Sunday, February 28, 2016

Show of the Month: February: Heartland

I have always loved horses and anything about the Great Plains (especially after first seeing one of my all-time favorite movies, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron).  Anyway, although Heartland came out in 2007, it isn’t really dated, and simply is a decent family drama about the lives of a grandfather, his two granddaughters, and the others that come and go at their ranch in Alberta, Canada.  So far, there are six seasons up on Netflix.

The main character is Amy Fleming, a teenager with a special gift inherited from her mom, who had a renowned connection with horses, particularly ones who needed special help.  To be honest, just as many people come into the ranch with problems to solve as the horses.  Amy’s sister Lou, acts as the manager of Heartland Ranch, and their Grandfather, Jack, is the levelheaded owner of the entire acreage.  They have to take over Amy and Lou’s mother Marion’s work at Heartland after she has an accident after rescuing a mistreated horse named Spartan.  Larger problems within the episodes are mingled with the smaller everyday issues of those in Heartland and their neighbors.

The acting is pretty good, and on the whole the cast of characters has a decent spectrum of personality, ranging from steadfast Jack, impulsive Mallory (the neighboring girl who prefers to live at Heartland), bossy but endearing Lou, na├»ve and spirited Amy, Lou and Amy’s somewhat narcissistic father Tim, the rather chivalrous but ranch hand Ty (who comes to Heartland on probation), spiteful Val and her spoiled daughter Ashley, to the other motley characters that grow and change during the course of the series.  As I mentioned, the characters do usually develop, and the irritating or negative ones often really have a reason for being the way they are, and often accept the help of others.

The scenery of the location is one of the best parts about Heartland, from the traditional large cabin home shared by the main characters, with a huge fireplace build before Jack was born, surrounded by acres of spectacular grasslands, pastures, forests, streams, and neighboring farmland, all encircled by enormous blue snow-peaked mountains in the distance.  The music also helps in setting the scene, with light background guitar strumming and different country songs at the end of every episode, with special attention to the particular mood driving each episode.

I have a few favorite episodes, including the one where Amy visits an old friend of her mother’s, a Native American man whose way with horses and people through spiritual means is unrivaled, and reaches both those in the TV and those watching thousands of miles away on their couch watching this fictional episode.

I also love the one that goes through Jack’s mind and memories as he is forced to accept the ancient truck his wife gave him is going to have to be replaced.  I also simply enjoy the trivial daily activities that I like in other shows and in books too, like pouring coffee or playing games.  (I loved little details like that in books like the Harry Potter series, it made the characters more “real”.)

I have been watching this show on and off for a few months, and have been binge-watching from the end of the first season well into the third for several weeks now.  There are plenty more seasons after this, so I may have to add to this post in the future.  I would give Heartland a solid four star rating, only detracting because of some underdeveloped characters, and some slightly misdelivered lines.  All in all, Heartland is pretty much a depiction of the introduction song, which is to “dream on”.

The show for next month I have planned already, as February, being as simultaneously cold and snowy and icy as warm and mucky, hasn’t been ideal for much in my free time that has to do with the outdoors.  Meh.  I assume the first half of March won’t be much different.  Stay tuned for Poldark as March’s show of the month!

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