So, what’s next for Heartland?

Posted on Apr 17, 2014
Well Heartlanders, here we are; your favourite show is going into an eighth season of 18 episodes (same as every season before, except season one which had 13). Every season started airing in the fall on CBC and ended in the spring with a season finale. Every season aired at 7:00pm (7:30 in Newfoundland) and each were renewed one year at a time.
Not many one-hour dramas in Canada make it to eight seasons. Not that many even make it to six, so by reaching eight Heartland has defied the odds as far as Canadian television goes.
However, when it comes to half-hour drama you can get some long running series -- even in Canada! 
"The Beachcombers" ran for an amazing 397 episodes (19 seasons, from 1972 - 1990). And that pales in comparison to the French language half-hour drama "Virginie," which was a téléroman about a fictitious high school in Quebec. "Virginie" had a whopping 1,740 episodes over the course of its run from 1996 until its cancellation in 2010 (that works out to around 120 episodes a year!).
In case you were curious, the longest running half-hour drama of all time anywhere is the UK soap opera "Coronation Street," which began broadcasting in 1960 and is still running today, having aired an extraordinary 8,350+ episodes over its 54 year run (Coronation Street is broadcast in Canada by the CBC).
So even though Heartland's 139 episodes (the total of which will have aired at the conclusion of Season 8) seems modest when compared to half-hour dramas -- it's still very impressive when you compare it to one-hour dramas in Canada. 
In fact, this season will see Heartland pass "Street Legal" as the longest running Canadian one-hour drama on television. "Street Legal" ran for a total of 124 episodes over 8 seasons on CBC from 1987-1994.
But enough about numbers. Is there anything that we know about Season 8 yet?
Well, I do know some things, although boy do the Heartland screenwriters and producers run the other way when they see me approaching!! Everyone is keeping their stories and ideas very close to their collective chests. 
However, this is what I've learned so far:
1) The Heartland production office opens in Calgary next Monday, at which time they'll begin a 3-week prep before the first day of principal photography on May 12. As we have in the past, we will have tweets, photos and news from set to keep Hard Core Heartlanders up to speed over the period before season 8 premieres. 
2) Episode 801 - the season premiere - will be broadcast in late September or early October. CBC has yet to announce when their fall programs will air, and as soon as I know I'll let you know. Of course the day and time remain the same - Sunday at 7:00pm (7:30pm in Newfoundland). 
3) In the season eight premiere, a few months will have passed since the season seven finale. Even though there is snow on the ground at this very moment in Calgary (which is how it looks when Ty watched Amy fly off in that helicopter), spring will be in full bloom in mid-May when production is underway. Therefore, in this first season eight episode, which will be written by Heather Conkie and directed by Stefan Scaini, we'll be several weeks down the road from when Ty "let her go."
4) Stefan Scaini has directed Heartland episodes in past seasons and everyone is excited to have him direct the first two episodes of the upcoming seasons. The following four episodes will be directed by two well known artists who will be helming their first episodes of Heartland. Bruce McDonald (known for his films "Hard Core Logo," "The Tracey Fragments" and directing on "Cracked") will direct episodes 803 and 804 while Anne Wheeler ("Bye Bye Blues," "When Calls the Heart" and directing on "Arctic Air") will direct episodes 805 and 806.
5) Besides Showrunner Heather Conkie, the returning writers from last year will be David Preston, Mark Haroun and Pamela Pinch. Also returning is Ken Craw, who worked on a different series in BC last year, but still wrote one episode for season seven (the great one with the RCMP Musical Ride). Sadly, leaving Heartland to work on a new series in BC is Leila Basin, who had been with Heartland from the start. We are sorry to see her go and wish her well. She is not completely gone, as - like Ken last year - she is writing one Heartland episode (805). 
6) All the main cast are returning for Season 8. Online there was some concern about Amber Marshall returning, based on her character's departure for Europe. Well don't be alarmed; Amy Fleming is back front and centre this upcoming season, just as she has always has. 
7) Some cast we have not seen for a while will be returning as well. But I'm sworn to secrecy on this. I often write that unless a character has passed away on the series (RIP: Brad Borden, Mr. Hanley, Pegasus) there is always a chance they could return. This season you'll see how true that is!
So that's all I have, other than to let you know that every Thursday I'll be back with a new blog and new info, as we endure "The Wait For Eight," which I've coined this period between now and Heartland season 8's premiere. You know your Blog Whisperer will try to make the waiting as entertaining and informative as possible. 
For Heartland Companion users, the final winners have been revealed. Congrats to the winner for 718, Kendra Vigneau, and Kaitie Mcmechan, the grand prize winner who wins a replica of Jack's belt buckle! By the way, I'm told that 703 winner Jessica H and 709 winner Kelly S haven't yet responded to their emails about winning -- if that's you, please check the email you use to sign up on Facebook, perhaps the spam folder just in case, otherwise the HC team will be drawing new winners at the end of April for those episodes. 
If you're missing Heartland and you have an iOS device, you can still use the Heartland Companion app to watch the show again --- but this time getting all the exclusive info, videos, trivia and more that the app offers. All you need to do is just get the app for free on the app store here, then on your computer (or your PVR if you have the show recorded) start up a season seven episode, which you can select here, then once the episode has started playing, click on the "Heartland's on now. Sync me up!" button in the app. The app listens to where you are in the episode, and will show you slides and items based upon where you're at. It's very cool, and it's been fun getting to see a part of Heartland that we don't normally see just on TV alone.
And now, some unseen images from the season finale which aired on Sunday. Most of the following photos are big time spoilers, which is why I couldn't show them to you before. But now I can! So enjoy!
Oh yes! In the comment space below tell us what you are most looking forward to in Season 8. You know I love reading fans' thoughts and comments!
Well then, until next week I remain, as always, obediently yours. Now - the photos...