by Kathleen Costa
A shadow is seen in the alley. A light is seen in the abandoned house. A new resident arrives peaking interest and suspicion. The Good Witch opens with the town of Middleton enjoying cooler weather, dressing up in fall colors, and prepping for Halloween. Cassandra Nightingale (Catherine Bell) has taken up residence in the formerly abandoned and dilapidated mansion know as The Grey House with a deed and familial connection as the last living relative of the Grey Lady. She also has opened up a little shop called the Bell, Book, & Candle that offers herbs, elixirs, and unique crystals and charms to help with all sorts of maladies, concerns, and difficulties.
The Chief of Police Jake Russell (Chris Potter) is pushed to investigate this new resident and her shop by the mayor’s wife and chairman of the Citizen’s League Martha Tinsdale (Catherine Disher) who is suspicious that Cassie and her type of shop are not suitable for the kind of image she wants to project for Middleton. Cassie’s ‘magical’ tendencies, or at least extraordinary intuition, make it appear she may be a ‘witch.’ Even Jake’s children believe that Cassie is a witch who calms angry dobermans, causes nightmares to disappear, and makes friends out of bullies. The persecution finally ends, but not until Cassie endures rumors, petitions, town hall meetings, assault charges, and vandalism.
Cassie’s journey as The Good Witch is portrayed in seven feature-length movies that began in 2008. Through these stories she attempts to overcome a variety of barriers and difficulties to find peace and love for herself, her family, and friends. Her magical powers, highlighted by a tinkling chime, seem more intuition or power of suggestion than actually casting spells, although the occasional potion, herbal concoction, or trinket pops up to facilitate a happy ending.
In The Good Witch’s Garden (2009) Grey House has been restored, but Cassie’s true identity is still scrutinized. Her claim to Grey House is questioned, if not usurped, by a stranger who professes to be the more legitimate heir. Will Cassie leave Middleton now that Grey House has been taken from her?
In The Good Witch’s Gift (2010) love has sprouted between Cassie and Jake and a Christmas Eve wedding would be perfect. However, trying to find the right gift and winter weather on the horizon, the long awaited wedding may not take place. Will Cassie and Jake put this off forever?
In The Good Witch’s Family (2011) conflicts pop up with the arrival of a distant cousin, Abigail Pershing (Sarah Power), whose magical interference causes family discord. The chaos ensues with opposing mayoral campaigns, love potions, voodoo dolls, and terminations. Will the ‘error of one’s ways’ be noticed before all is turned upside down?
In The Good Witch’s Charm (2012) a video posted on the internet exposes Cassie’s suspected talents and reputations are called into question. Cassie’s estranged foster mother comes into town, recent robberies have her step-daughter as the chief suspect, and family is struggling with a very full life. Will family lose track of what makes them connected or will dysfunction prevail?
In The Good Witch’s Destiny (2013) Cassie’s birthday approaches and she makes only one wish: a party with all of her family and friends in attendance. However, a curse is uncovered, and her step-daughter sets to find the truth. Will the event end in tragedy? Family enters again. Will old wounds be healed?
In The Good Witch’s Wonder (2014) friendships are tested amidst wedding preparations for Cassie’s stepson. Cassie again puts her faith in friends and family, but charity auction items go missing, wedding styles are in contrast, her stepdaughter deals with mixed messages in a relationship, and a secret past is problematic. Will the family fracture with opposing opinions or join together once again?
Several television years later, The Good Witch Cassie Nightingale returns, now a widow, and raising a teenage Grace Russell (Bailey Madison) who herself exhibits some of the same ‘gifts’ Cassie has. She still owns and runs the Bell, Book, & Candle magically knowing the perfect remedy, and decides to reopen Grey House as a bed and breakfast. Cassie has not entirely moved on from Jake’s death, and as the new era enfolds we see issues with parenting teenagers, building a strong community, and exploring romance, but with whom? The new doctor? The good friend? Or the old college friend who has reappeared?
Everyone has returned to Middleton offering a world of new experiences. Brandon (new casting) decides to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the police department, and his wife (new casting) joins him to navigate through their young marriage. Lori continues her writing career, and Abigail, Cassie’s cousin, adds her own magical mischief to the mix. Mayor Martha Tinsdale continues to try everyone’s patience, especially Derek Sanders the new chief of police, still hoping to put a ‘big city’ shine on a ‘small town’ image.
The newest members add wonderfully to the Middleton community. Dr. Sam Radford (James Denton) and his “un-enthused” teenage son Nick (Rhys Matthew Bond) move in next door creating conflicts and opportunities. Dr. Radford tries to overcome problems setting up his practice, and his “I don’t want to be here” son causes parenting issues, and when the ex-wife moves into town, further conflicts occur including cooling down any romantic connections with Cassie. Samantha, owner of the Bistro, is a good friend adding her own romantic trials and tribulations for Cassie to engage with and help solve.
The Good Witch movies were all wonderful, engaging family fun, and always a delightful addition to the holiday season. Although the cliché style responses Cassie often made were a bit much, the positive themes of family and friendship always included a happy ending. Unfortunately, Chris Potter was under contract with another show, so the next feature-length installment would never happen and a legitimate answer to his absence was in need. The television series is a wonderful incarnation reviving romantic entanglements into Cassie’s life along with family growing pains, and friends needing that special magical intervention. Fans have been treated to two seasons with a third in the works of magical fun continuing to be perfect for any holiday season. A Halloween special is set for October 2016.