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Although I?m not a big fan of romantic fiction, I?ve read every book in Robyn Carr?s multi-book Virgin River series. Here?s the premise: Recently widowed nurse-practitioner and midwife Mel Monroe heads north to escape heartache, landing in the remote, mountain town of Virgin River. She soon meets former marine Jack Sheridan, who falls in love with Mel at first sight. Jack is the buoy who keeps Mel afloat as she works to prove herself to the community, and to move beyond her painful past. Jack appears to have his life together, while vowing to keep real love at a distance ? until he lays eyes on Mel. He?ll do anything to keep her in his life, from teaching her to fish, to supplying her with endless cups of gourmet coffee, to remodeling her death-trap of a cabin.
As brought to life by Netflix, Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Jack (played by former Grey?s Anatomy heartthrob Martin Henderson) have incredible on-screen chemistry. This is an important element because we need to be rooting for Mel-and-Jack from the start, and engaged enough to keep watching for most of Season 1 before things really get going. Even though these actors don?t exactly resemble the physical descriptions envisioned by Carr, it doesn?t matter, because they get most of the rest right. Alexandra Breckenridge?s ?Mel? has just the right amount of smarts and sass, professionalism and compassion. She?s broken-hearted but not broken, as she keeps telling her ever-watchful sister, Joey (Jenny Cooper). Although she?s suffered devastating loss, she?s confident enough to make us believe in her ability to move on.
‘Virgin River’ Season 1: Netflix Release Date, Plot, Cast & Trailer – What’s on Netflix
Netflix has amassed a growing number of Christmas Originals for 2019, but thankfully there are still some Originals?
Martin Henderson?s ?Jack? is clearly a leader of men ? in the killing fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, and of those who have made it home, more or less in one piece. He?d lay down his life for every one of them, and they know it, which keeps them coming back to reconnect, drink whiskey, and tell war stories. And, as we learn midway through Season 1, Jack is also the kind of man you want by your side when you?re a woman abducted and driven to an illegal grow operation to treat a criminal?s gunshot wound and to save the life of a mother (Nicolette Pearse) and her child faced with a breech birth.
It?s refreshing to see such strong independent characters who, while madly attracted to each other, are completely able to stand on their own two feet.
Virgin River (TV Series 2019- ) – IMDb
Created by Sue Tenney. With Alexandra Breckenridge, Martin Henderson, Colin Lawrence, Annette O’Toole. Centers around?
Jack?s side-kick, ?Preacher,? played by a tall-and-ripped Colin Lawrence, gratifyingly fits the physical description from the book. It?s immediately obvious he?s going to end up with Paige Lassisiter, sweetly played by Lexa Doig, but that wary look in her eyes tells us there?s trouble beneath her small-town cheerful surface. She?ll be lucky to have a man like Preacher looking out for her as she dodges her abusive, police-officer ex-husband. Doig doesn?t overact the part of a victim of domestic violence: She?s wary but savvy, wounded but strong, and committed to her own survival above all.
Lauren Hammersley?s nuanced performance as Jack?s ex Charmaine Roberts, sneaks up on you slowly, avoiding all of the usual stereotypes. I was particularly happy to see this character fleshed out ? not just the inconvenient ex who?s preventing Jack and Mel from riding off over the redwood-studded hills into the sunset. In the books, Charmaine has her own story to tell, and I hope the series will let her tell it.
Lynda Boyd is fantastically vulnerable as Lily, an older mother suffering from postpartum depression, who temporarily surrenders her baby girl. Boyd?s face can convey so much emotion that it hardly matters what lines she?s given. And she?s just terrific, here. It will be interesting to watch her redeem herself in the face of small-town gossip and narrow-minded judgment.
Lynda Boyd ? IMDb
Lynda Boyd, Actress: The Age of Adaline. Lynda Boyd has been an actress for over 30 years. She was born in Vancouver?
Here?s my major quibble with the ?Virgin River? cast of characters: there seems to have been a whopping casting error in the role of Hope, the town?s mayor and Mel?s official employer. Written by Robyn Carr as a whiskey-swilling, trench-coat-wearing old broad, Hope?s shenanigans in the books were a hoot, but, overall, she wasn?t a major character.
Now, after binge-watching the entire first season, I?ve concluded that Annette O?Toole?s performance as Hope McCrea is problematic. Her manner of speaking is both unnatural and uncomfortable. Plus, her faintly patrician looks can not possibly portray the crusty Hope McCrea, no matter how much flannel she wears ? and what?s with the heavy coating of orange lipstick in every scene? It?s completely out of character, but I suppose it?s intended to convey a certain aging sexiness. As if a small-town woman from Northern California can?t be sexy without wearing a petroleum product. But lipstick-and-flannel aside, the series creators have also placed ?Hope? in the center of the action, while also making her character horrendously annoying. These are two unfortunate decisions that impact the series as a whole. In Season 2, it would be so nice if ?Hope? takes herself on a 10-episode-long vacation.
?Virgin River? combines plot-lines from several of Carr?s early books in the first season. So, if the series is intended to run for a while, there will obviously have to be new characters and trajectories, which will help to keep the series fresh for Carr?s many fans. (The Virgin River books were very popular, and deservedly so.) Season 1 consists of ten compelling episodes, and Season 2 filming has just finished. If you?re looking for an engaging series with quirky characters and a believable romantic connection ? check out Virgin River, now streaming on Netflix.
Wendy Cohan is a fresh new voice for women. Follow her on Facebook.