After the marriage of Lllllllee and Rosemary, stuff just sorta keeps happening in Walnut Grove Hope Valley. Rosemary has a daily ‘funny’ escapade and continues to parody herself until she becomes a perfect character like the others. The town counselor, Abigail, tries to take over the mayor’s office from the breathy Gowen while she’s still trying to run her café. That odd fake-looking guy named Bill is still hanging around being mysterious and doing sheriff stuff. Elizabeth and Jack are still performing their endless and painful will-they-won’t-they dating dance until the writers finally get tired of it and decide to send Jack to the north to fight the good fight. A railroad subplot is introduced (I wonder where that idea came from) to try to keep this television series on life support. But who cares what happens anyway—ratings are up and a fifth season is on its way already, so who are we to talk?
Production Quality (2 points)
Much like Season 3, the production of When Calls the Heart has remained relatively stable since the early, low-budget days passed. Video quality and camera work are professional as always. Audio quality is standard, but that same old stupid soundtrack gets really old, especially when you hear it on other Hallmark movies. Sets and locations are extremely limited as the series further settles into its small town feel. There’s no branching out here, that’s for sure. Editing also standard and very phoned in as each episode follows and mindlessly predictable progression. They stretch out, one after the next, like indistinguishable zombies in Michael Landon Jr.’s makeup jobs. What more can we say? The money is clearly spent pretty wisely, but for what?
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
In a change from Season 3, this season’s storylines bring some minor complexity to the screen, especially where the railroad is involved. However, the writers overplayed their hand with the railroad characters and made them too evil in some kind of weird attempt to make the breathy Gowen a nice guy. Regardless, the railroad intrigue is resolved far too easily and dispensed with as quickly as it was introduced. Besides this, Season 4 is full trite subplots and asides: Elizabeth helps a troubled child with something, Rosemary always has a new scheme, the fake-looking Bill is mysterious, Abigail is the town hero, Lllllllee does business stuff, Pastor Hogan does protective stuff, Cody is a middle school boy, Jesse is still hanging around for some reason, and Jack has to ‘fight the good fight’, as we are reminded in nearly every episode. Too many characters are fixed and too many conflicts are easily resolved. Random ‘mysterious’ characters are introduced to only be discarded or used as more fodder for manufactured drama. Overall, with tons of inconsistently used characters and a host of overused ones, Season 4 of this series overall lacks direction and focus, but what else is new? The writers are clearly either trolling or phoning it in because they don’t have to try. Why try something risky when safe pays so well?
Acting Quality (1 point)
New season, same old cast full of fake-looking plastic people and Hallmark retreads. No emotions are believable and everything seems manufactured and childish. There’s nothing new to talk about here except for the fate of Daniel Lissing. Is this an elaborate scheme to generate attention or just the loss of a main actor? Only time will tell.
Continuity Quality (0 points)
As noted in last season, Season 4 has no plot or character arcs that should be commonplace in recurring series’. Most characters are static or become more perfect. There are no plot twists or character complexities. Though the railroad storyline had potential to be complex, it simply did not reach its full potential.
When Calls the Heart has long been a series that has lost its way. Living off of the old days at the beginning of the series and constantly reminding us through flashbacks what these cast members used to look like before they became #Hallmarked, Landon Jr. and company are just phoning in episode after episode as their sappy series gets mindlessly renewed time and time again. But what does it matter as long as they have a faithful following who are intent to grab on to anything of remote substance produced by the pharmaceutical-backed mother channel that still tries to pretend like it’s about greeting cards. It still remains true that When Calls the Heart fills a huge void of wholesome entertainment that no one else seems to be able to fill with anything more substantial than this. So here we sit, in mediocrity and safeness.
Final Rating: 3.5 out of 14 points