If you’re a history buff or looking for a show about following your passion, despite the perils that you may encounter on the way, then Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart” is the next show you need to binge watch.
The Canadian Western drama is based on the book series by Janette Oke, and began airing in 2014 on the Hallmark Channel. It talks about the harrowing experiences of Elizabeth Thatcher, played by Erin Krakow, as she leaves her high class city lifestyle to accept a teaching position in the western coal mining town, appropriately named Coal Valley. As Elizabeth adjusts to the different — and in Coal Valley’s case, tragic — aspects of life on the frontier, she learns just as much as she teaches. The small town was rocked by tragedy just weeks before Elizabeth’s arrival — a collapse in the coal mine took away many husbands and sons from the families in town. She meets the widowed Abigail Stanton, played by the captivating Lori Loughlin, who helps Elizabeth get her feet firmly on the ground. Elizabeth also unexpectedly meets the man that ultimately captures her heart in this small worn downtown, Mountie Jack Thornton, played by Daniel Lissing.
Through her adventures and lessons to the children of Coal Valley, Elizabeth shows viewers how important the simple things in life are. Education, art, family and love should always be cherished closely. The show always highlights how difficult life in the Wild West was, and how far we’ve come since then.
But most of all, this show that begins in tragedy slowly grows into a symbol of hope. In fact, in Season 2 of the show “Coal Valley” is changed to “Hope Valley”. A reminder that even in the direst of circumstances, things always get better.
Previous Season Recap (Spoilers Ahead!)
In season four of “When Calls the Heart”, the town welcomes a new group of settlers and they adjust to the lifestyle in Hope Valley after losing their settlements in the flood from season three. Unlike previous seasons, this season focuses on personal issues for each of the characters. Jack suffers from the loss of a dear friend and questions whether he is doing enough to contribute to the Mounties. Elizabeth deals with a blemish on her teaching career that could cost her her job as the teacher in Hope Valley. Abigail deals with issues of her own with Cody and her cafe as Mayor Gowen, a pesky nuisance from season one, once again begins to rock the lives of those in Hope Valley. Jack and Elizabeth’s relationship has seen its fair share of obstacles over the past seasons, but in the fourth, they are forced to acknowledge what they’ve known all along — each of them is valiantly passionate about their career, and that means they’ll have to sacrifice in some other aspects of their lives.
In the fifth season of the show, there are sure to be new challenges and perhaps the culmination of Jack and Elizabeth’s relationship. The season is expected to premiere on Hallmark in February of 2018, but they did release a two-hour Christmas special just a few weeks ago. You can watch that special on Hallmark’s website with your cable providers login information.
To Binge or Not to Binge?
The show has all the trademark Hallmark qualities that the network is known for, but the show itself is so much more than that. When I started watching it, I was on a history kick from finishing “The Crown” and “Anne with an ‘E’.” I didn’t expect to get so involved with this random show I found on Netflix. There’s a lot more to the story than the relationship between Elizabeth and Jack, and the heart of the show stems from the town and its livelihood. The actors are superb and although there are several storylines going on in a given episode, it never becomes confusing. In fact, the addition of the characters over the seasons makes the show more addictive.
The show taught me a lot about what life was like in the 1900’s, and since the show is based on the book series it was interesting to see how they adapted it. Another big reason I decided to watch this show was Lori Loughlin, as I’m a fan of hers. Season four of the show was perhaps the most intriguing. With Jack following his passion, viewers not only question how Elizabeth will deal, but Hope Valley as well. Each character of this show is vital and helps continue the storyline.
In short, I would say this short is binge-worthy. It’s a good show because it makes you think about the important things in life. It also makes you more conscious of the amenities that we have in our daily lives. There’s a little something for everyone in “When Calls the Heart,” and perhaps that’s what makes it the most special. It’s also very different from the shows commonly watched today. There’s a sense of comfort provided to viewers as they watch those from Hope Valley continue on through their adversities.
Best Episode: “When Calls the Heart Christmas” (Season 4, Episode 1)
Similar Shows: “The Crown,” “Anne with an ‘E’,” “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Good Place,” “This is Us,” and “New Girl.”
Trigger Warnings: This show is pretty PG, with mild displays of violence.
Rating: 5/5 stars
“When Calls The Heart”
Available to stream on: Netflix
40 episodes, Approximately 39 hours