Good Witch is one of the most popular shows on TV, and for good reason — the charming series welcomes viewers into its small town with open arms. The characters are warm, sunny and exactly what the doctor prescribed in this sometimes crazy world. Audiences turn to Hallmark for feel-good television, and Good Witch is exactly that. We talked to one of the stars of the show, James Denton — who plays Dr. Sam Radford, husband of Catherine Bell’s Cassie Nightingale — to see what’s new this season, what changes viewers can expect and how the show’s friendly faces are just like those in another TV small town.
What can viewers expect this season on Good Witch?
James Denton: The biggest difference is Bailee Madison’s gone. [Cassie and Sam] are empty nesters, and so it does away with a third of the show, [which] would have been about Grace’s life in high school. So it’s a very different feel. I wouldn’t want to say it’s better — it seems disrespectful to Bailee, that’s not what I mean. But I think it’s a little more fitting for the Hallmark audience. It felt like we struggled a little bit to dedicate as much time as we should have to Grace and her storylines, because Hallmark isn’t really built for teenagers. So I think it might improve the show a little bit, not having to focus on high school stories, but we certainly miss her. She’s a wonderful actress. And thankfully my son Nick on the show, played by Rhys Bond, is still around. We have a couple of good storylines with him. [And] we brought in a new character, Cat Burrell, who everybody loves — adding another Merriwick woman certainly opened a lot of possibilities for us. … So it’s a little more focused on grownup relationships, which I think people will enjoy.
How does Cassie and Sam’s relationship evolve this year?
It’s fun. It was sort of like any empty nesters, you’ve got a lot more time on your hands, a lot more time to do stuff together. There’s an episode where they start trying all these crazy things like throwing pottery — Sam’s trying to learn how to work a potter’s wheel. Cassie can do anything. And then Sam tries to teach her how to play the guitar. And he tries to meditate because that’s what she’s doing. And so then he has a putting green in his bedroom and he’s got to teach her how to putt a golf ball. So they do a lot of fun stuff together that I think is pretty realistic for couples who all of a sudden have a lot more time together.
The show is so popular, with millions of viewers every week. What do you think makes the show a great place for viewers to spend an hour?
Well, I think a lot of that is Hallmark as a network. … People just come to Hallmark to see people not being horrible to each other. They would like a happy ending, a little bit of joy and love, and people just treating each other well. [As for] Good Witch specifically, I think it’s Catherine Bell. I don’t think there’s any two ways about it. I don’t know of another actress in television history who’s been a lead on three different series that lasted six years or more [JAG, Army Wives and Good Witch]. So I think Catherine is a huge attraction. I think this is her best role, and she’s so perfectly Cassie. There are a lot of reasons, but it’s a show that will make you feel good. You can count on it; it won’t let you down.
Executive producer Darin Goldberg actually described the show as a “modern-day Mayberry.” Do you agree with that?
100%. Especially as a big Andy Griffith fan — I grew up in the South. And Andy Griffith was so much like my dad. So yeah, I think that’s very true. I’m surprised I haven’t thought of it because it’s a small town where you know all the characters. You know Martha, you know Cathy Disher, Mayor Tinsdale is Barney Fife, I guess. And Cassie is Andy Griffith. I guess that makes me Helen Crump! But that’s a great comparison. I think people watch it for the same reasons.