Virgin River Review - Has Hart Of Dixie written all over it

Virgin River Review - Has Hart Of Dixie written all over it
Movie Rated

When was the last time do you remember a high-flying medical practitioner leaving the big city and moving to a small town to practice medicine, work with a reluctant mentor and fall in love with a hot bartender? This was the plot of Hart Of Dixie a few years ago, and it seems like Netflix's new show Virgin River has uncanny resemblances to its plot. However, knowing very well that it is Christmas time and people want to sip a cup of hot chocolate, curl up in a blanket and watch light-hearted family and show this one pretty much alludes to that sentiment. Hallmark Channel has been the best place to find those shows lately, but Netflix wants to get into that business, too, which is why they adapted Virgin River from Robyn Carr’s 20-book Harlequin series of “romance in the woods” novels. Melinda Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) plays a nurse practitioner who moves to the small California town of Virgin River under mysterious (and most likely tragic) circumstances. But her new nursing job with a grumpy Doctor and her less humble housing is what she least expects. However, she soon befriends the local bar owner, Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), and the two share an amazing chemistry. Meanwhile, when a mother abandons her baby on the Doctor’s doorstep, Mel must decide to go or stay and help. Now, unlike Hart Of Dixie, it’s important to note that while Virgin River is in a similar category, it’s more of a straight-up romance series. And it’s a fantastic one at that with potential for numerous seasons. The show has just the right balance between heartfelt emotion and sentimentality with swoony romantic moments. Who wouldn’t want the modern-day equivalent of a Medieval knight (in the show, he’s a former marine) who listens to what you have to say and bends over backwards to make you feel welcome? Alexandra Breckenridge from This is Us stars as the protagonist, bringing a likeability to the role. She’s a woman we can all relate to. Her life hasn’t turned out the way she expected and now she’s looking to heal. In fact, the theme of healing and recognising you need help is a prevalent theme in the series. So, it’s a welcome series to watch if you need healing or self-care yourself. And then there’s the handsome and swoon-worthy Martin Henderson (Bride and Prejudice, Grey’s Anatomy) as Jack Sheridan, the local bar owner and romantic interest for Melinda. He brings his movie-star appeal and excellent acting chops to the production, making him a believable leading man. For the teensy bit drama, there is Tim Matheson, who plays a similar role as the one in Hart of Dixie, as the older town Doctor who doesn’t want Melinda there. Then there’s Annette O’Toole (Smallville) as the outspoken and lovable town mayor fighting for Melinda to stay. (Same plot from Hart Of Dixie again) And Colin Lawrence as John ‘Preacher’ Middleton, the quiet but gentle cook at Jack’s bar. The first episode moves awfully slowly, and there isn’t much in the way of conflict, at least not in Season 1. Just like Gilmore Girls, Chesapeake Shores, and other shows of this ilk, the goings-on in a small town won’t be as simple. But there isn’t going to be a ton of conflict or high-voltage drama, and it feels like 90 per cent of the show will be devoted to that “hot chocolate” feeling. Not that it’s a bad thing. But Virgin River is the kind of show for people who have read a lot of Mills And Boon novels and don't want to invest in an intense emotional drama. Our take is- Stream It. If you sometimes like watching the feel-good Hallmark shows to just switch off, feel cosy and unwind for a little while, Virgin River will help you do that. It’s well-acted and well-written for this kind of show. But if you’re looking for dramatic tension, look elsewhere. Rating: 3/5

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