Catherine Bell’s Hallmark Channel movies are Halloween-season traditions, but there will be even more of “The Good Witch” soon.
With “Army Wives” over, the actress — also a “JAG” alum — has the time to make a weekly Hallmark series based on the films. That will premiere early next year, but first comes the seventh movie in the franchise: “The Good Witch’s Wonder,” debuting Saturday, Oct. 25.
The stories have been careful not to confirm small-town shop owner Cassie Nightingale (Bell) actually is a witch, and that continues as she oversees a silent auction. Disappearances of several items coincide with the arrival of Cassie’s new employee (Rachel Wilson), prompting suspicions that the newcomer is a thief.
“A good number of people have said over the years, ‘Why don’t you turn it into a series?,’ ” the friendly Bell tells Zap2it. “We always felt like we were, except we were only doing one ‘episode’ every year. It’s nice because I know the character and I love the character, and people seem to like the stories. Hopefully, that will translate to the series as well.”
Bell notes “The Good Witch’s Wonder” isn’t plotted as a direct lead-in to the forthcoming show. “We didn’t know we’d be doing a series when we filmed it, so it’s another standalone … but I think they all have a similar concept, in terms of something going on with Cassie and with other people. It all seems like it’s about to fall apart, then magically, it all comes together somehow.”
One of the “Good Witch” aspects Bell enjoys most is her continuing connection to colleagues. Chris Potter and Matthew Knight still co-star as Cassie’s husband and stepson, and Craig Pryce has directed all of the movies in the series.
A weekly version didn’t seem certain to Bell, “maybe because I was on ‘Army Wives’ and it was going so well and I knew that was going to be for a while. Honestly, I didn’t even know we were going to make this many movies. I figured we’d do two or three, then they just kept going.”
The one-year gaps between the films also have given Bell plenty of time to refine and develop Cassie. She reasons that in the normal course of a series, “Sometimes it takes half a season to figure out what you’re doing and who the character really is. And so much happens in-between … I mean, the kids have become teenagers. It’s all very exciting.”
And it will all remain somewhat mysterious, too, if Bell has anything to do with keeping the question of whether Cassie is or isn’t a witch from being answered. “I think that’s something I’ll always strive to maintain,” the actress muses, “the ‘I’ll-never-tell.’ “
You can watch the first of “The Good Witch” movies right here … to get you into the Halloween spirit.
“The Good Witch” series is set to debut in 2015.