Debbie Macomber's sweet small-town romance series Cedar Cove is now a weekly television show on Hallmark starring Andie MacDowell! Check out Rachel's recaps of the 2-hours series premiere and episode 2. And now, onto her recap of episode 3, “Reunion”:
Oh, Cedar Cove! How is it possible that so much and yet so little happened in this episode? There was a new arrival and some actual – gasp! – kissing, as well as death, petty larceny and a mystery to be solved, but when the end credits rolled it felt like nothing of consequence had really transpired. Actually, that may be an accurate tagline for this whole series. Cedar Cove – Nothing of Consequence. Still, a mostly enjoyable nothing…
We kick things off at what seems to be the town’s one and only restaurant, where Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Jack (Dylan Neal) are holding hands and smiling at each other coyly – I also suspect some footsie under the table. They touch lightly on last week’s Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict: the fact that he, a reporter, reported negatively on her, a judge, and her judgment regarding the town’s historic lighthouse. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t cause problems in the future,” Olivia says somewhat foreshadowingly, with which Jack is in desperate agreement, declaring shop talk off limits and going on for a while about his new hobby. Quite how he expects them to carry on a relationship without being able to discuss their jobs, I don’t know, but let’s give him his woodworking monologue here, because a) it must have some importance to the future plot, what with its repeated, though largely pointless, mentions this ep, and b) there’s an unexpected Star Wars reference, when he calls his teacher a “woodworking Jedi master.” Nice one, Cedar Cove! And they say there’s nothing in here for the menfolk.
Anyway, all this talk of wood, plus the promise of some of her favorite cannoli, leads Olivia to Jack’s place for what seems like the first time. She marvels at his collection of sporting memorabilia (again: this is for you, whatever few guys may be watching!), and then just as things are somewhat chastely heating up and Jack’s heart is “pounding like a jackhammer,” a Peeping Tom at the window turns out to be his estranged son, Eric (Tom Stevens). And by “estranged” I mean the kid has been living with his now ex-girlfriend in Vancouver for a year and dear old Dad didn’t even know. Now, Jack just can’t get over having Eric there: “It’s just so... weird seeing you here,” he says, discombobulated. (Jeez, thanks, Dad! Weird seeing you, too.)
But it’s not just them. Parent-child dynamics are askew all over town.
First, let’s visit with Olivia’s best friend Grace (Teryl Rothery) and her willowy, impossibly beautiful daughter (Elyse Levesque), whose name we eventually learn is Maryellen. (Come on, show. Help us out here.) Young Maryellen manages the town’s art gallery, and where she’s all enthusiastic about the composition and light in a photograph Grace dismisses as “a tree by a lake,” Grace goes on and on about Olivia’s daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth) and her manifold artistic talents, making Maryellen feel inadequate. Aw, poor Maryellen! But hey, at least she gets the award for Most Realistic Moment in this whole show—we’ve all been there, and Levesque plays it perfectly. (By the way? Teryl Rothery starred in Stargate SG-1 and Elyse Levesque starred in Stargate Universe. More fun nerd stuff!)
Then let’s look in on Olivia herself and her mother, Charlotte (Paula Shaw). If you’ll recall the cliffhanger to the last episode – or what passes for one around these parts – the older woman was put in charge of ministering to a mystery stroke victim found in the town without any ID. Charlotte thought perhaps she had met the man before, and then here, right before he dies (off-screen, natch), he gives her some small artifacts with which she is determined to identify him. Despite her lingering anger over last outing’s controversial lighthouse ruling, she goes to Olivia for help only to be further angered when she is turned down flat – prissy Judge Lockhart questions the legality of holding on to the possessions of a man who was a ward of the state. Suffering no such qualms, however, is Dr. Stan Lockhart (Andrew Airlie), Olivia’s suave ex-husband, who happens to be in town and who somewhat miraculously locates the lock that will fit a small, fairly non-descript key that is their only clue. He seems quite excited by the chase, all Sherlock Holmes the-game-is-afoot-ish, but then Olivia cruelly swoops in and steals from him his “Aha!” moment, making amends with her mother by going along to the old man’s storage locker and discovering that he was a once-famous Country singer named Tom Harting. And he had been in town to try to reconnect with his own estranged son, a local rancher named Cliff (Sebastian Spence – another Stargate alum!).
Basically, the episode was about fathers seeking redemption for wrongs done to their sons. Jack tries to gain his by indulging Eric’s snippy jibes about a deprived childhood (plenty of kids go to college without getting money from their parents, Eric!), delivering a heartfelt apology, and then being totally fine with outright theft – a sly undertaking witnessed by Grace, who then told Olivia, but who then kept quiet about it, marking the event as this week’s Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict. Meanwhile, Tom (RIP) apologized for his shortcomings through a song he penned for the son he never knew. I’m not entirely sure if either was a particularly successful strategy, but I will say: crappy song, Tom. No wonder you died in obscurity. (More importantly, though – will we be seeing more of Mr. Harting, Jr.? Oh, yes indeedy! Things are looking up for Grace…)
The episode was also about daughters and their relationships. Charlotte tells Stan that she secretly hopes he and Olivia would get back together, and for all his jokes that his current wife wouldn’t approve, he clearly wishes the same thing—and Olivia’s feelings are equally complicated. What does this mean for the very smitten Jack who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t even gotten to second base? Could this be next week’s Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict? We can only hope!
Meanwhile, Olivia tells Grace that she wishes Justine, fresh out of an engagement, wouldn’t fall straight into a romance with once and current beau Seth (Corey Sevier)… and after this episode, I’m kind of starting to wish the same thing. Even her douchebag developer ex-fiancé Warren (Brennan Elliot) might be preferable at this point. You see, Seth’s a fisherman headed off to sea for a few weeks, and so he pulls out the old “we’ll both be looking at the same star” standard, and picks Polaris as their shared heavenly object. Then he leaves her a book on Astronomy with the page marked! Seriously, he thinks she needs help finding the freaking North Star? Way to patronize your girl there, Seth! And way not to find it at all insulting, Justine! Honestly, I really don’t know how I feel about this girl; or, indeed, her much-vaunted artistic talent. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but feel that Maryellen is making a mistake displaying it in her gallery. I blame the props department.
Speaking of the props department… I know I said back in the coverage of Episode 1 that I wouldn’t make comparisons between the books and the TV series, but WHY did they feel the need to change the Hardings’ name to “Harting”? I can only presume that someone got the spelling wrong when they started making the faux album covers for Charlotte to find, and then they just ran with it rather than exceed their (doubtless very small) budget. Sigh. That’s just sloppy.
As I said earlier: come on, Cedar Cove! Help us out here. Surely you realize this is supposed to be cotton candy television at its most deliciously insubstantial – please don’t make us wish we hadn’t come to the fair.
Still, I guess I’ll see you next week…
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine