Hallmark would like to announce that it is 2018, and America is finally ready to watch a TV romance mystery starring black people. the network is finally ready to produce a TV romance mystery starring black people. Shall we call this progress? In view of everything going on, in the world, I’m going to say YES, even though it is 2018 and we were ready twenty years ago. The answer to my low-key bitching about Hallmark’s unbearable whiteness of being is Holly Robinson Peete, a black woman just doing what she does, solving crimes and whatnot. Girl even has a black leading man in the form of actor Rick Fox.
So let’s dive into this Morning Show Mystery, which begins with a Kylo Ren looking fool baking a cake with a fancy Kitchen Aid type and lacing the batter with rat poison, as one does. The unfortunate recipient of that cake is Rudy (Benjamin Wilkinson), the abrasive director of a morning news program that’s undergoing some personnel changes. After the death of a long-time anchor due to an allergic reaction to hazelnut coffee, the show is set to announce her replacement. Internally, the most popular choice is Billie Blessings (Peete), a noted cookbook author and restaurateur who already has a slot showing off her recipes. But she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want the job. The new hire is Tiffany (Anna Van Hooft), an unknown name and face that Rudy plucked from some station out in the sticks, but he drops dead before he can announce the news.
Maurice (Greg Rogers), the head chef at Billie’s restaurant, is the initial suspect. He delivered the cake and conveniently has a tin of rat poison in his house. The guy is a longtime family friend and doesn’t even kill spiders though. Billie’s determined to prove his innocence so gets tangled up in this case, which is headed by her high school flame, Ian (Fox). Being a Hallmark guy, he tends to be overprotective and doesn’t want the pretty lady sniffing around police business. Of course this is sensible advice and the women do have a knack for flaunting safety precautions, but the men have such a natural gift for condescension.
While Billie is no wannabe detective, unlike some librarians or antiques dealers, she nevertheless has a knack for piecing clues together. Too bad the editing isn’t as crisp as her line of thought because some of her assumptions come out of left field. Everything does eventually make sense, but the connections between the deceased and would be suspects are not always clear. Owing that all white women do not look alike, I still confused Tiffany and producer Gretchen (Kristen Robek), both of whom had some sort of a relationship with Rudy and are now out to get each other and/or Billie.
This series debut, or what I hope will be a series, suffers because of its messy storytelling and uneven emphasis on some secondary characters, but I’m still going to recommend it because It Is Important For All Of Us To See Characters Who Look Like The Country We Live In Now. Peete is the prototypical Hallmark heroine – upper middle class, successful in her profession, and just a really agreeable woman; character complexity is an issue for another blog post though. In the meantime, I’m happy to spend time getting to know Billie.
Highlight for spoilers: Yo, it was the show’s assistant, Kiki (Jordana Largy)! You knew something was up when Billie treated her dismissively at the beginning, telling Kiki to hang on to her phone and purse and make sure to take care of this and that. Feeling jealous and underappreciated since she was a star at her college station, Kiki decides to kill her way to the anchor spot. After Rudy sees her audition tape and squashes all notion of her getting in front of the camera, she uses some 60 year old rat poison she found in her parents’ barn to kill the original anchor and Rudy.
Dir: Terry Ingram
Writer: Shelley Evans
Cast: Holly Robinson Peete, Rick Fox, Karen Robinson, Jordana Largy, Anna Van Hooft, Jesse Moss, David Lewis, Benjamin Wilkinson, Kirsten Robek, Greg Rogers
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries