In a recent interview, Brian Bird, the co-creator and producer of the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart defended character Elizabeth Thornton choosing Lucas Bouchard over her other suitor, Nathan Grant, during the Season 8 finale.
Her decision ended a three-seasons-long love triangle between three of the show’s main characters and upset many fans who thought she picked the wrong guy.
However, in an appearance on the Greenelines podcast, Bird said pairing Elizabeth with Lucas would lengthen the life of the show.
“We believed this choice of Lucas Bouchard would give us more seasons because we have not gone down that road before,” Bird told podcast host Steve Greene.
He said there were too many similarities between Nathan and Elizabeth’s first husband, Jack Thornton, who died at the end of Season 5. Both men were “mounties” (short for Royal Canadian Mounted Police), so pairing Elizabeth with Nathan would have felt like a rehash of the show’s early seasons, according to Bird.
“We wanted to find a new way to do a love story for Elizabeth, so we didn’t just repeat the same storylines,” he said. “I feel a big responsibility to give the Hearties Hope Valley for as many seasons as possible.”
Next great love story
Actress Erin Krakow, who plays Elizabeth on the show, has also brought up the similarity between Nathan and Jack.
During an interview with Entertainment Tonight in May, she said Elizabeth had projected some of her feelings toward Jack onto Nathan. She believes that Lucas is Elizabeth’s “next great love story.”
Bird assured Greeneline’s listeners that Nathan would remain an essential character on When Calls the Heart. Writers have already started work on Season 9 and have devised storylines that will keep him front-and-center in the show.
During the half-hour podcast, Bird also talked about the show serving as a gentle alternative to the programming on other networks. When Calls the Heart is based on a series of books by Christian author Janette Oke. The TV show avoids profanity and limits violence, focusing instead on religious faith and the day-to-day life of a small community.
Bird said he believes this appeals to viewers burned out by the recent volatile presidential election and the ongoing difficulty of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The last few years have been dramatic and traumatic,” he said. “People…are starved to death for uplifting entertainment, for hope, for happy endings, for a sense of uplift in their lives and getting past the darkness, the cynicism of our age.”
The return of Abigail Stanton
Finally, he touched on his hope for the return of one of the show’s most popular characters, Abigail Stanton. Played by actress Lori Loughlin, Abigail was written out of the series during Season 6, when Loughlin was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.
Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, were accused of paying $500,000 and lying about their daughters’ credentials to get the girls into the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team. Loughlin pleaded guilty and served two months in federal prison.
Bird said he would love to Loughlin back on the show, but it’s not entirely up to him.
“If anyone should return to Hope Valley, it should be Abigail,” he said.
Shooting will begin on Season 9 in about six weeks.
When Calls the Heart is currently on hiatus at the Hallmark Channel