When Hope Calls, Season 1 (Series Review)

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It’s like When Calls the Heart on an obscure streaming service!

Plot Summary

When Lillian and Grace, two orphan siblings, agreed to travel to a new town to run an orphanage, they had no idea what would be in store for them. Of course, they probably could have made an educated guess since they went from Hope Valley to a basic copy of this fantastical borough. This new town has equally important aspects as Hope Valley, such as the obligatory town doctor, the expected general store, and of course, a predictably hair-gelled Mountie just waiting to get hitched. What else could fans of When Calls the Heart want besides another series on the cable channel rather than on a streaming service nobody uses?

Production Quality (1.5 points)
The budget for When Hope Calls (WHC) is clearly lower than When Calls the Heart (WCTH), and this is most strikingly obvious in the poorly constructed town set that looks like a bunch of clapboard buildings plopped in the middle of a mowed-over field. The structures’ false fronts are also too much. This aside, must like WCTH, WHC is limited to just a few select sets, props, and locations, and there are some cheap special effects on top of this. Nonetheless, the production is aided by typically fine video quality, audio quality, and camera work, even if the soundtrack is pedestrian and boring. The editing tends to lag at times, such as leaving scenes running too long, but this production is overall just average.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)
Much like its parent show, not very significant happens throughout the course of the WHC “plot.” The only remotely interesting elements are used up by the third episode as the series devolves into typical small-town romance nonsense. If it’s possible, the characters are much more blank and cardboard in WHC than in WCTH even if they are less sappy in the former. This is created by a lot of stiff and awkward attempts at conversations as some characters seem to be mysteriously concealing things that are never revealed while others seem to wonder why they are even there. The dialogue is very stock and phoned-in, which creates wooden characters, and the so-called comedic elements are beyond cheesy. Any struggles the characters experience can’t be adequately related to because they seem so plastic and forced. Elsewhere, the town setup is shockingly unrealistic on a historical level, and the Christian themes are very shoehorned in. In the end, with no driving purpose or actual point, the first season’s story is basically just a lot of trumped-up drama with nothing substantial to back it up.

Acting Quality (1 point)
In keeping with Michael Landon Jr.’s common practices, the cast of WHC appears to be as fake as WCTH’s (except not as over the top). This includes how they interact with each other as well as what they look like. On appearances, none of them look historically accurate except for some slight attempts at realistic costuming. When it comes to acting, line delivery seems laborious for some cast members while others seem bored with their roles. Emotions overall seemed forced and unnatural. Some cast members show potential in different roles but don’t live up to their full potential. In the end, this section’s rating is basically expected.

Continuity Quality (.5 point)
As previously mentioned, the best potential for engaging continuity is quickly discarded in the beginning and replaced with drab procedural recurrences. In the middle and at the end of the season, many of the episodes run together and feel like the same thing is happening over and over again. Then, this is culminated with an awkwardly forced climax and alleged cliff-hanger ending in the final episode. Basically, this season doesn’t have much going for it.


What else is there to say? Shows like When Hope Calls have a specific purpose in mind and do whatever it takes to fulfill that purpose. The storylines are predetermined, the production is as cheap as possible, and the cast is as pageantry as expected. All of these criteria are tailor-made for a reason, so we have to commend MLJ and company for at least being consistent in their poor novel adaptations. Why not try to capitalize on the success of a series like When Calls the Heart? However, what is it ultimately accomplishing besides creating more sub-par Christian entertainment?

Final Rating: 3 out of 14 points


2 thoughts on “When Hope Calls, Season 1 (Series Review)

  1. I am assuming I am to “Rate the Reviewer???” The Reviewer has no name? The reviewer appears to NOT watched the Show, or at least a “BIAS” against this type of Show. So, I will try to “Review both this poor Review by Who? and the show. Clear “BIAS” due to appears to compare the show with more with something “Western???” with effects, and a higher “Production” cost? The Biased Review is not on the show / series but is compared to what the Reviewer thinks is supposed to have. I do not know about the final 3/15 score, due to there are 4 “Scoring” sections, so should have a Total of either 12 or 16? Sadly today the “Professional?” Reviewer has some “Award Show” glasses on, like Oscar’s with little golden idols? Reviewer really should focus on only the show. I will use the “4” for each “Scoring” section. The Professional Reviewers are almost Always Biased, and most “Real People / Audience” don’t follow most of them due to the “Bias”. Most of us know they are “Paid” for Reviews, and do I need to say more?

    PLOT Summery: Several episodes it covers that “Lillian” one of the 2 Sisters grew up in the house that the Orphanage is in. So they did not just stumbled into the Town. That Lillian (Older Sister) found Grace and brought her back to the House and then the Orphanage was started? When it became an Orphanage is not clear. One sister was Adopted by Parents from this Town, and the other was never adopted. So, they are perfect for caring for Orphans compared to how most Orphanages were run back then. Next the review states “Obligatory Doctor, etc” Most of the “Obligatory” is actually what is in a Town, even back then. But the Obligatory “Doctor” has a very Short part in S1E1, and what is amazing is a Nurse/RN arrives and becomes in a Way the “Obligatory” Doctor (The NEW Doctor never shows up). Maggie the RN is from England (Not sure when this show is happening “Year?”, but England Florence Nightingale (Whose Books from the 1800’s are still used in todays RN/BSN College/Universities around the World). Basically a RN from England/Europe might be even more skilled then a Canada “I am Just a Country Doctor Jim” (OH, I worked as a USN/USMC Corpsman 13yrs, and as a BSN RN for over 30 years and part of my BSN training covered the History or RN & MD in the USA & Europe). Canada is closer to a European vs a USA Country. Today, to work as a RN in Many European Countries depending on the Specialty (Peds, Surgery, Pcych) some have to have a Masters. The RN Maggie in this show is clearly an Alternative Medicine with Western Medicine Trained since she has also been a Travel RN in appears in the Orient. So she is clearly NOT an “Obligatory Doctor”; something better in a way, showing the RN’s / Nurses can be an Interesting Occupation. The “Obligatory” store? What does this reviewer think is supposed to be in a Town? The first episode that Obligatory Store & Infirmary burn down via a Crime. Now this is in Canada (Mounties) where people are “Too Nice”? But Back then a Good Town (Even in Canada) worked together to help to rebuild stores, homes, etc. The Hair Gelled want to get married Mountie? Hallmark “Shows” push “Romance” … in small towns in the 1910’s (Like WTHC, Christy /USA, Five Mile Creek Australia, all have that Main Character Female surrounded by several males looking for the Wife), 1900’s did have Hair “Gels/Oils/etc”. We do know that “Lillian & Gabriel” are Returning at least for S2E1&2 … I did not get to watch all of WTHC but heard the main Female Character married the Mountie? Reviewers problem with WHC on a unknown “Streaming” I have to agree. I found the show on Roku, (Stating leaving soon, and I use ROKU a lot, and never saw it until it was on the “Leaving Soon”) Even ROKU “Known Streaming” channel did not Advertise it well, and it is probably leaving soon due to a Second Season is coming, … so how Later this Reviewer spoke about how this “First Season” would not have a Second. Hmmm? Unknown “Streaming” Channel? Since the primary Generation is more “Streaming” I have to agree that most of the Audience for this type of Show are Older, and many Are not “Streaming literate” then it is Hallmark’s Fault!!! On not “Advertising” it enough where to watch. I am in my 60’s but worked with Computers since the 70s (Military) I somehow find the Shows. Most of the “Air / Antennae Channels, have gone Cable, and later “Streaming”. Most of the Older Generations are learning to keep up.

    PRODUCTION QUALITY (3 of 4 pts): I agree with the Reviewer that the Audio, Visual, Camera were good. The Reviewers problem with “Clapboard” front buildings Really? States that WTHC had real buildings? No, they had “Front Buildings” and did indoor scenes elsewhere on WTHC. Reviewer should “Google” more, or at least look at Wikipedia? Most TV / Movies unless they have $$$ like LOTR (Lord of the Rings) etc, have “Front” Buildings. But the Camera Work made them look just fine. Real Building slowly happen as the “Seasons” #’s of the show grow. Upset with “Mowed” for the town? If it was not mowed, then people can get injured trying to Walk. Then “Pedestrian” (Which means either “Walking” or “Not exciting”). Soundtrack? I have covered the “Walking”; Yes Today most “Actors” overdo the “Acting r/t their lines”; but in this Show, has the Actors acting like real People. Want or need the over the top acting go to a Broadway, Or Shakespearean, or most of todays shows/movies. Acting NORMAL is what people who watch this type of shows. I have watched “Actors” portraying real people, in real occupations, in other words Portraying the rest of us doing our Jobs and getting over the top pay getting to pretend, or play sports. I have worked in the Military (USN/USMC), Healthcare, Law Enforcement, Food Establishments (Fast to Sit down), and Very few Actors come close to “Real People” doing “Real Jobs”. I prefer the Actors being “Real” in a Show. (Unless the Show is NOT real situations/topics/etc). Now, if “Soundtrack” means the “Music”, yep, agree here in real life there is no music unless someone has some playing but then the music would have NO Correlation with what is happing in the “Real Life” Scene. Then most TV / Movies have learned (Via Psych studies) Music and Sound Effects are needed to intensify the scenes, and sometimes what is being spoken. But then often the Music drowns out the Lines being spoken. I didn’t really see or should I say heard that problem much. The Idea of not “Historically Realistic except the Costumes”? We only know what is realistic for the 1900s is due to Photography and Black & White. Couple of the Episodes show a Box type of Camera getting “History”. Most Photos back then are NOT Historically accurate. Due to Photos were Expensive, and time Consuming, so most photos are people cleaned up for the pics. Reviewer needs to go to some “Small Towns” especially those near Farms/Ranches, and the Clothes / Costumes have not changed much over the years. So unsure what the “Realistic to the TIME”? meant? Except yep the towns back then did not have Tarmac Roads. So, Town Fold would not be as “Clean” back then. But even Clint Eastwood, The Duke, etc westerns often had “Too Clean” Clothes. Of Course most of those westerns were 50-100+ years earlier; and Unrealistic way too many Shoot outs, and other Dangers than WHC, WTHC. So does this Reviewer get upset at their Family Reunions, Regular Time with Family Friends r/t not Exciting enough? That some moments are just “Lagging too Long”. Sorry, but real life (Like the Action in these type of Shows) just are boring. Maybe why they are liked. Today’s shows most of us are just waiting for that Fight, Violence, Sex, etc Scenes to happen. Yes, Hallmark type of movies just have too much “Romance” to be realistic; and even not Biblical. Oh on the Maybe the “Clean” level that the reviewer might be talking about r/t “Historically” … needs to spend some time with USN SeaBee’s (Construction) who are wearing “Summer White Work Uniforms” due to some “Tour” of important People are coming thru. Be amazed how SeaBees can stay clean out in the middle of no where doing construction. If it is “Makeup” that is not Historically correct, then talk to the Actors since they want their face “Picture Perfect”. Remember most people watching a TV/Movie don’t want the dirty faces to last too long, r/t our “MONK” (TV show OCD Detective) comes out. Most Audiences do NOT want to see Dirty Faced Actors too long.

    PLOT & STORYLING QUALITY (3.5 / 4 pts). Reviewer basically sees this type of Show as Boring. Does not Understand that those who watch these shows (Especially from time past) due to we wished we lived back then. (Yep, we would be dead now, but it was a Time when Life usually was slow and livable, Especially if we had a RN/Nurse like Maggie). Back Then “Excitement” was Breaking bread (having a Coffee/Tea, or a Meal/Picnic) and just catching up. Back then they had no TV / Movies (Maybe an Annual Acting Group/etc come thru town) or a Childrens Musical play that the Kids made. Sadly, this show had NOT enough of those sit down Coffee/Tea or Meals that did NOT last long enough; and too much “Big Loving Eye” (Romance) looks is why I subtracted the 1/2 point. Just about the right amount of “Shy Embarrassment”. Back then it was embarrassing to have others “KNOW” Romance was in the Air. Again they didn’t have TV / Movies pushing “Sex” upon them. Love was “True” often, and they did have Many Couples (That lived long enough) to have Marriage Anniversaries in the 20+yrs, the 50yrs ones were rare due to most couples did not “Together” live that long. The Problem is with the Reviewer does NOT think how this Show is Not Historically correct due to unsure where the Reviewer gets their “Historical” Information? When I was 18 in the Military my Great Grandmother died at 104. She was alive in the late 1800s to 3/4 of the 1900s. She often would get upset because she couldn’t find the Stove Firewood, or where to put the firewood in the Stove. She lived as an adult during the time this type of Show is covering. So I do Know from someone who lived then how life was “Historically”. She rode those Horse Driven Wagons, Horses, Mules, and even Model T’s. Towns usually were far apart per “Non CAR” distances. So “Historically” most towns had those “Obligated” stuff. I wonder if the Reviewer lives near or in a Town w/o the “Obligated” stuff? Actually, most towns back then “Shared” a Doctor like in the “Christy” Series. Reviewer states that “Christian Themes” are Shoehorned. Has the Reviewer ever use a Shoe Horn, or just knows the Saying? The ONLY Christian (Biblical) Theme I saw was in S1E1 the “Prayer” by the Children. The “Traditional non-scriptural Christian Themes” are Historically what “Hallmark” and other “Christian” themed tv/movies do and the “Push of Sugar Laced Romances”. This show does do this, but happily below the average amount of Hallmark / etc shows. Maybe due to the “Orphanage / Kids” are supposed to be the Focus of the Show?

    ACTING QUALITY (3 of 4pts): I do agree with the Reviewer on the “Laborious” Acting which is probably r/t what I covered earlier. Actors find acting “Normal” is Difficult. I do agree that “Costumes” do help to act BUT these shows are about small towns in early 1900s. I would been upset if someone wore a Sweatshirt, or a decorated T-Shirt; but back then most of a Persons Clothing would have been hand made, and not like a machine made, but Machine made was not knew. Levi Jeans were invented about 1870s. So, cant be about that. Since the Reviewer only complains about the Costumes NOT being “Historically” correct, but no detail I am unsure what the Reviewer means. My Great Grandmother, and Grandmother were both Seamstresses. Grandfather was a young child in the early 1920s. I have worn some of the Clothes my Grandfather wore as a Child. Really if someone is going to “Complain” about “History” they need to be more concise. I really don’t focus on Costumes unless it a War Movie, or well over couple hundred years ago. Most of the Women wore Dresses so History correct, and if they were going to “Ride a Horse” they wore pants. Only the “Rich” rode “Side Saddle” and in a Dress. Very Difficult to ride a Horse normally, if one is in a Dress. I have been in and to Rodeos, and women wear Jeans/Chap’s, even in the Audience. We Country / Rodeo people laugh & feel sorry for anyone at (Audience) a Rodeo in a Dress. Reviewer felt that “Emotions” were Forced unrealistic. Again, due to Actors probably trying to hold back, to be Historically Accurate. People in the 1910s were not California Teen Girls screaming in Glee after not seeing each other for a few hours. Emotions were rarely shown. I am glad there where no one trying to do today’s out of the “Face” (Batters) Box kisses to each other. Maybe that is what the Reviewer wanted???

    CONTINUALITY QUALITY (3.5 of 4pts) Reviewer is upset with recurring Drab stuff. During the 1910s life was mostly drab, except book Clubs, and pre 4H type (Showing off livestock, Veggies that don’t talk, Flower, Sewing Parties and special occasions like Anniversaries, B-days because the last two was a celebration of living another year) get togethers, and an occasional (Bank Robberies, etc) but not as often as this one season showed. People back then especially “Bankers” did not do “Crime” because they knew a Crime does not hurt just one person, but the Community. Unless the criminal has no empathy, or very new in town and came to town to do a crime. This is why “Sam” was not trusted at first he was new in town, and why the LEO / Mountie was warry about Sam. This was very Historically correct for LEO’s in all of History. Back then most of Town Folk were open arm welcoming / Trusting to any “Population Increase” … remember the Town almost became “Ghost”, but the town changed from a “Mining” Town to a “Ranch/Farm” Town to Survive. Means Miners leave, and Agricultural Types arrive. Miners are usually “Drinkers” Night life, Agricultural are Drab, morning people. MOST Shows last episodes always end with a “Cliff Hanger” to hopefully get a next season. The Clift Hanger is a Mild one. I am hopefully looking to “Fred” getting Adopted by the Stewarts. Mrs Stewart in the Last Episode is Turning to a Good Character, she had a “Leverage” (On IMDb) moment when we learn she worked with Gabriel (Mountie) of course the “Leverage” Team fear Mounties. The show would be better if it focused on the Kids more. Since the “Orphanage” is the main plot in a way. If they focused more on the workings of an Orphanage (Foster Home, since one child did get to go back to real family) maybe more people might look into it for their life to help, like the Hypochondriac went back home to volunteer with the Orphanage there. That woman’s job was running the “Elevator”, before Buttons. Her Character was Historically correct, because most people did NOT learn the Elevator Operator’s Name. If the RN in this show was only “Western” Medicine thought, … but she knew the “Alternate” Med view no Drugs needed (even used a Candy for Sea Sickness) the Hypochondriac learned she just needed people (or Children) in her life, and go for a hike in nature.

    CONCLUSION; This reviewer is clearly out their depth for this type of Show. Because this show in the Reviewers Eyes/Review has no Depth. This show is the “Drab / Shallow” end; but this does not mean it is useless to it’s Audience. Sadly, the Reviewer does NOT Understand this shows Audience. People who wished they lived back then, and want life to be more like it. Reviewer is upset about Pre Determined Plots? ALL TV Shows / Movies do this, and WWE, Reality Shows probably even do this right? Reviewer upset about WHC is capitalizing on WTHC? Really? We have Cop shows due to 50s-70s Jack Webb’s Dragnet. No Dragnet, then no NCIS, CSI type of shows maybe? When TV came out, the focus was on News, and Education not much on Entertainment. I do very much agree on the “Sub Par Christian Entertainment” but this show really did not have any “Christian” focus other than the One “Prayer” in S1E1. Mostly this show had “Care” about each other. Even Atheist’s have Organizations that help each other. Wish this reviewer had taken “NOTES” while watching this show; then could have covered what was meant? Notice there were NO Church, NO Pastor, NO Priest, Not even a Bible or a Scripture? So, Reviewer please how was this Christian Themed? Only can point to “Hallmark” but then Hallmark actually does mostly “Traditional NOT Biblical” shows. They do so many “Xmas” shows with just the “Pagan” traditions, rarely anything Biblical.

    FINAL RATING; 13 of 16 pts. (No Score r/t the “Christian Theme” due to again only a Prayer in one Episode). Reviewers Bias against Christian Theme is more against because it is from Hallmark. Does the Reviewer freak out while in the Candy section in the Grocery store with the “Hallmark” cards on the other side of the Isle? And probably over 90% of the Hallmark Cards have NO Scripture or Christian Theme. The Reviewer might be fine with most TV / Movies, but due to the “Bias” against Hallmark thinking it is a Biblical Christian company, it is NOT it is a Traditional NO Bible Christian Company. If ones focus is wanting to watch a TV Series that is almost Historically Correct for 1910s with very little of any Religious Theme of any type and is “Watching to pretend you are back in this time” this is for you. If you are like the Professional Reviewer and need Explosion’s (only one happens), Fire Fights as in Gun Fights, (Not Fire Fights as in fighting a fire), no one becoming shy with anything romance/sex, maybe need aliens (Space type) then this show is NOT for you.


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