Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Goodnight for Justice: A Femme Fatale Rides Into Town

The Hon. John Goodnight is not exactly the Judge Dredd of the old west, but his skill with a sidearm can often cut down on the paperwork.  Nonetheless, he tries to dispense justice in accordance with the law, even if it is of a frontier variety.  This is both frustrating and endearing to a lady confidence artist on the run from a former mark in Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts (promo here), which airs on the Hallmark Movie Channel this Saturday.

Goodnight has established a sterling reputation as a western circuit court judge, but it is a solitary life on the road.  Occupational hazards come with the job, but Goodnight can take care of himself.  He also starts taking care of Ms. Lucy Truffaut when her stage coach is attacked by Col. Cyril Knox (ret.) and his henchmen.  Actually, the stage was hired by the Pinkerton taking Ms. Truffaut to justice, but he will not live long enough to tell Goodnight that.  Instead, she will convince him she is an heiress pursued by would be kidnappers.  Her smooth talking charm and low cut dress are quite convincing, but it is only a matter of time before her story craters.  Knox is not giving up either, even if Goodnight is a judge.

It is always nice to see a new western produced for a major media outlet.  That said, Queen’s first two acts are sort of pokey and it features some of the dullest card games you will ever see on TV.  On the plus side, Luke Perry is clearly comfortable with his western franchise hero and he develops some nicely suggestive chemistry with Katharine Isabelle’s Truffaut.  Of course, this being Hallmark, it takes him a good long time to get any sugar out the deal.

Ricky Schroder (evidently he stopped fighting the “y”) wears the black hat quite well as Col. Knox, brooding and glowering with NYPD Blue intensity.  He has a good western look, which ought to serve him well in Wild Hearts, an upcoming contemporary western family drama he also directed and co-wrote for Hallmark (but sounds far too wholesome for any of us miscreants).

The annual GFJ tele-films are based on a solid premise, but Queen is a bit too jokey at times.  Director Martin Wood also could have cranked up the shootouts a tad.  At least there’s cleavage.  Recommended for western fans in need of a fix (and there are a lot of them out there) as well as fans of Isabelle (who is indeed a dynamic presence), Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts premieres on the Hallmark Movie Channel this Saturday (1/26).