Interview: Martha Williamson of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

signed sealed deliveredTalking to Martha Williamson is pure positive energy and a real treat. The creator of “Touched by an Angel” has a new series on the Hallmark channel. It’s called “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and it is about a USPS dead letter office where a quirky but very dedicated group of people track down the recipients and change lives by delivering letters. I’ve seen the first two episodes, starring Eric Mabius (“Ugly Betty”) and Kristin Booth, with a special appearance by the effervescent Valerie Harper.  It premieres on April 20 at 8/7 central.  Carol Burnett will guest star on the series finale.

The first two episodes are great!

Thank you, thank you. They’re both different; I want everybody to realize that there’s a broad world out there of storytelling that we can do.  We can get you laughing and crying and we can talk about the serious things with a light touch and the sunny things with a deep touch and we’ll be covering a lot of ground.

Why in the world of texting and IMing and instagram create a television program about old fashioned, analog letter writing?

It is a lost art.  Letter writing should not take the place of texting and tweeting and emailing but neither should those things take away the power of the written letter and the written word. I can hold a letter in my hand that my father wrote to me forty years ago and I can still feel what it was like to receive it, I can still hear his voice, I can still look at the little tiny holes in the onionskin paper that he always used for stationary. There’s something so real and so tangible about it. As we stop writing things down on paper we are losing a lot of history. I was just watching last night on TV which is I just stopped for one moment to get my head out of this script and I watched the news and they were talking about global warming and the problems of how long we are going to have electricity.

What happen someday when you can’t boot up and download or upload or recall all those emails that somebody zapped off to you in two seconds? But I can always go to that box of letters from my friends and my family and hold them in my hand. I’m certainly not advocating that we cut down more trees. I’m a big believer in recycling but when you stop to think about what you’re saying with a pen in your hand, you chose your words more carefully. You don’t write things and hit send before you think about it and wish you could retrieve it. You can dash off a letter that you could then put into a drawer and think better about it and not accidentally send it off. There is something about our amazing language and how we are losing our ability to use it effectively that makes me very sad.

Tell me a little about this wonderful assortment of characters you’ve brought together.

Oliver, played by Eric Mabius, is a wonderful fellow from the twentieth century and how he manages to be so young and so old at the same time is really an example of the best of both centuries. This is a guy who was probably raised by old fashioned folks like mine. My dad was born in 1901. He’s a gentleman, he believes in old fashioned values but does not make values a dirty word.

He doesn’t combine values with judgment, he goes to church and sings in the choir but tries to live out his faith more than impose it and he truly tries to do the right thing. And I think more than anything he is kind and that is what draws Shane (Kristin Booth) to him.

Shane is very much a creature of the 21st century and of the new technologies and those are easy things to hide behind. And Oliver is so strong in his gentle mentality and Shane doesn’t quite know what to do with that.  You imagine Shane being one of those women who would go to a happy hour with the girls after work. But she would never see Oliver there; this is a guy that she’s never run across before. This is a guy who probably values her more than she even values herself sometimes as a friend and as a person and not as an object. He’s married and has had his heart broken and I think that that’s an important message that our faith does not inoculate us from pain but it does help us get through it and I love that. I just made that up!

And then you’ve got a character with a perfect memory?

Oh yes, Rita Haywith, played by Chrystal Lowe. I love her.  Every one of these characters is some part of me that you’ll find everywhere. Rita I think is the most childlike part of me, the part that still wants to believe the absolute best in everyone she meets and is excited about every day. There’s a line in the Bible that says “His mercies are new every morning,” and I just imagine that Rita is the living example of that. That she just wakes up every day so excited that she got another one. And that’s very fun and easy for me to write.  I don’t really have a photographic memory although I used to have one that was pretty good, until I had children.

You’ll see later on, she makes a choice to not compete in the traditional way. She can only compete against herself; otherwise it doesn’t matter.  It just hit me but I think that’s kind of what I’ve always sort of been.

And Norman (Geoff Gustafson) is somebody who has been deeply hurt, I think. I think he’s the part of all of us who is looking for kindness by being kind, who has an amazing ability for survival, not ability but a facility for survival. And he knows so many things.  He loves knowing a whole bunch of stuff and doesn’t always put it in the right order, he always has a cousin who’s connected to something or someone, he can always find a solution but it’s not always going to be the one you’ll expect and it’s going to be fun to watch him come out of his shell.  One of the great dividends of this show will be to explore the friendship of men and how they have the opportunity to elevate each other rather than to bring each other down.

I was surprised and very tickled to see that there are musical numbers in the show.

Oh, absolutely! I just wrote a musical member from the special delivery. It’s the funniest thing it goes like “You’re the special delivery, yes you’re our post office queen….”

I can’t wait to see it!

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