Francesca Quinn, PI (2022)


Francesca Quinn, PI Storyline

The life of Frankie Quinn and those around her have changed vastly over the past year, ever since her stepmother, high school teacher Megan Quinn, who happened to be her former English teacher, was convicted of being the serial killer behind what were initially deemed six accidental and unrelated deaths primarily of Megan’s associates in their hometown of St. Benedict, MN just outside of the twin cities. That conviction led to three people resigning from the SBPD including Jim Quinn, Frankie’s father and Megan’s husband, as Chief, his best friend Det. Bill Duncan who was discovered to have been providing Megan with official SBPD information for the serial killer investigation, and Frankie herself who was a forensics specialist and is now heading her own one person private investigation firm. She is now engaged to her high school sweetheart, successful writer Carl Wiseman, who returned to St. Benedict to cover the murder trial of who was his former teacher. At the time, Frankie was in a secret relationship with Det. Wynton Rousseau, Carl’s return which directly led to Wyn breaking up with her, although Frankie denies that anything at that time was going on between her and Carl. Wyn and Frankie, who led the investigation into the murders, believed the closure in discovering the perpetrator, even if it was Frankie’s stepmother, would strengthen their personal relationship, which was far from the case. Frankie’s life is now further upended when she discovers Carl’s murdered body, she who feels compelled to investigate even if she wasn’t “hired” by Carl’s sister, Sheryl Wiseman. Wyn and his current partner, Det. Beatrice Knudsen, lead the investigation for the SBPD, they who are concurrently leading what has been coined the Sandman case, nighttime home invasions when the owners are home unexpectedly asleep. While expensive items are stolen, the unusual aspect of the Sandman case is that personal photographs are also stolen. As they follow the leads in Carl’s murder, including investigating three primary suspects – Carl’s ex-wife, heiress Kara McRae, who runs her own foundation, Carl’s recently fired agent Pam Gelbaum, and Carl’s former writing protégé Christopher Bell, who may all have some sort of grudge – Frankie and Wyn have to address the feelings each still has for the other and the disconnect on the two sides concerning their break-up.—Huggo

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Francesca Quinn, PI Movie Reviews

Lacking Chemistry in Lead Characters

I was excited to see a new mystery on Hallmark so I watched this. However it was too easy to figure out who the real killer was. I’m not going to spoil it for those that haven’t seen this movie. My main complaint about this movie is that there wasn’t any chemistry in the lead characters. They supposedly were an item and were partners on the police force before Francesca left and became a private investigator. But there isn’t much in the way of a chemistry between them. She says she’s known him since they were in Kindergarten, but you don’t really feel any closeness between them. She’s pretty deadpan and cold fish most of the time.

The one bit of trivia in here says that this movie followed Mystery 101’s last movie and was supposed to replace the franchise. I certainly hope not! Please bring back Mystery 101! The trivia said this movie had a similar plot line as the cliffhanger we were left with in Mystery 101 #7, just the names and occupations, and let’s not forget the actors, writers, storyline, and chemistry was all completely different. Bring back Mystery 101 and give us some closure!

Not my new favorite series

I know people hate when you say anything negative about a show these days but here goes. I have been a fan of Hallmark mystery movies for years. I’ve watched many multiple times. The only reason I have my current cable package is to get the Hallmark channels. I’ve been disappointed all the original movie series have been canceled, so I try almost every new series hoping to find new favorites. Many that I’ve liked of those newer series also seem to have been canceled. Meanwhile the quality in others seems to have gone steadily down hill. They also have become clones of each other. I know leadership has been changing recently and I’ve been hopeful that means things will be getting better and returning to the quality they had maybe 10 years ago.

I do prefer the more cozy series like Aurora Teagarden, Hannah Swenson, or the Gourmet Detective. But I grew to enjoy the slightly grittier and darker ones like Chronicle mysteries. All that is to say I really wanted to like this and I went into it with an open mind. Sadly, I don’t think I will watch a sequel. This is definitely not a cozy. It is all melancholy drama, sad music, and mainly neutral, cold colors.

This starts with a *massive* amount of exposition. As in almost 30 minutes of flashbacks and voice overs with only a few brief scenes of dialogue mixed in. And yet once everything finally gets going, I still felt like I didn’t know who the characters were. For example, the very first scene was about Frankie having a heart attack while jogging, then a newspaper says she resigned as superintendent. Thirty minutes later (and 2 hours later) I still had no idea what she was superintendent of and why the writers felt the need to give her a heart attack. What did that have to do with anything? We also are told how her high school sweetheart recently showed up back in town. Their meeting is cold. A minute later a newspaper headline announces they are getting married. A couple minutes later, their relationship is over because she was cheating on him. A few minutes after that, we are told her relationship with the guy she was cheating with, her police officer partner, is also over. We learn her father was chief of police and married to a killer, so he resigned. Her father’s best friend, another police officer, was helping the killer. There’s no motivation given. It’s all part of this mind boggling backstory. I’ve even left quite a bit out.

This may be the craziest, most lazy, poorly written opening I have ever watched. Somewhere around 20 minutes in, I stopped the movie and rewatched from the beginning because I was feeling like I had to have missed something. I didn’t.

The only actor I recognized is Teryl Rothery, who I’ve been a fan of since her Stargate days. She does a great job playing the cold and vindictive convicted serial killer and Frankie’s former step-mother. By the time the movie ends, the audience still has not been given any motive for her original crimes or info on how she did it. She’s simply supposed to be evil and now she has a grudge against Frankie. Oh and towards the end we learn that she was formerly a teacher and about half the characters once were her students.

Most of the rest of the characters were well played. Acting isn’t an issue. The problem is the script never allows us to get to know them or even like them. Everyone seems to be keeping massive secrets. They all seem to know each other, be related, or have romantic feelings, but no one seems to like anyone else much and every interaction is peak drama.

The police work is all pretty bad, such as when Wynn’s home is broken into and the investigating police uncover a conveniently placed murder weapon. They immediately arrest him even though all but the most incompetent cop would see a frame job. Also even though part of the movie is set in Minneapolis, the police all happen to be family members, close friends, exes, or have unrequited crushes. (Wynn’s new partner is played like she is is jealous of Frankie and wants him to herself. For no reason. It’s not part of the plot.) Yet they are all allowed to investigate each other.

The only real suspense was due to wondering when the police would catch on to the very obvious clues and killer. The movie ended as it started, with lots of exposition. I still felt very little for the main characters and felt like I barely knew them as people. No one has much depth. They are as colorless and generic as the sets and costumes. The constant narration keeps the viewer at arm’s length. The main character, Frankie, is as stiff and brittle as her ever present curly tendrils. Wyn is merely a generically attractive man in a suit. The other characters are plot conveniences.

I know it likely will take many more months for Hallmark to change course, if it is going to. I don’t have much patience left. More movies like this and I am canceling.

Terrible acting partly due to bad writing.

We generally like Hallmark movies. I even use the Hallmark Movie Checklist app to keep up with new productions because we enjoy the Christmas movies and series like Mystery 101, the Martha’s Vineyard movies, and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. But this one is truly bad.

I sympathize with the poor actors who have to make the best of the bad writing but even then, other than the main protagonists, the acting is flat to downright poor.

The story itself is like a bad soap opera and the dialogue is worse.

I don’t think the actors were miscast. With better writing they are very fine actors, as evidenced by their performances in other Hallnark productions.

I really hope they don’t plan on making any sequels. We certainly won’t be watching them in this household.