Morning Show Mysteries is a series I want to get excited about but that always lets me down ever so gently by playing it safe. I wish it had a better sense of humor and pushed the boundaries on narrative and character, but I also get why it’s a little dry. Star Holly Robinson Peete is a fantastic addition to the Hallmark lineup (and someone please create a historical series for her now that the When Calls the Heart is working out some issues). Her character, Billie Blessings, however, is just so damn nice and normal. She’s a sober morning show personality, not dull but exceedingly calm and likely the first person you’d call if disaster strikes, which is something that happens often in her orbit. While she’s inclined to help you through a crisis, she always second guesses herself when it comes to her own relationship. It’s been a long game of “will they or won’t they” with detective Ian (Rick Fox), and it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to make a move soon.
That may be why I’m increasingly invested in Billie’s Aunt Cassandra (Karen Robinson) and chef Maurice (Greg Rogers), who are at it again in this episode. The two are always snapping at each other and thus too busy to sense the romantic tension they create just arguing over who walked out the door first. In a secondary plot here, Cassandra finds herself falling for a businessman who visits the restaurant. There’s no reason for her to get hot and bothered by this rando, but it stokes Maurice’s jealousy and I love it.
Too bad that can’t be the main plot, though the mystery this week has enough crackle. It’s a surreal case involving Billie’s friend, Katie (Hilary Jardine), an aspiring actress who’s just landed the starring role in a legal drama. Katie plays lawyer Hannah Kelso (Teryl Rothery) in Kelso’s Law, and the series is based off books written by her son, Derek (Sebastian Gacki), and inspired by Hannah’s career. Katie and Derek’s relationship, however, may be the reason the TV show’s launch turns into a murderous disaster.
Hannah despises Katie. She’s a controlling mother who thinks no one is good enough for her son and wants Katie off the show, but it’s not clear she’d kill to make that happen. Anyway, Katie is not the one who turns up dead; it’s Jerry (Brent Stait), Hannah’s assistant. I wouldn’t write Hannah off because Jerry is murdered at her house, but Katie is not as upfront about things as she might seem and her father is also pretty blunt when asked about the lengths he’ll go to protect his daughter. Then there’s the matter of Jerry himself. He was a former police officer and not a straight-laced one either.
I appreciate that I can keep track of everyone in this case. I don’t know if my mind is numb to these movies or if this is just me advancing in age, but a few of these mysteries have gotten me a bit crossed lately. Being able to identify each person is helpful when everyone has a part in the final reveal. I just wish there wouldn’t be a big information dump at the end. I prefer a taut build-up that keeps pushing the story and its audience forward with each tiny detail. Lulls in the case, however, lead to cute filler material, like Ian’s request for Billie’s help to pull off a dessert birthday party for his daughter. That’s not to say that this is an endorsement of preteens getting parties with chocolate fountains on the regular.
Highlight for spoilers: Hannah is the killer. She sent the threatening letters to Katie and tried to blackmail her, but when someone from her past resurfaced, she had to redirect her attention. That person from her past is Charlie, the businessman who showed up at Billie’s restaurant. He hoped Billie would help him get closer to Hannah, who had wronged him years ago. Charlie and Hannah fought over the will of an old woman who left her sizeable estate to her dog after she died, murdered as it happens by Jerry on Hannah’s order. The woman actually had a second will leaving everything to Charlie, her dog trainer. However, that will was stolen by Jerry, who didn’t burn it as directed but rather hid it in his secret blackmail vault. Hannah killed Charlie’s son, Brian, when he confronted her and then killed Jerry but had her own son think that he had committed the murder. She finally tried to kill Katie and make it look like a suicide, but plan didn’t work, bitch.
Dir: Kevin Fair
Writer: Amber Benson
Cast: Holly Robinson Peete, Rick Fox, Karen Robinson, Jesse Moss, David Lewis, Kirsten Robek, Greg Rogers, David Paetkau, Dee Jay Jackson, Sebastian Gacki, Hilary Jardine, Hrothgar Mathews, Teryl Rothery, Brent Stait, Milah Thompson
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries