Review for Signed Sealed Delivered
Lost letters, foundering dreams, drowning destinies. Sometimes we get to points in life where we wonder if we aren’t missing something or if our lives would not have been different had we said this or not said that. Such is the underlying premise of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, a TV show about four postal workers in a Colorado dead letter office.
The show aired ten episodes on Hallmark this year and, while I’m not sure if it got picked up for a second season, they will be airing a Christmas themed movie featuring the characters this weekend (Nov 23rd, 2014) and the episodes may be downloaded or viewed via various digital channels. You’d be forgiven for not having heard of the show as it lacks any big name stars or national fanfare, but this one is certainly a diamond in the rough.
As a writer, this series is dear to my heart because this show, more than most you will come across, reminds us of the power of the written word. In a day where email and texts messages are the rule it is rare to get a hand written letter any more. It takes too much time, too much thought, too much effort. But the amount of work that goes into crafting a letter pales in comparison to lengths the characters in this series will go to in order to see that those words reach their intended recipient.
You’ve got mail. Real mail.
Signed is a throwback, not just because it reminds us that, yes, the post office still exists and hasn’t gone out of business, but because it reinforces the idea that things like love, truth, and beauty, are worth expressing, and worth putting into words. And the show gives us the subtle suggestion that perhaps all of these new forms of communication might actually be keeping us apart more than they are bringing us together.
Known as the “postables”, the postal workers in this comedic drama are all lovable “throwbacks” to a different era, none more so than Oliver O’Toole, the leader of the group. While some would call him uptight, he is actually just a principled man in a world where almost anything goes. For that reason his character often seems out of place, an anomaly amongst all the progressive sameness which carries us along on the “bigger, faster, and better” road seemingly everyone else is on. He always wears a suit. He is known to quote Shakespeare and the Bible. And he’s dedicated to helping others even while he himself is desperately missing his estranged wife who left him to pursue her own dreams.
The speeches and words of encouragement Oliver gives to those he delivers the lost letters to are often truly inspiring, worth listening to again and again. Because this is not just a show about quirky, interesting characters and the subtle, thoughtful mysteries they must unravel to find the recipients of these lost letters (although it is certainly that). This is a show about changing people’s lives for the better, people who have lost their way. In many ways the letters come to represent the lives of the senders and the recipients and the lost messages within them set them free from their prisons of doubt, shame, and regret.
Shane McInerney is in some ways Oliver’s foil on the team. Of all the postables she is the only one who uses technology or is even remotely comfortable with it. Though she is not completely against Oliver and his archaic approach to life she certainly offers him some gentle ribbing and prods him to “get with the times” now and then. She’s the most spirited and independent of the group, but she’s never selfish or mean about it, she just takes initiative naturally, trying to help others in her own way.
Rita Haywith is the shy wallflower with the photographic memory and a dreamy, romantic heart. She and Norman Doorman, the third and fourth members of the team, have a funny “I’m too clueless to see that we’re falling in love” sort of relationship. Rita is constantly dropping hints about her feelings for him, but always inadvertently, and much to her chagrin whenever she realizes that she is doing it. Norman, for his part, is not so much ignoring her as he is just so wrapped up in his own little world that he doesn’t seem to notice. He’s very much like a grown up kid and such things simply don’t appear on his radar. He is full of obscure, esoteric knowledge and he certainly admires Rita for her intelligence, but he can’t seem to see much beyond that. It’s a refreshing change from most of the romantic relationships we see portrayed over the contemporary airwaves.
All and all it’s a delightful show that harkens back to an America that is rapidly disappearing. It reminds you of how television used to be, wholesome and endearing, not vile and pandering for ratings from shock value or gritty crime scenes, where characters care about each other and were worth caring about themselves, who teach you something and make you perhaps a little bit better for having watched it, who put a smile on your face for all the right reasons. Such is the value of Signed Sealed and Delivered. It’s a lighthouse on a very rocky shore, a gift in a sea of senseless entertainment. And, like the lost letters the show seeks to deliver, it’s a gift that is well worth opening again and again.