CHARLOTTE, NC: The recent scandal involving actress Lori Loughlin could not have come at a worse time for Hallmark. Hallmark Channel is the ultimate “Chic Flick” television network. And now the network has been blind-sided into a real-life soap opera it could never have anticipated.
Midway through the sixth season of one of their most popular shows, When Calls the Heart, Loughlin was arrested. On March 12 as part of Operation Varsity Blues, the actress was picked up. Two days later, Loughlin was fired from the show, but the question then became what to do with programs that were already “in the can” and ready for broadcast.
The new season began on February 24.
A Brief Hallmark Hiatus
In a hasty move to preserve and protect its property, Hallmark execs halted the telecasts. Hallmark announcing the show was on hiatus to do some “retooling” until further notice.
The announcement came last week that the fixes were complete and the March 17 episode will now air on May 5. As a bonus, there will be another new chapter broadcast on May 6.
Loughlin, who has been a leading character during the first five seasons, has been edited out and some re-shooting and re-scripting has been done.
A Moral Character
Ironically, Loughlin’s role was one in which her character served as the bedrock of the Hope Valley community in the fictional plot. Everyone in the tiny village in the frontier environment of the Pacific Northwest looked to her for moral guidance and advice. This will be a tough image for Hallmark to overcome when binge-watchers try to ignore the reality vs. fiction of Seasons 1–5.
Despite their predictability, Hallmark Channel movies are wildly popular with women. Movies are formulaic and G-rated with no sex, violence or profanity and the ever-present happy ending.
It’s mindless distraction at its finest.
Like Father Like Son
When Calls the Heart, fits the traditional Hallmark pattern falling somewhere between The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie with a more contemporary style both in style and story-telling. Directed by Michael Landon, Jr. the focus of the program should come as no surprise. Like dad Michael Landon’s Little House series, When Calls the Heart has plenty of wholesome content. Despite its somewhat sappy approach, the show is, for whatever reason, captivating to the extent of being addictive.
With the first five seasons now showing on Netflix, viewers can quickly binge their way through the first 70 to 75 episodes. Easy to consume in short 42 minute spurts. Erin Krakow, the series’ lead character, says the program would be renewed for a 7th season.
When Calls the Heart
Krakow plays the role of Elizabeth Thatcher who arrives in Coal Valley as the new school teacher. Thatcher, who comes from a wealthy Hamilton City family, spends much of the first season adapting to life in the wilderness. And developing feelings for the local constable, a Royal Canadian Mountie named Jack.
Multiple characters, relationships, and events ensue to keep the show moving at a crisp pace even though the dialogue and action can be slow at times. Fortunately, the personalities of individual characters become quickly appealing. Landon does a superb job of keeping them interesting rather than falling into the deadly trap of tedium.
As for Loughlin, her real-life drama has “legs.” Which may magnify her problems due to even greater media scrutiny.
University Blue Scandal
According to the L.A. Times, Loughlin and her husband began scheming with college admissions counselor Rick Singer at Southern California University. The parents offered bribes in April 2016 for daughter Isabella and then for Olivia in 2017. Allegedly, USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel was also charged in the scheme for designating Isabella as an athletic recruit on the crew team though she had no previous background in the sport.
Following the success of their older daughter’s admission, the couple repeated the scam in 2017 with younger daughter, Olivia Jade, appearing as a crew coxswain.
Apparently, the scandal runs much deeper, but Loughlin is the best-known figure in the story.
As increasing numbers of parents plead guilty in hopes of reduced punishment. However, it is beginning to look as though any bargaining window for the actress may be diminishing.
Meanwhile, as When Calls the Heart resumes and heads into its 7th season, Lori Loughlin and her husband may become the new hosts of Deal or No Deal.
Only time will tell whether Hallmark suffers its first unhappy ending.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
Image: Publicity Still – Hallmark, When Comes the Heart