How does a Hallmark resolve a fallout with the actress who is the star of their most popular movie mystery series? Reboot the series the character’s early years and cast a younger actress, it would seem. Candace Cameron Bure’s departure from Hallmark and partnership with its competitor Great American Family was quite the shakeup for the network, and it seems that it was merely the beginning for an even bigger shakeup, as Hallmark witnessed a mass exodus of their talent pool and the cancellation of some of its popular mystery movie series. However, as the name of this would suggest, the network clearly suggests that they are ready for something new. The issue with that is that this reboot in my opinion I highly doubt is going to help them achieve that goal. I’ll give them points for wanting to break new ground. However, I question if rebooting the series is truly breaking new ground or praying that lightning strikes twice. Love her or hate her, the Candace Cameron Bure-led series was without a doubt the network’s biggest moneymaker, so I can understand the desire to keep a good thing going. That being said, I have doubts about Skylar Samuels filling those enormous shoes.
Let me preface this by saying my knowledge of the series is extremely limited. While I’ve always had some familiarity with of the series and its popularity, it was not exactly my cup of tea. It always just seemed a bit too unorthodox. To my recollection, Aurora, or Roe as she’s called by her friends, is a librarian, so her involvement in murders just always seemed strange. To be fair, most of Hallmark’s mysteries tend to follow this formula of people with no reason to be solving crimes, solving crimes. Even so, it was a bit difficult to wrap my head around. Learning that the franchise is based off a series of Charlaine Harris novels aided in the acceptance of this premise.
Back on subject, Something New was not a strong introduction in my opinion. Scaling the clocks back to Aurora when she is on the verge of graduating college and just moving back home was a good idea, as it gave the feeling of meeting this character investigating her first mystery. This was an appealing concept, because it was like being included in the character’s journey. It was an opportunity to see how the character honed her investigative skills. In execution, though, it really was just watching her bumbling along and putting herself in dangerous situations. While this is likely a recurring theme for the series, in this incarnation it just came across as tedious. In this installment, Aurora is determined to help her best friend, Sally, whose fiancée finds himself the main suspect in a murder at his home on the eve of their wedding. Torn between her suspicions about her friend’s fiancée and her loyalty to her friend, Aurora digs into the man’s past and discovers some things that call his character into question.
My issue is that the entire film feels templated and unoriginal. In truth, I solved the crime and identified the guilty party within minutes of the crime transpiring. I won’t give anything away, but for me that took all the fun out the story for me and just made me want to jump ahead to confirm my hypothesis. Things got pretty stale then. The film tried to keep you guessing by throwing in some sketchy and shifty characters who could have easily also been responsible, but I was undeterred. Given the character’s preoccupations, I just knew it had to be them.
Another downside to doing a prequel of a character: you know that no matter what danger they find themselves in, they can’t die. That diminishes any attempts to build suspense. I mean, sure, they can get seriously hurt, but even that can only go so far, because their destiny is already predetermined. So when Aurora inevitably finds herself in danger, I wasn’t able to get into it given this predestined knowledge. With the knowledge that this is likely intended to serve as the first series, all I can say is that I hope the next one has a better story.