Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
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The unexpected puts magic in TV movie

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Keri Russell and Skeet Ulrich in <i>The Magic of Ordinary Days.</i>

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For everyone who complains there's nothing good on TV, that the medium is nothing but filth and smut, CBS has the perfect TV movie for you. Actually, The Magic of Ordinary Days is just plain good TV, and it probably also will appeal to viewers who don't mind their housewives Desperate or who get amused by the foul-mouthed social satire of South Park.

The Magic of Ordinary Days at 9 p.m. Sunday is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation that's set in the 1940s, an allegedly more proper period (some would say repressed) when "values" wasn't just a political buzzword to be preached but something Americans actively practiced.

Of course, whether you approve of romanticizing the idea of sending a young woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock away to the sticks for a forced marriage might also color your impression of Ordinary Days. Didn't bother me, but I'm more romantic than I am politically correct.

Based on the novel by Ann Howard Creel, Keri Russell (Felicity) stars in Ordinary Days as Livy Dunne, a Denver grad student studying archaeology who gets pregnant. Her father ships her off to the Colorado plains town of La Junta to marry a lonely farmer, Ray Singleton (Skeet Ulrich).

This TV movie lives up to its name in the sense that it is a pretty ordinary, predictable story. Livy chafes at her situation at first, but slowly grows to love Ray, a gentle, kind man who is fully prepared to love both Livy and her unborn child. There are obstacles - she's intellectually curious, he's never had to be - but in time, she begins to come around.

That's no big surprise.

What makes the film live up to the Magic in its title is a mixture of strong performances and unexpected subplots involving Japanese-Americans in a World War II internment camp.

Filmed in Drumheller, Alberta, from a script by Camille Thomasson (Martin Luther) and directed by Brent Shields (Plainsong), Russell and Ulrich contribute mightily to the movie's charms. She plays Livy as a strong, independent woman, but she's no shrew. He plays Ray as a simple man, but not a simpleton.

Charming and compulsively decent, the film proves there is magic to be found even in ordinary stories.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.

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