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

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love airs Saturday (6/6) @ 9 PM (ET) on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Synopsis: The latest two-hour installment of the likable series from Martha Williamson (Touched by an Angel) finds lead postal detective Oliver (Eric Mabius) dealing with the return of his wife Holly (Poppy Montgomery of Unforgettable), who left him to seek romance and adventure in Paris, just as he and his team of investigators are tasked with delivering a lost document to a couple at a marital crossroads.

Mini-Review: A must-see episode for fans of the show that resolves and simultaneously moves forward the series’ ongoing plot threads — notably the fate of Oliver’s marriage, the unspoken romantic attractions between he and his impulsive lead investigator Shane (Kristin Booth) and between achingly-shy team members Rita (Crystal Lowe) and Norm (Geoff Gustafson). While the episode is a special treat for those who have watched these characters  grow from the 2014 SS&D pilot film, through the Hallmark Channel weekly series to these movie-length specials on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, there’s enough humor and heart here to pull in new viewers too. I like the irony of a lost letter reconnecting Oliver with the estranged wife he still cares for. There’s also a nice message about the healing power of forgiveness.

While I still feel that the show is generally best delivered in weekly hour-long installments — I feel like we’ve jumped to the two-hour season finale while missing some good smaller stories leading up to it — SS&D remains a refreshingly-kind TV franchise that I hope continues for many seasons to come. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris with Love is Recommended. 

Note: Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas, the previous film in the series, recently won a Christopher Award for exemplifying the organization’s motto that “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Christophers Director of Communications Tony Rossi has some interesting insights about this latest effort that you can read here.

Love Finds You in Charm airs Sunday (7/7) @ 7:00 PM (ET) on UP TV.

Synopsis: A beautiful, young Amish woman named Emma Miller (Danielle Chuchran) spends the fall in scenic Charm, Ohio with relatives and soon finds herself pulled between two worlds and three men. Based on the novel by Annalisa Daughety. Filmed in Charm and Sugarcreek, Ohio, the heart of Amish country.  

Mini-Review: Will it be the Amish young man from her home community Jakob (Kellen Boyle), the Amish guy in Charm named Noah (Trevor Donovan) who bears a striking resemblance to a young Brad Pitt or will it be the superficially charming food writer Andy (Drew Fuller) who is interested in more than Emma’s prize-winning cheese? Such is the choice facing our likable heroine. Who will she choose? Personally, I’ve learned in movie, and in life, never to bet against the guy who looks like Brad Pitt. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so I won’t tell you if that rule applies here. Thou will have to guess.

Love Finds You in Charm is the second installment of the UP’s Love Find You… romantic anthology film series (based on the popular book titles). The first, Love Finds You in Sugarcreek (based on the novel by Serena B. Miller) was a big ratings success for UP when it debuted last June. Both scripts were written by Bryar Freed who provides strong naturalistic dialogue for the characters who come across as fully believable. As a result, the film is unpretentious while, at the same time, it takes its subject matter seriously.

And, though the romantic tension at the center of the film works, the most interesting relationship is actually between Emma and Kelly (Tiffany Dupont), her “Englisher” (which is apparently an Amish term for Americans outside their community)  friend who is in Charm helping out at her family’s restaurant while also fleeing an abusive former boyfriend. The friendship that develops between the two women from different worlds is sweet and totally believable. The casting in Charm is also top notch, as you get the feeling the young leads are all headed for bigger things.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to Charm. I think you will too. Love Finds You in Charm is Recommended.

Beyond the Mask premieres in theaters tonight (6/5) in  in 100 cities coast to coast— from Washington, D.C. to Seattle.

Synopsis (from the film’s website): The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds has just been double-crossed and now is on the run in the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he’s never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte – as well as Ben Franklin – while he races against time to defuse a plot of historical proportions. (Rated PG)

Cast: Andrew Cheney (Seasons of Grey), Kara Killmer (Chicago Fire), John Rhys-Davies (Return to the Hiding Place), Ade M’Cormack (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Adam Madlane, Samrat Chakrabarti (The Waiting City) , Tom Mahard (Gran Torino), John Arden McClure  and Rich Swingle (Indescribable). Produced by Aaron Burns. Directed by Chad Burns. Written by Paul McCusker with Stephen Kendrick.
I reviewed Beyond the Mask when it previewed last April. You can read that post here — but, cutting to the chase (and there are lots of chases in the film), Beyond the Mask is Recommended. 

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

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