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

Why Bai Ling Should Join the Main Cast of ‘When Calls the Heart’

When I accepted The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award back in February, I said I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart, portraying Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. I also mentioned wanting to see this happen in my list of Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated. However, these explanations were brief. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Out of all the actresses you’d want to see star on one of your favorite TV shows, why Bai Ling?” Well, that is a very good question, and I’m about to give some very good answers! In this editorial, I will provide four major reasons why Bai Ling should join the main cast of When Calls the Heart. Before I thoroughly explain these reasons, I want to bring up three disclaimers. This editorial is meant to be a suggestion to the creative team of the show. So, any casting decisions are up to them. Bai’s career is her own, which means that whether or not she wants to star on When Calls the Heart is a decision only she can make. Whenever I refer to the main cast of the show, I am talking about the actors and actresses who appear in the opening sequence of each episode.

Here is a screenshot from Bai’s Asian Voices interview from 2018. Screenshot taken from the Youtube channel, AsianVoices Tv.

Bai Would Represent a Series of Firsts for the Show

Since 2014, many characters have come and gone throughout the overall story of When Calls the Heart. Whether these characters have made short appearances or claimed Hope Valley as their permanent residence, each individual has had an important role to play. In the seven and a half season lifespan of the show, there have been no Asian characters featured in any part of the story. Also, no female Mounties have arrived in Hope Valley or any area of Canada. Just in Hope Valley alone, several female characters have been portrayed and written as independent individuals who lead successful lives. From season six to season eight, Fiona Miller has evolved from a telephone operator to a small business owner. Though she has had her obstacles along the way, Fiona has overcome each one in order to achieve her dreams. Having a female Mountie would fit the narrative When Calls the Heart’s creative team has carried since the very beginning. As fans have heard and seen from other on-screen Mounties, this particular job has its challenges. However, I know this new character would prove that she is just as important as the others in Hope Valley!

When Lori Loughlin was removed from the cast due to her involvement in the infamous College Admissions Scandal, When Calls the Heart’s main cast was left without an actress over the age of fifty. The main cast has also not featured any actors or actresses who weren’t white. Because Bai Ling happens to be in her mid-50s, she would become the first actress over fifty to join the main cast in two years. Bai would be the first Asian cast member not only in the main cast, but in the entire show’s history as well.  If Bai’s character chose to form a romantic relationship with either Bill Avery or Henry Gowan, they would become the first prominent interracial couple on When Calls the Heart. Up until this point, the show has had only one interracial couple, which were Robert’s parents. But they only made a brief appearance in the 2017 movie, When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree.

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

New Storytelling Opportunities

In the seven years that When Calls the Heart has stayed on the air, many stories have been included in the script. Each story has explored a different character’s background or a different component of the town. If Bai Ling were to join the main cast of the show and portray Hope Valley’s first female Mountie, that would call for a new story to be told. What would it look like to have a female Mountie in the 1910s, when female Mounties were not as common as they are now? What obstacles would this new character face? These are questions that would be answered if this story were introduced. Since When Calls the Heart has never had a female Mountie before, it would be interesting to see her dynamic among the other characters. Would she be friends with those who have appeared on the show for a long period of time or get along better with those who have been on the show for less than three years? Bai is Chinese, so the screenwriters could find ways to incorporate her culture and heritage into her character’s story. Hallmark has never acknowledged the Chinese Lunar New Year in any of their programs. Having one episode revolving around this holiday would be a good place to start.

Here is a screenshot from Bai’s Artist TV interview from 2014. Screenshot taken from the Youtube channel, Szina1000

Bai is an Underrated Actress with Years of Acting Experience

When Calls the Heart has seen many actors and actresses make their appearances on the show. Some of these actors have household names, such as Brooke Shields. Others have been underrated, like Max Lloyd-Jones. But no matter what status an actor has, the majority of the show’s actors have had at least some acting experience before they starred in an episode. For these points, I’ll bring up Jack Wagner and Pascale Hutton as examples. For thirty years, Jack starred on the soap opera, General Hospital. Within that timeframe, he gained acting experience as well as notoriety. When Jack joined When Calls the Heart’s main cast, his fanbase and notoriety grew, giving him a “standing ovation.” Before she became a series regular, Pascale was given small to supporting roles in two Hallmark productions: 2010’s A Family Thanksgiving and 2014’s Recipe for Love. After making her first appearance toward the end of the first season as Rosemary, Pascale made a household name for herself in the Hallmark community. During her time on When Calls the Heart, Pascale has starred in ten Hallmark films! On June 5th, she will star in her eleventh movie from the network, You Had Me at Aloha!

According to IMDB, Bai Ling has 132 acting credits. While I haven’t seen all of the projects listed, I have watched a few of them, with two of those projects being covered on 18 Cinema Lane (a review of The Crow and a review of an episode from the television show Homicide: Life on the Street). Out of Bai’s projects I’ve seen, two of them have been television show episodes from Homicide: Life on the Street and Lost. However, she was given guest-starring roles in those episodes, working with a limited amount of material. In an interview from 2009, Bai Ling said the following in regards to her career:

“On the other hand, there’s one thing I hope even though I’m grateful: I think other roles I have been offered are not near the level of my talent as an actress. I’m hungry for those great magical roles like Kate Winslet gets. Like my role in Red Corner. I also won an Asian Academy Award, but here, those roles don’t come along for me. I can make magic. Magic is a beautiful gift as an actress to play all these different characters. Those opportunities, I am open for.”

The creative team behind When Calls the Heart has a beautiful opportunity to grant Bai’s wishes. Placing Bai in the main cast would give her more acting material than she has received from other television shows. It would also allow her to receive the recognition she deserves.

This is a page from The Crow: The Movie about Bai Ling that was featured in my review of Homicide: Life on the Street. I thought it would be appropriate to include it in this editorial. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Casting Bai Would Force Hallmark to Address Some of Their Hypocrisy

In my list of Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated, I brought up how Hallmark has become blatantly hypocritical since 2019. Their stance on diversity is one area where Hallmark’s hypocrisy has been obvious. Last year, George Zaralidis, Hallmark’s network program publicity vice president, said, “Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us.” But the network’s actions have been much louder than their words. I will bring up the Canfield family as an example for this point. Season eight has seen the introduction of the Canfield family. Now that the show is about halfway through the season, the Canfield family has appeared in less than ten scenes total. They also haven’t received a major storyline yet. When they do face a conflict, it is resolved in the episode after it was introduced. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and her love triangle have been covered for two and a half seasons. It also has been heavily promoted in the show’s marketing, even when an episode has little or nothing to do with the love triangle. On a recent cover of TV Guide, the only cast members that were featured were Erin Krakow, Chris McNally, and Kevin McGarry. The cover’s caption read “Who will Elizabeth choose? The irresistible love triangle of Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart.” The Canfield family or any other character were not only absent from the cover, but they were also not referenced. Emphasizing one character or storyline is hypocritical, as it undermines the other characters and stories the show has to offer. When Calls the Heart was never meant to be about one character, but about the town as a whole. If Bai Ling were to join this show’s main cast, Hallmark would have no choice but to address some of these hypocrisies. This means When Calls the Heart’s creative team would have to give Bai a significant amount of screen-time and a significant number of lines in the script. She would also have to be significantly featured in When Calls the Heart’s marketing.

This is the cover of TV Guide that I referred to in my editorial. Cover created by TV Guide.

Auggie Pullman, from Wonder, once said “Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.” For seven years, When Calls the Heart has given many people their “standing ovations” both in front of the camera and behind it. The show’s creative team has created a place where various talents and skills are celebrated. A lifetime of stories have been told because of the show’s desire to give as many people the recognition they deserve. While a ninth season has not been announced yet, fans have already been making requests for the next season. But these requests have revolved around which suitor Elizabeth will choose. What makes my suggestion different is that it is more meaningful than Elizabeth’s decision, and that it will outlive the hype surrounding the love triangle. At the end of day, it’s about bringing a new voice and perspective to Hope Valley’s table. As I bring this editorial to a close, I have to ask: What makes Bai Ling any different from the other cast and crew members on When Calls the Heart? Doesn’t she deserve a standing ovation too?

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links where quotes or information came from:

Bai Ling lives the high-voltage life

Top 10 Things I’d Like to See in Chesapeake Shores’ Fifth Season

When I submitted my review of The Great Mouse Detective last week, it became the 175th movie review I’ve ever published! In honor of this accomplishment, I decided to write a Top 10 list, especially since I haven’t written one in quite some time! Back in February, in a Word on the Street story, I reported how Chesapeake Shores was renewed for a fifth season. However, because of the Coronavirus, the show hasn’t gone into production. On 18 Cinema Lane, I recap two of Hallmark’s shows, with Chesapeake Shores being one of them. While some areas of the world are slowly going back to creating movies and television shows, the O’Brien family may not appear on screen this year. This means that my Top 10 list will probably be the only Chesapeake Shores related content I create in 2020. As “Chessies” (the show’s fandom) waits for any news of the show’s return, here are the top 10 things I’d like to see in the fifth season! Before I begin, I want to say that this list is solely based on my opinion. There will also be spoilers for the previous season.

  1. Tone down the relationship drama

As I’ve said before in my Evenings At The Shore series, the first and second seasons of Chesapeake Shores contained a healthy balance between their character and plot driven narratives. But since season three, the show’s overall quality has plateaued. That’s because the overall narrative has placed its primary focus on the relationship drama between the characters. This decision has caused the plots to be put on the back-burner. One example is the fourth season’s fifth episode, where the plot surrounding Jess’s story didn’t make any sense. In Chesapeake Shores’ next season, I hope the screenwriters bring the show back to that balance from the first two seasons. This show has come up with some interesting plot ideas, but haven’t utilized them to their fullest extent.

2. A wedding for Jess and David

Before Kevin and Sarah got engaged in the fourth season, fans had never seen a wedding within the O’Brien family. This next step in Kevin and Sarah’s relationship was history in the making for the show. Because of the fourth season’s six episode run, wedding plans were replaced with an elopement and a reception dinner. This decision was a “bait and switch”, leaving fans cheated out of a historical moment they were promised. Kevin and Sarah were not the only couple to get engaged, however, as Jess and David became engaged at the end of the season. I’d like to see Jess and David’s wedding in the fifth season. Because the filming locations of Chesapeake Shores are photogenic, maybe they could receive an outdoor ceremony.

3. Get rid of the love triangle

It’s bad enough When Calls the Heart features a love triangle that seems to have no end in sight. Like I said in one of my Sunset Over Hope Valley posts, love triangles are a waste of time and creative energy. In Chesapeake Shores’ fourth season, the narrative introduced a love triangle between Abby, Trace, and Jay. This not only enables the screenwriters to continue emphasizing the relationship drama, but it also takes screen-time away from more intriguing plots. Hopefully, this love triangle will get resolved sometime in the fifth season.

4. A subplot for Carrie and Caitlyn

Speaking of When Calls the Heart, what this show does well is provide subplots for the younger characters. It gives the audience a chance to get to know them and view the story from their perspective. When it comes to Chesapeake Shores, Carrie and Caitlyn, the youngest characters on the show, have never received a story of their own. In fact, it feels like they’ve become an afterthought within the overall narrative. I’ve been waiting for Carrie and Caitlyn to receive their own subplot for a while, so I hope this happens in season five. It would be interesting to see what the screenwriters come up with.

5. More episodes

Earlier in this list, when I talked about Kevin and Sarah’s lack of wedding plans, I stated how the fourth season of Chesapeake Shores was only given six episodes. While Hallmark shows have received seasons with less than ten episodes before, a fourth season receiving six episodes is a bit concerning. This creative decision prevented certain subplots from being fully explored and made the story feel like more was desired. Personally, I think the fifth season should be given at least nine to ten episodes. That way, Chesapeake Shores will have enough time to flesh stories out and focus on telling well-thought out narratives.

Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Background vector created by 0melapics –</a>. Image found at

6. The fruition of Trace’s recording studio

Chesapeake Shores excels at featuring locations that have been brought up in the story. One example is The Bridge, a musical restaurant that Trace had been dreaming about for several years. At the end of the fourth season, Trace had expressed interest in creating a recording studio. While recording studios have been presented in the story before, this particular business was never shown in Chesapeake Shores. Because this show has a good track record when it comes to locations, I’d like to think Trace’s recording studio will become a reality. However, I still want to see this location brought to life.

7. For Bree and Simon’s paths to cross again

When Simon was introduced on Chesapeake Shores, he met Bree in her home country. At the end of the fourth season, Bree’s literary agent, Brian, wanted to bring her play to London. If this happens, Bree would be in Simon’s home country. This dynamic would be very interesting to watch, especially if Bree and Simon plan on revisiting their relationship. Should Bree decide to find a different significant other, I’d be curious to see which new British actor joins the show.

8. More appearances for Nell

Over the course of the fourth season, I noticed that Nell had such a limited on-screen presence compared to previous seasons. I was told Diane Ladd, the actress who portrays Nell, was experiencing pneumonia when this particular season was in production. As I indicated in the introduction, we don’t know when Chesapeake Shores’ fifth season will be filmed. Whenever that happens, I hope Diane is in better health. Nell is the one who keeps the glue of the O’Brien family together. Without her, things just wouldn’t be the same.

9. A Chesapeake Shores Movie

I know a Chesapeake Shores movie is on the way. However, it never went into production, partly due to the Coronavirus. Even though the film was originally about Abby, Bree, and Jess, I still want to see a St. Patrick’s Day themed movie in Ireland. Another possible film idea is a Chesapeake Shores Thanksgiving themed movie! Hallmark hasn’t created a Thanksgiving movie in several years. Also, Good Witch has capitalized on Halloween, while When Calls the Heart creates annual Christmas films.

10. Megan becoming a successful businesswoman

You’re probably thinking, “Megan’s not a businesswoman, it isn’t her forte”. However, when we look at Abby, Bree, and Jess, there is one thing they have in common: they are all successful businesswomen. While each sister has forged their own path in the world of business, they have let their passions guide them through this specific journey. For at least one season, Megan has expressed her passion for art. Toward the end of the fourth season, she had shown an interest in creating her own studio. If the screenwriters wanted, they could allow Megan to use her art as the basis for a small business. This could make Megan an independent businesswoman like her three daughters.

Chesapeake Shores poster image created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies

Last month, when I released my review of Swept from the Sea, it became my 250th published post! As I made that realization, I knew that I had to do something to commemorate the occasion. My most popular post on 18 Cinema Lane is my list of “The Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time”, with 3,019 views and counting! Because this particular list brings readers and followers to my blog, I thought it would be fitting to create a similar post. While other people on the internet have talked about worst clichés from a variety of genres, I have never seen anyone discuss the worst clichés from Hallmark movies. That’s where this list comes in, as I talk about the clichés that I am not a fan of seeing in Hallmark’s films. These clichés are not the worst because the clichés themselves are bad, but because they are poorly or overly used. My list is in no way meant to be mean-spirited or negative. Also, this list will not include a Dishonorable Mentions section, unlike my aforementioned post. Before I begin, I just wanted to say that the clichés I’ve selected are based on my opinion.

Unhappy woman holding trash with disgusting smell
Taking out the trash photo created by Katemangostar at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Person image created by Katemangostar –</a>. Image found on

  1. The “we’re not together” cliché

This cliché has been found in movies from Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Either the male and female protagonist tells someone that they’re not together after someone assumes that they’re dating or they try to convince people that they’re not in a relationship. The way these characters share their relationship status comes across like they’re embarrassed by the possibility of being mistaken for a couple. A recent example of this is one of the latest mystery films, Witness to Murder: A Darrow Mystery. I’m not as bothered by this cliché as I am with the other ones on this list, hence the reason why it’s featured at number ten. But, whenever this cliché is included, it seems like the characters are making a big deal over nothing. In real life, I’m pretty sure that these individuals would just tell others about the state of their relationship in the calmest and honest way possible.


  1. The “moving out of the way for an oncoming vehicle” cliché

In most films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, the protagonist is in danger of getting hit by an oncoming vehicle. Fortunately, they are rescued just in time by being pushed out of the vehicle’s way. I understand that a moment like this is meant to create suspense for the story. But this cliché makes the protagonist look like they are willing to overlook simple and important safety precautions, such as looking both ways before crossing the street. Throughout the Aurora Teagarden series, the audience has come to know the titular character as an intelligent detective. But, when the “moving out of the way for an oncoming vehicle” cliché was incorporated into Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, it makes it seem like her intelligence is being belittled to a certain extent.


  1. The “it’s not what you think” cliché

This cliché can usually be found in Hallmark Channel movies. Either the male or female protagonist will overhear pieces of a conversation or discover small tidbits of information, causing them to assume the worst. Instead of having a civil and respectful conversation with the other person, they will accuse that person of something they didn’t do and distance themselves from them. More often than not, the person who became upset has those feelings for ridiculous reasons. Fortunately, there are Hallmark movies that try to use this cliché in a way that complements the story. Two good examples are Easter Under Wraps and Rome in Love, where the people who discover the information have a legitimate reason to be upset. It’s also understandable how someone could get upset by the information that the movie presents. While I’m still not a fan of this cliché, I’m always appreciative when a cliché is not just put in a movie for the sake of being there.


  1. The “male and female protagonist always fall in love with each other” cliché

While I’m not bothered by this cliché like I am with others on the list, the idea of the male and female protagonist always falling in love with each other is kind of getting repetitive. As soon as you see the movie poster, you know how the relationship will turn out. One of my favorite Hallmark movies is This Magic Moment. In that film, the male protagonist falls in love with the main female supporting character, who happens to be his childhood best friend. Meanwhile, the female protagonist ends up becoming single at the end of the movie, a decision that she’s perfectly content with. I really wish that Hallmark would incorporate more surprises like that. Whether they tell a similar story to This Magic Moment or having the female protagonist fall in love with the main male supporting character, the story would be a breath of fresh air.


  1. The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché

A Hallmark Channel movie that adopts this cliché is The Story of Us. In this film, the protagonist’s ex, portrayed by Sam Page, showed up unannounced in her life. That aspect of the story worked, especially since Sam Page’s character was the male protagonist. This allowed both of the protagonists to reconnect as a couple as well as giving the audience an opportunity to watch their relationship grow. But the protagonist’s other ex, a dentist who moved away to Texas, also shows up unannounced. For me, this part of the film didn’t work because it didn’t feel like it went anywhere. It was a waste of a character and subplot, especially since we knew that the female protagonist, portrayed by Maggie Lawson, had no intention of pursuing a relationship with him. This is not the first Hallmark movie to feature this cliché and it’s highly likely not going to be the last. But I still feel that if the male or female protagonist has no plans to get back together with their ex, then the cliché is pointless.

Aurora Teagarden 11 poster
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For poster created by Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Crown Media Family Networks. Image found at

  1. The “planning a wedding in an unrealistic time period” cliché

Throughout my one year of blogging, this cliché is the one that I’ve probably talked about the most. As the cliché’s title indicates, it’s when an engaged couple decides to plan a wedding in an unrealistic time period, just so they won’t have to wait so long to get married. I find this cliché to not only be unrealistic, but also unhealthy. Weddings have the ability to cause stress and anxiety, yet every time this cliché is incorporated into a film, these aspects of wedding planning never get talked about. I’d like to see a Hallmark movie address how not everyone can plan such a large-scale event in six months or less. But, until then, Hallmark has created movies that effectively use this cliché in a way that fits within that cinematic world. Two examples are Wedding of Dreams and The Good Witch’s Gift, where the engaged couple has the money and resources that allow them to plan a wedding in a short amount of time. What also works in these movies’ favor is how this cliché is not the primary focus of the story. They include other interesting subplots to help move the plot along.


  1. The “business person is a jerk and/or out of touch” cliché

Whenever this cliché appears in a Hallmark film, I noticed that it’s mostly the businessmen who are dating the female protagonist that embody this cliché. Either they don’t act as nice as the male protagonist or they are “out of touch” with what’s important to the female protagonist. Because of this, the female protagonist ends up not falling in love with them. The reason why this cliché is placed higher than others on my list is how outdated it seems. After receiving films like the All of My Heart trilogy and Love Unleashed, the “business person is a jerk/out of touch” cliché doesn’t really feel like it has a purpose anymore. It also seems like this character’s sole purpose is to make the male protagonist look better in the eyes of the female protagonist. I’m surprised that Hallmark still adopts this cliché from time to time, especially since the Hallmark company is run by business people. I doubt that they would want to see their profession portrayed in a negative light.


  1. The “building condos is bad” cliché

Despite the many years that I’ve spent watching Hallmark movies, I’ve never understood the purpose of this cliché. In films that incorporate this cliché, the people in a small town are mad because a beloved piece of land or business will be replaced by a series of condos. The person planning on building the condos is either the film’s villain or just an antagonist. When this cliché was placed in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play, it felt out of place. While it only played a minor role in the movie, it didn’t have any significance on the plot. Why would anyone be against the building of condos? Condos would create homes, which would also create a place for someone to belong and spend time with family. These ideas have been promoted by Hallmark for years, so having a cliché that contradicts that seems strange. I am waiting for the day when Hallmark makes a movie where the protagonist or a member of the protagonist’s family happily lives in a condo.


  1. The “royal movie” clichés

You’re probably wondering how I’m able to get away with putting so many clichés in one spot. Well, when it comes to Hallmark’s “royal” movies, these clichés usually come in a set. From the European prince with a British accent to the royal family not approving of the relationship between their family member and a “commoner”, these clichés make me discouraged by Hallmark’s lack of creativity. In an editorial called, “When Creativity is Squandered: The Wasted Potential on Hallmark’s Good Witch”, I talked about how these clichés prevented an episode of Good Witch from reaching its creative potential. The effects of these movies are now spilling into the television shows, holding the screenwriters back from exploring different methods of story-telling. My favorite movie from 2018 was Royally Ever After. One of the reasons is how this movie used as few “royal movie” clichés as possible. The creative team’s desire to move away from most of these clichés made the movie such a pleasant surprise for me. When Hallmark has created about twelve of these movies and about one or two of them actually try something new, that looks like a pretty bad track record.


  1. The “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché

Out of all the clichés that Hallmark includes in their movies, this is the one that is probably used the most. It’s as predictable as it sounds; a woman who currently lives in the city goes back to her small hometown for a variety of reasons. Once there, she realizes that she’d rather stay in her small hometown than go back to the city. I’m guessing that this cliché was once an important plot component before it received its current status. Whenever it’s included in a film, it makes that picture ten times more predictable. Even though this cliché can be found in a variety of Hallmark’s films, I’ve mostly seen it within their Christmas movies, with Christmas Wonderland being a recent example. I doubt that the “woman from the city coming back to her small hometown” cliché will go away anytime soon. But it would be nice if Hallmark explored other stories from different perspectives.

Royally Ever After poster
Royally Ever After poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at

What are your thoughts on my list? Which cliché from a Hallmark movie is your least favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Kubo and the Two Strings Review + 125 Follower Thank You

Two weeks ago, 18 Cinema Lane received a hundred and twenty-five followers! However, because my blogging schedule revolved around the four blogathons that are scheduled for August, I haven’t found the time to publish this review. I knew I wanted to post this review before the end of the month, so I made some room in my schedule for this review to become a reality. For this post, I chose a movie that was released in August of 2016. I had the option of two Hallmark Channel films and Kubo and the Two Strings. Since I reviewed a Hallmark Channel movie for my previous blog follower dedication review (that film was Desolation Canyon) and since the last time I reviewed an animated film was back in February (the movie I talked about was All Dogs Go to Heaven 2), I decided to talk about the latter. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that I had not seen, but definitely had heard about. Mostly positive things were said about it, with the animation itself being a highlight. I don’t watch stop-motion animation often, so that means this is the first film of this kind to be reviewed on my blog! Even after reviewing over a hundred films, there’s still a “first for everything”.

Kubo and the Two Strings poster
Kubo and the Two Strings poster created by Laika and Focus Features. Image found at

Things I liked about the film:

The animation: Stop-motion animation can be hit or miss. You can either get something that looks whimsical, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or off-putting, like Coraline. Kubo and the Two Strings, however, falls more on the whimsical and imaginative side of the genre. The use of colors is what makes this movie stand out, as the balance between bright and dark palettes was complimentary. A good portion of the landscapes looked very realistic. Water, cliffs, and snow are just a few examples. I also liked how each character had a unique design. No two characters looked alike and their personalities were different from one another. All of these factors made for a truly stunning visual!


The humor: Family-friendly/children’s films sometimes try to incorporate humor by telling the same types of jokes. These jokes can be so overdone that they fall flat or become offensive. The humor in Kubo and the Two Strings was witty and clever. Funny moments felt like they were naturally extracted from the situation, instead of having the characters say or do something hilarious for the sake of it. Kubo and the Two Strings’ humor was well spaced out. It was mostly placed in the quieter scenes of the film, where there was less action and suspense. These moments never overshadowed or took away from the movie’s dramatic and serious parts.


The messages and themes: Kubo and the Two Strings contains several messages and themes that not only compliment the narrative, but help create an enriching story. An overarching theme is family, which plays a huge role on more than one occasion. It provided a moral compass for the characters and even put a new take on a familiar trope from family-friendly/children’s films. The message of how powerful story-telling is was impactful, changing the way certain things are presented. Something as simple as a piece of paper or the sounds of a bird as just two examples. Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that gives the audience valuable words of wisdom!


The pacing: As I previously stated, the film’s humor was placed in the quieter scenes that featured less action and suspense. I should also add that the humor played a role in assisting the movie’s pace. Kubo and the Two Strings’ pace felt like the ebb and flow of an ocean’s waves. When an action scene came into the story, calmer scenes soon followed. These scenes were used to provide character development and feature interesting character interactions. Because of this balance between action-heavy and dialogue-focused scenes, it never made the movie feel drawn out or longer than its run-time. It made the movie-viewing experience that much more enjoyable!

Paper Boats in the Sea image created by Freepik at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at

What I didn’t like about the film:

Choppy movements: Whenever characters moved, it was always in a fluid motion. Some examples include walking and putting up objects. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the motion of human characters’ mouths. Any time a human character spoke, the movements of their mouth appeared choppy and they didn’t flow with the rest of the animation. The only character I didn’t feel this way about was Monkey. I’m not sure if this is a production issue or if it’s because I don’t watch stop-motion animated films often. But it got to the point where these choppy movements were distracting.

Japan Retro Cartoon Icons Set
Japanese paper dragon image created by Macrovector at <a href=””>Flower vector created by macrovector –</a>. Image found at

My overall impression:

When it comes to my blog follower dedication reviews, I always try to choose films that are worth my followers’ time. Because they helped my blog reach the milestones that it has, I feel they deserve a good, quality movie as well as review. Well, I can honestly say that Kubo and the Two Strings is that film! This movie has everything I could ever want or ask for in a cinematic story, holding on to my attention from start to finish. While we’ve seen the “hero’s journey” narrative before, this film takes that template and breaths new life into it. It’s a story with so much heart, that it feels like the creative team behind this film truly cared about the movie they were making. With relatable and inspirational messages and themes, Kubo and the Two Strings makes me want to be a better person. Speaking of people, thank you to all of my one hundred and twenty-five followers, as well as my readers, for helping me get to this point. You have and will always play a vital role in this blogging journey.


Overall score: 9.1 out of 10


Do you like that I review animated films? Which movie from this genre would you like to see me talk about? Let me know in the comment section!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: All About Lucas

Ever since Lucas Bouchard came to Hope Valley earlier this season, his story has been a mystery. Hearties have speculated if he was a villain or just a troubled soul. I’ve even wondered what his story could be about. Several episodes later, we finally got answers to all of our questions relating to this character. Even though this episode has focused most of its attention on Lucas, the show as a whole has never been about just one character. The creative team behind this show have done a good job at focusing on the town of Hope Valley, giving their characters an equal amount of story-telling opportunities. This aspect helped When Calls the Heart become as successful as it has. Speaking of story-telling, let’s talk about this episode of When Calls the Heart!

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

When Calls the Heart Season 6 poster 2
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found

Season: 6

Episode: 8

Name: A Call from the Past


Major Stories:

  • One day, while at the Mercantile, Lucas receives a personal phone call. During this call, a woman tells him that someone is after them and that this person knows he’s in Hope Valley. Lucas tells her that he’ll figure out what to do. The next day, he decides to close the Queen of Hearts Saloon and leave Hope Valley. When Elizabeth passes by the Saloon, she asks Lucas why he’s closing the Saloon. While Lucas is answering her question, Elizabeth notices that he has a pistol in his possession. After this conversation, she goes straight to the Mountie Office to tell Bill and Nathan everything Lucas told her. Because Lucas is on his way to Cape Fullerton, Nathan chooses to follow him. Before Lucas can reach his destination, Nathan tracks him down. He not only successfully encourages Lucas to come back to Hope Valley, but Lucas reveals what’s really going on. He shares that, in New Orleans, his friend had a struggling business. She borrowed money from a man named Amos Dixon. When she couldn’t pay Amos back, he started threatening to shut down her business and put her in harms way. In an attempt to help his friend, Lucas entered a poker game in order to win her money back. When he discovered that Amos, who was also participating in this game, cheated, Lucas decided to cheat as well. Amos discovered what he had done, causing him to hold a grudge against Lucas. After listening to his story, Nathan promises Lucas that he will contact the Mounties in Cape Fullerton to keep his friend safe. Meanwhile, in Hope Valley, Amos and his accomplice arrive in Hope Valley. They break into the Saloon, waiting for Lucas to arrive. Instead, Elizabeth shows up because she had a feeling that someone was in the Saloon. Amos and his accomplice hold her as their hostage. When Lucas finally arrives, Amos orders him to hand over all the money from his safe. While this is happening, Bill and Nathan figure out that Elizabeth hasn’t come home when she said she would, causing them to suspect that something is wrong. They both go to the Saloon, where Bill ends up catching Amos’s accomplice behind the building. Meanwhile, Nathan had to sneak into the building, due to feeling suspicious about his encounter with Lucas at the Saloon’s front door. Despite a struggle during his encounter with Amos, Nathan successfully arrests him. After the ordeal is over, everyone appears to be uncomfortable around Lucas, including Elizabeth.


  • Grace, one of the orphanage care-givers from When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing, arrives in Hope Valley with an orphan named Spencer. This young boy barely speaks, so Grace is doing everything she can to help him. Grace and Spencer stay at Lee and Rosemary’s house during their visit. Rosemary is organizing the Founders Day Festival, which is not only around the corner, but also encourages Grace and Spencer to stay in town a little longer than expected. When Rosemary tells Elizabeth about all of her Founders Day responsibilities. Elizabeth suggests that she split these responsibilities with someone else. While at the Mercantile, Rosemary tells Fiona about the things has to do in order for the Founders Day Festival to be successful. After doing this, Rosemary asks Fiona if she would like to help her plan the Festival, with Fiona agreeing. Meanwhile, Spencer and Grace take a visit to Carson’s office. Carson finds out that Spencer is anemic and that he hasn’t eaten much in recent days. This is the result of Spencer’s trauma and grief that Grace shares with Rosemary later in the episode. She reveals that Spencer’s parents died in a flood a few months prior, leaving Spencer as the only survivor. Since then, Grace, as well as the orphanage where Spencer was previously staying, have to doing anything they could to help him. While Rosemary and Fiona discuss ideas for the Founders Day Festival, Grace comes up with the solution of having pancakes for dinner. This ends up being successful, as Spencer not only eats the pancakes, but also seems to enjoy them.

Premium quality restaurant breakfasts vintage style advertisement seamless pattern
Pancakes and Syrup image created by vextok at <a href=””>Banner vector created by vextok –</a>. Image found at

Minor Story:

  • Because of Henry’s new petroleum oil business, Lee has been losing employees at his lumberyard. When Mike Hickam decides to work for Henry instead, Lee is disappointed but respectful toward this decision. One day, Jesse crosses paths with Henry. He is upset that Henry has been “stealing” employees from Lee. Henry, however, tells Jesse that all he wants to do is move on from their feud. The next day, Jesse talks with Mike about his new job. Mike shares with Jesse how much money he’s now making. This causes Jesse to contemplate the idea of working for Henry. Jesse not only shares this idea with Lee, but also with Clara. When Clara asks him why he would want to trade his job, Jesse says that his reason would be to make her happy. Clara tells him that what makes her happy is when he’s happy. Later that evening, Jesse visits Lee at his home. He tells Lee that he has decided to keep his job at the lumberyard. Jesse also shares his reason why, as his loyalty to Lee as well as Lee’s kindness to him were the things that made him keep his job. This moment makes Lee realize that everything is going to be ok.

Money image created by Freepik at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Business vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at

Some thoughts to consider:

  • At the beginning of this episode, it was revealed that Julie would be the Godmother of Elizabeth’s son, Jack. This has led me to believe that Julie might make an appearance in the season finale. While I’m happy to see that Julie could appear on the show again, I do find it concerning that Elizabeth hasn’t reached out to her in-laws. As a fan of Tom Thornton, I feel that he should have, at least, been mentioned in one of the previous episodes. That way, it shows the audience that Jack’s side of family still plays an important part of Elizabeth’s life.


  • While the cast of When Calls the Heart has been great this season, the actress who stole the show in this episode was Jocelyn Hudon! Her performance was so captivating to watch, helping her character seem as interesting as possible. I also like how her story provided a nice bridge between When Calls the Heart and When Hope Calls. Hopefully, Jocelyn will continue to find good luck on her new show as she has in the When Calls the Heart community!


  • In the sneak peek commercial for the season finale, it seems like Jesse may propose to Clara! I really hope so because it’s been about two seasons since we last saw a marriage proposal in Hope Valley. Can you imagine if Jesse and Clara’s wedding took place during When Calls the Heart’s Christmas movie? Now that would be a great gift to give to the Hearties!


  • Even though Lucas’ story was fine, I kind of felt like it was underwhelming. Personally, I was expecting something more intriguing, especially since Lucas himself seems like an interesting character. I also think the conflict between Lucas and Amos was handled a little too quickly. While there was build-up to it, the conflict itself seemed to last for only a few minutes.

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at <a href=””>Background image created by Photoangel –</a>.<a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at

What are your thoughts on this episode? Are you excited for the season finale? Please tell me in the comment section!


Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sunset Over Hope Valley: Rocking and Rolling

For the first time in Hallmark television history, When Calls the Heart aired back to back episodes! As an attempt to get the fans excited about the show’s return, one of the episodes aired on its usual Sunday night, while the other premiered on a Monday. For someone who re-caps the episodes, this means that I had to write back to back posts. However, because these posts are meant to help people stay caught up on their favorite show, I was more than willing to write these articles. I have to admit that, so far, season six is one of the stronger seasons of When Calls the Heart! Despite the “Abigail situation”, this season has made some interesting choices when it comes to story-telling. Keep reading if you want to know more about what I’m talking about!

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

When Calls the Heart Season 6 poster 2
When Calls the Heart poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found

Season: 6

Episode: 5

Name: Surprise


  • With the arrival of Nathan Grant comes the arrival of his niece, Ally. Not only does she meet Bill in his office, but she also decides to skip school. When she stumbles into the Queen of Hearts saloon, Lucas tries to encourage her to go to school by teaching her a card trick. Later that day, Nathan finds out about Ally skipping school. When she gets caught in her lies, Ally promises to go to school the next day. During her first day of school, she impresses some of the students with her new card trick. However, she uses this same card trick to take advantage of her peers. After Elizabeth finds out about Ally’s scheme, she also discovers who taught her the card trick. Elizabeth pays Lucas a visit at the saloon to share her feelings about his choices. Lucas explains to Elizabeth that he taught Ally that card trick to help make friends in school. The next day, after school, Elizabeth learns from Nathan that Ally’s living situation hasn’t been the most stable. She explains to him that, because of her past experiences, Ally doesn’t feel like she should put in an effort to make friends. So, when Ally joins Nathan and Elizabeth’s conversation, Elizabeth not only encourages her to give her peers a chance, she also tells her to give back all of the items that she “received” from her card trick. The next day, at school, Ally returns these items to her classmates.


  • While attempting to dig a well on his property, Jesse discovers that oil was hiding beneath the surface. When he shows Lee and Henry what he has found, Henry suggests that Jesse contact a geologist to study the oil and the ground surrounding it. When a geologist does inspect the area, he encourages Jesse to dig deeper into the soil, as more oil could be found. However, the geologist explains to Jesse that this process would be very costly. In an attempt to help Jesse, Henry approaches Lucas and asks him to invest in Jesse’s land. As a part of his plan, Henry talks to Jesse about buying his land for $1,200. Jesse tells him that he doesn’t want to make any plans until he talks with Clara first. One day, at the saloon, Clara and Jesse both agree to sell the land to Henry. When Henry collects the necessary paperwork in order to move forward with the oil dig project, Lucas expresses his concerns over how his money will be spent. Henry tells him that he has nothing to worry about.


  • One day, when Florence and Molly question Carson about his whereabouts, he tells them that he is visiting a nearby town to pick up a new medical machine. Faith also tells Florence and Molly that she will be joining him in order to pick up additional supplies. When Carson and Faith get to the nearby town, they pick up their supplies without any problems. However, when they try to return to Hope Valley, their path is blocked by a large tree. They decide to camp out until they can return home the next day. In the evening, Faith tells Carson about her troubled relationship with her father. When Carson and Faith are in Hope Valley the next day, Faith apologizes to Carson for bringing up so much personal information about herself. Carson tells her that he doesn’t have a problem with this. Tired about hiding their relationship, Carson and Faith decide to kiss in the middle of town one evening. This lets almost everyone know the state of their relationship.

Heartbeat image created by Freepik at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Logo vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at

  • The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Ronald, visits Bill at his office one day. The purpose of this visit is for Ronald to give Bill an offer for a Judgeship. At first, Bill expresses his frustrations about how judges can be easily taken advantage of. But Ronald reminds Bill that this is why he is perfect for the job, because he is strong and stands up for what he believes in. Throughout the episode, Bill contemplates accepting this new job offer. He even tells Lee about this opportunity, in which Lee encourages Bill to continue thinking about this Judgeship. Later in the episode, Bill helps Lee babysit Jack. During this event, Lee reminds Bill of how good of a judge he would be.


  • Rosemary feels like she and Elizabeth are growing apart as friends. This is because Elizabeth keeps cancelling plans to hang out with Rosemary. Determined to fix this, Rosemary plans a girls night in get-together. At first, Elizabeth wants to cancel these plans because she doesn’t have a babysitter for Jack. At the last minute, Lee steps in and chooses to babysit Jack. While Rosemary and Elizabeth enjoy each other’s company, Lee receives some assistance from Bill. Though they experience some challenges, Bill and Lee find success in their babysitting duties.

Small, western town image created by Freepik at <a href=””>Background vector created by freepik –</a>. Image found at

Some thoughts to consider:

  • I’m really glad that Jaeda Lily Miller has joined the When Calls the Heart family! She is one of the most talented young actresses in the Hallmark community and I believe this is the first time that a Hallmark Hall of Fame alumni has ever appeared on the show! Ally seems like an interesting character, so I can’t wait to see her story develop over the course of these next episodes!


  • During this episode, Faith talked about her relationship with her father. Could her father make an appearance this season? When Calls the Heart has, sometimes, incorporated stories of family reconnections into their narratives. So, the possibility of mending this relationship makes sense. I wonder if the medical machine that Carson picked up will have anything to do with Faith’s father?


  • There were a few things that Lucas said in this episode that caught my attention. When talking with Ally, Lucas tells her that he didn’t have friends growing up and that he was a “loner”. When confronted by Nathan at the saloon one evening, Lucas tells him that he’s only cheated once. After thinking about what Lucas said, I wonder if he cheated something and not someone? I speculate that Lucas was either bullied at a young age or has survived a major tragedy. When Calls the Heart hasn’t really explored themes like bullying or large-scale tragedies in their narrative before, so including these potential themes into Lucas’ story would be very interesting. It would explain some of Lucas’ behaviors and choices so far, such as sharing very little information about himself.


  • At the beginning of the episode, a tremor rocks Hope Valley. However, I thought this aspect of the episode was glossed over. This tremor could have been used to teach the children at school about how the earth works or helping one of the characters address fear. But, after looking back on this episode, I wonder why this tremor was included in the episode in the first place?

Red sunset clouds over trees.
Sunset image created by Photoangel at <a href=””>Background image created by Photoangel –</a>.<a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at

What did you think about this episode? Which predictions have you made for the next episodes? Share your thoughts in the comment section!


Have fun in Hope Valley!

Sally Silverscreen

Sally Watches… Murder, She Wrote!

On the Youtube channel, Hallmarkies Podcast, there is a series of videos called “Amber Makes Rachel Watch”. In this series, Amber, one of the hostesses of Hallmarkies Podcast, introduces Rachel, her friend and fellow Hallmarkies Podcast hostess, to television shows that she has never seen before. This inspired me to broaden my television horizons for the Mystery Mania blogathon. You’d think with the amount of content I watch and talk about from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, I would have gotten around to watching Murder, She Wrote. Well, to say it honestly, I’ve never seen any episodes of the show…until now. For this special post, I will review three episodes of the show that I have chosen at random. Because Hallmark Movies & Mysteries regularly airs re-runs of Murder, She Wrote, I was able to easily access these episodes by recording them on my television. Throughout this blogathon entry, I will break down each episode and share what I liked about it, what I didn’t like about it, the mystery within the episode, and the other factors from the episode. I will also be sharing my overall thoughts not just about each episode, but about the show as a whole, based on the three episodes that I’ve seen. Now that this introduction is finished, let’s have Sally watch Murder, She Wrote!

Mystery Mania Blogathon banner
Mystery Mania Blogathon banner created by Robin from Pop Culture Reverie. Image found at

Episode Name: The Legacy of Borbey House

Season 10, Episode 3

Premiere Date: October 3rd, 1993

The title card for “The Legacy of Borbey House”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I liked about this episode:

The acting was definitely one of the stronger components of this episode! Within this cast, there were three actors that gave stand-out performances. The first is David Birney, who portrayed Lawrence Baker. Even though his on-screen appearance was very limited, David did a good job at making his character equally charismatic and suspicious. Roy Dotrice also gave a memorable performance as Dr. Howard Sorenson. All of his reactions appeared believable and Dr. Sorenson’s enthusiasm for the subject of vampires seemed genuine. The last stand-out performance came from Gary Hershberger. His portrayal of Dave Perrin was one of the most well-rounded performances in this entire episode, giving this character the emotional depth that kept me invested in his story.


What I didn’t like about this episode:

When I read the synopsis for this episode, I was excited to see how the subject of vampires would be incorporated within the overall narrative. Before I watched “The Legacy of Borbey House”, I thought this subject would play such a large role in the story, that various characters would have continuous competitions to see who could drop the most vampire related pop cultural references in one sitting. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In the overall context of the episode, the subject of vampires seemed like an afterthought. While it was addressed to a certain extent, it was never explored enough to keep me satisfied. If anything, the most talked about subject in this episode was the various renovations that were taking place in the town of Cabot Cove.


The mystery itself:

Honestly, I was very disappointed in this mystery. The entire first half of the episode was dedicated to exposition and build-up to the mystery. The myself itself, however, didn’t start until the halfway point. Several moments after this happened, Jessica ends up solving the mystery single-handedly based on one photo she was given from her acquaintance. Because of this, it didn’t give the audience a chance to solve the mystery alongside Jessica. This made the mystery not engaging or interactive.


The other factors from this episode:

There were three things within this episode that stood out to me. They are:

  • The opening scene when Dr. Sorenson pops out of the grave was so random, that it was hilarious!
  • Even though the Borbey House wasn’t on-screen for long, its architecture and décor were gorgeous! I have no idea if this is a real-life house or just a television show set.
  • I really liked the brief discussion about how different people view topics relating to belief systems and the supernatural. This added depth not only for the episode’s story, but also for the characters.


My overall thoughts:

At best, “The Legacy of Borbey House” was just ok. But, at worst, I found it to be disappointing. Instead of an engaging mystery featuring the topic of vampires, I ended up getting an episode that treated renovations as if they represented social status. The mystery in “The Legacy of Borbey House” was not very well-written. In fact, this episode didn’t really talk about the “legacy” that was referenced in the title. Yes, there was a myth about vampires being associated with the Borbey family. However, this concept was not explored in this episode. If this episode were given an honest title, it would be called “The Legacy of Cabot Cove’s Renovations”.


Rating: A low 3 out of 5

This book seems a lot more interesting than the episode I ended up watching. I wonder if this book has a chapter about Lestat and Jesse’s relationship? Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Episode Name: Film Flam

Season 11, Episode 16

Premiere Date: February 19th, 1995

The title card for “Film Flam”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I liked about this episode:

I really liked seeing the different steps that are involved in the process of bringing a movie to its premiere stage. As someone who likes movies and appreciates the movie-making process, I thought this portion of the episode was very interesting and educational. Even though I knew that planning and hosting a movie premiere required a lot of time and effort, this episode opened my eyes to some of the aspects that could affect a movie’s release. In “Film Flam”, the creative, business, and legal areas associated with a particular film were represented. This episode also discussed the various people and situations that could also affect a movie premiere as well as the film itself. I thought this topic was not only well explored, but also effortlessly woven into the overall narrative.


What I didn’t like about this episode:

In this mystery, I thought that the guilty culprit was a little bit obvious. As soon as they introduced themselves and revealed some of their back-story, I immediately knew that they must have something to do with the crime. After everything was said and done, I ended up being correct in my guess of “whodunit”.


The mystery itself:

The mystery in “Film Flam” was much better than in “The Legacy of Borbey House”! While the first half of the episode was still dedicated to exposition and build-up to the mystery, it was also paired with the behind-the-scenes aspect of coordinating a movie premiere. These two elements balanced out the story really well. There was also enough room for the audience to solve the mystery alongside Jessica. This allowed for the mystery to be interactive and intriguing. With various suspects and clues, I thought that “Film Flam” was a well-written mystery story!


The other factors from this episode:

Here are some of the things that caught my attention while I watched “Film Flam”:

  • Whoever scouted locations for this show did a really good job at choosing gorgeous houses! Fritz’s house in “Film Flam” was beautiful, both in architecture and design/décor.
  • Whenever Elaine Brown and Darryl Harding appeared on-screen together, I could sense strong on-screen chemistry between Jim Caviezel and Stacy Edwards. Because of this, I was really hoping that Elaine and Darryl would, at least, start a romantic relationship by the end of the episode. While this is only assumed, based on the fact that Darryl and Elaine were holding hands toward the end of “Film Flam”, I’m hoping these two characters appeared in other episodes. That way, there could be a chance for them to receive their “happily-ever-after”.
  • I won’t spoil anything if you haven’t seen this episode. However, all I will say is when the guilty culprit reveals why they committed the crime, I found their explanation to be very creepy.


My overall thoughts:

I really liked this episode! It combined a well-written mystery story with something that I love; movies. Because this episode centered around the process of a movie premiere, I feel like I gained valuable and educational information about what it takes to coordinate an event like this. “Film Flam” was both intriguing and engaging, things that I think a good mystery should be. While the guilty culprit was a little bit obvious, I still enjoyed the experience of trying to solve the mystery alongside Jessica. Even though I’ve only seen two episodes of Murder, She Wrote so far, I would be willing to guess that this story was one of the show’s stronger episodes.


Rating: A 4.7 out of 5

Honestly, seeing Darryl and Elaine’s relationship progress as this episode went on was, for me, a highlight of “Film Flam”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Episode Name: School for Murder

Season 11, Episode 19

Premiere Date: April 30th, 1995

The title card for “School for Murder”. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I liked about this episode:

I liked how some of the students of St. Crispin’s Academy were able to play a role within the overall narrative. When reading the description for “School for Murder”, I wasn’t sure if any of the students were going to be prominently featured in the episode. Even though I’ve now only seen three episodes of the show, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many opportunities for young people to be included in the overall story. So, it was nice to see these students incorporated into this episode.


What I didn’t like about this episode:

I wasn’t a fan of St. Crispin’s Academy’s “secret society”. Because of the inclusion of this story element, it felt like there was too much going on in this episode. It also felt like the screenwriters were trying to accomplish too much in one story. While this “secret society” did play a role within the overall narrative, it just seemed like it didn’t need to be there.


The mystery itself:

The mystery in “School for Murder” was very interesting. There was not only a primary mystery, but there were also two sub-mysteries. All three of these mysteries were connected to each other in some way. I thought this was a very unique approach to the story-telling aspect of this episode, especially compared to the previous two episodes that I’ve seen. There were also a few surprises that I did not see coming. Added with enough room for the audience to solve the mystery alongside Jessica, the mystery story of “School for Murder” stood out from the rest.


The other factors from this episode:

In this episode, there were only two things that stood out to me. These are:

  • I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record, but whoever was the location scout for this show knew what they were doing when it came to choosing the locations for Murder, She Wrote. St. Crispin’s Academy was a really nice-looking facility! Like with the Borbey House in “The Legacy of Borbey House”, I’m not sure if St. Crispin’s Academy is a real place or just a set.
  • I’m not going to spoil anything if you haven’t seen this episode. But I thought the way the guilty party was written was very interesting. Instead of being deceitful or hateful, like the guilty parties in “The Legacy of Borbey House” and “Film Flam”, the guilty party in “School for Murder” was portrayed in a more human and realistic way. To me, this was a unique departure from the aforementioned episodes.


My overall thoughts:

While “School for Murder” was ok, it wasn’t as disappointing as “The Legacy of Borbey House”. There were too many story elements associated with this episode, which caused this story to feel too jam-packed. However, “School for Murder” did have some merits. One of them is the inclusion of young people in the overall narrative. These merits and strengths added something interesting to this episode. It made “School for Murder” somewhat different from “The Legacy of Borbey House” and “Film Flam”. I wonder if the other episodes of Murder, She Wrote took creative approaches to its use of story-telling?


Rating: A 3.2 out of 5

This facility definitely looked the part of an well-respected, private school. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
My final assessment:

So, now is the moment you’ve all been waiting for. What do I think of Murder, She Wrote? Overall, the show is fine. If I had nothing else to do and if my options for what to watch on television were limited, I would definitely watch an episode or two. Something that I noticed when I watched these episodes was that the overall quality of the show was not consistent. Out of the three episodes that I saw, I really liked only one of them. The other two were just ok. But no television show is perfect and some episodes are bound to be better than others. If you’re like me and have never seen Murder, She Wrote before, I would definitely recommend it! Just pick a few episodes and then decide if this show is for you. The great thing about Murder, She Wrote is that it doesn’t really rely on an over-arcing story. This makes it easy to watch any episode without having to watch its predecessors.


Have you ever watched Murder, She Wrote? Would you like me to review other episodes of the show? Please tell me in the comment section!


Have fun in Cabot Cove!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Christmas on Holly Lane Review

When I started writing Word on the Street posts back in February, one of the first topics that I talked about was a film called “The House of Holly Lane”. At the time, I speculated that the movie could be a Hallmark production, pointing out clues such as each cast member’s involvement with Hallmark movies and the title itself. As more information for the film was revealed, the title not only changed to Christmas on Holly Lane, but it ended up being an UP Network production. This is not the only time where I thought that an upcoming movie would be a potential Hallmark project. In May, I speculated that “Poinsettias for Christmas” could be a Hallmark movie because there has, so far, not been a Hallmark story centered around the subject of poinsettias. However, Poinsettias for Christmas became a Lifetime movie. Because I have talked about Christmas on Holly Lane on 18 Cinema Lane and because both posts about the movie gathered a combined total of 107 views and 7 likes, I felt that I owed a review of this movie to all my readers and followers. Was this movie as good as the typical Hallmark Christmas film? Take a sleigh ride through this review if you want to find out!

I just realized that this is the first UP Network movie I’ve reviewed on my blog. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: For the most part, the cast of Christmas on Holly Lane was good! Because I’ve seen most of these cast members appear in several Hallmark movies before, I knew they had what it takes, talent-wise, to pull off a good acting performance. Even though Giles Panton has starred in nine Hallmark movies, I have never seen him in a lead role. After watching Giles’ performance in Christmas on Holly Lane, I, as an audience member, saw that he definitely has the talent to, one day, lead a Hallmark production. Any time I’ve seen Karen Holness in a Hallmark film, I notice that she always brings her A game to her specific role. Karen’s portrayal of Riley in Christmas on Holly Lane was a highlight in the film, as it appeared natural and believable. Like I said about Giles Panton, Karen Holness absolutely has the talent to, one day, lead a Hallmark film.


  • More than one protagonist: In Christmas on Holly Lane, there were three protagonists instead of just one. This story-telling format is not usually seen in Christmas movies. The only other Christmas movie I’ve seen with a similar format was the Hallmark movie, Charming Christmas. For Christmas on Holly Lane, I thought this format worked because each character was given their moment to shine. They also were given their own unique personalities and specific situations for them to resolve. It made it seem like each of these protagonists had an equal amount of importance.


  • The on-screen chemistry: As I mentioned before, Karen Holness’ performance was really good! Another actor that I was impressed with in this movie was Jaime M. Callica! Both Karen and Jaime gave good acting performances individually and as a pair, with their on-screen chemistry being a highlight. I liked seeing Riley and Jake’s relationship develop over the course of the movie because it appeared very believable. The quality of the acting performance helped me, as an audience member, stay invested in the on-screen relationship.

Christmas house created by Freepik at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • A slow pace: The pace for Christmas on Holly Lane was slow. It was so slow that after watching 30 minutes of the film, I wondered if anything significant would happen. While the story picked up a little bit after the initial thirty minutes, the pace continued at a slow rate.


  • Too many plots: While watching Christmas on Holly Lane, I counted a total of twelve plots (yes, you read that right) within the film. When these plots unfolded on-screen, I found myself not caring about, at least, half of them. A few of these plots had the potential to be interesting, like Cat creating her own restaurant. But, because there were eleven other plots competing for attention, Cat’s specific plot couldn’t be explored as thoroughly as it could have.


  • Lack of Christmas spirit: The biggest issue I had with Christmas on Holly Lane was how little emphasis was put on the Christmas holiday. To me, it seemed like Christmas was incorporated in this film just to provide the movie’s aesthetic. Christmas themed morals and lessons (such as the power of giving, for example) were pretty much nonexistent. With a town called Holly Lane, I was hoping that a Christmas obsessed town would be featured on-screen. Sadly, the only two things that were prominently featured in the town of Holly Lane was Sarah’s house and Cat’s restaurant. If this exact same story were placed in any other time of year, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

Poinsettia plant leaves. Christmas displays
Poinsettia photo created by Jannoon028 at <a href=’’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=””>Flower image created by Jannoon028 –</a>. Image found at

My overall impression:

In recent years, UP Network has put an emphasis on creating “uplifting” movies and shows to give their audience. But after watching Christmas on Holly Lane, I did not feel uplifted at all. Honestly, this movie made me feel bummed out. When I think of a typical Christmas movie, I think of movies that have a sense of goodness to them, whether because of the film’s messages or the heart-warming nature of the characters. With Christmas on Holly Lane, however, it puts too much focus on the “doom and gloom” of the protagonists’ realities without providing enough positive counterparts to balance out the negativity within the story. It also doesn’t help that the Christmas holiday is given such little emphasis in this film. Out of all the Christmas movies I’ve seen this year, so far, Christmas on Holly Lane is the worst one. This is a shame because, in the past, UP Network has created some really good films. In fact, my favorite Christmas movie last year was Christmas Princess. Hopefully, UP Network can have better luck with their movie making endeavors in 2019.


Overall score: 5.1 out of 10


Have you seen any of UP Network’s Christmas films? What is your least favorite Christmas movie this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!


Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen