When Calls the Heart: Season 1

Theatrical Release: January 11, 2014
When Calls the Heart: Season 1


“When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

Dove Review

This is a great new family series! It is set in the small town of Coal Valley and covers the hardships and determination of the people as new school teacher Elizabeth Thatcher arrives. The TV series manages to create memorable characters, humor, moments which require faith and grit, and a little romance as well. This is going to be a terrific series for the entire family. Erin Krakow is wonderful as Elizabeth and is definitely talented, bringing the right mixture of warmth and determination to the role. Daniel Lissing is also terrific as Jack, her romantic interest.

Episode 1: Lost & Found: – Elizabeth Thatcher arrives and immediately has a set of problems to deal with, including a few mothers of the children who are not sure she is right for the job, the recent death of several coal miners, and a small house she is to live in that she accidentally burns down. She also meets a young Canadian Mountie named Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) and sparks fly but it is difficult to determine if they are sparks of love or from tempers flaring as they frequently clash.

Episode 2: Cease and Desist : – The women are told by the mine owner, Mr. Gowan, that they will have to vacate the small homes where their husbands dwelt until their husbands met their fate in the mines. The women unite and decide to work in the mines as the only way they can conceive of keeping their homes and a roof over their children’s heads. Elizabeth Thatcher begins to hatch up a plan for the women to keep their homes without being gone from their families, sucking in coal dust. The plan looks like it will succeed but Gowan is a step ahead of them. As they are running out of time, they will need a new plan and they will have to unite in their hope for a miracle to occur.

Episode 3: A Telling Silence: – A young girl has not spoken since her father died in the mine tragedy. Elizabeth is determined to learn why and to help her. The girl also seems frightened every time a certain man drives by and Elizabeth tries to piece together why his presence would trouble her. On top of this, it is learned that the church fire might not have been accidental. Added to these troubles is the pastor’s frustration over his congregation attending an outdoor service with a local widow teaching Sunday School. He learns that the fact his salary is paid by the mine is a big factor in the people’s lack of trust toward him. This episode features a diary entry from Elizabeth which states, “The light of love restores every lost voice.”

Episode 4: Secrets and Lies: – A local widow becomes a suspect in the church fire incident and Jack finds himself in the middle of an unpopular investigation. A boy who looked up to him as a hero becomes angry with Jack as he continues to perform his duties and to investigate. A student has a crush on Miss Thatcher and the Pastor apologizes for disappointing the people and their acceptance is more than he could have hoped for.

Episode 5: The Dance: – In this episode some miners come to town to work and one of them takes to Elizabeth. He quotes poetry and takes her for a walk and then invites her to the Saturday night dance. Jack becomes jealous and also suspicious of the new man in town. Another miner, Mr. Dewitt Graves, likes a widow named Mary but her son Caleb is upset because he misses his father. This episode features real life situations such as when is it appropriate for someone to move on following a death, and also the fact that some people do not know how much they care for someone until they are at risk of losing that person. There at top notch performances from all the actors.

Episode 6: These Games: – Trust and deceit are the two main themes of this episode. Jack doesn’t trust newcomer to town, miner Billy Hamilton, but Elizabeth thinks he is simply jealous of Hamilton. Jack continues to try to solve the mystery of the burglaries in town. Dewitt continues to try to win over Caleb, Mary’s son, but he may be trying too hard. In addition to the various events in town, Carla is about to give birth but it is too early for a delivery. This wonderful drama continues to emphasize ordinary people who deal with difficult life events by supporting one another and holding on to their faith in God. The acting continues to be first rate.

Episode 7: Second Chance: – The title is appropriate for this episode as both Jack and a young man named boy are given second chances. Jack begins to act on his feelings for Elizabeth and admits the mistakes he has made in the past, and Bo, who never learned to read, is given a new chance by Elizabeth as the teacher finds a new method to reach him to teach him to read. However, his father, for some reason which later becomes known, is against his son learning. The themes in this episode include asking for and accepting second chances, as well as giving people a second opportunity to do better. This is a dramatic episode with a few light moments and is another good one to add to this excellent series.

Episode 8: Perils of the Soloist: A miner comes home from an accident with his peg leg and must adjust to life as it now is. The theme of this episode is that love travels with you no matter where you go, as Elizabeth and Abigail share their feelings about embarking on a new adventure. Jack opens up with Elizabeth about dealing with the death of his father when he was young. The acting as always is superb as is the writing and settings in this remarkable series.

Episode 9: Change of Heart: Jack deals with his reassignment, something he once wanted but now he wants to be near Elizabeth. They dance and draw closer while Elizabeth’s sister Julie is deceived by a gang member and she falls for him. The episode features both high drama as well as tension and continues to focus on wonderful storytelling.

Episode 10: Love Comes First: Elizabeth misses Jack but will soon see him again after Jack learns that she and her sister Julie have been kidnapped by the gang members. Jack is determined to come to her rescue and no longer holds back in telling her he has feelings for her. The remarkable story telling and acting, in addition to occasions of action, continue as this show consistently entertains in a wholesome way.

Episode 11: Rules of Engagement: Jack makes the newspaper headlines as a hero for capturing a gang. Elizabeth sets her sights on helping a very bright young man named Wyatt, who is forced to work in the mines to help support his mother. A man named Bill Avery opens an investigation into the mine tragedy and he and Abigail connect. When newcomer Rose arrives, formerly engaged to Jack, she stirs up trouble as she still cares for him. She learns Elizabeth has been offered another teaching job in the east, and tells Jack Elizabeth is going to accept it. This show features terrific acting and unfolding plotlines.

Episode 12: Prelude to a Kiss: Plans are laid for a new school house and church, thanks to Jack’s generous donation from his reward money. Elizabeth urges Jack to think carefully about whether he truly wants her or might still have feelings for Rose. He makes a decision and Elizabeth learns what it is as season one comes to a close. This heartwarming series is well loved for good reasons. It features solid writing, terrific acting and is inspiring to watch due to its family values.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: Kissing between a couple.
Language: D-1; Oh my Lord-2; OMG-1; My Lord-2; H-1
Violence: Two boys get in a fight in the classroom and the teacher takes an accidental punch to the eye when she intervenes; another fight between two boys; men on horses ride up to a stage coach with guns and we see in a later scene they robbed the stage; a man holds a gun on a woman and another man rides up on his horse and knocks the man down and out; a man in punched and two men are grabbed for burglary; guns held on characters; law officer punches bad guy; a man is hit with a club; man shot; a man grabs another man in anger; a man riding in drawing a gun is knocked off his horse.
Drugs: A man takes a drink; a man who has been drinking throws out the rest of his alcohol; some men drink and get rowdy and the local law official has to stop a fight; drinking in the saloon including whiskey; men drink in saloon; a "Do you have something stronger" than coffee joke.
Nudity: None
Other: A rat runs against a wall in a building and frightens a woman; an accidental fire burns down a small house; a teacher does tell a couple of lies about a boy to protect him as he is undergoing trauma from his father's sudden passing; the grief of widows and children; a boy sleeps in class; it's mentioned a man had a weakness for gambling; a boy in anger says he hates a man; a man doesn't tell the entire story regarding an incident in order to protect a man's reputation; a poker game is played in the saloon; tension between characters; a raging man throws his artificial leg off the table which frightens a few children; man lies to woman; a man threatens to ruin a woman who is a threat to him.


Company: Hallmark Channel
Director: Michael Landon, Jr., Neill Fearnley, Anne Wheeler
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 45 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter