A Review of Heartland’s Pilot, "The Tornado" (1989)

Hello peoples! Long time, no see. Jessica here, and it is apparently one of those times for me to review a random episode of a classic sitcom. But first, let me provide the reason for me reviewing an episode of short-lived sitcom Heartland. After being in the weather community for a while, I thought about providing examples of weather phenomena in scripted television. Also, there are other examples of how the weather is infused in pop culture besides The Weather Channel. Thus, we begin with today's review of the pilot episode of Heartland.

Here is the background on Heartland - you have a family living in a fictional town in Nebraska. The mom's father goes to live with the family after losing his farm. Heartland starred Brian Keith, Katie Layman, Jason Kristofer, Devin Ratray, Daisy Keith, and Richard Gilliland as B.L. McCutcheon and the Stafford family [1]. The American sitcom lasted 10 episodes and aired from March 20 to June 12, 1989 [2].  

Now, to the summary. A radio meteorologist gives out the report - "A late-season low-pressure system is moving across the Canadian border, but should turn northeast of us here in Nebraska. Still, this system is carrying a lot of moisture, so a word to the wise, get those crops in early." [3]. This was before Jack the agribusiness executive comes in to try to get the family to sell the farm. Then you see B.L. and John (Jason Kristofer's character) successfully get the crops in.

Then a tornado unexpectedly hits their area near the climax of the episode. The family goes into the basement. The music plays and the stories commence. The house gets quiet, and the family finds out that the outhouse is destroyed. Finally, when the family prepares for an old-fashioned sponge bath, the businessman returns. John rejects the offer to which Jack retorts, "It's your funeral."

Now, here are my final thoughts. I give this episode an 8/10. The episode was funny, I'm not going to lie. But I have multiple complaints. Where was the tornado and where was the damage? Second of all, is it obvious that there were no tornado sirens? All I can hear is the wind. Other than that, the episode shows a family taking cover on the lowest floor of their house, which is what you should be doing during a tornado warning. 

If anyone wants to watch the episode, I have linked it in the sources below. What do you think about the review? Sound off in the comments below!


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