TV Review: Chesapeake Shores (Pilot)

Chesapeake Shores is the new Hallmark Channel Original Series based on the novels by Sherryl Woods. The series follows the O’Brien family, but mainly Abby O’Brien, a divorced mother of two with a vague busy New York City job. She gets a Chicken Little-esque “the sky is falling” call from her little sister to come back  home for a few days and reconnects with her high school sweetheart, stops drinking green smoothies, helps her sister start her bed and breakfast, and runs outside in fresh air. When someone at Abby’s New York office informed her that a position was open in the company’s Baltimore location, she has a come to Jesus moment that maybe New York City isn’t the place for her and her girls and that the place is, in fact, Chesapeake Shores.

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The first novel in the Chesapeake Shores book series

The O’Briens are quite a crew. They have some deep family drama from the past that I am sure will unfold as the series goes on, but luckily most of the family relationships are strong enough that it isn’t just nonstop melodrama. The sibling relationships in particular are a treat to watch. But even the strained relationships have love behind them.

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Gotta love a good awkward family photo

Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to watch the show as I am so familiar with Maryland, specifically surrounding Baltimore, which seems to be the city for which the fictitious “Chesapeake Shores” is a suburb. Usually shows are not filmed on an accurate location, so that wasn’t an obstacle to get over for me personally. But there were little things that were off that easily could have been remedied. They wore sweaters in July, which always has miserable humidity and ridiculous heat indexes. They ate snow crabs instead of blue crabs. On a newspaper-less table. No Old Bay in sight. Things like that.

What’s interesting about this show is how good its quality in spite of being full of cliches. I mean just swimming in them. We have an evil ex-husband for the oldest sister, an inattentive soon-to-be-ex boyfriend for the middle sister, and the youngest sister keeps dating “the wrong guys.” Everyone has daddy and mommy issues. The grandmother/great-grandmother matriarch has hush-hush health problems. Every man, artist, lawyer, construction worker alike knows how to play basketball. And yet the set is so lush and the acting has been so strong and the script has been so sincere that the show is still highly watchable and down-right enjoyable in spite of the cliches.

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These two give each other the steamiest looks at all times.

My main criticism is that as much as I like Abby, I hope that in the future we see more of all of the O’Briens’ personal lives. The writers and actors do a great job at creating a family that fits together so well all is comprised of strong, individual personalities. Also by focusing on more than one O’Brien, we could get to see more people within Chesapeake Shores that are not the O’Briens. The downtown area is adorable, and we need more scenes there and to see more residents.

Overall I think this show is pretty well done, and I think I am committed to it now for the long haul.

– T

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