Small-town romance

When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.”  ~Marty Bucella

CedarCoveIf you’ve spent any time in front of your television, you might wonder if midlife romance is a seasonal rarity or a gratuitous joke. And I’m not just referring to the Viagra ads. Hollywood doesn’t cast many older women in romantic leading roles.

So I’m cautiously optimistic about “Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove” series on the Hallmark channel. The new TV series is based on Macomber’s best-selling Cedar Cove books (I’ve lost count of how many there are) which feature several central characters over the age of 50.

In the Hallmark series, Andie MacDowell — looking fabulous at 55 — plays Olivia Lockhart, a municipal-court judge who presides over the fictional coastal town of Cedar Cove, Washington. This storybook universe manages to spin minus the grit of urban violence, but its resident characters still get divorced, struggle to overcome addictions, and rally to save their town’s landmarks while trying to balance careers with family.

Some — like Judge Olivia and her best friend Grace (Teryl Rothery)– are looking for midlife romance, post-divorce. At this point in the Hallmark series (episode 5 airs tomorrow night), Olivia is falling for Cedar Cove’s handsome newspaper editor, Jack Griffin, played by Dylan Neal.

As Nancy DeWolf Smith said in her Wall Street Journal review, the characters in Cedar Cove “seem to have time, to make time, to smell the muffins. The reason more of us don’t do that is because slowing down doesn’t work unless everybody around you is moving more slowly too, and that is not likely to happen anyplace but in fictionland.”

And yes, Hallmark’s “Cedar Cove” is fictionland — as neat and cozy as the clapboard art galleries and tea shops that line its quintessential Main Street. It’ll never be as enthralling as Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” series, or “The Walking Dead” — both of which I find highly entertaining, too. But if you’re over 50 and you appreciate small-town drama, you just might warm up to Hallmark’s sweet Saturday-night break from zombies, politicians, bloodied medical examiners, and murder investigators.