The “Love Saga” film franchise has been a remarkably successful one for the Hallmark channel. There are a total of 11 movies (so far) in the series, ten of which have been collected in the Love Comes Softly 10th Anniversary Collection.
The ten-DVD set features (in chronological order), Love Comes Softly (2003), Love’s Enduring Promise (2004), Love’s Long Journey (2005), Love’s Abiding Joy (2006), Love’s Unending Legacy (2007), Love’s Unfolding Dream (2007), Love Takes Wing (2009), Love Finds a Home (2009), Love Begins (2011), and Love’s Everlasting Courage (2011). The only one not included is Love’s Christmas Journey (2011). I am a little surprised that they did not include the Christmas movie as well, but they stopped at ten, and devoted a full DVD to each one.
As noted above, Love Comes Softly was the first entry, and it originally aired in 2003. The series is based on the novels of Janette Oke, which are set on the American Frontier of the 19th century. The film stars Katherine Heigl as Marty Claridge, who has moved West with her husband Aaron.
Shortly after they arrive, Aaron is killed in a riding accident, and the pregnant Marty is completely on her own. With no real options, she accepts an offer from a widower by the name of Clark Davis (Dale Midkiff) to stay with him through the winter, and go back East in the spring. The arrangement is to be a platonic marriage, which she accepts. This being a Hallmark Channel movie, it is none too surprising that during the dark winter months, the two fall in love.
Love Comes Softly proved to be so popular that a sequel, Love’s Enduring Promise was ordered for the following year. And so the series continued, all the way up to the Love’s Christmas Journey, which as mentioned, is the only film in the series that is not included in the collection. It is available separately however, for those who must have the complete set.
Each of the films follow a basic plotline of finding love in the difficult life of the pioneers in the 19th century West. Although the movies differ in some respects from the books of Janette Oke, both the novels and films have been favorably compared to the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the television series that starred Michael Landon. The circle is completed in a way by the fact that Michael Landon Jr. directed a number of the movies, including the first.
Although the films are listed in chronological order of production, the final two are actually prequels. Both Love Begins, and Love’s Everlasting Courage take place prior to the meeting of Clark and Marty. Each movie focuses on Clark Davis, who is played by Wes Brown.
Another reason I find it somewhat interesting that the box does not include Love’s Christmas Journey is that the collection is obviously intended for the holiday market. It is a very nice package, and includes a special greeting card “Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Love Comes Softly Series.” The films are also very prominently marketed as “Christian dramas,” which again, just makes the exclusion of the Christmas story kind of a curious situation.
Let’s face it, the Love Saga films are kind of the ultimate “chick flicks,” and that is by no means intended as an insult. I think that the comparisons to the Little House series is appropriate, and I was a big fan of the books and the TV show. Finally, and this is meant confidentially to those who are having trouble finding a gift for the lady in their life this holiday season, the Love Comes Softly 10th Anniversary Collection would be an excellent choice.