Matchmaker Mysteries is probably the strangest concept yet to come out of the Hallmark whodunnit factory. Danica McKellar plays Angie Dove, a Philadelphia-based matchmaker and human version of eHarmony’s algorithm. She doesn’t just pair couples based on similar interests and values but seeks out the really important stuff, like lip shape. That’s one reason she knows Aaron (Randy Thomas) and Emma (Helena Marie) are right for each other. When he proposes on Angie’s television show, the couple seem destined for a happily ever after, until Emma ends up stabbed to death at her own engagement party.
Angie can’t help herself and goes right back to the scene of the crime, to the frustration of those around her. Benjamin, her producer, warns her that they won’t get a second season with all this bad publicity, and Detective Kyle Cooper (Victor Webster) could do without a chatterbox who gives him unsolicited grooming tips. Her seriously sharp observation skills are too much to pass up though, and Kyle reluctantly allows her to snoop around.
Knowing the couple as well as she does, Angie disagrees with the police’s suspicion that Aaron murdered his fiancée. Her conversations with their friends and associates yield more likely suspects, like Aaron’s son from his first marriage and Emma’s bouncer ex-boyfriend. When accusations of infidelity and financial misdeeds surface as well, Angie expands her search.
As far as Hallmark mysteries go, this case is pretty standard with little attempt to make it any more thrilling or creative than it needs to be. The script could tease out some of the suspects and their motives more since some are obviously not the killer. Of the debut series in 2019 though, this one feels most off its game. Some of that is due to the unimaginative case, but a lot has to do with the uneven tone. Whereas McKellar and Webster have a good sense of their characters, they don’t have as strong a handle on their relationship.
I actually like McKellar’s fun take on her character. Angie is flirty, mischievous, and optimistic, just what you’d expect from someone who thinks about love all day. Her personality is a fresh departure from the more serious sleuths on Hallmark. Webster, on the other hand, goes for the stereotypical, no nonsense detective type. The actor effortlessly plays cordial but distant, which also describes the relationship between Angie and Kyle. Maybe they’ll find a way to warm up as the series progresses, but I don’t know if I even care to see them again.
I’m also on the fence about the whole idea of using a television matchmaker to front a murder mystery. As someone who squirms at awkward reality-TV-style romantic encounters, I would have preferred a hundred other professions before this one. Wedding planner and marriage counselor are two that come to mind. More importantly though, I wonder if this can work for a longer running series. The matchmaking aspect, while a playful feature in this one film, seems limiting and repetitive in future episodes. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Highlight for spoilers: Rachel, Aaron’s COO, murdered Emma in a crime of passion. The murder had less to do with Declan’s gambling debt, Philip’s embezzlement, and Bo’s jealousy and more to do with the fact that Rachel knew that Aaron would never care for her the way he cared for Emma.
Dir: David Mackay
Cast: Danica McKellar, Victor Webster, Bruce Boxleitner, Cory Lee, Randy Thomas, Tanya Clarke, Gianpaolo Venuta, Melissa Cultraro, Pip Dwyer, Bukola Walfall, Andres Romo Salido, Helena Marie, James Raynard, Kevin Kase
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries