Good Witch “Starting Over…Again” Review (Season 1, Episode 1)

Good Witch Starting Over Again Episode 1 31

“Hello, Welcome to Middleton!”

Cassie Nightingale (series lead Catherine Bell) greets new-to-town Dr. Sam Radford (series lead James Denton from Desperate Housewives) to the town, late at night as he and his son Nick (series regular Rhys Matthew Bond) move into the house next door to legendary Grey House, where Cassie and her now teenage daughter Grace (series lead Bailee Madison) live with grandpa George O’Hanrahan (series regular Peter MacNeill) on the new Hallmark Channel series Good Witch.

As the episode title makes clear, Cassie is “starting over again” because her husband Sheriff Jake Russell (Chris Potter, who appeared in all of ‘The Good Witch’ franchise movies) is no longer with us, leaving her a widow, raising a magically-gifted daughter on her own.

Sam and Nick are starting over, too, because they are fresh-from-New York due to Nick getting into trouble, repeatedly, at his old school; and being a bit surly in the mix. Nick doesn’t make things much easier for Grace at school while Sam doesn’t necessarily hit it off big with Cassie either.

Meanwhile Jake’s kids-Cassie’s step-children Lori (series regular Hannah Endicott-Douglas) and Brandon (series regular Dan Jeannotte, taking over the role from Matthew Knight, who starred in all of the made-for-TV movies in the franchise) are both back in Middleton for a special tribute to their late father. Brandon has a big surprise for the family – one that, for now, drives his wife Tara (guest star Ashley Leggat, who appeared in the latter three films in the franchise) out of his life while Lori is contemplating what to do with her writing career. Despite getting the opportunity to travel all over the world to cover stories, Lori is discovering that’s she burned-out with her current career path; but thankfully (or conveniently since this is Middleton and magical things always seem to happen in this quaint little town) the local newspaper, where Lori got her start, is on the verge of going under. Instead of that happening, though, Lori decides to go back to her roots, working alongside the long-time editor.

On the other hand, Brandon makes a complete role-reversal, leaving the music world he so seemed to love behind, taking over the mantel of his father: working for the Middleton Police Department. Middleton also has a new Sheriff in town in the form of Derek Sanders (series regular Noah Cappe), who worked as Deputy for the late, great Jake Russell during all of the franchise movies. Derek is a more than capable Sheriff, but of course, current Mayor Martha Tinsdale (series regular Catherine Disher) – in her typical fashion – is still as exacting as ever.

The newbies introduced in the show are local real estate agent and close friend of Cassie’s, Ryan Elliott (series regular Anthony Lemke from Lost Girl and The Listener), who has been a good support system for ‘the good witch’ since losing Jake and Anthony (guest star Shane Harte), who is Grace’s best friend, who obviously sees Grace as more than just her best friend although she doesn’t see it that way.

Needless to say, with all of these people starting over again, it is going to be an interesting time in Middleton. But what I would like to know is what really happened to Jake? What caused his death wasn’t completely revealed and I have to admit to being curious. What will the future hold for Brandon working on the police force? Will his family be able to deal with him being a cop too? What kind of relationship will Cassie have with Sam? She didn’t seem ready to move on from Jake quite yet. The same can be said for Grace and Nick? Opposites do attract so it’s possible that magical mom and daughter could capture the hearts of both of them. Will Brandon and Tara reunite at some point? Will Martha ever learn to just let loose and quit being so controlling?

What are your thoughts on the debut of the new weekly TV version of the popular movie franchise? Did you enjoy the two-hour series premiere? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The next new episode of the debut season of ‘Good Witch’ will air on Hallmark Channel on Saturday, March 7 at 8/7c.

  • Linda

    The Good Witch movies were always fun and a great pick me up. The series is depressing with Jake gone. The relationship between Cassie and Jake was magicial in itself and a big part of the movies. I won’t be tuning in again. They should have kept with the movies every year or so and kept Jake with Cassie. They ruined a good thing.

    • Ddenney1

      Ok I’ll bite. Jake is dead but how????? VOODOO?????

      • MallyMon

        Shot and killed by a criminal. Not voodoo at all. Haven’t you been paying attention?????

    • MallyMon

      Even so it’s still very popular. So much so that a third series has been commissioned.

  • Joolz

    I never saw the movies and just watched the series for the first time and I enjoyed it. Maybe I enjoyed it because I’ve never seen the movie but anyways I liked it. Can’t wait to see more. I only recognize Bailee Madison and thought she did a great job.

  • dee

    Saw all the movies but disappointed with this series. No Jake. Total change with Brandon. His wife just takes off?! And where was Grandpas wife Gwen?!

  • annekarima53

    What happened to George’s wife? Didn’t he have a wife that Cassie helped him meet. Where was she? And I missed the mayor’s husband. Will he make appearances?

  • melinda

    The movies had a sweetness to them right from the start. I could only take about half and hour of the series. It was smug and snarky. Very unpleasant translation of the magical movies.

  • pam

    What happened to Tom, Martha’s husband and Gwen, george’s wife?

    • MallyMon

      Tom’s often mentioned, just never seen. As for Gwen, I have no idea.

  • EG

    The Why did Matthew Knight not return? I liked him. Where is actress that played Gwen? Liked her too. Want to see “Tom” and what direction he goes.
    Good to see “Mayor Martha” has not changed!

  • Sel

    I will not be watching the series. It was very sad to see Jake dead and with no explanation as to how he died. Am I the only one wondering where Gwen is? Since George is back living with Cassie at grey House I can only assume that she is gone as well. Also not impressed with the new Brandon. If the rest of the series is anything like the pilot, it has totally lost the “Good Witch Charm”

    • MallyMon

      But there WAS an explanation of how he died!! He was killed by a criminal, who shot him. She discusses it with Grace in Season 1. Am I the only person who was paying attention to every episode? I’m not even in the US, you’d think I’d know much less than you guys.

  • dpattid

    I’ve enjoyed the Good Witch movies and also enjoyed the series premiere.
    Chris Potter has other commitments – that’s the way it goes. I thought the series premiere handled his character’s “departure” quite well. I’m a James Denton fan so it’s not a stretch for me to enjoy the show. I’ll tune in next week!!!

    • Lin56

      I enjoyed the show too and agree with you. Chris had other engagements there was no choice but to replace him. I feel like his fans are just dissing the show because he’s not on it. It’s also 10 years or so past the last movie in time. Gwen could have passed away too. Or they could have divorced. I think the show is great and think ppl should give it a chance.

  • Hope58

    I am very disappointed that Chris Potter is not in the series. The relationship between him and Cassie was magical. I watched all 7 movies and it is so difficult to see Cassie without Jake. It is also going to be difficult to watch the Good Witch movies again knowing the fate of Jake. I wish they would have gotten someone to play his role until he could return. I like the new Brandon. What happened to Gwen?. Surprise no mention of her. I am so upset I don’t know if I can continue watching the series without Jake. Big Big mistake to kill him off.

    • MallyMon

      Couldn’t be helped. He was too needed on Heartland. So he couldn’t return. Sad but true.

  • Bella Sorella

    I thought there should have been more explanation of Jake’s death; it seemed like we, as viewers, were just cut off from their amazing love story. There isn’t the same magic as the movies also; that’s what drew viewers in, Cassie’s magical ways that lit up everything. I will give it a couple more tries before I decide to keep watching it. Chris Potter is truly missed, even though I understand he has other commitments.

  • Picturamadojo

    They didn’t have to kill off Jake. He could have been out of town at some kind of police conference or maybe he was a member of the National Guard and was called up. He could have done cameos when he was on the phone and calling home.

    Still, there was that comment that “no kid has to worry about their dad getting shot,” so I’m wondering if Jake was killed in the line of duty. That would explain the tribute in the premiere. If so, then why not mention how he died?

    • MallyMon

      Yes, Jake WAS killed in the line of duty, and they DID mention how he died! Cassie mentions it in one of season one’s episodes. He was shot by a criminal. (Who was caught and put away). And the actor (Chris Potter) couldn’t get out of his commitment to another TV series (Heartland) so they had to carry on without him. These things happen.

      • Bella Sorella

        Your reply on the complete details of Jake’s death was posted a year after we all replied on the lack of details of his death. At the time we had questions, the episode that explained his death in more detail had not been aired yet. I just wanted to let you know you that you commented on this board a year after all of us. I’m now commenting back a year later because I was looking up something else on the show and ended up here again, somehow. Lol

  • Picturamadojo

    Since George mentioned he was living down the hall from Cassie but there’s no mention of Gwen, I’m guessing she’s died as well.

    As much as I love the Good Witch movies, I have to say that Hallmark really needs to work on its editing on movies. The Love Comes Softly movies had continuity issues but I loved them despite that. These questions already popping up on a series premiere worries me.

  • Caroline Weasley

    I was so disappointed! The first episode left so much unexplained, but instead focused on ramming snake oil remedies down the audience’s throats and bashing science. I eagerly anticipated this for months, but I’m sorry, I just can’t.

    • MallyMon

      Snake oil??? More like tree bark. I don’t think Cassie uses animal products in her potions.

      • Kevin McDonald

        Look up the term snake oil and learn what it actually means, you simpleton.

  • Cynthia

    Integral to the magic of The Good Witch for me (and for lots) was the relationship between Cassie and Jake. i can no longer continue watching this. with Jake gone, it’s just too upsetting and thus unsettling for me.

    • MallyMon

      Well unfortunately the actor who played him was working on another series and couldn’t come back so they felt it best to kill him off. Sad but true, these things DO happen in real life, and we’d all be in a poor way if that’s the kind of thing we said in real life when someone dies, “oh, it’s too upsetting and unsettling”. It’s true but life has to go on. So too in movies and TV series.

  • Cynthia

    ditto, Linda

  • Darlene Parker

    I always enjoy the delightful escape with this family! Soooo sweet and such a charming small town. I do miss Cassie having her adoring husband at her side though. And what happened to George’s wife???

  • Beth Buento Workman

    I watched all the movies and loved them. I didn’t have the Hallmark Channel during the first season of the series but do now so just finished binge watching the first season and am getting ready to watch the 2nd season that I have on DVR. I really like the series. Yes, too bad Jake is gone, but (1) death happens in real life and life goes on so it’s not a stretch to see that happen in a series, especially when (2) an actor/actress is not available for whatever reason to come back in a role he/she previously had. Personally, I think Cassie and Sam have great chemistry and look forward to seeing how that progresses.

  • Beth Buento Workman

    I want to know what happened to Grandpa George’s new wife, Gwen!!! Nothing at all was said about her. ?????

    • Dolores Carlson

      It was said in one episode that she had died, was sick for a long time, then died. What I wonder is where is the mayor’s husband? She mentions him but we never see him. I guess another actor who found another contract.