Sunset Over Hope Valley: Second Chances

In When Calls the Heart’s eighth season, the storylines of Henry, Ned, and Florence share one thing in common. Not only have these characters appeared on the show since its beginning, but their stories highlight the theme of second chances. As Rosemary mentioned at the beginning of this episode, it has been years since Ned and Florence have been married. However, they have formed a romantic bond by giving each other a chance. Meanwhile, Henry has reunited with his son, Christopher. He has also come back to work at the petroleum plant. While Henry has had many ups and down throughout his story, it’s been nice to see Henry grow as a character and watch his journey progress. In fact, Henry’s story has been one of the best this season! As of mid-April 2021, there have been no official announcements of a ninth season. However, if When Calls the Heart did receive another season, it would be interesting to see where Henry’s story goes. For now, though, let’s begin this week’s re-cap!

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 poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel.

Season: 8

Episode: 9

Name: Pre-Wedding Jitters

Major stories:

One morning, Rosemary shares with Elizabeth how she is having difficulty finding the right wedding dress for Florence. During this conversation, Elizabeth tells Rosemary what Nathan told her at Bill’s send-off celebration. When Elizabeth asks Rosemary what might have caused Nathan to withhold this information, Rosemary suggests that maybe the information itself isn’t as important to him as it is to Elizabeth. Offended, Elizabeth asks Rosemary why she would say that, with Rosemary telling Elizabeth she was only being honest. In town, Elizabeth notices Ally leaving the saloon. Ally reveals that she had a conversation with Lucas, which was shown in a previous scene. She tells Elizabeth that Nathan and Lucas plan to sort things out. When Lucas visits Elizabeth at the school, she tells him what Nathan told her at Bill’s send-off. Lucas asks if he should talk to Nathan, but Elizabeth refuses the offer. Later in the episode, Elizabeth visits Nathan at his office. When she asks him why he waited so long to tell her about his Fort Clay secret, he says that he felt guilty about what happened to Jack. This caused Nathan to ask for a transfer to Hope Valley, in order to protect Elizabeth and her son. Nathan also tells Elizabeth that he still loves her. Things between Elizabeth and Nathan become even more awkward at Florence’s bachelorette party. During a game Fiona introduces, Elizabeth is blindfolded and asked to identify her true love by holding hands with each male participant. When Elizabeth reaches Nathan, she assumes it is Lucas. She is shocked and embarrassed by her decision. The next day, she apologizes to Lucas for her mistake, with Lucas expressing no hurt feelings. Toward the end of the episode, Rosemary pays her a visit. After learning that Rosemary and Nathan were at the library, Elizabeth asks Rosemary if she said anything to Nathan to keep him interested in Elizabeth. Before Rosemary leaves, she tells Elizabeth she should seek out the truth of what she really said.

Florence’s bachelorette party and Ned’s bachelor party are just around the corner. As soon as Fiona arrives in Hope Valley, she agrees to help Florence fix her hair for the event. While Rosemary and Mollie help Florence choose a wedding dress, Minnie and Clara make baked goods for the party guests. Meanwhile, some of Ned’s friends convince Ned to host a bachelor party. But Ned is not invested in the idea like his friends are. After paying a visit to the dress shop, Clara comes back to the café to discover Mike and Jesse eating near the baked goods. Thinking they were eating the food for the party, Clara yells at Jesse and Mike to stop eating the food. Jesse shares that they were actually eating quiche. Throughout the episode, Bill is still trying to figure out who stole the car from this season’s seventh episode. Ned’s bachelor party turns out to be just as uneventful as Jesse’s bachelor party from last season. After Ned makes a comment about his hair, Bill makes a discovery in relation to the stolen car. With Ned’s help, Bill finds a shoe print inside the car’s removeable hood. During the evening, Lucas tells Henry that he hired Christopher to the petroleum plant in order to keep an eye on Henry. Upset by this news, Henry tells Lucas not to let Christopher know that he now knows this news. Despite these interruptions, the guests decide to combine their parties, just like Jesse and Clara’s party last season. They end up having a better time than when the parties were separate. Clara also apologizes to Jesse for yelling at him earlier, with Jesse forgiving her.

Baking essentials image created by Olga_spb at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/background-with-elements-of-the-bakery_903718.htm’>Designed by Olga_spb</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Olga_spb – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Minor stories:

Toward the beginning of the episode, Christopher reveals to Henry that the stolen car from this season’s seventh episode was actually stolen by one of Christopher’s friends. Christopher says that even though he only borrowed the car, he plans on leaving that life behind. When Christopher shares that Rachel was the reason for this change, Henry tells his son how Abigail was one of the few people who gave him a second chance. Later in the episode, Christopher asks Henry what happened to Abigail. Henry says she left town to take care of her mother. After the bachelor and bachelorette party, Bill shares the discovery of the shoe print. Henry tells him he will help with the case. Instead, Henry burns Christopher’s shoes. Before this happens, Henry says goodbye to Christopher as he leaves for Bellingham in search of Rachel.

At the café, Clara tells Lee that Joseph has become Hope Valley’s official pastor. She also tells Lee that Joseph is preparing to officiate Ned and Florence’s wedding. After hearing this news, Lee pays Joseph a visit at his home. Even though he notices surveyors on Joseph’s property, Lee doesn’t think much of it because he joins Joseph on a out of town trip. The purpose of this trip is to pick up a church bell from a neighboring town. When explaining to Lee, on this trip, why he chose to become the pastor, Joseph explains that he had to think about what was best for his family. Meanwhile, Carson shares with Faith that he has accepted the John Hopkins offer. This brings Faith and Carson at a crossroads, as they don’t know how to find a resolution to their problem. They talk about this some more at Ned and Florence’s party. Carson suggests he and Faith should get married. While he says they can wait to get married, they do plan to work things out.

Detective work image created by Photoroyalty at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/investigation-background-design_1041877.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Ever since Jack passed away, I noticed how Elizabeth has become more unlikable as the show has progressed. In this episode, Elizabeth came across as selfish. The way she talked to Rosemary was, in my opinion, uncalled for, as Rosemary did nothing wrong. If When Calls the Heart receives a ninth season and Elizabeth continues to behave this way, I feel the show will lose a certain amount of viewership.
  • This episode felt like there was context missing, like parts of the story were unintentionally cut out of the show. Joseph’s decision to become a pastor is one example. He had been contemplating this new job opportunity for several episodes. But his final decision seemed to come out of the blue. The audience doesn’t get to witness why and how Joseph came to this decision.
  • On Crown Media Family Network’s website, I saw some promotional photos for the next episode. In at least one of the pictures, the décor at the church looks fall/autumn themed. At the beginning of the season, Elizabeth said that spring had arrived in Hope Valley. With everything said, I find this to be confusing.
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? Are you looking forward to Florence and Ned’s wedding? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love Review + 320, 325, 330, and 335 Follower Thank You

For this blog follower dedication review, I was originally going to write about the PixL movie, The Cookie Mobster. However, that film became the worst one I’ve seen this year, so far. Because I feel my readers and followers deserve a better movie and because I just reviewed a bad movie two weeks ago (Chasing Leprechauns), I chose a different film for this post. Recently, I watched the 1987 TV movie, Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love, as it happened to be on my DVR. Mystery related media are some of my most popular content, so this review will be a treat for my readers! Even though some films are stronger than others, I have enjoyed the Perry Mason movie series. Three of these films have been covered on my blog, with all of them receiving good scores. Will Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love receive a similar score? Keep reading my review if you want to find out!

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love poster created by Fred Silverman Company, Strathmore Productions, Viacom Productions, Dean Hargrove Productions, National Broadcasting Company, Starmaker Entertainment, and Viacom

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Jean Simmons is an actress who I have talked about before, when I reviewed Howl’s Moving Castle two years ago. While that movie was the first of Jean’s I saw, she had a voice-acting role in that film. Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love contains the first live-action role of Jean’s I have seen! What I liked about her portrayal of Laura Robertson is how Jean carried a certain amount of grace throughout the movie. She also gave a different persona to a character of this nature. In films where a woman is involved with politics, the female politicians are usually portrayed with a “no nonsense” personality. Laura Robertson is different because she had a gentler personality, despite running for the United States Senate. Even though he appeared in the movie for a short amount of time, I liked Jonathan Banks’ portrayal of Luke Dickson! He was so expressive; he was like a chameleon. The meeting at the restaurant between Laura’s husband, Glenn, and Luke showcases a perfect example. Jonathan’s face displayed a variety of expressions. Toward the beginning of the meeting, Luke appears serious, as his face is set and he is glaring at Glenn. As he brings up some compromising information, Luke’s face brightens up and he becomes a bit animated.

The Robertson’s house: Despite appearing in the film for less than five scenes, I liked seeing the Robertson’s house in Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love! The house’s exterior was presented in the dark. But from what the audience can see, the house was covered in a gray stone brick. On the left side of the house, a stone cylinder was connected, making the house look like a castle. The most prominently featured part of the house’s interior is the staircase. Notable details are wrought-iron stair rails and a stained-glass window. These design details give subtle clues of how well off the Robertsons are.

The open discussion of mental health treatment: Because of Laura’s history with mental health, the subject of mental health treatment was briefly discussed in this film. While she is afraid this part of her life will prevent her from becoming a Senator, she still willingly brings it up. There is no shame detected in the voices and faces of the characters who address Laura’s mental health treatment. A debate about which kind of treatment is appropriate is even included in the script. This openness toward mental health treatment seems ahead of its time, as society is more aware of mental health now than four decades ago. It also highlights the importance of this particular subject.

Love of mental health image created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Ignored story points: A few story points within Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love’s script were ignored throughout the movie. One example is mentioned toward the beginning of the film. When Luke first called Glenn, he mentions a long-lost son who lives in Arizona. But when Glenn meets up with Luke at a local restaurant, this son was never brought up. In fact, this son is never referenced again. I was disappointed because I was not only curious to see who would portray this mysterious character, but also discover what role this long-lost son would play in the overall mystery. It makes me wonder why this “scandal” was included in the first place?

A late start time for the mystery: As I have said before, I am not a fan of mystery films that start their mysteries at later times. Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love is a movie that does this. The murder victim wasn’t discovered until about twenty minutes into the film. While this timespan featured build-up to this discovery, I think the mystery could have started sooner. In my opinion, introduction of characters and their connections should have been taken care of in the movie’s first ten minutes. The discovery of the murder victim could have taken place at the movie’s fifteen-minute mark.

The closeness of Perry and Laura’s relationship: Within this story, Perry reveals how he and Laura used to be a romantic couple. When Laura’s husband, Glenn, asks Perry if he still has feelings for Laura, Perry says no. However, his and Laura’s actions say otherwise. When Laura and Perry have drinks at a local hotel, they hold hands at one point, with Laura kissing Perry on the cheek. Later that night, Perry brings Laura to her house. Before Perry leaves, he and Laura share a kiss. I found these romantic displays of affection unnecessary. With Laura married and Perry going his own separate way, it felt like the actions among the characters were chosen just to get a reaction from the audience.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I mentioned in the introduction, I have enjoyed the Perry Mason movie series. The films within this series I have reviewed received good scores, as I liked what I saw. However, Perry Mason: The Case of the Lost Love was weaker than those three movies. It definitely wasn’t bad, but I feel it could have been stronger. A long-lost son being briefly brought up, but never mentioned again took away some intrigue from this story. Similar to what I said in my review of Edward, My Son, the opportunity for an actor to achieve his “standing ovation” through this role was not available because this part of the story was abandoned. The film contained other flaws, like a later start time for the mystery and the unnecessary closeness of Perry and Laura’s relationship. But there are things about the movie I can appreciate. The openness of mental health treatment was a topic I never expected to hear addressed in a Perry Mason film. While there were advancements and progress made within the field of mental health in the ‘80s, society’s perceptions of this topic were not the same in 1987 as they are now. This reminded me of The Boy Who Could Fly, where the use of therapy was normalized. It was a pleasant surprise to see a Perry Mason film address this subject! Before I finish this review, I’d like to thank all of 18 Cinema Lane’s followers! My blog would have never reached this amount of success without you!

Overall score: 7.1 out of 10

Have you seen any of the Perry Mason films? Do you enjoy my mystery related content? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Abominable Dr. Phibes Review

The Abominable Dr. Phibes was recommended by one of my readers named Michael. When I found out the movie was considered a horror-comedy, I thought it’d be a perfect entry for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur, as horror-comedies are the theme for February. Then I discovered the film was released in 1971. Because Kim and Drew, from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews, are hosting the 6th Annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon, where the subject is movies premiering in years ending in 1, I decided to review The Abominable Dr. Phibes for both blogathons! As of early 2021, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen and written about. Most of these movies have either belonged in the horror genre or have been mysterious in nature. With The Abominable Dr. Phibes, this will be a little different, as part of the story is a comedy. Out of the movies of Vincent’s I have seen, none of them have featured a large amount of humor. So, by choosing this film for the aforementioned blogathons, I am given an opportunity to see Vincent work with slightly different material!

The Abominable Dr. Phibes poster created by American International Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The mystery: In horror movies, there is usually a mysterious element that can come in a variety of forms. One of these forms is a mystery. Throughout The Abominable Dr. Phibes, the detectives at Scotland Yard are attempting to figure out why several doctors in their neighborhood are dying of mysterious causes. The way the mystery is presented allows the audience to solve it alongside the characters. This presents the idea of the audience sharing an experience with the detectives in the film. Even though we see what is making these doctors die, it doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the mystery. In fact, it keeps the audience invested in what is about to happen next. Seeing how all the pieces of the story connected was interesting to see. It definitely kept my attention as I watched the film!

The craftmanship: There were several items in this movie that caught my eye due to their quality and artistry. A frog mask is just one example. The head covering mask is covered in three different shades of green, allowing it to shine from many different angles. Gold piping can also be found on the mask, assisting in distinguishing its shape. Jewels add finishing touches as the mask features gold gems around the frog’s eyes and an emerald clasp in the back. Dr. Phibes’ mask also boasts incredible craftsmanship! The eye covering mask is shaped like a bird and is coated in shiny shades of green, bronze, and gold. Both masks were two of the beautiful I’ve ever seen!

The set design: The Abominable Dr. Phibes features several interesting set designs that are worth noting. Despite Dr. Phibe’s house only being shown at night and only part of its exterior could be seen, it was a magnificent structure! Its Victorian style brightened the night with its white frames and cherry wood doors. The house features a grand white marble staircase paired beautifully with chandeliers and crystal sconces. I wish more scenes had taken place by this staircase, as it is an impressive part of Dr. Phibes’ residence! Other locations in the story also displayed memorable set designs.  Dr. Vesalius’ apartment is a great example. Near the front door is a curved, frosted window. The door itself was covered in a light and dark wood that ending up complimenting the faded yellow walls. This location looked reflective of the late ‘60s to early ‘70s due to its color scheme and furniture selections.

Scared audience image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/terrified-friends-watching-horror-movie-in-cinema_1027311.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people”>People image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The underutilization of Vincent Price: As I said in my introduction, this is the fifth film of Vincent Price’s I’ve seen. Therefore, I, as an audience member, know what he is capable of, talent wise. Despite being the top billed actor in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Vincent wasn’t given much material to work with. He didn’t have any speaking lines in this movie. While there is an explanation given within the story, the only time we hear Vincent’s iconic voice is through recordings. It also doesn’t help that the different ways Dr. Phibes went after his victims overshadows Vincent’s performance. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the creative team behind this film cast Vincent Price simply to get more people to see the movie?

Weak on comedy: The Abominable Dr. Phibes is classified as a horror-comedy. When I made this discovery, I was expecting the movie to be more like Young Frankenstein. Even though there were a few times I found myself giggling, the film didn’t contain much humor. The Abominable Dr. Phibes relies more on the horror genre. It also contains a mystery within the overall plot, which would make it a horror-mystery. I felt misled after these reveals.

Depiction of demises partially used for shock value: Strictly from a story-telling perspective, it was interesting to see how Dr. Phibes carried out his plan. But when the plan is put into practice, the depiction of his victims’ demises comes across as more gross than scary. Within a segment of the story involving rats, there was a brief shot of a rat chewing on what looks like a bloody bone. I won’t spoil The Abominable Dr. Phibes, in case any of my readers haven’t seen it. But parts of the film like the one I described feels like the movie’s creative team just wanted to shock their audience.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon (1) banner created by Kim and Drew from Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews.

My overall impression:

When I think of the term “horror-comedy”, Young Frankenstein immediately comes to mind. Even though I haven’t seen this film, I am aware of its premise. Because of my expectations, I was somewhat let down by The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Sure, its mystery was intriguing and kept me invested in the overall story. But as I look back on this movie, I find myself expecting more. Despite its classification as a horror-comedy, it ended up being a horror-mystery, with very little comedy to be found. I was also disappointed to see Vincent Price underutilized in The Abominable Dr. Phibes. While he was given different material to work with, he didn’t have any speaking lines. The way Dr. Phibes’ victims met their demise overshadowed Vincent’s performance. These factors make his portrayal of the titular character feel like a part of an ensemble instead of someone leading a film. This is an interesting movie, but I can think of stories of this nature that are stronger than this one. I still prefer a picture like The Crow over The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Overall score: 7-7.1 out of 10

Have you seen a horror-comedy? Which film of Vincent Price’s would you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host Review + 290 Follower Thank You

In February, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will be airing two new mystery films! These movies are Crossword Mysteries: Terminal Descent and Chronicle Mysteries: Helped to Death. While I do plan on reviewing both films, they aren’t scheduled to premiere for another week or two, as their release dates are February 14th and February 21st. Until then, I’ll be talking about Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host! I enjoy watching films from this particular series. In fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed a Perry Mason movie. Last year, I wrote about Perry Mason Returns and Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star, with both films receiving honorable mentions on my list of the best films I saw in 2020. Because I recently saw Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host and because I needed to publish my blog follower dedication review, in honor of my blog gaining 290 followers, this was the perfect opportunity to talk about another mystery film!

I wasn’t able to find a picture of this film’s poster, so I took a screenshot of this image from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As of February 2021, I have seen some of the movies from the Perry Mason series. Based on those films, I’ve noticed how the acting performances have always been a consistent strength. Speaking of consistent, Raymond Burr does a good job bringing his character, Perry Mason, to life! The dry sense of humor and serious demeanor Perry is known for has had a constant presence in every film he has appeared in, including Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host. Toward the beginning of the film, Perry is talking on the phone with a colleague. When the conversation was almost finished, Perry responds that he is going to meet the colleague in two hours, when he was planning to wake up. Because the audience only sees Perry’s side of the conversation, they see that he was spending the night working on paperwork instead of sleeping. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host features some real-life talk show hosts in the cast. Two of them are Regis Philbin and Montel Williams, as I’ve seen episodes of their respective shows before. In this film, Regis and Montel portrayed characters that were different from the personalities they have presented on their shows. Regis’ character, Winslow, was an antagonist who was self-centered and mean to those around him. Meanwhile, Montel’s character, Boomer, was only looking out for himself and avoided talking about issues from his past. These characters not only gave Regis and Montel interesting material to work with, but it also gave the audience something new to see. Like any mystery film, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host provided an opportunity to introduce new characters. Cathy Paxton was one of them. Portrayed by Alex Datcher, Cathy had a spunky personality and the street smarts to help her with undercover police cases! She and Perry’s assistant, Ken Malansky, also worked well together. Out of the movies I’ve seen from the Perry Mason series, it doesn’t seem like Cathy made any appearances outside of this film. It makes me wish she would have joined the main cast of characters, as she fit in with the members of Perry Mason’s law firm so perfectly!

The inclusion of talk shows and their hosts: Like I just mentioned, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host features some real-life talk show hosts in the cast. As their names were presented in the opening credits and based on the title itself, I was expecting the movie to focus on talk shows from television. But as I watched the film, I discovered it was about talk shows on the radio. To me, this was a pleasant surprise! It allowed the audience to see these hosts, like Regis and Montel, in a different media format. I also liked seeing the diverse personalities and shows within one radio station. When the story progresses and as each character is questioned by Perry, the audience can witness how they all bring something different to the table. A unique dynamic was formed because of this creative decision!

The mystery: On 18 Cinema Lane, I’ve mentioned there are mystery movies that adopt a type of story where the audience solves the case alongside the protagonist. The mystery in Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host is that kind of story. This case unfolds as the movie progresses, with Perry and his team making discoveries along the way. In that time, the audience learns more about the characters within the overall story. When Perry questions the talk show hosts from the radio station, we learn about their possible motives and even their backstories. It was a good way to incorporate character development. This kind of story worked for Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host because it maintained a steady amount of intrigue. My interest in this story also remained from the start to finish.

Recording studio image created by Senivpetro at freepik.com. Music photo created by senivpetro – www.freepik.com

What I didn’t like about the film:

An overlooked murder: At the beginning of the movie, Sheila, Perry’s newest client, discovers a dead body in her house. She then calls the police and the body is removed from her home at a later time. After this happens, that murder is not referenced again. In fact, it has nothing to do with the main mystery. From a story-telling perspective, these two cases should had been related in some way. It would have prevented that early part of the script from being overlooked.

A glossed over tragedy: In a few moments of the film, Sheila mentions that her daughter died of a drug overdose. Outside of those moments, this detail is never explored to a fuller extent. Similar to the overlooked murder I previously mentioned, the tragedy doesn’t really have anything to do with the main mystery. It would have made more sense if the movie had included a subplot where Sheila helps someone who is struggling with a drug addiction. This would have allowed her to work through her grief and make peace with what happened to her daughter.

The reveal of the guilty party: Whenever I review a mystery movie, I try not to spoil it for anyone, as there could be readers who haven’t seen the film yet. That is the case for Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host, as I won’t be revealing the mystery’s outcome. However, I’m going to say that I didn’t like the how the guilty party was discovered. This is because it felt out of character for a series like Perry Mason. The best way I can describe it is it’s more like Murder, She Wrote; presenting an outcome that most of the audience would not easily guess. I know that Perry is known for creating theories and connections off-screen. But in the movies I’ve seen so far, the outcome could be figured out by the viewer.

Courtroom image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/isometric”>Isometric vector created by macrovector – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

The Perry Mason series is a collection of films I enjoy talking about. Even though I don’t always get the opportunity to bring it up on my blog, I feel it is a series worth seeing. Based on the films I have seen from this collection, Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host is one of the stronger films! There are areas of the overall story that could have been elaborated upon or explained better. The murder that takes place at the beginning of the film and the tragedy in Sheila’s life are two examples. However, the movie as a whole was a solid production! It incorporated creative elements that made the story stand out from the other chapters in the series. The film also selected choices that I, personally, haven’t seen in any film before. Having real-life talk show hosts from television portraying talk show hosts on the radio is a perfect example of this. Before I end this review, I want to thank all of my 290 followers! I know this post is published later than expected, as the blog received 290 followers in January. However, I do appreciate your support.

Overall score: 8 out of 10

Do you watch the Perry Mason movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Review

January’s theme for MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur is ‘Unreliable Narrator Movies’. I will admit this round of the blogathon wasn’t easy to find movies for, as most of the films that were continuously recommended were those I’d already seen. However, I discovered a movie that I had never even heard of on a list from IMDB. That film is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a title from 1920! Silent movies and those from the ‘20s are not often covered on 18 Cinema Lane. This is due to the availability of the films themselves. Fortunately, I was able to rent The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, as that is one of the reasons why I selected it for this blogathon. I was also curious to see who the unreliable narrator was. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari sounded like an intriguing start to Genre Grandeur!

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster created by Decla-Bioscop.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I have said before, acting performances in silent films rely on facial expressions and body language. The actors in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari utilize these acting techniques, as they represent one way to help the audience understand what is happening in the story. Lil Dagover gave a very expressive performance as a character named Jane! When one of her friends, Francis, tells her his friend, Alan, has died, horror and surprise wash over her face. In another scene, when Francis and Jane’s father are talking about a man named Cesare, fear can be seen in Jane’s eyes. This specific behavior tells the audience Jane is afraid of Cesare. The lead actor, Friedrich Fehér, gave an expressive performance as well! While portraying his character, Francis, Friedrich displayed a variety of emotions. A scene where Francis visits a police station serves as a perfect example, as he fearfully informs the police who is likely causing the murders throughout his neighborhood. For an earlier scene, his overall demeanor was much different, as Francis introduces his story as a joyful man with a positive outlook on life. As the titular character, Dr. Caligari, Werner Krauss gave a performance that comes across as unsettling. With wide eyes and exaggerated expressions, Werner appears excited whenever he’s presenting his sideshow act to his audience. Dr. Caligari’s animated demeanor truly makes up for the lack of dialogue!

The title cards: A common staple in silent films is the use of title cards. This concept is incorporated into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to help the audience understand what the characters are trying to say. Not only is this effectively shown, but we can also see other articles that the characters are given. Toward the beginning of the film, Francis and his friend, Alan, receive a flyer for an upcoming fair. In one shot, the text on this flyer is enlarged, revealing an advertisement for the fair itself. When Francis is figuring out Dr. Caligari’s true identity, he looks through books found in the doctor’s office. As he finds more clues, the audience is shown journal entries from Dr. Caligari himself. The inclusion of these articles makes the overall viewing experience more engaging!

The mystery: Throughout the film, Francis is attempting to solve the mystery surrounding a collection of murders in his neighborhood. In his efforts, he recruits the help of the local police and gathers clues. Out of all the silent films I’ve seen before, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has a pretty unique concept, as it is a mystery. This stands out from movies of this nature I have previously seen and/or reviewed, as those stories were either comedies, dramas, or horror. I also like how the audience gets to experience the story’s events alongside Francis. Even though pieces of the mystery are revealed as the film goes on, it allows the audience a chance to share an experience with the protagonist.

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What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a little over an hour. Because of this, there were scenes throughout the movie that feel like “filler”. When the fair comes to town, scenes where people are walking around the fairgrounds for about a minute to two minutes each are shown. These scenes add up to a collection of moments that are there to satisfy the film’s run-time. In my opinion, this movie did not need to be over an hour. If the “filler” scenes had been shortened or removed, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari could have been a forty- or fifty-minute short film.

An inconsistent use of title cards: While I appreciate the use of title cards in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, I feel its inclusion should have been more consistent. There were stretches of time where title cards were not used, watching as characters spoke with no form of dialogue. This caused confusion when certain scenarios happened on-screen. One of them was a flashback involving Dr. Caligari. Since there were no title cards indicating this was a flashback, it was a confusing transition from one scene to the next. Even the plot twist was confusing, as there was no clear indication, through title cards, that it was a separate component to Francis’ story. This made the overall movie less entertaining.

Some of the musical choices: Music plays a significant role in silent films, as it sets the stage for a particular scene’s tone. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, however, there were a few scenes where the musical choices did not fit within a scene. When Francis is first introduced in the movie, as he is talking to a man sitting next to him, it sounded like there were two pieces of music playing at once. It made the scene itself feel jarring. Later in the film, when Francis goes to visit Dr. Caligari at his office, music that sounded more joyful than that scene called for could be heard. The piece of music itself felt out of place in that specific scene.

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My overall impression:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a good example of how far cinema has come. Silent films show us how this particular entertainment medium has evolved over time. Even though I respect the movie for what it brought to the table, the overall project was weaker than it should have been. I found The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to be more confusing than entertaining. This was caused by some of the musical choices and the inconsistent use of title cards. The limited amount of title cards prevented the reveal of the unreliable narrator from being surprising. Because of the film’s run-time, I felt tired by the length of the story. In fact, there were times where I felt taking a nap. Despite these flaws, I am glad I chose this movie for the blogathon! As I said in the introduction, silent films and those from the ‘20s are not often written about on my blog. Therefore, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari joins 18 Cinema Lane’s growing list of movie reviews!

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you ever a silent film? If so, what was your viewing experience? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Review

Because my Hallmark Movies & Mysteries related content has been well-received, I try to make an effort to write about Hallmark’s mystery films whenever I can. Since the only new mystery movie to premiere this month is Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, I wanted to review it. So far, I have been impressed with this particular series. The first two films, A Beautiful Place to Die: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery and Riddled with Deceit: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery were in my Honorable Mentions on my list of the best movies I saw last year! They were such a strong start to a new series, that I couldn’t wait to see the rest of the story unfold! Jeff and Zee, the lead characters of Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries, make a good mystery solving team. It also helps that the scenery is nice to look at. Now, let’s set sail through this review of Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery!

Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in the introduction, Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery is the third film in the Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series. Because of this, the main cast from the previous films also star in the newest installment. It works in the cast’s favor, as it allows each actor and actress to become familiar with their characters. While watching this movie, I could tell the members of the main cast were comfortable in their roles. This included Jesse Metcalfe and Sarah Lind! They both adopted an on-screen personality that complimented their characters. Jesse and Sarah had good on-screen chemistry as well. With each new film in a mystery series comes new supporting actors. One of them was Garfield Wilson. Portraying a local artist named Carl, Garfield gave a performance that was memorable! When Jeff and Zee inform Carl that Bernie, an art studio manager, has passed away, Carl becomes distraught. With a strong sense of emotionality, Garfield was effectively able to show how much Bernie meant to his character.

Including an overarching story: An overarching story within the Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series is the mystery of who shot Jeff in the back prior to his retirement from the Boston Police. The inclusion of this story gives the series a sense of continuity. What also helps is allowing pieces of the mystery to be discovered as the series progresses. In Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Jeff comes across a breakthrough as he reflects on the past with Zee. While I won’t spoil this part of the story, it does give the audience something to look forward to for the next film!

Creative set design choices: While watching Hallmark films, I always enjoy seeing the interesting set design choices from the various sets of a given movie. With Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, there were some interior and exterior design choices that I found visually appealing! In one scene, Jeff visits a restaurant in the hopes of meeting Zee there for dinner. Even though the main entrance features a plain glass door, its black frame pairs nicely with the gray stone exterior wall. This wall can also be seen inside the restaurant, complimenting the warm wood counter located nearby. In another scene, Jeff is using a punching bag on his porch. I have rarely seen punching bags found in outside spaces when it comes to cinema. So, this design choice was definitely creative! Plus, the view of the seaside makes the scene more photogenic!

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What I didn’t like about the film:

An overshadowed mystery: At the beginning at the movie, Zee’s doctor friend, Eli, is murdered. However, this character is barely referenced throughout the film. Zee and Jeff don’t discover the murder until the last thirty minutes of the movie. This is because the majority of their time is spent solving the murder of an art gallery manager named Bernie. It is possible to make a good mystery movie featuring more than one mystery. But for Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, there either should have been an equal emphasis on both mysteries or have the main murder mystery be the only one in the story.

A glossed over event: Toward the start of the story, the characters are preparing for an upcoming regatta benefit gala. But similar to what I said about Eli, this event is barely referenced in the film. In fact, the event itself is not shown on screen. I found this disappointing because I like when events like this are featured in mystery stories, as it is interesting to see the ideas the movie’s creative team can come up with. Now that I think about it, I think this is one of the few times where an anticipated event in a mystery film doesn’t play a significant role in the overall story.

The mystery’s start time: Most mystery stories start their respective mysteries within a short amount of time. It is done to help the story move along at a steady pace. With Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, the main mystery didn’t officially begin until a little over twenty-five minutes into the film. This time was used to set up the mystery and re-establish the significance of the series’ main characters. But, personally, I don’t think that needed to be done in almost thirty minutes. Ten to fifteen minutes is, in my opinion, more than enough time to address those two aforementioned aspects of the story.

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My overall impression:

At best, Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery is a fine movie. But, at worst, it is a step backward from the first two films. What I like about this series is how it has created an identity that sets itself apart from the other series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. One way it has accomplished this is by including an overarching story that can be found throughout each movie. I know every project isn’t created equally, as some stories are better than others. However, the third chapter made the overall quality of the series stumble a little bit. The first mystery movie of the year should put their best foot forward. For Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, it could have been a stronger first impression. With a glossed over event and an overshadowed mystery, there are areas of the story that might have added more interest to the overall plot. Starting the main mystery almost thirty minutes into the movie also hurts its case. According to a production sheet I found on UBCP/ACTRA’s (Union of British Columbia Performers/Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) website, a fourth Martha’s Vineyard Mystery movie will go into production next month! Hopefully, that film will be better than this one was.

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Did you watch the films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries? If so, which series is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the production sheet I mentioned in this review:

https://www.ubcpactra.ca/whats-shooting/ (click on the words “Current Film and TV Production List”)

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!

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Dishonorable Mentions

Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight

10. Angel on My Shoulder

When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.

Take 3: Angel on My Shoulder Review

9. Jane Doe: Vanishing Act

In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.

8. My Husband’s Deadly Past

There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.

7. Out of the Woods

I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.

6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight

Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.

Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama poster created by Dune Films, Norwegian Pirates, Storm Films, Storm Productions, and Ketchup Entertainment. Image found at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/captain_sabertooth_and_the_treasure_of_lama_rama.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama

It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.

Take 3: Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama Review

4. Anniversary Nightmare

Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.

3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas

I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year. There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.

Take 3: I’m Not Ready for Christmas Review

2. Marriage on the Rocks

This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

1. Twentieth Century

For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.

Have fun in 2021!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove Review

While hosting A Blogathon to be Thankful For, I was invited by Crystal to join her Agnes Moorehead blogathon. After accepting the invitation and making a quick search through Agnes’ IMDB filmography, I chose the 1971 Disney film, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove! According to the synopsis, this is about a small group of children who make a monster so their teacher wouldn’t be ridiculed by others in their town. Recently, Crystal’s brother, Jarrahn, shared the news that Crystal was in a coma. This meant that Jarrahn and Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, would be co-hosting the event. Hearing the news about Crystal was saddening. However, I was glad to see Jarrahn and Gill step up to the plate to help a fellow blogger and sister in need.

The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove created by The Walt Disney Company. ©Disney•Pixar. All rights reserved. 

Things I liked about the film:

Genuine portrayals: Since I chose to review this movie because of Agnes Moorehead’s involvement, I’ll talk about her performance first. She portrays Mrs. Pringle, a local bird watcher who is also a well-known gossip. Throughout the film, this character took everything she did seriously. It got to the point where she seemed to care too much. However, Agnes’ portrayal was so genuine, I actually liked seeing Mrs. Pringle show up. Other genuine portrayals came from Annie McEveety, Jimmy Bracken, and Patrick Creamer. As Tippy, Scott, and Catfish, these actors appeared to work well together. The friendship between the children felt realistic and it was nice to see their camaraderie over the course of the film!

The messages and themes: Within the story of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, messages related to standing up for those you care about, teamwork, and listening to what someone has to say are found. A good example is when Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish work together to build the monster for their teacher. Because Henry Meade, the teacher, is important to the children, they stand up for him and help in any way they realistically can. Annie, Jimmy, and Catfish spend days building the monster by gathering material and putting the pieces together on their own. This part of the story also emphasizes putting others before yourself.

The mystery of the smugglers’ “boss”: A group of smugglers inhabit a run-down house near the protagonist’s small town. Throughout the film, these criminals briefly talk about their “boss”. However, this particular character isn’t revealed until about the last twenty minutes of the movie. The mystery of the “boss’s” identity kept me invested in the film, giving me an opportunity to figure out who this person was. Even though I had an idea of who the “boss” could be, I was surprised by the final outcome.

The Second Agnes Moorehead Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The run-time: The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is an hour and thirty-minute film. While this is the typical length of time for a made-for-tv presentation, it was too long for this particular title. That’s because the story was simple and straight forward, needing only about thirty minutes to be told. The run-time of The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove made the overall project too drawn out.

The smuggling subplot: In The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, there was a subplot involving smugglers importing valuables into the protagonist’s small town. The subplot itself wasn’t bad, but it felt like it was included in the film just to satisfy the run-time and push the plot forward. As I previously stated, the story is simple and straight forward. The inclusion of the smuggling subplot unnecessarily complicated a narrative that was easier to understand.

The main plot being overshadowed: As I mentioned in the introduction, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is about a small group of children who create a monster in order to defend their teacher from being ridiculed. However, when the smuggling subplot is introduced, the children change their focus to finding the smugglers’ hidden treasure. This causes the main plot to be pushed to the side for the sake of highlighting the subplot. With a movie titled The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove, a viewer would expect the film to primarily revolve around the monster the children create. Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive as much attention as the title suggests.

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My overall impression:

To me, The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove was ok. However, I feel this specific story would have been better served as an episode from a children’s/family-friendly show. The straight-forward plot could be resolved in a short amount of time. In the movie, it was drawn out to over an hour. It also doesn’t help that the smuggling subplot pushed the main plot out of the way. The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove is not the worst film I’ve seen this year. In fact, I could tell the creative team behind this movie had their hearts in the right place. But when it comes to films of this nature, I have seen better. Younger children might enjoy this title, as it features young characters saving the day. But older audience members might find themselves more bored than entertained.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove? Which made-for-tv movie would you like to see me review next? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches…Homicide: Life on the Street

Recently, I purchased The Crow: The Movie, a book that explores the production of the 1994 film. While reading that book, I learned that Bai Ling, who portrayed Myca in the movie, guest-starred on an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. The Crow: The Movie also revealed that Jon Polito, who portrayed Gideon, was a regular on the aforementioned television show. As of November 2020, I haven’t seen much from either actor’s filmography. Until a few days ago, I didn’t even know this show existed. Fortunately, I was able to find Bai and Jon’s episode online, which is one of the reasons why I’m reviewing it. Like my other television episode reviews, I will write about what I liked about the episode, what I didn’t like about the episode, the story itself, the other factors from the episode, and my overall thoughts. But similar to my episode review of Touched by an Angel, I won’t be sharing my thoughts on Homicide: Life on the Street as a series, as I’m only focusing on one episode.

Screenshot of Homicide: Life on the Street‘s title card taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Episode Name: And The Rockets Dead Glare

Season 1, Episode 7

Premiere Date: March 17th, 1993

What I liked about this episode:

As I mentioned in the introduction, I have not seen much from Bai’s or Jon’s filmography. In fact, the only projects of Bai’s I’ve seen is The Crow and the Lost episode, “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Her roles on those programs, Myca and Achara, are presented as mysterious individuals who convey a sense of mysticism. This is portrayed through the characters’ actions and choices. Because Bai’s character on Homicide: Life on the Street, Teri Chow, is not mysterious in the same way as Myca or Achara, this forces her to rely on emotion instead of actions. “And The Rockets Dead Glare” shows Bai effectively using emotion when interacting with Jon Polito’s character, Steve Crosetti, and Meldrick Lewis, Steve’s detective partner. In the beginning of the episode, Teri tearfully reveals the identity of the murder victim and the likely cause of his death. Bai’s performance not only shows how murder can affect those surrounding the victim, but the battles some people may face as well. I also found her to be the stand-out actor in this episode!

What I didn’t like about this episode:

Just like The Crow, Jon and Bai share only one scene on their episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. However, a major difference is the aforementioned scene was Bai’s only scene in the entire fifty-four-minute episode. Teri is referenced by Steve and Meldrick long after her initial introduction. But aside from that first scene, she doesn’t make any further appearances. While Bai receives more lines in “And The Rockets Dead Glare” than she did in her and Jon’s scene from The Crow, her character is not as significant in the overall story as I hoped and expected. It also doesn’t help that the mystery in this specific storyline is overshadowed by Steve and Meldrick’s sightseeing adventure in Washington D.C. Because of this, the mystery remained unsolved. For almost an hour, a guilty party was not revealed, no clues were found, and there were no suspects being questioned.

The story itself:

When I first read the synopsis for “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, I felt there was too much going on in the episode’s overall story. After watching the episode, I still stand by that belief. “And The Rockets Dead Glare” features four storylines; Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery/Washington D.C. trip, another murder mystery involving drugs, a court case featuring two of the series regulars (Beau Felton and Kay Howard), and a member of Baltimore’s police unit, Frank Pembleton, receiving a promotion. With four plots competing for screen-time, all of them ended up underwhelming. Even the one story I was the most invested in, Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery, was not fully engaging because of the story’s misfocus. The plot that received the most attention, Beau and Kay’s court case, revolved around events from the show’s previous episode. Because of this and because “And The Rockets Dead Glare” is the only episode of Homicide: Life on the Street I’ve seen, I found the story to be uninteresting. Had this storyline been the main focus of a two-part episode, it might have worked better from a story-telling perspective. Every plot in “And The Rockets Dead Glare” lacked a sense of urgency. It seemed like the characters spent more time having casual conversations with one another than actually doing their jobs. This screenwriting decision takes away the suspense and intrigue that is usually found on mystery/crime shows.

The other factors from this episode:

  • Pieces of media from the past can be viewed one of two ways: as products of their time or standing the test of time. Parts of “And The Rockets Dead Glare” were reflections of the ‘90s that felt exclusive to that time period, with no room to expand beyond the decade. While waiting in the hallway at the court house, Beau asks Kay if she’d like to watch Oprah, referring to Oprah’s day-time talk show. Because that show has been off the air for almost a decade, as of November 2020, it doesn’t hold the same amount of relevance it did when “And The Rockets Dead Glare” first premiered. Another example is a conversation Steve has with a government official that has aged poorly, where Steve compliments the official for his use of English.
  • I really liked Homicide: Life on the Street’s introduction! All of the shots were filmed in black-and-white, with hints of red appearing on the screen. This reminded me of The Crow, where the film’s color palette shared similar hues throughout the story. In the introduction, mysterious music could be heard in the background. This sets a tone that indicates a suspenseful outcome of what will unfold.
  • As I said in the introduction, I had never heard of Homicide: Life on the Street before reading The Crow: The Movie. Therefore, I did not see “And The Rockets Dead Glare” when it originally aired. When I watched this episode for this review, I noticed how all of the on-screen text was backwards. I doubt this happened in March of 1993 when the episode first premiered on television. However, I’m wondering if the person who uploaded this episode online made this decision for copyright related reasons?

My overall thoughts:

Now that I have seen Homicide: Life on the Street, I understand why it isn’t well remembered. The episode I watched, “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, was one of the most mundane programs I’ve ever seen. While it had a strong start and promising potential, the stories themselves were not as interesting as they could have been. Despite having seen only one episode of this show, it felt like Homicide: Life on the Street was desperately trying to ride the coat-tails of a show like Law and Order without fully grasping what made a program like that work. Going against Homicide: Life on the Street’s favor is featuring four main storylines in the overall episode instead of one mystery case. The focus on characters having casual-style conversations with each other negatively impacted key areas of these plots. As stated in this review is how Steve and Meldrick’s trip to Washington D.C. overshadowed the murder mystery they were required to solve. If you are a fan of The Crow and are interested in seeing “And The Rockets Dead Glare”, I’d recommend watching the scenes involving Steve and Meldrick’s murder mystery for Bai’s and Jon’s performance alone. Everything else can be skipped, as it’ll just lead you to disappointment.

Rating: A very low 3 out of 5

This is a screenshot I took of my copy of The Crow: The Movie. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
This is a screenshot I took from The Crow: The Movie‘s page about Bai Ling. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
This is a screenshot I took from The Crow: The Movie‘s page about Jon Polito. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have you watched The Crow? If so, what TV show episode featuring a star of this movie would you like to see me review? Please let me know in the comment section!

Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Word on the Street: Hallmark’s ‘Aurora Teagarden’ and ‘Mystery 101’ series will receive a new movie!

Originally, I was going to publish my 255 blog follower dedication review. While I still plan on posting this review, I decided to publish a Word on the Street story instead. In one of last month’s Word on the Street articles, I announced two Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series, Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries, were either filming a new chapter or were about to film a new chapter. It looks like these two series are not the only ones to receive a new movie. On Creative B.C., the filming schedule for an upcoming Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 film were posted! ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How To Con A Con’ will start filming on November 6th and end on November 24th. Even though the movie’s synopsis is not known at this time, I hope it is about comic conventions, based on the listed title. Meanwhile, ‘Mystery 101: Movie 6 – Killer Timing’ just started filming on November 2nd and will conclude on November 20th. Like I said about Crossword Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries in October, these films in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries and Mystery 101 series will likely premiere in 2021, based on their filming schedules.

Female detective image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/female-detective-with-magnifying-glass_1250814.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Are you looking forward to any of these films? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is the link to the TV Movie ‘In Production’ page on Creative B.C.’s website (after November 20th and 24th, ‘Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How To Con A Con’ and ‘Mystery 101: Movie 6 – Killer Timing’ will be removed from the page): https://www.creativebc.com/crbc-services/provincial-film-commission-services/in-production