You can breathe a little sigh of relief, Hearties! Hallmark is not canceling When Calls the Heart in the wake of Lori Loughlin’s college admission scandal. While Hallmark did fire Loughlin and sever all ties with the star, the network wants its loyal viewers to know that the show itself is not in jeopardy. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few growing pains as Hallmark works out how to air the remaining episodes Loughlin has already filmed — and that includes no new episode of When Calls the Heart tonight. Here’s what we know.
Understandably, fans got nervous when news broke that Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media, had “stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin.” In When Calls the Heart, Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, the mayor of fictional Hope Valley and a key character. But on Friday, the Hallmark Channel shared a heartfelt post on their Instagram account addressed to viewers of the series. Along with a photo of the scenic town the show centers on, the network wrote, #Hearties, we assure you that Hallmark Channel has no plans to cancel When Calls the Heart. Hope Valley has many more stories left to share and we will let you know the details soon.”
Based on Janette Oke’s Canadian West series of books by the same name, When Calls the Heart has been a ratings boon for Hallmark. The series’ two-hour Christmas special, the premiere of the sixth season, was the highest-rated and most-watched episode in the series’ history. According to Cinema Blend, that bumped When Calls the Heart to the third original scripted cable series on television this year so far.
So, it’s not surprising that the network wasn’t ready to walk away from that sort of successful programming. That’s the good news. The unfortunate news remains that the series has gone on hiatus with no return date at this point. That means that tonight’s planned episode (the fourth of season six) will not air. Prior to the impromptu suspension, the episode’s logline read: “Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) is confronted by memories when a new Mountie comes to Hope Valley. Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) buys a telephone and Lee (Kavan Smith) worries this new technology will contribute to his wife’s gossipy tendencies. Meanwhile, Jesse’s (Aren Buchholz) jealousy of Clara’s (Eva Bourne) boss reaches a boiling point.”
That synopsis could easily change, though, since Hallmark has said it is evaluating all of its “creative options” in moving forward without Loughlin. Which — curses! — means we’ll have to wait even longer to meet new Mountie Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry).