Monday December 25 8:00 PM / 7:00c
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Episode 3005 - A Gentle Heart
From the Production Journal of Brian Bird, Executive Producer of When Calls the Heart

I must say, it’s both amazing and horrifying to watch the U.S. presidential race just getting underway in America from my Langley, B.C., hotel room. Horrifying because it looks like it’s going to be the weirdest election cycle I have ever seen in my adult life, and that goes back 10 years or so J. I watched one of the debates this week and I suddenly thought I was at Ringling Bros. Circus. One of the candidates, whom I shall not name, was pontificating about being both a man of faith and willing to punch anybody who punched him first. I guess that old “turn the other cheek” guideline for life has turned into “turn the other fist,” and it makes me worry about my country’s future. The reason I even bring that up is because it’s a far cry from the values of Hope Valley, and that is profoundly obvious in Derek Thomson’s wonderful script, “A Gentle Heart,” which airs this week.

There is an amazing scene between Lori Loughlin’s Abigail Stanton character and one of the new settlers, Edith, whose baby is suffering from a fever. The woman is so grateful to Abigail for looking out for her and her baby, arranging medical attention and food, and says she doesn’t have the money to pay Abigail back. Abigail tells her it’s not necessary. “You’re part of Hope Valley now. We take care of each other here.” Edith is deeply moved by this idea, almost as if she wonders how a town like this could even be possible.

There’s another wonderful story line between Erin Krakow’s Miss Thatcher and one of her new students, a young girl named Hattie whose family has moved to Hope Valley from Hamilton, and she fails to make friends in school because she treats all the other kids poorly. To fix the conflict, Elizabeth decides to stage “Kindness Week” in her classroom – a theme the whole town decides to participate in – ending with a cotillion-like dance to help the students learn manners and how to be compassionate with one another. It’s a very moving conclusion when Elizabeth finally learns the secret of Hattie’s poor attitude – a deep loss she is holding onto – and helps free her from her pain.

Kindness Week in Hope Valley, a place where the residents take care of each other with compassion and second chances. Call it old fashioned, or maybe call it revolutionary, the values of Hope Valley are still alive and well in our culture. I’m pretty sure lots of Hearties practice these kinds of virtues in their families and neighborhoods, and I know there is a hugely underserved TV audience out there we are trying to reach with our show that also cares deeply about these kinds of values for their families.

But it’s noisy and ugly out there sometimes. The headlines scream chaos and a lack of civility everywhere we turn… even in presidential politics. I would love to see our brave little show somehow drown out all that negative noise and serve notice on all the cynics: Hey, lose the bitter, antagonistic attitude. The clenched jaws and the frowns make you look like you’re sucking on a lemon, and are giving you wrinkles. It’s time for hope and a smile and Kindness Week. Pay some consideration and thoughtfulness forward. And watch When Calls the Heart… for goodness sake. It might keep things from getting too weird out there.

– Brian Bird