Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.
This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x01, “Letting Go: Part 1.”
Welcome, friends, back to Cedar Cove, Washingon, where the living is easy and the focus is soft upon mature beauties Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Grace (Teryl Rothery) being expertly wooed by their attractive, appropriately grizzled, beaus. Meanwhile, among the next generation one finds romantic entanglements aplenty, with Olivia’s feisty artist daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth), Grace’s feisty curator daughter Maryellen (Elyse Levesque) and Jack’s sulky son Eric (Tom Stevens) all the object of some oftentimes problematic affections.
This year, we’re going to do a little something different with these recaps; my thinking is, since this show is based entirely on Debbie Macomber’s million-selling sweet romance series of the same name, clearly we’re in it for the relationships. So instead of a play-by-play, let’s just take this one couple at a time, shall we?
OLIVIA AND JACK
The uplifting conclusion to last season left Judge Olivia Lockhart and former Big City newspaperman Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal) having exchanged those three little words, the two managing to overcome such Big Though Easily Resolved Conflicts (trademark pending) such as the jealousy of an ex-husband, the sulkiness of a son and the yearning for former journalistic glory, ultimately finding themselves in a happy place of happiness. This charming state of affairs continues, although the aforementioned Sulky Son may well cause some ripples on the connubial pond, what with Jack feeling kid-envy of the easy relationship Olivia shares with Justine, Olivia continuing to mourn her son Jordan, who she lost over a decade pre-show, and Jack’s long-fought sobriety on notice as he struggles to deal with his past inadequacies as a parent.
JACK: I’m so glad you’re here.
OLIVIA: And I’m not going anywhere. I pushed my whole docket back till tomorrow. I’m all yours.
GRACE AND CLIFF
Before the hiatus, town librarian Grace Sherman almost blew it with gentlemanly rancher Cliff Harting (Sebastian Spence) by indulging in a flirtation with Olivia’s run-around brother, the dastardly Will (Cameron Bancroft), but after a concerted campaign of ubiquity that saw her take riding lessons and bring him food and just generally be there, she was able to persuade him back onto Team Grace by season’s end. This episode finds him comfortably cooking up a storm at her house while she’s been ministering to the crowds sitting Shelly-vigil (of which, more anon), and while his is only a brief appearance – a lovelorn Maryellen interrupts their tête-à-tête in the kind of way that could make one regret ever having kids, or at least not making them move out of home at a reasonable age – it is definitely the romantic highlight of the episode, making us hope our Handsome Harting won’t be quite so blink-and-miss next episode. But like they say, always leave them wanting more, I guess.
GRACE: You are so...
CLIFF: I am, aren’t I?
(He really is!)
JUSTINE AND SETH
Justine and boyfriend Seth (Corey Sevier, poster boy for the Stand There and Look Pretty school of what we’ll charitably call acting) were this close to opening a restaurant together as last season closed out, its purpose being to keep keen deep sea fisherman Seth at home rather than away for weeks and months trawling for salmon in Alaska, or whatever. But a fire – doubtless caused by arson, and perhaps the work of Justine’s sleazy developer ex-fiancé Warren (Brennan Elliott) – has given Justine pause, as the repairs are going to run them an inordinate number of zeroes and, anyway, the building isn’t even technically theirs. At least Justine has the grace to acknowledge that they were perhaps precipitate in allowing the townsfolk to make repairs in the Christmas-themed Season 1 finale (“I kick myself for taking those keys and going in to fix things before it was officially ours.” – don’t say I didn’t warn you, Justine!), and really, given that it is only supposed to be, at most, a few days later show-time, the fact that Justine has been at enough leisure to go get herself a fetching new haircut tells me that things really can’t be all that bad for her and Seth’s business prospects. For their relationship, however, I am slightly less sanguine, as a) Seth has been offered a huge fishing opportunity that Justine overheard him turn down, for her sake and b) Warren the Douche is out of jail as part of some kind of federal sting operation and so is back in town to make trouble. And look, I hate Warren as much as the next person, but I have to admit that I love that he’s back if only because I adore the way he pauses and then says “Seth” with such magnificent disdain. Another episode highlight, I kid you not. In fact, a double highlight: he did it twice! It was awesome.
DEREK: I hope she’s worth it.
SETH: She is.
MARYELLEN AND JOHN BOWMAN
Last time out, photographer/chef John Bowman (Charlie Carrick) made it clear to the willowy, relentless Maryellen that he simply could not be her man, not because he’s just not that into her – as I had sometimes suspected – but because “Danger” is basically his middle name, and he is Just Too Perilous for her to be around. Not apparently ever having met a woman ever, he evidently decided that would be enough to cure Maryellen of her infatuation with him—instead, she remains predictably besotted, and is therefore appalled when some weaselly rent-a-creeps straight out of a My Cousin Vinny knockoff come into the Cedar Cove Gallery and purport to be “friends” of her elusive artiste. While she then proceeds to spend much of her onscreen minutes looking anxious and doe-eyed, it seemed for a while there like John was only going to be seen in this episode as a self-portrait on a wall (purchased, of course, by a gallery owner from as far away as Seattle—for some reason?), but we also see him when he is visibly... er, I guess shaken? If he were prettier, Charlie Carrick would be in the Stand There and Look Pretty school, too... to learn that these “friends” are in the vicinity of his apparently beloved Maryellen. So let’s assume we’ll see him next week, then. Joy.
MARYELLEN: It’s John. I think he’s in trouble.
ERIC AND SHELLY
So, at the end of last season, Jack’s Sulky Son Eric returned to town and discovered his heavily-pregnant ex-girlfriend Shelly (Hayley Sayles) in situ, this raven-haired songstress having won over the hearts of more than one of the town’s residents before reconciling with her deadbeat baby daddy and then being hustled to hospital with, we now discover, an acute case of preeclampsia. It also transpires that the, oh, hours (maybe a day, two at the most) spent making her diagnosis were also spent by her rethinking this whole Eric-thing – after all, he wanted to put their child up for adoption when the time came close, he upped and took off on her when he panicked, so what are the odds of him sticking around now? She doesn’t want to see him, only telling Olivia that she’s swung back to the adoption way of thinking, baby-wise, when Eric – who has been a dick to his Dad this whole time, and worse, a total bore to me – forces himself into her room and, upon hearing that she would rather not co-parent with him after all, he huffs and puffs and makes a childish scene. (If only he had stamped his foot, just once, it would have made the whole thing perfect.) Basically, Eric is the WORST and I, for one, would rather see the lovely, if uncomplicated, Shelly hook up with pretty much anyone else in town – Moon, Stan Lockhart, hell, even Warren – rather than that whiny moron (who also, it seems, had time for a haircut while his girlfriend and baby fought for their lives. Because, priorities, am I right?)
ERIC: I gotta see her! [repeated ad infinitum]
Aside from Warren the Douche, other familiar faces this time out are Bob (Bruce Boxleitner) and Peggy Belden (Barbara Niven), owners of the Thyme and Tide B&B, who may only have known the vagabond Shelly for a very short time but are already calling her “family” while bickering genially about pie, and then heading into town to allow Bob, in his role of AA sponsor, to counsel a wavering Jack. Elsewhere, we meet local private investigator Roy (Mike Dopud) – who, those that have read the books will know, we’ll hopefully be seeing more of down the track – and Sherriff Troy (Garry Chalk) pops up to fill in Grace and Maryellen on John Bowman’s unsavoury associates. Also, we learn that Olivia’s gossipy mother Charlotte (Paula Shaw) has gone away on a, one assumes, indefinite “singles” cruise, because hers was a storyline that really had nowhere to go in this pastel-hued town, and we’re probably better off without her—unless she comes back with a fella, that is.
All in all, it is very much a case of the more things change the more they stay the same here in Cedar Cove, that blessed region of the Pacific North West in which lightweight blouses and strappy sandals are adequate clothing in a late December characterized by clear blue skies and pleasant promenades under golden sunlight. (Also, where have all the Christmas decorations gone so fast? No town is that efficient!) Indeed, it is a fairy tale world, its plots fairly stale, and yet—I am so very delighted to be back! Hope you are too... see you next week.
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.