It's finally time for another Matchmaker Mysteries movie!
To celebrate Matchmaker Mysteries: The Art of the Kill, we jumped on the phone with Danica McKellar to talk about the latest installment.
Needless to say, she's thrilled to share Sunday's movie with you. "Yes, indeed, finally!" she laughed.
"It's interesting. We've done one a year, basically, for the last three years. So we like to draw out the suspense.
"But it's been so fun to watch because it's actually given us space to allow the characters to really evolve. And I think people are really going to love this one because it really has taken things to a new level."
Bruce Boxleitner fans will be happy to know that Angie Dove's Dad, Nick Columba, has a larger presence this go around.
"He's investigating some thefts that have been happening at this art museum, this beautiful, awesome, ancient art, art museum filled with Etruscan statues and all this really valuable stuff," Danica said excitedly.
When Angie visits Nick at the museum for lunch, they find a dead body. If we know anything about Angie Dove, she cannot help but get involved when another mystery is afoot!
But what really sets this particular story apart is still personal but perhaps romantic. Is that "something" that has been building between Angie and Detective Kyle Carter (Victor Webster) going a step farther?
"We've had the chance to get to know each other a little bit more," Danica teases about their slow-building relationship.
"There's always that question of will they or won't they, and that gets addressed," she confirms.
If you recall, the last time we caught up with Angie and Detective Cooper, he had interrupted her getting reacquainted with her ex, Ethan (Dan Payne), over dinner to arrest him for murder.
That's not the most valiant thing a fellow has ever done to win over a girl, but by the end of Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, Kyle made Angie a promise. "He told me at the end of that movie, 'Hey, I owe you dessert,'" Danica reminded me.
"In this one, it kind of comes back, where they sort of, maybe have a situation where he's asking her on a date, but not really. It's really fun and a cool dynamic to watch evolve."
If you've seen the preview, you probably noticed that, at one point, Kyle calls out Angie's questionable style choice, and Danica assured me that he did that before potentially, maybe, sort of, asking her out on a date.
"That dynamic isn't going anywhere, despite the fact that maybe they might sort of plan to go on a date that's not a date," she said.
As for the franchise's future, they're not sure yet, although she hopes the story will continue. For now, the focus is on Christmas.
"As you know, Hallmark is all about the Christmas movies. So I'm just in development right now on a Christmas movie. I can't talk about it yet, because it's just too early," Danica said, using the term classified to keep me from delving further.
When I reminded her that she had shared on one of her Motivational Mondays' videos that she was eager to do another royal movie, I got shut down on the potential, although I tried to get something, anything about what we might see from Danica yet this year.
She was open to a crazy idea I had after watching her interact with her friend and fellow Hallmark Mysteries star, Candace Cameron Bure, on International Women's Day.
One of my favorites of the holiday season is the Christmas in Evergreen series, as there are recurring characters and others who pop up as part of the latest storyline with each new installment.
My idea was to see some of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries women all together in one place, solving a mystery together. Wouldn't that be fun?
Danica appeased me wonderfully, "I think it's a great idea, and I think it needs to happen. And Lacey [Chabert], with Crossword Puzzle Mysteries, and we could all solve a big mystery together. I think that's a great idea. Let's make it happen."
You cannot get the actress who beautifully portrayed Winnie Cooper on the line without discussing The Wonder Years reboot that just got the green light. The day we talked, Danica had seen the first photo of the new Wonder Years love interest, Keisa Clemmons, played by Milan Ray.
"Just today, actually, I Instagrammed the picture of Milan Ray, who is cast as the love interest of the main character," she shared. "It started shooting this week, so I posted a picture of myself as Winnie and her together."
Although it's not the same characters from the original show, the setting will be the same. "It's taking place in Atlanta and everything," Danica said. "I just had to congratulate her on Throwback Thursday."
Elsewhere, Danica is humbled to be leading such a blessed life. "I'm still so grateful for my family. I am homeschooling my son. I am still running math books.
"Book number 11 comes out in February, and I'm just working on getting notes on the sketches and the illustrations, at this point for that, and starting to brainstorm for the next book that will come out probably in 2024, keeping super busy with all that stuff and developing movies."
She's grateful for her career at Hallmark, as well. While she still gets offered other roles from time to time, she says they pale in comparison to what she's offered within the Hallmark family.
Most importantly, her priorities have changed as she's matured, and she's thankful that she doesn't have to accept every opportunity that comes along and can choose those that work on her schedule, allowing her to entertain her many other areas of interest.
"I want to focus on positive things that are actually helping people feel good, whether it's helping kids do better in math or creating great programming on the Hallmark Channel, that's good-natured and helps people have a better day and reminds them of the good side of human nature when the world seems to be falling apart. That's the kind of stuff that I like to focus on, and that's what I want to focus on."
If you follow Danica, you know that she's passionate about many things, and she's more recently gotten involved with a more personal cause. "I have a pull towards it," she said of this new cause. "It's helping kids avoid trafficking situations and helping kids find families.
"I've just been learning about this new organization called America's Kids Belong, and they're doing a wonderful wonderful job of getting kids adopted.
"They're doing videos of kids that are waiting to be adopted and putting them out on social media. So I started re-posting. I just did one yesterday. I think it might have disappeared by now, on Insta Stories with a link to it, where they can go to find out more if they're interested. And these are helping the kids to get adopted."
With a family of her own, Danica knows how much a positive environment plays into how children develop. "Becoming a mom, I just became more aware of kids, just in general. And when I think of kids not having a loving family and being kind of on the wrong ... it just breaks my heart, and it's hard to think about."
Once upon a time, Danica found the thought so difficult to imagine that she just put it out of her mind. But then the pandemic hit.
"Suddenly, I was just home more and feeling sad and scared and confused, and I thought, 'You know what? I already feel all these things. I'm going to take a closer look at child trafficking.' This is the thing I've been sort of avoiding looking at, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, it's everywhere.'
"It's happening here in the United States; in every neighborhood, kids are going online and getting coerced into thinking that they're talking to somebody they're not, and they think they have a boyfriend. Next thing you know, they're convincing a 14-year-old, 'Hey, I bet your parents don't think you're mature enough to meet me at the park.'
"And next thing you know, she's gone. This sort of stuff happens all the time. Or she's being blackmailed into being trafficked on the weekends but still goes home during the week. This happens too."
At first, she couldn't believe what she was reading, but she learned that that kind of mental trap could have tragic results. That's why she's focusing energy on changing outcomes for susceptible children.
"When you get kids out of the foster system into loving families, then things like child trafficking, things like child abuse, all that stuff goes way down, future crimes, you name it. To me, it's one of the best things you could focus on is helping kids to be in safe, loving families and not tossing around in the foster system."
When she was alone and without focus, she found it by learning more about it and finding a path to help in any way she could.
"I've talked to a lot of different people, organizations, and I raised money by doing Cameo videos for various kids charities. So you go to cameo.com/danicamckellar, you can a personalized video from me, and then all of my proceeds go to children's charities.
"So I've been doing that. And then just talking to these organizations and understanding more about the realities of it. And what I've been told and this is the advice I give people, which I think is what you asked, is if somebody wants to get involved and help out, it's always better to help on a local level.
Danica said that she initially thought that it would be difficult to find a way to contribute to the cause, but with America's Kids Belong, it's as easy as a Google search for your area.
"If you just Google child trafficking and then the name of your city or county, you will likely find a local organization that is trying to help and that maybe they need support. Maybe they need groceries. Maybe they need, who knows?
"They're going to have probably licensed therapists helping the actual kids directly, but they need support. And that's one of the easiest and best ways to help," Danica said.
While Danica dedicates some of her online presence to worthwhile causes and aims to help children learn about math through her books, she also loves sharing relatable moments that might help inspire people or just let them know that they're not alone.
She doesn't do TikTok very often, but every once in a while, inspiration hits. One of those moments included a relatable mask moment.
"I was about to go someplace, and I touched up my lip gloss, and I was like, 'What am I thinking? I thought, 'Wait, this is a relatable moment.' And I was actually like five minutes early to the place. So I just went ahead and did a little video. And I just edited it later that night," she said of the video.
For now, she's eager for everyone to see the latest Matchmaker Mysteries movie this Sunday at 8/7c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
As always, she'll be live-tweeting, and she has homework for her faithful followers and viewers, and she'll be combing Twitter for your answers.
"Come to the art museum and see if you can solve the mystery of the dead body, and then watch me and Detective Carter try not to like each other."
I'll definitely be there. What about you?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.