Time-Out With SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED star Eric Mabius
Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered has a somewhat unique television presence these days in that its content is suitable for the entire family – a sentiment actor Eric Mabius (Oliver O’Toole) agrees with.
That’s why when the network recently held a teleconference with Mabius, I knew I had to participate.
A Unique Perspective
“I find most shows unwatchable nowadays,” Mabius began, “short of a few comedy things. And I don’t know if that’s because I’ve changed or because I have two children — I have two boys at home — or what. But there was something that really spoke to me about this show and what Martha (Williamson) was trying to do. I find that she’s so expert at facilitating certain ways of addressing issues without an audience feeling preached to.
“If you’re putting a negative message out there, with reality shows, people trying to base their lives upon superficiality or gathering money or fighting with one another, kids grow up thinking that’s okay. And it’s not okay.
An Impact on Life
“I was raised by a certain amount of television. For instance, and I’ll use MASH because I think it’s one of the best examples. I feel like there is a type – a part of Hawkeye’s character – in me that is part of my psyche. Hawkeye was the anti-hero, the guy who, no matter what the results would be, always tried to do the right thing. And that’s the kind of television I think we need and the kind of television Signed, Sealed, Delivered is. I’m very passionate about that.”
Mabius shared his thoughts with Executive Producer and Head Writer Williamson before he signed on for the series, which marks the return of Williamson to television. (She previously headed Touched by an Angel).
A Special Person
“It seems like TV’s goal is to shock as much as possible and to portray people suffering. I feel like I’ve landed in great company and in great hands. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a collaboration more in my entire career than what I’ve been experiencing with Martha over the last nine months or so.”
True to Form
There’s also an element of truth in every episode of the series, one of which was very personal for Mabius and his mother’s side of the family. Turns out his grandfather worked for the Postal Service for around 25 years, and one Christmas Eve he didn’t make it home because someone had sent a load of farmer’s eggs through the mail, and they were starting to hatch. He had to take care of those baby chicks before he could celebrate Christmas with his family.
And maybe the show is ultimately about paying homage to the Postal Service and its workers, the unsung heroes. Williamson even visited a Post Office and asked their blessing when the series was in its infant stages. Mabius said she had the workers in tears when she recalled what the Post Office has meant to her since she was a little girl. “In the same way, the world that Oliver has created has been very intentional. He has been working for the Post Office for many, many years, and his pay grade is incredibly high, but he chooses to stay where he is, and he chooses to assemble his world the way he has. He chooses his employees for a specific reason.”
One of Mabius’ favorite episodes thus far has been Episode 3, “To Whom It May Concern,” which paid tribute to the veterans who serve our country. “It was incredibly moving. We had a screening for the crew about a month ago, and it was the first time I had seen it all the way through. I was — my wife was watching it with me in the audience and she had to comfort me, I was so — I was breaking down while I was watching it. It was kind of a surprise to me. I’m the first generation who hasn’t served in the military, and I know my Uncle Dickey was a POW in the South Pacific. He was in the Air Force, and he survived prison camp. I think he was there for nine months. It would be great to have an episode at some point in the series where someone sort of finds a collection of letters of someone who survived such an ordeal.”
Room for All
Williamson involves everyone when she writes an episode. She meets with the cast, asks questions, and has conversations with them. Mabius describes her as “probably the most skilled collaborative writer I’ve ever worked with. And I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed working with three other actors more than I do on this show. Again, it has to do with Martha’s writing.
“When she was writing one of the episodes, she was asking Kristin (Booth, who plays as Shane) what would the posters on her wall of her room have been at 10 years old, because it was relevant to the episode that she was writing. Those kind of interchanges happen all the time with Martha, which is just such great fun. I think in trying to tell a full story, Martha finds something that every audience can attach itself to – a person from every walk of life at any age, male/female, young/old, there’s something for everyone in the episodes. And there’s a universal theme of hope that I think everyone is really attracted to. There isn’t anything on television like that.
“I think we’re getting back to a different kind of storytelling. And I don’t mean something that’s of a different era; I just mean something that people are longing for, that they feel and they want to see, but they didn’t have an example of until our show came along. I think that’s why people are responding the way they are. And it only inspires us to work harder at what we’re doing.”
Signed, Sealed, Delivered airs on Sundays at 8:00 PM on the Hallmark Channel.