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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Netflix gems (2)

When I was young, I enjoyed watching the 1974 TV series Little House on the Prairie (IMDb, Wiki), based on the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957). The father figure, Charles Ingalls, was played by Michael Landon. His son is involved in a successful new feel-good and retro-TV series, broadcasted by Hallmark Channel - and Netflix.

Hallmark TV is a gem but unlikely to be found in a foreign default cable TV subscription. Netflix however offers several of its successful feel-good series. Hallmark's success was recently covered in a Washington Post article: “We intentionally branded ourselves as the happy place. Hallmark's tagline is “the heart of TV.” I recommend the following 3 Hallmark/Netflix shows.

Good Witch (7.3 in IMDb, Wiki)
The series is about people living together in a small American town. Occasionally, it shows Canadian car license plates because it was filmed in Hamilton, Ontario. Most characters feel like stereotypes and are rather predictable in their behaviour: a flaunting mayor, a desperately seeking woman, a spoiled city kid raised by a formerly famous divorced brain surgeon who is now a general practitioner in a small town. These stereotypes underpin the absence of any anxiety. This series feels like a perfect mountain stream, flowing along while bypassing all obstacles on its way. The leading actress is a modest and smart clairvoyant, as well as a living symbol of perfection, and the hidden puppet master in this town. It’s kind of amazing that this typecasting works that well. Nearly every episode has a well-considered message to its audience about morals and values.

Chesapeake Shores (7.8 in IMDb, Wiki)
This American TV series is filmed in the astoundingly beautiful Canadian surroundings of Vancouver Island. The story is about a large family from Irish origin, headed by a wealthy divorced building contractor. The father is a well-known actor (e.g., Everwood). For various reasons the family gradually reunites in Chesapeake Shores, including the mother who - allegedly - had run away from her family. Each family member has his/her own subplot: a daughter divorcing, a son returning from war, a rebellious daughter, and so on. The mix of these plots works well. There’s one leading actor outside this family who once had – and still has - a romantic interest in the oldest daughter. Both actors have slightly more airtime than the other actors.

When Calls the Heart (8.6 in IMDb, Wiki)
The Washington Post article mentioned this TV series which I had missed or ignored on Netflix. I’ve seen 3 or 4 episodes thus far. This show has some resemblances with the 1974 series Little House on the Prairie and not only because of its director/producer/writer Michael Landon Jr. The story is situated in a small Canadian coal mining village around 1910. Its main actors are a coal mine executive, a Royal Canadian Mountie, and a school teacher. The timing of the story could suggest another costume drama TV series. The clothing seems however merely functional in creating authenticity. The coal mining executive does not appear to be a 1-dimensional bad-ass character exploiting human lives while being driven around in the only automobile in town. The Pinkerton private cops seem to have a less heroic role in this series.

Feels So Good (1977) by Chuck Mangione - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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