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Archaeologist and professor Emma Fielding (Courtney Thorne-Smith) is on the case once again in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' latest installment in this mystery movie series, Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death.
This time the action takes place on Emma's home turf of Kenzer College, where the annual gathering of the Association for the Study of American Archaeology is taking place. When the organization's president, who was meant to announce her successor, turns up dead after being poisoned, the attendees who hoped to receive the honor come under fire.
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Of course, Emma and her FBI friend Jim Conner (James Tupper) will work together to try and solve the mystery, but this perfect match won't have it easy. As fans of the film franchise know by now, Emma and Jim's friendship has been heading towards romance, but one character's arrival could quash Jim's hopes.
"We have the addition of Mark Valley," says star Thorne-Smith, "who plays Emma's ex-fiance [Duncan Thatcher], So, it sort of throws a wrench in Jim's plans."
But don't expect any bad blood between Emma's "suitors," jokes Thorne-Smith. "We had a screening, and James [Tupper] couldn't come. He said, 'How was it?' I said, 'Well, it's great, but the romance between you and Mark took over for the romance with you and me [Laughs].'"
"They're so hilarious together, and I think it adds an element that is so much fun to watch," the actress chimes. "I just think their scenes are such a joy... they're adorable together."
And perhaps the bromance has pushed the films to the next level, as Thorne-Smith reveals, "I think that each one has gotten better, honestly. I mean, I feel like we find the humor a little bit more, and the relationships are more established."
Fans nervous about Jim and Emma's relationship need not worry, though, as Thorne-Smith says, "the romance gets turned up a bit," with the threat of Duncan's (Valley) presence. "It's like adding a great new spice that brings everything else to life," she says of Valley joining the cast.
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But Valley isn't the only addition to look out for. "The supporting cast in this one is so extraordinary and so friendly, and they go back to where Emma teaches," Thorne-Smith says. "The graduate students are in it more and... there's a lot more scenes with everybody in them at once which I think is so much fun because you wanna see the characters you like interact with the other characters you like. The relationships really take center-stage."
The film, which was filmed in Victoria, Canada, is the third film in the Emma Fielding Mysteries franchise, which begs the question: Are more movies on the horizon? The films are based on the book series with the same titles by Dana Cameron and include more than just three installments. If given the opportunity, Thorne-Smith says, "I hope so. We'd love to do more."
Considering the success of the franchise so far, it's not too far out of the realm of possibility, says Thorne-Smith. "I think people have always liked these stories, and I think it’s nice to have something tied up with a bow."
Get ready for the next one, because Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death is a treasure worth uncovering.
Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death, Premieres Sunday, February 10, 9/8c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries