Episode 3008 - Hearts in Question
From the Production Journal of Brian Bird, Executive Producer of When Calls the Heart

There’s an old quote I love from famed British Talk Show Host David Frost: “Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.” Frost said these words back in the day when TV was actually a lot friendlier than it is today. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want 95 percent of the characters on TV these days as a guest on my couch.

Given the script we’re prepping, “Hearts in Question,” which starts production in a few days, I don’t think the same statement is true for any of our Hope Valley characters. Well, maybe Wade Barrett, Jake Garrison and Nate Tolliver, not so much. But I would actually have Henry Gowen over for a cup of coffee and a lesson on The Golden Rule. But not the one he’s familiar with: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” The one Pastor Frank would preach: “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”

However, this is the episode where Mountie Jack may have a little stick in his craw about his new houseguest – Charlotte Thornton – also known as “Ma.” Of course, none of the men in the cast and crew had any issues with the brilliant casting of our special guest-star playing Charlotte, the beautiful Brooke Shields. Charlotte, scripted wonderfully by this episode’s writer, Cynthia Cohen, is one of the sassiest ladies in the west. She can ride, hunt and chew with the best of them, man or woman. She is Annie Oakley on steroids, and the last person Jack ever expected to show up, or probably ever wanted to have to introduce to Elizabeth.

As many tears as we shed in the last episode, I think this storyline is going to provide twice as many laughs. A little-known secret about scripts: When our team of writers and producers reads a script for the first time, we use check marks in the margins to indicate whenever a situation or line of dialogue makes us laugh. In the case of this script, I had check marks on every page in which Jack, Charlotte and Elizabeth were in scenes together. Talk about an awkward stew of emotions, expectations, missteps and foot-in-mouth moments. Charlotte is trying to size up her son’s girlfriend, at the same time giving her cooking lessons from the All-Lard Recipe Book. Meanwhile, a nervous Elizabeth is trying to make the best impression possible and saying all the wrong things, and Jack, well, he’s pretty much a noodle-head around both of them the entire show. A good time will be had by all Hearties when this threesome is onscreen.

Besides the stormy relationship between Charlotte, Jack and Elizabeth, other storms are brewing in Hope Valley, which we are using to set up some explosive thunder in the Season 3 finale. Having read the draft of that episode… Hearties shouldn’t get too comfortable in chuckle-town. A torrent of tears is on the horizon next week.

That’s when we need to remember what When Calls the Heart is all about. Those unwanted houseguests, unforeseen complications and messy challenges we all face… are temporary. All worrying does is borrow tomorrow’s trouble today. If we can laugh at ourselves and our circumstances a little more often, work hard to do what we know must be done, and pray for peace in the storm, we can get through anything. That’s how they roll in Hope Valley. And so should we!

– Brian Bird