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Chesapeake Shores - Pilot, Home To Roost Parts 1 & 2 - Review: "A Series Introduction" + Press Release



Chesapeake Shores is a new show on Hallmark Channel which follows the O’Brien family as they journey to find their way back together as a family. The first three episodes of the series brought the family back together in Chesapeake Shores and revealed the long-standing family issues that have kept them all apart for so long. What is abundantly clear, is that the O’Brien family isn’t without hope for repair, but if family patriarch Mick O’Brien (Treat Williams) has any chance of healing his divided family he will have to get them all back in the same place. Through some random events and some more serious circumstances the entire O’Brien family reunites over a single weekend for a much-needed reunion.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Before I get into the specifics of the review here is a brief introduction to the O’Brien family and a brief recap of these first three episodes:

The entry into the O’Brien family is the eldest sibling, Abby (Meghan Ory), who has been living a high paced career driven life in New York City. She has a less than ideal ex-husband, Wes (Michael Karl Richards), who is fighting her for primary custody of their two daughters, Caitlyn (Abbie Magnuson) and Carrie (Kayden Magnuson). Abby finds her way back to Chesapeake Shores after the youngest of the O’Brien clan, Jess (Laci J Mailey), begs her big sister to come home for a visit to help her with an undisclosed problem, which would turn out to be financial issues revolving around her endeavor to start her own bed and breakfast. While Abby is home she encounters her high school boyfriend, Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) who is back from Nashville after encountering difficulties trying to launch his music career, and it doesn’t take them long to try and pick up where they left off sixteen years prior. Things take a stressful turn when Mick’s mom, Nell (Diane Ladd), takes ill suddenly and is rushed to the hospital. This event leads to the return of eldest son Kevin (Brendan Penny) who is a Sergeant in the military, middle child Bree (Emilie Ullerup) who is a struggling playwright and an aspiring novelist, and youngest son Connor (Andrew Francis) who is an aspiring lawyer. To close out the impromptu family reunion, the O’Brien clan is also graced with an unexpected visit from Mick’s ex-wife and the mother of his children, Megan (Barbara Niven). Her arrival stirs up a lot of old feelings of abandonment from her adult children who are all at different stages of being able to deal with her leaving them after her divorce from Mick.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

While they are home, Abby and Bree each find themselves presented with reasons to make their return more permanent. Abby has decided she can be a better mom in a less high-paced environment and Bree thinks coming home is the cure for her writer's block that is threatening her career. The brothers, on the other hand, don’t find it quite as easy to return home. Connor is still struggling to find his place in the world and can’t commit like his sisters did. Kevin, whom I think would have stayed if he didn't have other obligations, is sent back out on another deployment leaving his family to worry about him. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before circumstances lead the brothers back home to join their sisters in an attempt to reconcile their family, but in the meantime, the O’Brien sisters have a lot of work to do to help set the stage for a full-on family reconciliation.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Above all else, this is a story about a realistic family trying to rediscover the bond they once shared. The O’Brien’s are a very realistically crafted family that goes through the same struggles as almost every real family watching them. In this large ensemble, there is at least one character that almost everyone can relate to making it easy for the audience to rapidly feel an investment in the show. These characters aren’t perfect, nor do they try to be, but even when they are fighting the love they share is evident. The three sisters are probably the closest of the O’Brien siblings. I get the impression that Abby and Bree more or less jointly helped raise Jess because she gravitates to them for whatever she needs. They are her rocks and their voices seem to get through to her more clearly than anyone else's. As far as the siblings are concerned Kevin is the favorite, but in reality, they are all loved equally even if they can’t always see it. Mick convinced Megan to let him keep the kids when they divorced, so they wouldn't have to be uprooted from their home and leave their friends, but even though they grew up with him they have as many issues with him as they do their mom. While Mick tried to do right by his family he went about it the wrong way and spent more time away from home than he did with his family. To heal the family these issues will have to be dealt with and that is no small task when they all have their different views on how the family fell apart in the first place. It’s the perfect setup for a series that has the potential for a very long and prosperous run.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

The beautiful thing about this show is that every single character regardless of generation is given equal story development. This isn’t one of those stories where the older generation is just forgotten or pushed aside in favor of the younger characters. Mick, Megan, and Nell are as actively involved in the story as any of the younger O’Brien’s are. In this series, every character matters as much as the next one and unfortunately that's something that doesn’t always happen in television. Mick’s struggles to rally his family together are perfectly portrayed by Williams who has proven throughout his career that no one can play a family patriarch quite like him. The ending to this week’s episode was heartbreaking because without a single word Williams managed to convey his regret over lost moments with his children. Despite the fact they grew up in his house he barely knows them and that fact is sinking in hard as he evaluates the lost years. Mick has a tough journey ahead, especially with Connor, to make up for lost time and Williams seems more than poised to carry Mick on this emotional journey. The show couldn't have picked any better actor to play Mick than Williams, and he proved that time and time again throughout the first batch of episodes.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

While Mick is dealing with resentment from his kids, Megan is struggling to reconnect with her children who feel abandoned by her. Niven has perfectly captured the struggle, especially in scenes she shares with Mailey. All of the scenes between Megan and her kids are beautifully crafted to show the years of tensions, but the struggle between Megan and Jess has been immensely fun to watch. Mailey has an incredible understanding of Jess and her issues with her mom and when combined with Niven they bring to life this rich and very real emotional struggle that is great to watch. It’s one of the relationships I’m most looking forward to see how it moves forward. Niven's talent isn't just limited to her scenes with Mailey, as she has forged great dynamics with all the actors playing her children. You can feel Megan's maternal desires trying to shine through, but Niven has found the perfect balance to not portray Megan as to overbearing. Megan understands the damage her leaving caused, and she knows that it's going to take some time to repair those wounds.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

The most emotionally grounded O'Brien is family matriarch, Gran Nell, who is the heart of this show and the family. She keeps the O’Brien family together and goes out of her way to include everyone, even her ex-daughter-in-law. Ladd couldn’t have been any better cast to play Nell. She can transition from a loving grandmother to a disciplinarian at the drop of a hat and all the grown O'Brien's still jump to attention when she speaks. Her health struggles have me worried, Nell helped raise a family of strong willed stubborn O’Brien’s and her strength is evident in each of them, but even the strongest can succumb to poor health. The stories of these three are every bit as prevalent and important as any other character and I applaud Chesapeake Shores for properly representing every generation of the family.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

The all inclusive and brilliant storytelling knows no limits and while some shows may push the younger siblings of the lead to the side, the stories of all the O’Brien children are as prevalent as their older sister. Because of that, no performer is left lingering on the outskirts of the series as sometimes happens in ensemble shows. Penny is in the series the least, but that’s by design because of his character's career, but he has made the most of his time so far and presented Kevin as a big-hearted big brother who loves his siblings fiercely and is willing to give up everything to protect his country. There have been hints that his life may be in danger in later episodes, and if for some awful reason he is killed off, fans of the show will never be able to forget Kevin thanks to Penny's light-hearted and sincere performance of the eldest O'Brien son. Though, I sincerely that doesn't happy. Penny is too good of an actor to lose so soon.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Ullerup brings so much sincerity to every character she plays, which makes it easy for the audience to connect to her characters. Bree is no exception and she perfectly transitions Bree from closed off to vulnerable in the blink of an eye. During the typewriter scene at the end of the last episode, tears were falling from Bree's face, but they were tears of pure happiness and Ullerup ensured that the audience clearly understood that. For the first time in a very long time, Bree was free of the confines of Chicago and her boyfriend Martin, a combination that has been suppressing her creativity, and she was finally able to reconnect with the craft that has brought her joy since she was seven. Outside of her career, Bree is very close to her sisters, and some of my favorite scenes have been between Bree, Abby, and Jess. The chemistry that Ullerup has with Ory and Mailey has aided in the creation of an organic sisterly relationship. Bree has as much trouble with her emotions as her siblings, but she seems slightly more in touch with them than the others and Ullerup's grand ability to convey the whole array of emotions will allow her to expertly guide Bree through the trials and tribulations that are surely ahead of her.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Francis brings fierceness to Connor that shows how fast the youngest O’Brien son had to grow up. He was always living in the shadow of his older siblings, in particular, Kevin, and even as an adult he’s struggling to carve out his own place in the world. Connor has a lot of issues with his dad and until he deals with them it will be hard for him to truly move on and accept his place back within the family. The dynamic that Francis has with Williams is so powerful that they can just look at each other and you can feel the tension between father and son, but you can also see the immense love just under the surface. Connor tries to hide years of frustration under adolescent behavior, which sometimes make him come across as a bit of a jerk, but at the end of the day, he just wants to find his place in the world. While he played it off as not wanting to be back home, he seemed genuinely hurt when Mick didn't encourage him to stay. He doesn't feel like he has a place in the fast-paced world of lawyers and he doesn't feel like he has a place in his own family. Connor has the longest journey to go on to find his way back home and back into the embrace of his family. Francis has been doing a phenomenal job showing all these conflicting complexities within Connor and he has taken a character that would normally annoy me and made me completely invested in his journey.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Mailey made an immediate impression with her bubbly take on Jess which ended up being a bit of an act. Even before the dialogue revealed what was bothering Jess, Mailey made subtle changes in her performance throughout the first episode that made it evident there was more to Jess than we knew at that point. Jess was the most impacted when their parents divorced and it left deep-rooted emotional problems. In the last episode when Bree was trying to get through to Jess about their mom, Mailey took Jess from perfectly receptive to talking to her sister to shutting her out completely. Usually during scenes like this performers need to be completely connected in order to convey everything that is going on with their characters below the surface, but in this case Mailey had to go from completely connected to Ullerup to disconnected halfway through the scene and she dropped their connection so fast that you could almost see Jess throw up her emotional walls. It was a powerful moment of acting brilliance and was perfectly executed. She has a great gift for making those shifts mid-scene that is perfectly suited for Jess and her emotional struggles. I watched her in Falling Skies and was immensely impressed by her work on that show and I've been equally enthralled by the work she has done so far on Chesapeake Shores.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

The top two billed actors in this series are Jesse Metcalfe and Meghan Ory, and while they do carry a large portion of the series they never overshadow their co-stars. It’s obvious that their characters are the primary relationship in the series with Abby and Trace trying to figure out if it’s possible for them to be together as adults with all the baggage they each bring with them. This is a relationship that required instant chemistry between the performers in order to sell the long-standing feelings between the characters. Luckily, Metcalfe and Ory have worked together before a few times, but most closely and recently on the movie Dead Rising: Watchtower, so they came into this series with already established chemistry. That really aided in the feeling that their characters have long been in love with each other because the moment the characters laid eyes on each other the actors easily fell into a well-established rhythm together. Casting actors who have worked together previously to play love interests was a genius move because they came in with built-in chemistry.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams)

They are a powerful duo, but they each are extremely talented performers on their own. Ory is a well-known actress who has covered just about every genre possible. She has proven herself more than capable of carrying a series and does so with grace and integrity. As one of the primary leads, and the primary link to the O’Brien family, she has to have impeccable chemistry with every single member of the cast and she establishes the weight of each bond within seconds of first sharing scenes with someone new. These people are Abby’s life and no matter how long she is away from them she easily falls back into a rhythm with them. This instant chemistry even extends to her youngest co-stars, children are notoriously hard to work with and sometimes performers struggle to connect with the kids playing their children, but luckily Ory doesn’t have that problem. Whenever Abby is with her daughters you can feel Abby’s love for them without her having to say a single thing. In many ways, Abby isn’t all that different from her dad, who she struggles to connect with because of all the time he spent away from home working, and she doesn’t want her daughters to have the same issues with her. A multitude of reasons led Abby to return home permanently, but none were quite as prevalent as her not wanting to repeat history with her own daughters. She can’t undo the fact that she is divorced and fighting with their father, but she can do everything in her power to be there for her girls during this tough time. Ory deserves a show like this that will allow her to show off her full range and I suspect this is just the beginning of a very complex journey for Abby.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Metcalfe is an extremely charismatic actor who lights up the screen with his performance. That comes in handy since he has the unusual responsibility to be portraying the only series regular character that isn’t an O’Brien. That could have the potential to make his character feel out of place, but between tactful writing and dynamic work by Metcalfe, Trace always feels present in every aspect of the show. His interactions are primarily with Ory, and since their chemistry was already established it was no surprise that they were so easily able to connect, but even knowing how they work together I was surprised by how intense their interactions were from the very beginning. From the moment Abby and Trace saw each other at the bank it was evident that these two had an intense history together. They have a long path ahead of them to be able to rekindle the romance they once had, but with the electric spark Ory and Metcalfe ignite within their characters, I'm not sure how long the show will be able to realistically keep them as just friends. They’ve built a fair amount of mystery around Trace’s time in Nashville including the mystery called, and I think once all that comes boiling to the surface Metcalfe is going to be given even more dynamic scenes to play. I hope once that part of the story gets going Metcalfe will be able to show off more of his musicality. I have heard snippets of him singing and has a really good voice that perfectly suits Trace's Nashville aspirations. He's more than just Abby's love interest and that will allow Trace to be a sustainable character for the run of the series. He and Ory have set the tone for the series and together they have the ability to carry it for many seasons. When combined with their fellow all-star castmates this series has incredible potential for longevity.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

In fact, this entire series was perfectly cast. The characters have believable chemistry and the actors have an incredible grasp on their characters. I must admit that I was originally drawn to this show because of Metcalfe, Ory, and Ullerup all of whom I’ve enjoyed watching since their careers began. The fact that Ory and Ullerup ended up in a series together is essentially my dream casting. While I came to the show for these three, I stayed because of the entire cast who are all extremely gifted as well as the engaging story that leaves me excited to watch each episode. I normally don’t enjoy watching family drama’s, rarely do they keep me engaged enough to keep watching much beyond the first episode or two. There have been a few exceptions over the years, but they are very few and far between. However, if every family drama was just like Chesapeake Shores I may be inclined to watch them more often.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

While I’m in confession mode, I should also admit to my erroneous judgment of Hallmark Channel’s original programming that almost made me steer away from this show despite the cast. I enjoy Hallmark movies, but I have to watch them in small doses, so I figured there was no way I could sit through an entire series. I figured that everything on their network would be full on sappy and would lack substance, therefore, making it nearly impossible for a series to be sustainable for a long run. Well, I’m happy to admit to being completely and utterly wrong. There is some sappiness, but it’s kept to a minimum and worked in very organically to the story. I was too quick to judge the network based off of nothing but my own preconceived notion. Chesapeake Shores has given me a whole new respect for the network and if I can carve out some free time to do a little binge watching I’m strongly contemplating checking out their two other original series now. I say this because I want anyone else on the fence about this series, simply because of its network, to give it a shot. Check out the pilot and if that doesn’t engage you then maybe it’s not a show for you, but don’t disregard it just because of the network it airs on. Learn from my mistakes, don't almost miss out on a great series just because of where it airs, give the show a chance and judge it for its own premise.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams)

These first three episodes have had some really poignant moments. Including, but not limited to, all the Trace and Abby moments, Abby saying goodbye to Kevin before he left on deployment, all the scenes between the sisters, the family rallying around Abby after Wes served her with the custody papers, Connor and Mick dealing with their strained relationship, and everything in between. The initial ratings for the series have skewed older and female, but I think this is a series that can and will appeal to just about anyone who is willing to give it a try. I've never read the book series this show is based on and this is absolutely not a show that I would normally enjoy, but it still keeps me engaged and entertained. The O’Brien family is a richly complicated family that should be a joy to watch throughout this season, and hopefully, many more to come.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Tune in for the next new episode on Sunday, September 4th at 9/8C on Hallmark Channel.

We’re trying to judge if this is a series that SpoilerTV will cover on a regular basis, so please let us know in the comments if you would like to see regular reviews and content for this show. We need to know that there is an audience here on the site to warrant all the work that goes into covering a show. So, if you want to see us bring on full-time coverage of Chesapeake Shores please help us spread the word about the articles and polls we’ll be posting over the next couple weeks.
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this show. Do you think Abby and Trace can find their way back together? Will Abby be able to keep Wes from taking custody of the girls from her? Will Jess be able to get the B&B open without help from her dad? Can Bree escape her writer's block now that she’s back home? What have been your favorite parts of the series so far?
(Photo credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Marcel Williams)

On the next episode of Chesapeake Shores:


STUDIO CITY, CA – August 22 – In “We’re Not Losing a Son…” premiering Sunday,
September 4 (9 p.m. ET/PT), Abby (Meghan Ory) and Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) are navigating their new friendship when a visitor from Trace’s past in Nashville arrives in Chesapeake Shores, looking to settle unfinished business. Once his music partner, Leigh Corley (Brittany Willacy) is a beautiful singer whose history with Trace seems to go beyond just a creative collaboration. As Leigh makes herself at home at the B&B, Jess (Laci Mailey) and Bree (Emilie Ullerup) wonder what her arrival means for Abby, who is distracted as she starts her job in Baltimore. Meanwhile, Mick (Treat Williams) takes Nell’s (Diane Ladd) advice and fights the urge to meddle in Jess’s business by diving into a new project. In New York, Megan (Barbara Niven) meets with Connor (Andrew Francis) face-to-face hoping to get through to him, but Connor’s bottled up resentment soon boils over and dashes Megan’s hopes for reconciliation. Leigh uncovers the painful truth about Trace’s refusal to return to his music career while Abby is caught off guard as she sees just how close Leigh and Trace really are. As Abby is left uncertain about her feelings for Trace, the entire O’Brien family receives a devastating call that leaves them blind-sided.

Also starring: Kayden Magnuson (Carrie Winters), Abbie Magnuson (Caitlyn Winters) and Serge Houde (Del Granger).

“Chesapeake Shores” is a Chesapeake Shores S1 Production in association with Daniel L. Paulson Entertainment, based on the novels by Sherryl Woods. Dan Paulson, John Tinker, Nancey Silvers, Sherryl Woods and Martin Wood are the executive producers. Co-executive producers are Steve Kennedy and Ben Mallin. Directed by Martin Wood from a script by Nancey Silvers.

TWITTER: @HallmarkChannel, @jessemetcalfe, @Rtreatwilliams, #ChesapeakeShores


About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a newspaper in North Carolina and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was. She has a long list of shows that she loves to watch and can be found on twitter (@ahicks83) live tweeting about each new episode whenever she can. If the show is sci-fi, fantasy, comic book based, drama, or action the odds are good she watches it or has at least watched a few episodes of it. She also has a love for comedies 2 Broke Girls and Mom. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island (lostvideo.net) which is still operating under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
You can email her at aimee@spoilertv.com.
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