Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Fall TV arrives early on UP and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. If you’re planning a relaxing Post-Labor Day weekend at home, here are a few TV offerings that may interest you.

Dancin’ the Dream debuts tonight (Saturday, 9/12) @ 8:00 PM ET (with two back-to-back episodes) on UP TV.

UP original dance reality show follows eight young dancers today ( ranging in age from 9 to 15) as they audition for a featured role in a music video. The premiere episodes feature pop star singer/songwriter Leona Lewis hit single Fire Under My Feet and singer/YouTube sensation Jade Novah’s single Blood, Sweat & Tears

Mini-Review: I never heard of either of the music stars — indicating that I’m probably not the target audience for this. Kids and adults who really enjoy dance may get into it though. 

The UP Premiere Movie Welcome Home airs tomorrow (Sunday, 9/13) @ 7:00 PM ET on UP TV.

Synopsis (from UP’s press release): After a hugely successful debut novel, Stewart Paylor (Luke Perry) is supposed to be delivering chapters of his new book. Unbeknownst to everyone around him, including Cynthia (Erica Cerra) his literary agent/girlfriend, Stewart has writer’s block and has not written a word. His life goes even further astray when he returns home from a vacation to find a homeless mother at her breaking point. Cassandra (Camille Sullivan), and her two children, 12-year old Jake (Will Verchere-Gopaulsingh) and 9-year old Vera (Kayden Magnuson) have been squatting in his house, with nowhere to go.

Welcome Home was executive produced by Luke Perry, Ira Pincus, John Morayniss and John Ritchie, and produced by Entertainment One Television. The film’s ensemble cast includes Camille Sullivan (The Butterfly Effect, Shattered), Will Verchere-Gopaulsingh (When Calls the Heart, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Kayden Magnuson (The Whispers), Erica Cerra (The 100, Eureka) and Susan Hogan (CAT. 8, The Christmas Secret).

Mini-Review: This one will sneak up on you. Luke Perry (who also has a recurring role in the UP series Ties That Bind) is thoroughly believable as the guy with his own problems who resists being drawn into the problems of a homeless family that has squatted at his home while he was away. Of course, this being UP, his heart softens and by the end he really cares about their plight. The good thing is you will too.

I know this because when I was watching the preview reel I was provided with it froze about 3/5th of the way through. I had to spend some time getting the darn thing to work. But I did — and not just because I wanted to be able to honestly say I watched the whole film. Rather, I honestly wanted to watch the whole film. I cared about characters and wanted to see what happened to them. That’s the true sign of a good film. Recommended.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told airs tomorrow (Sunday, 9/13) @ 9:00 PM ET on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Synopsis: The Postal detectives are drawn into a mystery involving the circumstances of a female soldier’s disappearance in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, lead detective Oliver O’Toole (Eric Mabius) is suddenly contacted by his estranged father.  Also starring Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson. Created and written by Martha Williamson (Touched by an Angel). Executive produced by Williamson, Michael Prupas and Joel S. Rice.

The latest movie-length episode of this enjoyable series arrives with Oliver confronting yet another person from his past who ripped his heart out. Previously, we met his ex-wife who some time earlier had run off to Paris. Now, it’s his pop (guest star Gregory Harrison) who pops in — with a secret to reveal.  On the job, the team delivers a charred and battered letter to a teen girl whose mother disappeared in Afghanistan under controversial circumstances. When the girl wants to know who sent the mangled letter and why, the kind-hearted detectives look for answers.

Both plots have enough twists and turns to fill up two hours and both have the sort satisfying emotional payoffs that you’ve come to expect from the series. As always, Signed, Sealed, Delivered works because Williamson has created a brilliant premise featuring interesting and likable characters who are simply trying to help other people. It reminds me classic shows from nineties like Quantum Leap, Early Edition and, of course, Williamson’s own Touched by an Angel. In cynical times like these, we need shows like those more than ever. As usual, Signed, Sealed, Delivered delivers. Recommended.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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