, Danielle Harris did such a great job with the acting material given! When it comes to describing her character, think Cher from Clueless but more manipulative. There were two sides to Noelle; the sweet, good-natured side she used to give a good first impression and the edgy, sadistic side that causes her fellow classmates to face a living nightmare. Throughout this episode, Danielle effortlessly wove in between these polar opposites, changing her character’s demeanor like a chameleon. It was also interesting to see Noelle interact with the other characters, her unpredictability leaving me wondering what she’ll do next. Danielle’s strong acting talents worked in her favor, as she helped bring to life one of the most memorable characters I’ve seen in any tv show!

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Similar to “School for Murder”, “An Education in Murder” took place at an affluent private school. Kelly, one of the students of the school, explains to Dr. Mark Sloan, the show’s protagonist, just how affluent the student body is. After class, she says that if a student doesn’t keep up with current events, their GPA will suffer. She also tells Mark how she doesn’t have a wealthy father. Despite these words, Norrington Hall, the school featured in this episode, didn’t feel like an affluent private school. I know there are a variety of private schools with their own unique communities, traditions, and ways of operating on a day-to-day basis. But I couldn’t find anything about Norrington Hall that screamed “look how much money can be dumped into a child’s education”. For one, all the students in this episode didn’t behave or interact any differently from public school students in a typical movie or television show. Mark’s science class at Norrington Hall seems like a standard AP (advanced placement) science class. Sure, the school’s interior and exterior had a nice appearance. But if entertainment media and real-life have taught me anything, public school buildings can look just as nice as those belonging to private schools. The way the characters’ words didn’t match up with the visuals reminded me of Chippewa Falls Library from the Hallmark Christmas movie, Holly and Ivy.

The reason I included this screenshot is to show readers how nice the interior of Norrington Hall is. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

The mystery itself:

I’m glad “An Education in Murder” wasn’t a carbon-copy of “School for Murder”! Even though the Diagnosis Murder episode had a main plot and two subplots, similar to Murder, She Wrote’s episode, the story felt unique from the predecessor. Despite having three stories in one episode, it never seemed overwhelming. Each of these plots held a connection to the mystery. Unfortunately, that mystery was so painfully obvious, you might as well place the guilty party under the brightest neon sign you can find. Because of the mystery’s painful obviousness, the resolution was anti-climactic. This led to a weak mystery.  While watching “An Education in Murder”, I was hoping the guilty party was a red herring, with an unexpected twist hiding around the corner. Sadly, this episode was “cut-and-dry”, leaving little room for intrigue.

The other factors from this episode:

  • “An Education in Murder” brought up several messages relating to medicine and murder mysteries I hadn’t thought of before. For instance, after a classmate from Norrington Hall passes away, Mark tells his students how that student’s death is going to make a difference. As morbid as that sounds, he brings up a good point about murder mysteries. Because we, the audience, are so caught up in the story, the murder mystery’s effect on the characters and their surroundings can sometimes be overlooked. This can, to an extent, also be said about real-life cases.
  • At certain points in the episode, Mark gives Kelly advice, ranging from how to prevent dizzy spells to figuring out her life after high school. He helps her in an attempt to provide a trustworthy figure in Kelly’s life. This served as a major difference between Diagnosis Murder and Murder, She Wrote. Out of the episodes of Murder, She Wrote I’ve seen, I don’t recall Jessica Fletcher giving noteworthy advice to younger characters. Maybe the infrequent presence of younger characters on that show was a reason why? Even though this is my first time watching Diagnosis Murder, it makes me wonder how often younger characters appeared on the show.
  • In one scene, Mark’s son, Steve, gives Mark information about the guilty party’s background. This information was used to explain the motive behind the guilty party’s behavior. After hearing this explanation, it made me wonder if the show was implying the guilty party had RAD (reactive attachment disorder)? I’m not asking this to diagnose a character, but simply out of curiosity. If the guilty party did have RAD, why wouldn’t any of the characters mention this? I know this show doesn’t revolve around the psychological aspect of the medical world. Still, I’m surprised the disorder wasn’t openly stated in this episode.

My overall thoughts:

For my first time watching Diagnosis Murder, I was left desiring more from the mystery. Even though it was a different story from Murder, She Wrote’s “School for Murder”, it was painfully obvious who the guilty party was. Because of that, I didn’t find the mystery interactive. However, the parts of the story surrounding the mystery made up for the episode’s weaknesses! “An Education in Murder” was more thought-provoking than I expected, sharing interesting ideas about murder mysteries and medicine. Each plot was connected to the mystery, allowing these stories to share importance in the script. But, as I said in the review, the amount of stories never felt overwhelming. Based on the series synopsis I read on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website, it seems like Diagnosis Murder wanted to enjoy the fruits of Murder, She Wrote’s labor. I came to this conclusion because each show shares some common aspects, such as featuring an older protagonist. Like with Murder, She Wrote, I might check out more episodes from Diagnosis Murder.

Rating: A 3.5 out of 5

We Love Detectives Week Blogathon banner created by Hamlette from Hamlette’s Soliloquy

Have fun in Malibu!

Sally Silverscreen

The 4th Annual Gold Sally Awards Has Arrived!

18 Cinema Lane recently celebrated its fourth anniversary! To commemorate such an important milestone, I am, once again, hosting the Gold Sally Awards! As I said last month, each award post will feature two polls at a time. This decision was made to help the voting process move at a faster pace. With that said, this year’s Gold Sally Awards will begin with the Best Movie and Story polls! Because I didn’t post any announcements for the Gold Sally Awards, the first two polls will be available for two weeks; from February 16th to March 2nd. Like years past, you are allowed to vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. The link to the polls will be located under each poll. Just click on the word ‘PollMaker’.

Similar to last year, I thought featuring this anniversary image was appropriate for the start of the Gold Sally Awards! Anniversary image created by WordPress.
What was the Best Movie of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker
What was the Best Story of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Cut, Color, Murder Review

The last time I reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film was last August, when I wrote about Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery. To make up for that, I thought it made sense to review one of the network’s newest titles. As of February 2022, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries only has two new mystery releases; Cut, Color, Murder and Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder. Like the title of this review says, I’ll be writing about Cut, Color, Murder! For years, I’ve been waiting for Hallmark to create a movie that revolved around pageants. Sure, I received Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Impossible Dream back in 2015. But the pageant in that movie played such a minor role in the overall story. I’ve also heard some of the network’s series have been cancelled, such as Picture Perfect Mysteries, Hailey Dean Mysteries, and Matchmaker Mysteries. So, the idea of a new series is exciting! But is Cut, Color, Murder worthy of the crown? Let’s solve this mystery by starting this review!

Cut, Color, Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

The chemistry among the cast: In most of my movie reviews, I talk about specific acting performances. But this time, I’ll be writing about the chemistry among the cast in Cut, Color, Murder! Within Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series, the chemistry and camaraderie between the characters has been a consistent component. This is especially true when it comes to the network’s newest mystery film! At the beginning of the movie, the protagonist’s sister, Chelsea, is concerned about an upcoming college tuition payment. After the protagonist, Ali, suggests working on pedicures at the salon in order to make extra money, Chelsea sarcastically responds to her sister by saying, “I’ve seen some of those women’s feet. I’d rather drop out”. The interaction I just described came across as realistic, like a conversation two siblings might typically have. This is because Julie Gonzalo’s and Grace Beedie’s acting talents complimented one another. At a restaurant called ‘The Jackson’, Ali and Chelsea have lunch with their mom and some of Ali’s co-workers. Their conversation during this meal revolves around Chelsea possibly joining the Miss Golden Peak Pageant. In this scene, each character is presented with their own unique personality. Ali’s co-workers play a specific role at the salon, as each one volunteers to help Chelsea on pageant day. The way these characters interacted with one another feels like a family, with each member giving Chelsea their love and support. Interactions like this one feel genuine and believable because of the cast’s acting strength!

The banter: A component that can make or break a film is the banter among the characters. With Cut, Color, Murder, the banter was one of the strongest aspects of the overall production! While at the aforementioned restaurant, ‘The Jackson’, Ali meets Golden Peak’s newest detective, Kyle Crawford. During their initial interaction, Ali makes educated analyzes about Kyle’s background based on her observations about him. The way these analyzes were delivered was sharp and precise, showcasing the strength of Julie’s acting abilities and the screen-writing. Kyle takes Ali’s words in stride, as Ryan McPartlin, the actor who portrays Kyle, remains consistent in his performance. At the salon, Ali talks with Golden Peak’s resident officer, Fred Wright, about new develops in the film’s murder mystery. As they exchange details with one another, their banter sounds like an exciting game of ping-pong! Both Julie and Fred Henderson, the actor who portrays Fred Wright, are quick with their line delivery, with each actor effectively meeting with other at their level. The screen-writing also helps with the strength of Ali and Fred’s banter!

How the subject of death was handled: When a mystery story revolves around a murder, death is going to be one of the story’s overarching themes. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, I’m referring to how the movie’s creative team handled the subject of a deceased spouse, which was unrelated to the movie’s main mystery. During the film, Ali reveals how she lost her husband, Dan, in the line of duty. Whenever this subject was brought up, it was spoken by the characters with a serious tone in their voices. But it was also brought up with a sense of reverence and respect. At two points in Cut, Color, Murder, Ali visits Dan’s gravesite. She has conversations with him as if Dan was sitting right next to her. Ali does try to move forward from Dan’s passing, as his death took place two years prior. Ali decides to move forward on her own terms and she doesn’t receive any negativity for visiting Dan’s gravesite. With the strong acting performances and screen-writing, Ali’s gravesite visits and the characters’ reactions to Ali’s grief felt realistic. The inclusion of Dan’s passing also emphasized how death can impact a community and the people within it.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited insight on pageantry: When I discovered Cut, Color, Murder would take place during a pageant, I was excited to see the world of pageants shown through a Hallmark lens. While I did receive some insight into this particular industry, I was left desiring more. It was interesting to see how local businesses and aspiring professionals were affected by a pageant. But other aspects related to this subject felt surface level, such as squabbling pageant mothers. The majority of the story focused on the mystery itself. Because Ali’s sister was the one entering the Miss Golden Peak Pageant, the pageantry in this story felt like a subplot. Looking back on this film, it makes me wish the story had been set in the pageant world, instead of being a bystander to it.

An unclear setting: The majority of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ movie series take place in a small town. While this is true for Cut, Color, Murder, I was unsure where this story took place. For about half the movie, I was confused over the story’s location. When I first saw the salon Ali works at, I thought the story took place in New York City. Because Fred Wright consistently wore a cowboy hat, I then thought Ali’s town was situated in Texas. Before realizing the owner of ‘The Jackson’ shared the restaurant’s name, I also thought the town was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. At the film’s half-way point, I learned Ali, her family, and her co-workers lived in Idaho. Despite receiving this knowledge, the setting didn’t feel like Idaho. In fact, it looked and felt like any other small town from any other Hallmark production.

Few interactions with Ali and Kyle: A lot of mystery films from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries feature a male and female protagonist who eventually form a romantic relationship. In the case of Cut, Color, Murder, these protagonists are Kyle Crawford and Ali Bowden. Since it’s unknown at this time if this movie will lead to a series, it’s unclear if Kyle and Ali will come together as a couple. But compared to other Hallmark Movies & Mysteries projects, these characters didn’t spend much time together. Their limited interactions mostly took place in a professional context, whether at the police station or while crossing paths interrogating suspects. Unprofessionally, Ali and Kyle stayed in their own worlds and focused on their own careers. I liked the on-screen chemistry between Julie Gonzalo and Ryan McPartlin. Because of their short amount of time together on-screen, however, I don’t know how this chemistry is going to work in a long-term series.

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My overall impression:

As the saying goes, “put your best foot forward”. This can apply to any movie, television, or book series. From what I remember, most of the series from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries have not only put their “best foot forward”, but have also presented a collection of films I enjoyed watching. Like I said in my review, it’s unknown at this time if Cut, Color, Murder will lead to a series. But if it is, the movie certainly was a strong start to a potential one! This film gave the audience a variety of suspects, providing many possible directions to the final outcome. Sometimes, clues were discovered through the characters’ dialogue, which showcased the unique inclusion of some of these clues. Cut, Color, Murder displayed other strong qualities, such as the banter and chemistry among the cast. The work of salon employees hasn’t often been featured in Hallmark films. Depending on who you ask, this work can also be seen as important. But as I said in my review, I wish the story had been set in the pageant world. While watching Cut, Color, Murder, I kept thinking how different this story/potential series would be if it had been from Chelsea’s perspective. Come to think of it, Chelsea’s perspective would have made the story a little more interesting. But what will also be interesting, though, is what will happen if this story receives a second chapter.

Overall score: 7.5 out of 10

Have you seen Cut, Color, Murder? Would you like to see this movie become a series? Please let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen