Big news coming out of Hallmark Channel today... which marks the first time that I've ever said that. The specialty network announced plans to expand and beef up its slate of original programming by renewing 'Home & Family' for a second season, ordering the TV movie 'When Calls the Heart' for ten episodes, and announcing the production of two new pilots in development.
'Home & Family' has had a successful first season on Hallmark Channel despite already losing one of their regular hosts back in November. The series is a daytime lifestyle program which covers everything from child-rearing to throwing a party to properly tending your garden. 'Home & Family' is precisely what one would expect to see when tuning in to the Hallmark Channel: an unscripted talk series aimed at those wishing to beautify their quotidian lives with a little Hallmark flair. Yet now with 'When Calls the Heart,' Hallmark is making the bold foray into scripted drama once again.
Based on the series of Canadian novels by Janette Oke, 'When Calls the Heart' is about a wealthy woman in the 1800s who gives up her comfortable class station in order to head West and be a school teacher. Elizabeth Thatcher (played by Poppy Drayton) trades high society life for a classroom post in the prairie, determined to prove she is brave enough to live on her own. She learns through her aunt’s secret diary that she had been a pioneer woman herself, and uses it as a guide to embark on her own adventures. While the novels take place in the Canadian prairies, it is likely that Hallmark will adapt the story to the American West for the television series.
And that's not all! Two new pilot projects were announced by Hallmark, beginning with the awkwardly titled 'Mary Higgins Clark's My Gal Sunday.'
Based on the collection of short stories "My Gal Sunday" by Mary Higgins Clark (see what they did there?), 'Mary Higgins Clark's My Gal Sunday' follows the husband and wife
crime solving duo of Sunday and Henry Parker. Parker, an ex Vice President of the United States and Sunday, a legal aid lawyer are celebrating their first wedding anniversary when Parker assists Sunday in snaring a murderer and he takes a bullet in the arm in the process. As they later head off on a romantic weekend getaway, they are kidnapped and taken to a remote, abandoned farmhouse where the kidnapper demands the release of a dangerous, notorious former hit man. Both Parker and Sunday assume the ex Vice President must be the target but as time ticks down and Parker becomes desperately ill from his untended wound, Sunday musters all her brilliant skills and bravado to confront and expose the kidnapper realizing that she is his true target of vengeance.
As if that wasn't enough, we have another pilot from Hallmark under the title 'Dead Letters:' this series follows a quirky quartet of civil servants in the Dead Letter Office of the US Postal System who transform themselves into an elite team of lost mail detectives. Their determination to deliver the undeliverable takes them out of the post office into an unpredictable world where letters and packages from the past save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures by arriving late but always miraculously on time. The intrepid bunch is led by the charming and handsome (but idiosyncratic) Oliver who still considers the stamped and mailed letter to be the gold standard of human communication. His hapless team of lost letter experts, free spirited Rita and oddly intuitive Norman, are thrown for a loop when a beautiful, no nonsense technophile named Shane is mistakenly transferred to their inner sanctum. Shane inspires the lovable crew to step up in a risky and unorthodox way, beginning with a chance to clear the name of a wrongfully accused man and reconnect him with the love of his life.
What do you think of Hallmark Channel's new scripted programming?