I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m an everyday man who likes When Calls The Heart.
Unlike other romantic dramas (Hart of Dixie, Gilmore Girls, The OC) which completely lost my male interest (though teenage me was socially obliged to stick with The OC to meet social expectations), When Calls The Heart holds a point of difference. Granted, my watching was initially out of necessity rather than choice, however, what I uncovered from the show for the male audience is drama, intrigue, and the occasional shock /awe.
There is a smattering of shootouts and wrestling with criminal types which are clearly intended to pique our interest (and I won’t lead you astray: action scenes are usually brief) but not even that is what keeps me hooked to the show. The truth is that the writing is exceptional. Gilmore Girls has similar quick witty banter, but where it falls down in maintaining my interest is the content of the (over-rehearsed) speedy conversations being basically worthless. It’s like watching teenagers squabble. For When Calls The Heart though, the dialogue is quite quick, to the point, and there are quips and laughs thrown in at every opportunity. It seems the humour is perfectly suited to Australia, as the townsfolk regularly take swipes at their friends’ egos. Lovingly, of course.
Whilst the action that occurs is is relatively predictable (particularly for those of you who’ve watched enough television to recognise common story arcs), the journey to these moments is always surprisingly entertaining. While Coal Valley (later renamed Hope Valley) is still a developing town there is a large amount of one-upmanship going on as individuals and businesses scrounge for every advantage they can.
What I also loved in the earlier seasons is that there is a resident bad guy who seems untouchable in his quest to self-advancement. The scoundrel Gowen is on the surface just a mean guy, but under inspection, is a product of the environment. The spanners he throws into everyone’s works, sometimes for seemingly no particular reason, are incredible curve balls that create conflict and plot turns.
The cinematography is excellent and it might as well be a tentpole blockbuster for the way that it looks. Complicated lighting setups make indoor scenes atmospheric, and they use the camera and character movement to effortlessly flow from one story to the next without cuts.
If you are in a marital relationship you’ll love the subtle (and sometimes very un-subtle) innuendos scattered throughout the majority of Elizabeth and Jack’s interactions. In these earlier seasons, the two are regularly making their physical intentions obnoxiously clear. It’s their emotions that take some time to catch up (five seasons it seems).
It’s a bit disheartening to compare these early episodes to Season 5 when the town has developed into self-sufficiency and the entrepreneurs have bowed to furthering the ‘good of the town’. By this point, much of the tension is lost and the show seems to be buying time for the wedding and cliffhanger finale. My hope is that season six introduces some new points of conflict that extend beyond finding resolution within two episodes. And with our main love story in tatters, I expect that it won’t disappoint in introducing new story elements to keep me hooked.