Pros: Great new characters, engaging mystery
Cons: Light dose of Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
A cold case pod cast
Turns up a hot new murder
Engaging first case
“What Happened to Gina DiSavio?”
My first Hallmark Mystery Movie (my gateway drug, if you will) was the Murder, She Baked series starring Alison Sweeney. While I would love to see more of those movies, I was happy to see Alison returning in an all new movie mystery series, the Chronicle Mysteries, which kicked off with Recovered.
This series features Alex McPherson (Alison Sweeney). Alex has started a podcast where she looks at old, unsolved mysteries. After a successful first season, she decides to focus on a case that hits closer to home. Alex spent several summers in Harrington, Pennsylvania, growing up, and one of her friends, Gina, vanished without a trace almost 20 years ago. In all that time, no one has figured out what ever happened to her. Teaming up with a reluctant Drew Godfrey (Benjamin Ayres), the editor of the local paper, Alex begins to see what she can uncover about what happened back then. When a fresh murder happens in town, Alex is sure it connects to the disappearance. But is she right?
As much as I enjoy mysteries, I don’t often go for the cold case mysteries, and I’m not sure why since I tend to enjoy them when I read or watch them. Of course, it helps when we meet people who care about what happened back then, and we get that here. Not only does Alex care what happened to her friend, but we meet Gina’s mother before too much time has passed. Once the modern crime happens, we divide our time between the two cases, which seem to bring us toward one solution. (Oh, please. You really expected something different?) The climax is super fun and creative and certainly works well for a movie.
Hallmark spent years turning book series into mystery movie franchises. (Murder, She Baked was based on the bestselling Hannah Swensen series, which is why I started watching it.) So far this year, they seem to be focusing on creating original characters, and that’s what they’ve done here. (I hope, going forward, they will create a mix of both.) I did feel the movie took a bit of time getting us fully into this new world as they slowly parceled out context and information about these characters. Normally, I’m the one arguing against massive data dumps, but here it would have been nice to have just a little more context earlier in the film. Still, everything we need to know is present by the end of the movie. I think the writers were aware of how they were slowly dishing stuff out since they created a running joke about it.
The characters we meet here are great. There are several supporting characters at the paper I enjoyed getting to know as well as our two leads. I’m sure we will be seeing them in future movies.
Yes, this is a Hallmark movie, so there is the normal Hallmark cheese factor, although the dose here is rather light. The actors do a good job drawing us into the story and making us care about the characters. Fans of the Murder, She Baked franchise will have fun spotting Lisa Durupt, who played Hannah’s sister, showing up in this movie.
The next two Chronicle Mysteries movies have already been filmed and are airing over the next couple of weeks. Based on what we saw in Recovered, I’m looking forward to revisiting these characters and seeing where crimes from the past lead them.