Saturday, October 5, 2013
Heartland Still Has Its Heart
How to review a series as long lasting as CBC-TV's Heartland?
The family friendly hour drama has been ambling along for seven seasons dishing out dollops of sentimentality and captivating impressionable young female hearts.
The new season premiere revs up Sunday October 6 at 7 p.m. on CBC.
Having what's called a ''tea cup drama'' has always been high on CBC's priorities.
Way, way back there was The Beachcomber which lasted for 17 seasons starring veteran Bruno Gerussi.
Later on came Road To Avonlea which served the same family friendly function.
Later still came Wind On My Back which didn't do quite as well in the ratings.
by contrast CTV's tea cup dramas haven't lasted as long: including The Campbells and Littlest Hobo.
The thing about Heartland is the producers know their audience and know their formula.
To an outsider the scenes are ever so long and dawdle.
But constant viewers relish this family and all the scrapes various members get into.
Add the soaring Albertan vistas and Heartland delivers consistently.
"We're growing old with our viewers" joked co-star Graham Wardle who is a fine actor gifted in the art of under playing a scene.
He co-stars with Amber Marshall and both told me at the CBC fall launch they're hoping for a few more seasons.
The seventh season opener has Marshall as Amy Fleming trying to work with a horse upset by being constantly mistreated by a Saudi prince eager to win an equestrian title.
The story line seems more than a little fantastic but should truly appeal to the show's young female base because the prince is rich and handsome.
I'm honor bound not to say what is happening to Jack who had a serious heart attack last season. That's so you'll have to watch the episode to find out.
The rest of the cast is as amiable as always and includes Chris Potter as Timothy Fleming --I've been covering him since his days on Material World (1990) and then on the outrageous Queer As Folk (2001).
Then there's Jessica Steen as Lisa Stillman --I first interviewed her for the wonderful CBC TV movie Small Gifts. (199)
But the scene stealer in Season Six was newcomer Alisha Newton well cast as the orphan Georgie. In the first new episode she must decide how to approach a school dance for fathers and daughters when she has no father and can't dance.
And if that doesn't tug at your heartstrings nothing will.
Adopted by Lou Fleming (Michelle Morgan) and husband Peter (Gabriel Hogan) she's a solid addition to the cast.
Making some cast changes every year to freshen up the show which is now deep in old age as Canadian series goes really works.
I'm hoping Heartland will be around for seasons to come.
THE SEVENTH SEASON OF HEARTLAND PREMIERES ON CBC-TV SUNDAY OCTOBER 6 AT 7 P.M.
MY RATING: ***.