*In Part II I looked at the last 10 years and see how this sub genre is developing.
*In Part III we look at two Christian motivations for this film genre: insulation and influence.
Don't be fooled there's many, many, many more films available on DVD that never have hit the theater screen but are available to purchase at video retailers, specifically, but not limited to "the Christian Bookstore."
In fact, there is a degree of variety to these films that I think many people would be surprised to see, as every genre has been attempted with minimal budget's and various skilled and unskilled talent.
One of the most popular sub-genres of a sub-genre is the prairie family drama. I'm not really sure how it happened but somehow Christian publishers convinced Christians that they not just like, but loved Little House on The Prairie and any story that resembled this type of story.
The television show Christy had 21 episodes of poor ratings on CBS in 1994 to 1995. The show was about a single teacher, Christy Huddleston played by Kellie Martin.
Christian's really embraced this show. Why? I don't really no why. In some way, I imagine, it's easy to show a positive sanitized version of life in a period piece of this kind. Because these small rural communities usually had families with Christian community, a local church, and an involved pastor roving the town, it made it easy to deal with morality in this contained environment.
Despite it's minimal 21 epsiode run this show has been syndicated like crazy, particularly on "family friendly" networks like Ion Television (Pax).
The large support of fans eventually led to 3 made-for-tv movies that also ran on Pax.
Tonight I logged on to the website for Family Christian Stores and right on the front page along with their "Father's Day Reminder" was a few DVD's, specifically one prominently featured called Love Takes Wing.
This film, Love Takes Wing, is the 7th in it's series (Love Comes Softly) based on the series by Janette Oakey. This "inspirational" (one of the code words used to say "made for Christians) family film aired on the Hallmark channel last month. The film has a B-list cast (Lou Diamond Phillips, Patrick Duffy, Cloris Leachman, Hallie Duff).
The TV-movie is about a woman doctor (played by Sarah Jones) who goes to a small town being a female doctor on the prairie meeting her fair share of adversity...sound familiar?
Despite the popularity of Prairie films I don't think this is what Christians want...
...at least not at the movie theaters.
I think the people that are drawn to participate in this bizarre sub-genre of sub-genres are not your typical theater goers. Even though there seems to be an odd love for the stories of these prairie women, these viewers don't trust the "Hollywood-world" and would shun any attempt to get these people into $9 per person theater seats, and they certainly aren't buying popcorn and sodas.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I've pinned this crowd in a box, I'm sorry if you love Dr. Quinn medicine woman and would pony-up-the-dough to see Jane Seymour bring this character back to the big screen.
Interestingly, many of these stories of the high plains aren't even specifically "Christian" but somehow they crowd the Christian bookstores shelves, but I can't see one of these films ever being successful in a theatrical run.
Maybe I'm going out on limb, but I don't think Christians want another prairie film, and certainly not on the big screen.