Flower Shop Mystery: Dearly Depotted (2016)

Flower Shop Mystery, we hardly knew ye. After three short episodes, the Brooke Shields helmed murder mystery is no more, gone and likely forgotten. But that’s not to say it didn’t go out with a bang, or at least a small celebratory pop. It improved on its opening chapter and the characters were just starting to feel settled in, but it was not to be. With Shields gone, the Hallmark orbit dims somewhat. Respect to the other actors, even CCB, but Shields brought a touch of glamour and worldliness to a channel that thrives on the small town aesthetic.

Abby Knight’s (Shields) last case is a family affair, one that everyone gets to take part in whether they want to or not. Her fickle cousin Jillian is getting married, at least that’s the hope since she left her two previous fiancés at the altar. Cold feet is not the problem though, not in the traditional sense. The real trouble starts after the nuptials when Abby finds the body of one Jack Sutcliffe, downed by a punch bowl.

The obvious suspects are the folks who sneaked out after checking their phones. Serves them right for not switching to silent mode. That means cousin, Melanie, and her father, Josiah, are at the top of the list along with Richard, husband of Abby’s friend and business partner, Nikki (Kate Drummond). The first two have a clear motive; Melanie is ex-wife to the deceased and her father was none too happy with the way Jack discarded his daughter, but Richard, owner of a jewelry store, might also be hiding a connection to the victim. Abby rejects all these leads and instead has it out for the groom’s snooty mother, Glory. The woman is not only condescending but also rejected Abby’s father (Beau Bridges) years ago in high school, so there’s that.

It’s nice to see Bridges contribute to the story in a meaningful way. He appears in the previous movies but is a nonentity. The same goes for Drummond’s character, Nikki, who finally does more than smile in agreement with her friend and warn her about approaching customers. The secret weapon, however, is the pairing of Shields and her onscreen partner, Brennan Elliot, who plays Marco, owner of a bar and grill across the way. Among the Hallmark sleuths and their other halves, these two are the most dynamic pair. That’s because their relationship is one of mutual admiration and respect, also seasoned with wit and sarcasm. I really appreciate that Marco does not feel the need to protect Abby or warn her to be careful. He knows the woman’s got skills and a sound mind, and that’s exactly why he likes her.

Dearly Depotted is a better example of what this channel can do when it corrals a group of capable actors who aren’t above having fun with the genre. They know how turn up the drama when necessary and break out the humor at all other times. One instance of good comic timing comes when Abby and Marco try to sneak into Jack’s apartment for clues. Marco approaches, ready to pick the lock and perhaps show off, only for Abby to simply open the unlocked door. The other series have their funny moments, but Flower Shop Mystery never shies away from what it is, a lazy Saturday afternoon diversion.

Highlight for spoilers: Wedding planner Bethany, you monster! Yes, it was the non-suspect, because it always is. Bethany had a relationship with Jack, which Abby discovered after seeing a picture of the couple in Bethany’s house. Bethany is also separated from her husband, whom she said was dead but is very much alive. Jack rejected Bethany and wanted to reunite with Melanie, and the ex-husband dumped her after two weeks of marriage. Humiliated by both men, Bethany gets even by smashing Jack in the head with a punch bowl and then staging Melanie’s death to look like a suicide. Sad times.

Released: 2016
Dir: Bradley Walsh
Writer: Neal H. Dobrofsky, Tippi Dobrofsky
Cast: Brooke Shields, Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges, Rachel Crawford, Celeste Desjardins, Kate Drummond, Dru Viergever, Dani Kind, Marie Ward, Sonja Smits, Chad Connell, Kimberly-Sue Murray
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2018

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