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When Calls the Heart creator urges fans not to give up on the series following Season 8 finale

Lucas and Elizabeth on When Calls the Heart
Elizabeth choosing Lucas on When Calls the Heart left a lot of fans unhappy. Pic credit: Hallmark

The co-creator of the popular Hallmark series When Calls the Heart took to Twitter this week in an attempt to appease viewers still seething over the show’s Season 8 finale. In a series of tweets, Brian Bird asked fans not to abandon the show.

“I urge you to keep watching for all the happiness yet to come,” he wrote.

Thousands of fans took to social media following the May 9 broadcast, in which the show’s protagonist, widow Elizabeth Thatcher (played by Erin Krakow), finally chose between two longtime suitors, Nathan Grant (played by Kevin McGarry) and Lucas Bouchard (played by Chris McNally).

After letting Nathan down gently, she pursued Lucas, to the outrage of many fans, who flooded Facebook and Twitter with angry comments, conspiracy theories, and threats to stop watching the show.

One fan wrote on Facebook, “I didn’t think I could be MORE disappointed after watching the finale of 8 seasons of Game of Thrones…then I watched the finale of When Calls the Heart.” Another simply said, “Maybe Lucas will grow on me.”

‘No last minute changes’ to WCTH Season 8 finale

Co-creator and executive producer Bird weighed in, reminding fans that the season finale was not the end of the show and that anything could happen in Season 9. He also responded to rumors that the shows’ writers and producers had somehow misled fans into believing Elizabeth would choose Nathan, or that they changed course in the middle of production, as some fans alleged.

“This is simply not true,” he wrote on Twitter. “There were no last-minute changes. The outcome was decided months earlier.”

Brian Bird Tweet
Pic credit: @brbird/Twitter
Brian Bird Tweet
Pic credit: @brbird/Twitter

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, two of the show’s stars, Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith, also defended the storyline.

“I think the message of our show has always been one of love and hope and support and community,” said Hutton, who plays Rosemary LeVeaux Coulter on the series. “I hope fans can…remember that and take that to heart and project that going forward.”

Smith, who plays Leland Coulter, said, “If people are willing to give us a chance and some of the storylines may not have ended up the way they wanted them to but if they are willing to stay open-minded, I think they’ll enjoy where we are going.”

When Calls the Heart Season 5 finale prompted similar reaction

Both actors acknowledged the similarity between the response to the Season 8 finale and the one that followed the finale of Season 5, when beloved character Jack Thornton, played by actor Daniel Lissing, was killed shortly after his wedding to Elizabeth. Smith said the disappointment was understandable, but that the show continued to grow and develop even without Jack.

“We got better season after season,” Smith said. “The storylines got better, the characters got stronger, and we kept developing. So I feel that we’re still in a position where the show’s going to get better.”

Bird told fans not to give up on the show. On Twitter, he wrote, “If you change your minds, Hope Valley will welcome you back with open arms.”

When Calls the Heart is currently on hiatus.

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Christopher Dufour
10 months ago

A HEART “TRANSPLANT” IS NEEDED…

After being extremely disappointed with season eight, my wife and I have decided to stop watching and collecting “When Calls the Heart”.

This latest installment contains a very poor message to single mothers about the importance of fatherhood. When Elizabeth picked Lucas as her “lifetime” companion, fatherhood was totally absent from her equation. There wasn’t a single piece of dialogue or narration anywhere in the whole season in which she affirmed or even considered that Lucas would be a good father for her son. Whether or not Lucas has this potential is beside the point—the fact remains that this crucial detail was a NON-ISSUE to the writers, producers, and network executives.

We find this unacceptable for a series that espouses family values. When selecting a mate, single mothers have a responsibility to think wider than simply who they are “in love” with, because the poor choice of a step-parent can lead to drastic problems…and very often has. Too bad this show didn’t have the guts to make a statement about how the “Me generation” is a recipe rich for familial casualties. Instead, it took the final step in modeling the deceitful fallacy of “following one’s heart” at any expense in the effort to achieve personal happiness.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the show dropped the ball at this point, because the character of Elizabeth is barely a shadow of who she used to be. When the series began, she was a courageous woman who left behind an affluent lifestyle and ventured into the unknown to be a schoolteacher on the Canadian frontier. Coming to a mining town that had been struck with awful tragedy, she quickly established herself as a true heroine and a role model for women in any time or place. Why? Because she was SELFLESS. She earnestly, generously, and continually gave of her time, knowledge, and energy to benefit the grieving children under her care—as well as their mothers, some of whom were unkind and wrongly judged her.

Eight seasons later, the once selfless Elizabeth is virtually unrecognizable. After misjudging her best friend and treating her badly, she resolves to make up with her only because she desperately needs her advice. Whatever happened to doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, without any personal gain being involved? Again, say hello to the “Me generation” on this sadly degenerated series. How are we supposed to believe that Elizabeth does ANYTHING anymore—including teaching school—for a reason that doesn’t suit her personal ambitions?

Along the same lines, Elizabeth’s choice of Lucas over Nathan, her other suitor, is also out of character. What attracted her to her late husband Jack was that he, too, was a selfless person who would do the right thing no matter what the cost. Nathan embodies all of the same qualities as Jack PLUS an additional one that makes him even better, in that he’s willing to leave behind his career for the sake of his family (it was Jack’s reluctance to do this that led to his untimely death). To top it off, Nathan is also proven as a good father. But in spite of all that, Elizabeth rejects the selfless man in favor a self-indulgent one. Lucas, the owner/operator of the local saloon, may be more exciting, suave, rich, and romantic, but he’s also moody, irritable, and childish when he doesn’t get his way. Perhaps most baffling of all is the fact that the majority of the show’s fans were very vocal about wanting Elizabeth to choose Nathan, and yet the producers disregarded their preference.

To all you “Hearties” out there who share our disappointment, we recommend that you join us in boycotting the series until the producers stop churning out this sub-standard excuse for a program that once stood tall for its inspiring lead characters and embracing TRUE family values. They can do better, and they will if you hit them in their pocketbooks. On the other hand, if you keep accepting fluff and nonsense, they’ll pump out even more. We don’t need another politically-correct series encouraging the lie that fathers, at best, are secondary or inconsequential factors in how a child should be raised. We also don’t need a show pushing the lie that following one’s heart will invariably lead someone in the right direction. There’s more to a successful life than self-fulfillment, especially where children are concerned. Very often it’s necessary to sacrifice passion and excitement in favor of doing what’s best for one’s kids.

Did anyone else notice how Elizabeth’s son was relegated to a background character this season? And that whenever he was mentioned, it was usually in connection with a babysitter? Yet again, the “Me generation” calls the heart! Just get a babysitter, and go have fun. You also may have noticed that when Nathan asked Elizabeth out, he wanted her son to join them. Did Lucas ever mention anything about including the boy on his dates with Elizabeth? No, not once.

One final thought. It’s suggested in the last episode that Nathan may wind up with Faith, an irritatingly conflicted woman who previously couldn’t recognize true love when it was staring her in the face. If that ridiculous match-up were to be foisted upon us, it would be the final insult to our intelligence. “When Calls the Heart” is already bleeding badly and needs emergency care, not something that would amount to the proverbial nail in the coffin. The show must recover its original values and restore its credibility with the fans who hung in there all these years to experience a better outcome than what season eight saw fit to give them. As it is now, my wife and I wish that we had checked out a long time ago.

Christopher Dufour
Pastor, Arising Light International Church