Are you suffering from crime-show fatigue?
CSF is a condition that afflicts TV viewers exposed to too many hours of formulaic crime dramas, shows that feature ruthless killers, bloody murder scenes, glib detective banter and cases closed in an hour.
Meghan Ory had an acute case of it, not only as a viewer but also as an actress.
“I was ready for a show like Parenthood, which was one of my favorites,” she says. “I love stories that deal with family dynamics and human relationships and real emotions that are part of everyday life.”
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Ory, who’s perhaps best known as Ruby Lucas/Red Riding Hood on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, got the Parenthood-style show she was looking for.
I love stories that deal with family dynamics and human relationships and real emotions that are part of everyday life.
She’s now the leading lady of Chesapeake Shores, a charming Hallmark Channel family drama that premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday.
It’s warm-and-fuzzy TV. It’s video comfort food. It’s a sure cure for CSF.
Ory plays Abby O’Brien, an unfulfilled divorcee and mom of twin girls. In the two-hour premiere, she will trade her demanding New York career for a slower pace and the chance at hands-on parenting in her picturesque Maryland hometown.
Abby also will generate new sparks with the high school flame she left behind, even though she’ll try to resist him. It won’t be easy to fight her feelings, because Trace Riley, would-be country music star, is winningly played by Jesse Metcalfe (formerly of TNT’s Dallas).
Chesapeake Shores also stars Treat Williams as Abby’s divorced dad, a man who practically built this entire town, and Diane Ladd as Abby’s grandmother, the wise matriarch of the O’Brien family.
The series suggests that maybe it’s a good idea to slow down, get out of the rat race, pay more attention to family and relationships, and even take better care of yourself. Forget toiling away at a soul-crushing job while serving clients you really couldn’t care less about.
This isn’t a radically new idea, but it might not be bad to get a reminder, given that we live in a culture where a great many of us define ourselves first and foremost by the work that we do.
“That’s an important element of the show and it’s something that’s nice to be able to put out into the world, the idea that there are other things to pay attention to,” Ory says. “Abby discovers that you can take a step back from being purely work-driven, from striving and striving and striving.
“I like the balance that she finds in the pilot in her life and work. It’s a balance that she continues to find throughout the course of the series.”
Meanwhile, viewers will be captivated by the will-they-again-or-won’t-they? vibe that Abby and Trace have happening. They kiss in the premiere. But don’t expect them to go racing to bed.
“They were first loves and they’re still drawn to each other,” Ory says. “But they’ve been apart for a long time and they’ve changed. I think it may take some time for them to get to know each other again.”
Abby and Trace have an instant chemistry in large part because the actors are old friends.
“Jesse and I worked together for the first time in a movie called John Tucker Must Die, which was way, way long ago (2006),” Ory says. “We did another movie together two years ago (Dead Rising: Watchtower, a zombie flick).
“It was pretty easy to have this on-screen relationship because we already knew each other and know how the other one works. We were lucky. Creating a history can be difficult, but we already had it.”
North Texas viewers may recognize Jesse Metcalfe from his role on the Dallas reboot, as Bobby Ewing’s son.
Hallmark Channel programming often promotes a big-city-life-is-bad-for-you/country-life-is-good-for-you philosophy that’s overly simplistic, and this show is no different.
That said, Chesapeake Shores sure seems like an appealing place to live.
The series is actually filmed on Vancouver Island, where Canadian-born Ory grew up.
“It’s a case of life imitating art for me,” she says. “I’m playing a character who moves back to her hometown and reconnects with everyone she knew before moving away. Meanwhile, for me, I have never spent so much time back on the island since I moved away to Los Angeles almost 20 years ago.
“So making this show has actually given me a chance to reconnect with many of my old friends and to see my parents more than I regularly do. It’s funny how that worked out.”
- 8 p.m. Sunday
- Hallmark Channel