You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove

Hallmark Channel's first series has all the heft of an old Pepperidge Farm commercial

Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Brennan Elliot, Paula Shaw, Sarah Smyth, Timothy Webber, Garry Chalk, Andrew Arlie

The inherent challenges associated with producing a first original series for Hallmark Channel that adheres to its movies’ soft-focus profile are readily apparent in the early chapters of “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove,” featuring Andie MacDowell as a judge in an idyllic town where a new arrival is chided for locking his car. Creating drama within a place where very little happens represents a tall order, and while some will no doubt view this as a refreshing tonic from sex and violence elsewhere, it’s the video equivalent of that smooth-jazz station you program into the car but never listen to.

Adapted from Macomber’s novels (which have already provided the foundation for three successful Hallmark movies), the two-hour premiere introduces MacDowell as Judge Olivia Lockhart, who presides over a Washington state courtroom where common sense and chewy goodness are every bit as important as analyzing the law. Tempted by the prospect of an appointment to the federal bench in the opener (and let’s be honest, it’s not titled “Debbie Macomber’s Seattle”), Olivia also begins a flirtation with the new newspaper editor, Jack Griffith (soap alum Dylan Neal), who jokes about the town being Mayberry.

Jack has private reasons for landing just this far off the beaten track, while Olivia must also fret over her grown daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth), who is romantically involved with an older, wealthy land developer, Warren (Brennan Elliott), which is about as close to conflict as the show comes. In the second hour, Warren’s plans to tear down an old lighthouse yield a strong pushback from the citizenry, and leave Olivia caught squarely in the middle.

To be fair, “Cedar Cove” isn’t intended to rival the current crop of ambitious cable dramas, but rather to offer a distinct alternative to them. As MacDowell said in an interview with the New York Times, “There’s not a lot of light on television,” adding that Hallmark wants its viewers to “relax and feel good.”

That’s about right, but there’s still a distinction to be drawn between “light” and “weightless,” which is roughly where this new show registers — in part because the Olivia-Jack relationship is the only aspect with any resonance.

“God, I miss the ’60s,” an old hippie exults during the show’s second hour. In TV terms, so does this series — just not the elements of it to which he’s referring. And while the audience for Hallmark’s movies indicate there is a place for that sensibility, dramatically speaking, visiting “Cedar Cove” feels like a dead end.

Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove

(Series; Hallmark Channel, Sat. July 20, 8 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Orchard Road Prods.

Crew: Executive producers, Debbie Macomber, Harvey Kahn, Dan Wigutow, Michael M. Scott,  Carl Binder; co-executive producers, Allen Lewis, Caroline Moore; director, Scott; writer, Bruce Graham; based on the book series by Macomber; camera, Adam Sliwinski; production designer, James C.D. Robbins; editors, Jason Pielak, Rick Martin; casting, Jackie Lind. 120 MIN.

Cast: Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Brennan Elliot, Paula Shaw, Sarah Smyth, Timothy Webber, Garry Chalk, Andrew Arlie

More TV


    'Chambers' Canceled After One Season at Netflix

    Netflix has canceled the drama series “Chambers” after one season. The series followed a teenager who gets a heart transplant and becomes consumed with the mystery surrounding her donor. The series starred Uma Thurman, Tony Goldwyn, Sivan Alyra Rose, Lilliya Reid, Nicholas Galitzine, Kyanna Simone Simpson, Lilli Kay, Sarah Mezzanotte, and Griffin Powell-Arcand. Leah Rachel [...]

  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

    TV News Roundup: 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' to Air Live After Democratic Debates

    In today’s roundup, Trevor Noah announces two live specials after the first Democratic debates and the new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” sets a premiere date. SPECIALS “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” will broadcast live following the Democratic Party’s first 2020 presidential primary debates on June 26 and 27 at 11 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. [...]

  • Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Refusing

    Writers Guild 'Plans to Respond' to Agents' Proposal as Frustration Mounts

    In a sign of increasing frustration, Hollywood agents have accused the Writers Guild of America of foot-dragging in the bitter two-month dispute. “It has become clear as more days pass that the Guild is not interested in making a deal,” said the negotiating committee for the agents in statement issued Tuesday. “Over the past year, [...]

  • Samantha Bee Variety

    Samantha Bee Isn't Thrilled to Be the Last Woman Standing in Late Night

    Samantha Bee is now the only female host in late night, and that’s a stat she’s not happy about. “It’s a bit unsettling,” Bee recently told Variety. “It’s been a bad year to be a woman in this space. It’s not really a badge that I want to wear.” Shows that have been canceled over [...]

  • XXXTentacion

    Watch a Trailer for New XXXTentacion Documentary

    A year to the day after rapper XXXTentacion was murdered, his estate has released a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the artist, which the announcement says is “releasing soon.” The clip, which includes narration from X himself, captures quick flashes of him reuniting with family and friends, engaging with fans, and working on music. In the [...]

  • The-Saddest-Goal

    Fascism and Fútbol Feature in Chilean Series Project ‘The Saddest Goal’

    PAMPLONA, Spain – Chilean production company Manufactura de Películas pitched its unconventional Pinochet-era drama “The Saddest Goal” today at Spain’s Conecta Fiction TV co-production and networking TV event, held in Pamplona. Set during qualification for the 1974 FIFA World Cup, a period of great political instability in Chile, “The Saddest Goal” kicks off as the [...]

  • Spain’s La Claqueta, Portugal’s SPi Ink

    Conecta Fiction: La Claqueta and SPi Ink Fiction Co-Production Pact

    Spain’s Seville-based shingle La Claqueta and Portugal’s SPi have clinched a co-development agreement for three fiction projects a year. Companies first made contact at last year’s Conecta Fiction, the annual co-production meet in Spain. The companies have also pacted to co-produce the animated feature-length docu “El viaje más largo” in collaboration with Portuguese pubcaster RTP [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content