We’re two years past the last Murder She Baked installment, and Sunday night Alison Sweeney returns to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries with another franchise that’s a worthy successor to her five-film run as Hannah Swensen.
Chronicle Mysteries is 100% Sweeney’s baby, developed alongside her writing partner, Melissa Salmons. The first three installments will roll out over the next three Sundays. In the first film, Recovered, we met Sweeney’s character, Alex McPherson , a true crime podcaster who happened into the role after leaving her job to help her mom fulfill her bucket list.
As the series begins, Alex is returning to Harrington, Pennsylvania , the town where she spent much of her childhood, this time to re-examine the missing persons case of her friend, Gina Desavio, (played by Sweeney’s MSB sister, Lisa Dururpt). The investigation brings her to the offices of The Chronicle, the local weekly paper, where she strikes up a deal for access to their resources, which include former crime reporter and big city transplant, Drew, played by Benjamin Ayres.
The rest of the staff are played by several Hallmark familiar faces, many of whom have previously worked with Sweeney, including Michael Kopsa, Rebecca Staab (The Irresistible Blueberry Farm), Jim Thorburn, Olivia Steele Falconer, and Dave Collette. Also look for MSB alumni Toby Levins and Karen Holness.
It’s a charming new film set. I’ve screened the first two, and I love their vibe. They completely nail the intimacy of the podcast, where people are drawn into mysteries anywhere they can plug in their earbuds. Sweeney and Ayres are a lot of fun together, and I really like the role they have for Levins. If you’re like me and love the who’s who nature of Hallmark, you’re going to enjoy spotting and recognizing the folks who come to play. Jason Bourque directs the first one.
I spoke with Sweeney this week, and in part one of our chat, we talk about putting together the new film series and how it’s a perfect fit for HMM, and her advocacy work alongside this weekend’s American Rescue Dog Show. Sweeney is a real-life true crime podcast fan and thought framing a mystery series around one was a no-brainer for the HMM brand. She just didn’t expect to do three right out of the gate.
“I love working with Hallmark and was really interested in doing something else with them in this space. The murder mysteries are super fun and a little more action-oriented, which is always more fun as an actor to play that danger and intrigue. I really wanted to do another mystery series for them,” she explains.
“It occurred to me I was finding myself addicted to this whole true crime craze that’s happening and all these different podcasters out there doing these stories. I realized what the dramatic value of what these people in real-life are doing. It occurred to me it would be a great character and it exactly honors what Hallmark is going for in its murder mystery space.”
“People who are armchair detectives who have their regular jobs and happen to be really good at solving mysteries….that’s where these podcasters are coming from. That’s what they’re doing. [Our idea was] that [Alex would] have cold cases she’s investigating and from there she’d start a podcast. And danger from people who want to keep their secrets hidden would create some tension and in the end our hero gets to the truth.”
“It’s been a long process but it’s been super fun, and I loved when the reaction I got from Hallmark was positive. It made me feel so good that we were on the right track. I worked really hard on it with Melissa Salmons. She came from Days of Our Lives and she’s very talented and I’m lucky to work with her.”
“We talked about what the first story would be, the mystery and the clues. We had that all worked out. And we took it to Hallmark and presented it and had a great meeting with them they said, ‘It sounds great! We’d like four [movies].’ It was a little overwhelming to hear back that not only did they love it, they wanted more.”
“It was great but nerve-wracking to dive right in. We spent maybe four months developing the idea for the first one and we spent the rest of the year every day putting the rest together and making the first three movies. We had always hoped that they’d be interested in more.”
“We had geared it toward creating characters who could come back and have this life. When we realized that we were presenting it with three [right away], we created a strong thread and B storyline where she’s debating whether to come or go knowing that the audience will get the resolution by the second movie. It’s kind of fun to watch her settle in knowing she hadn’t planned on it.”
Sweeney says the door is always open for Days of Our Lives. “I have a great relationship with them and have always been so grateful and appreciate to play Sammi all these years,””she says. “It’s been such a huge part of my life and a meaningful thing for me to do. I did do a brief storyline I filmed last December that will air in May or June…a brief return for the fans to enjoy.”
This weekend, Hallmark Channel will expand its American Rescue Dog Show to two nights, airing Sunday and Monday at 8 pm/7c. At the beginning of February, Sweeney co-hosted the Valentine’s Day and Adoption Ever After preview special to highlight the network’s new movies and the network’s rescue efforts, and she and her MSB co-star, Cameron Mathison, co-hosted the inaugural Cat Bowl the night before the annual Kitten Bowl.
Sweeney loves participating in the initiative as rescue is near and dear to her and her family. “We have rescue pets in our home. We rescue dogs exclusively. That’s so important to my husband and I,” she shares.
“To be part of a family brand that loves to celebrate pets and honor them and encourage them and bring awareness to the rescues that need our help, love, and attention, it couldn’t be a more important message to share.”
“To make it fun…it brings such a smile to my heart to know how important that is to Bill Abbott and everyone at Hallmark. It’s important to me and my kids and I love being a part of it and I’m grateful they do it.”
Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered airs Sunday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries after a marathon of all five Murder She Baked films that begins at 11 am/10c (thanks, Kate!). Here are a few sneak peeks. You can also follow the series on Instagram. Check back next week for part two of our interview and a preview of The Wrong Man.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Crown Media.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…