By Kirsty Pearce
While it may appear that the physical act of sitting down and putting pen to paper is a lost art form in this day and age, this is not the case for the four main characters of the Hallmark series Signed Sealed Delivered. Giving themselves the nickname the Postables, Oliver O’Toole, Shane McInerney, Rita Haywith, and Norman Dorman work together in the Dead Letter department of the Post Office to locate the recipients and/or senders of lost letters. Their adventures chronicled across 10 episodes and 11 movies, letters form the main focal point upon which events turn in each installment. Every mystery the Postables take on impacts and changes their lives through the people and situations they encounter. Over the course of the series, these range from long lost twins to long distance romances, estranged sisters, and people dealing with PTSD, amnesia, and illness.
Each unique episode offers a wonderful emotionally enriching and hilarious time, but if I had to pick one that gives the most effective and visceral showcase of the power, beauty, and simple magic letters contain and impart, it would have to be The Treasure Box. It starts with the discovery the parcel the Postables are tackling leads to a safety deposit box. During their visit to the bank, Shane and Oliver unexpectedly find themselves locked in the vault.
Rather than merely sit and await rescue, they open the box. Rather than diamonds, they discover two sizable stacks of letters, written back and forth between a man by the name of Jonathan and a woman called Katherine. These two met and fell in love across on a magical New Year’s Eve, but alas lived in different states. Not willing to let their connection die, they began a courtship through letters. Let me tell you, the emotional resonance of the exquisite words exchanged between them is only amplified by Shane and Oliver’s choice to read them out loud to each other.
Although it’s the only case which doesn’t provide the audience any scenes to watch between the letter writers, the letters they share are more than enough to capture and display the amazing strength, depth, and wonder of true love. Their correspondence facilitates and solidifies the feelings growing between them. Another aspect that adds even more layers to the story is the words these two have written so many years ago contrast perfectly with scenes from Shane and Oliver’s own, more slow-moving romance.
Letter quotes in this episode that stick with me the most:
Katherine: …two of anything is always stronger with a third; a cord of three strands is never broken, a building of three corners can withstand the winds, and two hearts, joined by a greater one, can withstand anything.
Jonathan: I must imagine you beside me, inspiring in me new ways to write of courage and triumph, of diamonds and triangles, of the places we must run before going home.
One of my other favorite installments is From the Heart, which focuses on the act of putting your heart and soul out there in the form of ink and paper through the resolution of a tragically cut short romance between two young high school debate team rivals. It also explores Oliver and Shane and Rita and Norman’s Valentine Day plans, along with the discovery of a Valentine letter written by Abraham Lincoln’s lost love who died young. The most affecting part of this episode is the concluding moments, where we see a montage of the characters set to a voice-over of the words in that Valentine:
“And so, my love, may these words explain all that has been in my heart and bring to you, if not joy, then light to your present darkness… Think of me sometimes as you venture out from this safe little village, putting on all the love and all the heartbreaks of our past as gentle armor, and stepping out with faith into a troubled world that needs you. Guard your heart, dear Abe, as I am and will always be, your Ann.”
There are just two more films I’d like to highlight. The first, titled Truth Be Told, has a paternal bent, centered on a lost female soldier and a colleague’s letter about her to her daughter. It also giving us insight into the strained relationship Oliver has with his father, who has tried to reach out to him for years through letters. Oliver and Papa O’Toole’s strengthening bond is further explored in Lost Without You, which also features a former K-9 soldier suffering from PTSD as its letter story. Desperate to be reunited with his war dog, the way these two threads come together brilliantly illustrates one of Oliver’s central theories, termed the ‘Divine Delivery Theory’; a beautiful thought that every letter they receive has a set purpose; the Postables “don’t find the dead letters, they find us… just in time to be delivered.”
Although letter writing is unfortunately not as integral to how we communicate today as it was in years past, thoughtful words put down on paper still carry with them a tremendous amount of power to tie people to one another, connect strangers and loved ones alike, bridge time and distance, bring families together, and even create new ones. There is a certain element of romanticism associated with them, and the allure of the past when they were commonplace. Another of Oliver’s philosophies is “Every letter that passes through the United States postal system represents an act of faith.” It is through letters that all the characters in Signed Sealed Delivered find their stories intertwined and lives altered.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hopeless romantic, fervent bibliophile, and aspiring word-smith, Kirsty Pearce also has a deep love for fantasy, fairy tales, & history. With a wide range of TV obsessions from Outlander, Bitten, & Grimm, to Dancing With The Stars, Nikita, & Horrible Histories, she enjoys watching as many Hallmark films as possible, knitting, baking, and sharing all her fan-girl thoughts on her blog.