Is it possible for a letter to be the answer someone's prayers in the age where technology has taken over every aspect of life? That's part of the premise behind the Hallmark Channel's new original series "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," which had one group of dedicated employees trying to put their own spin to help people find what they're looking for out of life. Despite an initially rough start, the show has found a proper balance to tell its weekly episodes.
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" followed a group of dedicated Post Office employees in the Dead Letter Office who went to great lengths to make sure that undelivered letters get to the right recipients. The group was run by Oliver O'Toole (Eric Mabius) who used his stellar detective skills to help get each letter sent to right person. He believed in falling the rules, but he was also willing to think outside the box whenever necessary. New hire Shane McInerney (Kristin Booth) was initially placed in the department by mistake, but she soon became a valuable employee as she used her profound technology skills to find people not easily found. She was also developing a strong connection with Oliver, even though he had some unresolved issues with his estranged wife who left him for parts unknown over a year ago. Oliver's team was founded out by a unique duo who used their own skills to help find people. Rita Haywith (Crystal Lowe) had a photographic memory that made it impossible to forget everything that she ever read even for the briefest of moments. She also had a romantic view of life that had her believing that everything will work out in the end. The team also had Norman Dorman (Geoff Gustafson) who had a very strong understanding of researching things the old fashioned way at sometimes greater speed than Shane could find soemthing on her computer. The team was also visited by two very different supervisors (Valerie Harper and Della Reese) with their own style of leading that could be either a good, or a bad, thing for the team. Will Oliver and Shane be able to keep the Dead Letter Office going or will they have to find a new job?
In terms of questions, the show doesn't pose too many and it resolves each story by the end of the episode, but it succeeded by spinning charming tales in a way to keep viewers from changing the channel. It also helped that the cast was willing to go to great lengths to tell each story. If only viewers were able to get to know the four main characters a little more in order to understand them better. Sure, each weekly story could stand on its own merit, but the show has the ability to last if viewers get to know the people anchoring the series. The show had a stand alone movie last year that acted like a pilot that examined Shane and Oliver's past briefly before getting back to the main story at hand. Viewers need to see those stories, or something similiar revisited at one point in an effort to break up the usual pace of the show. Another possibility would be to include one of the cast members into the usual dead letter process by having a letter either going to one of them or one that they sent never getting to the right person. In terms of guest stars, the show has managed to utilize their higher profile ones by blending them into the story without making them stick out like sore thumbs too much. Harper's recent stint was short and sweet, but it would be better served if she made another appearance down the line to give the audience something to look forward to. Reese's appearance will begin in the next episode, but it's too early to tell whether her character will help or hinder their work. Only time will tell if that's the case.
As for breakout performances, Mabius and Booth led the pack as their seemingly mismatched characters had a lot more in common than they cared to admit. Mabius' Oliver has evolved from being a mere government employee into an individual that went above and beyond the call of his usual duties. He also gave his character a sense of quiet humor that allowed him to draws laughs from viewers without going over the top. Mabius' strongest scenes usually came when he was pleading his case with a letter's recipient, such as the most recent episode when he pleaded with a traumatized soldier to not give up on living his life. Oliver had the potential of being a romantic leading man if his character had the right partner to bring it out of him. Luckily, Booth's Shane fit the bill because her character somehow managed to reveal Oliver's playful side. She also had a genuine chemistry with the rest of the cast, but she excelled best when Shane and Oliver were playfully sparring with each other. Booth embodied Shane as an eternal optimist who believed that technology can be put to good use in her daily work life. She had a vulnerability that was lurking beneath the surface of her sleek exterior that was rarely explored for the time being. Let's hope that viewers will get a chance to get to know the character in future episodes and see how she fits in with the rest of the cast better. The show also needs to find stories for Lowe and Gustafson when the time was right.
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered" premiered on April 20th and airs Sundays at 8:00 PM on the Hallmark Channel.
Verdict: Despite an initially shaky premise, the show has found its momentum and continued to get better each week.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)