Episode 8: Perils of the Soloist
From the Production Journal of Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird, Executive Producers and Creators of "When Calls the Heart"
One of my favorite shows as a young man was ironically created and produced by my partner's legendary father, Michael Landon, Sr. That show "Highway to Heaven" would inspire me in my work almost two decades later on "Touched By An Angel." But one of Michael Sr.'s most moving episodes, titled "To Bind the Wounds," was about a how a small town found a way to honor a young soldier killed in Vietnam and bring peace to his grieving parents. I also have been so moved by the many poignant stories of our soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan as "wounded warriors." When Michael Jr. and I were working with our writing team to brainstorm stories for the second half of the season, we began asking "How do we do a wounded warrior story in Coal Valley?" And suddenly it occurred to us that we already had an established storyline that might open the doors that devastating mine disaster that took 46 lives and left the town full of widows and fatherless kids. So we came up with an idea: What if one of miners actually survived the explosion, but was so badly injured he had to be taken away to a big-city hospital in order to recuperate and rehabilitate? What would his return to Coal Valley feel like for his family and neighbors? How does a community welcome home one of its wounded warriors? And how does the wounded warrior move forward with his life when he does not feel like the same man he used to be? Well, we're about to find out as we begin filming Episode 8, and we've hired the award-winning actor Chad Willett to portray "Adam Miller." I have a feeling this one is going to be a tear-jerker. Not that we won't have our share of fun as the love-dance between Jack and Elizabeth gets into full swing. But in a culture that seems to be so lost in the fog of moral relativism, Michael and I want so much for these episodes to be full of the Great Virtues and ethical lessons as landmarks we can rely on to help us find our way out of the fog.