Coming to DVD is one of my favorite guilty pleasures as SHOUT! Factory brings the continuing story of Hope Valley by author Janette Oke with the amazing six-movie DVD of “When Calls the Heart: Year Four.”
Henry Gowen (Martin Cummins) isn’t sitting in Hope Valley’s mayor seat which means Abigail (Lori Loughlin) now needs to take care of the town. That isn’t going to be easy with National Pacific Railroad coming in and expanding what can be handled. Heading up the Railroad’s business is Ray Wyatt (Jeremy Guilbaut) who has asked Bill (Jack Wagner) to lead the security team and he accepts with a very good reason in mind. Mountie Jack (Daniel Lissing) is keeping his eye on the new people coming into town.
The railroad means an influx of families and Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) receives new students each day while working on a book of stories. The children come with a series of problems and she works to make their adjustment easier. It also means more work for Lee Coulter (Kavan Smith) as the mill hires on more workers. Of course that means less time with Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) and don’t think for a second she doesn’t notice.
Abigail has her first conflict when the railroad wants to change the route plans that could put a farmer off his hard worked land. All these people also bring in the unsavory element as Jack needs bills help to stop a notorious gang from robbing the incoming stage coach.
With all these changes Elizabeth realizes she doesn’t have enough school supplies for the children and it’s suggested they have a fundraiser. Wyatt promises to help with the funds but instead he finds a way to get rid of his teacher problems. Rosemary decides she can’t just sit around waiting for Lee to come home and gets a job in Abigail’s café.
Bill believes there is something going on between the former Mayor and Wyatt. He begins to investigate and discovers there is someone who can help prove the case against Gowen and connect him to Wyatt. Jack meets up with a Mountie friend he considers a brother who is off to a dangerous post making Jack feel like he perhaps should be doing more himself.
Making the decision to take a post away from Hope Valley to help, Elizabeth is devastated not knowing when Jack will return. To make things bearable for her, Jack knows one way for them to stay in each other’s hearts. The town joins to see their favorite Mountie off promising to keep Hope Valley and the towns’ schoolteacher safe.
When a witness against Gowen manages to disappear, the former Mayor becomes Mayor again and he starts turning on everyone by beginning with Elizabeth’s job. She isn’t about to ignore her students and teaches them after school. Abigail knows Rosemary isn’t going to work at the café and hires the mysterious Carson Shepard which doesn’t make the town Pastor Frank (Mark Humphrey) very happy.
Bill finds the mysterious A.J. Foster (Josie Bissett) who has proof against Mayor Gowen but it takes some serious work to get her back to Hope Valley. All of this puts Abigail back in the Mayor’s seat and rethinking all the businesses with the railroad. Making things more difficult, Cody (Carter Evancic) becomes seriously ill and the mystery of Shepard becomes more clear as Abigail must make the hardest decision of her life.
Krakow as Elizabeth returns as Hope Valley’s favorite teacher and this season is challenged like never before. Not only are there more children with problems adjusting to their new town but facing adults who will do what they can to stop her from standing up for them. Krakow is endearing and so lovely with a bit of innocence that hangs on each season. When situations try to jade her beliefs, she stands firm and strong!
Lissing as Jack brings the pitter patter to hearts of Mountie lovers everywhere. This season brings a difficult decision for Jack as to where he should be and how he could be serving. It is such a difficult pull and to be away from Elizabeth is probably one of the first times I’ve seen this character crack a tear – oh wait, that was me! Lissing just gives Jack such honor and a gentleness of heart toward everyone in Hope Valley that he cares for. That makes for one fantastic character to play.
Loughlin as Abigail steps front and center this season as a different kind of leader for Hope Valley. It is clear that there are those who want to take advantage believing she doesn’t have what it takes but boy are they in for a surprise. Loughlin’s character learns fast and understands that she doesn’t have the luxury of taking her time on the job. She also continues to run her own business and raise Cody which means even on the frontier, a woman’s work is never done!
Wagner as Bill keeps the town of Hope Valley close to his heart and finds ways to make it a safe place to live. Working with Jack definitely does that but the investigator in him isn’t going to let anything get past him. Cummins as Gowen becomes the focus of Bill’s attention and as much as he tries to evade the law, this actor also gets the unique moments of showing the former Mayor as having a bit of heart.
Smith as Lee is the epitome of the most patient man I think I’ve ever seen. Keeping up with his booming business is the easiest thing he does all day because it is wife Rosemary that absolutely wears him out yet he is so understanding and even funny about it all. This season we see so many touching encounters between the newlyweds. Speaking of Rosemary, Hutton is the liveliest of the townsfolk. She is always on the go wanting to do what is best and even though it may not start out right, she manages to make it happen. Rosemary also cracks me up, especially when she doesn’t understand something.
SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite “Long Way North,” and the epic fantasy “Beauty And The Beast.” Also their own original horror film, “Fender Bender” gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT! Factory has to offer go to www.shoutfactory.com.
Janette Oke’s book “When Calls the Heart” became a series developed by Michael Landon Jr. airing on The Hallmark Channel. It has become the mainstay of families who want programming that share values that are still held dear. Each character that resides in Hope Valley has an important part of the storyline and personally I could not imagine the show without each and every one of them.
The town of Hope Valley brings a sense of community and the set where it is filmed is one I would love to visit with its frontier look. With the look and feel of the era, it brings such a richness to bring the viewer even further into the stories being told. Let’s not forget the amazing costuming from Jack’s very sharp Mounties uniform to Elizabeth’s beautiful dresses and even the outfits worn by the children.
Of course I am deliberately leaving out much of the storyline because I want the shows fans that may not have seen season four yet to experience it all for themselves. Trust me when I say this is the season of giving, living and a town that becomes even closer – if that’s possible! The DVD includes the special features of “A Look at Cast & Crew Panels from The Hearties Family Reunion!”
In case you are wondering, there absolutely is a fifth season but we all have to wait until early next year.
Hope Valley may be seeing change but the belief of the townspeople is filled with love, family, friendship and community makes it home.