The 'Good Witch' Cast Previews a 'More Mystery-Based' Season 6
Right about now, there's likely no better place to be than Middleton, USA. The idyllic American small town of Hallmark Channel's Good Witch is the kind of locale where husbands never forget anniversaries, where the most intense rivalry would take place at a chili cook-off, and where there's no crisis that can't be solved by following the advice of Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell).
"We think of Middleton as the modern-day version of Mayberry," says executive producer Darin Goldberg, referencing the bucolic setting of The Andy Griffith Show. "It's a place where you want to spend an hour a week. Really, you want to live there. There's always a friendly face."
The long-running feel-good show, now in Season 6, is one of Hallmark's top dramas, pulling in more than 2.7 million viewers per episode. The story originated in 2008 as a series of TV movies centering on Cassie, head of the town's founding Merriwick family, owner of a local bed-and-breakfast, proprietress of a charming gift shop and the title's "witch." But Cassie isn't so much the spell-casting type. Good Witch has always kept her abilities vague.
"She's maybe got some powers that other people don't have. We're not sure what those are," explains Bell, who has played the character from the beginning. Cassie's particular brand of mysticism has more to do with herbal remedies and intuition — not to mention her seemingly inexhaustible energy. "She's obviously a witch because she's making breakfast for 10 people, running her store, the dishes are never dirty," Bell jokes.
The upcoming episodes bring some changes for Cassie and her doctor husband, Sam Radford (James Denton), as they settle in to their empty nest. This is the first season without costar Bailee Madison, who played Grace, Cassie's teenage daughter from a previous marriage. (The actress left to pursue other interests, but the door is open for a return visit.)
With Grace and Sam's son, Nick (Rhys Matthew Bond), off at college, Denton says Good Witch shifts its focus to the town’s adults. "We don't have any more of the high school stories," he says. "The show has become a little more mystery-based." Keeping the amateur sleuths busy this season is a confounding curse that seems to be plaguing Cassie's cousin Abigail Pershing (Sarah Power) and her boyfriend, Donovan Davenport (Marc Bendavid). (See below for more.)
The premiere introduces newcomer Joy Harper (Katherine Barrell), who arrives with the intention of getting hired by Mayor Martha Tinsdale (Catherine Disher) to renovate her newly purchased mansion. "Joy's come to Middleton with this purpose of getting this job, but we see that she's investigating the Merriwicks," Goldberg explains. "She's got an agenda."
Luckily, Joy is staying at Grey House, Cassie's B&B, so the Good Witch can keep an eye on her. "She seems to be up to something, prying," Bell says. "Some of the gang doesn't really trust her, and Cassie always knows people's [hidden] intentions. Let's just say Joy has a very interesting history and connection to these people and this town that will be revealed."
In fact, everything has a connection to Middleton's history, whether it's Joy's past, Martha's new house with its secrets, the antique music box Sam uncovered at the end of Season 5, or the obstacles getting in the way of Abigail and Donovan's happiness. "Cassie's ancestors and the town's [founders] were really interesting," says Bell. "There was a love triangle and some jewels that were involved in that, and curses — all of us get very involved in trying to figure it out."
Goldberg and Bell are also excited to dig into Cassie's fallible side. "In the movies, Cassie was more all-knowing," Bell says. "Things didn't really throw her." But in the series, she adds, the character has occasionally confronted doubts and uncertainties — always rising above them, of course.
One thing we can all use is a little dose of overcoming obstacles. Bell insists that's the key to Good Witch's appeal. "People crave that," she says. "People [need] an hour where they can sit down and know that everything's going to be OK. You're going to feel good at the end of it."
Inside the Town's Curse
According to Middleton lore, in 1818, Cassie and Abigail's ancestor Patience Merriwick was engaged to Roderick Davenport, scion of the most prominent family in neighboring Blairsville. The match promised to unite the two communities, but Patience's heart really belonged to local miner William Spry. As a token of his devotion, he gave her a heart-shaped ruby, which became known as the Heart of Middleton.
When Patience and William disappeared, leaving the ruby behind, a furious Roderick put a curse on any future Merriwick-Davenport relationships. As a result, Abigail Pershing and Donovan Davenport have encountered more than their fair share of misfortune, so far keeping the lovebirds from their happily ever after.
Good Witch, Season Premiere, Sunday, May 3, 9/8c, Hallmark Channel