If you donâ€™t partake of Christmas movies, youâ€™re going to need to break out your DVD sets or clear your DVR, because theyâ€™re all over cable TV this month. The networks donâ€™t hit it as hardâ€”you can still catch your Snoopy and Shrekâ€”but theyâ€™ve handed the movies-of-the-week heavy lifting off to basic cable.
Hallmark Channel commissioned a whopping 11 new telefilms this season. Behind them, Lifetime,Â Lifetime Movie Network, and ABC Family ordered a few newbies, and all of them will be airing selections from their holiday libraries fairly continuously. So, what are your choices?Â Thereâ€™s a little bit of everything for every taste.
Many of theÂ flicksÂ sample the old standby theme of The Christmas Carolâ€”realizing too late that you could have had it pretty good if you werenâ€™t so emotionally/financially hamfisted. Other common plots include a guy or gal desperately trying to get home (a la Planes, Trains, and Automobiles), only to fall in love with their travelling companion while realizing whomever was waiting at home was a dolt; trying to pull off a Christmas wedding, trying to recapture/avoid Christmas after a tragedy; and supernatural variations on Santa.
One of the first out of the gate this year was November Christmas, the newest Hallmark Hall of Fame film, with Sam Elliott and John Corbett. Itâ€™s not repeating (boo!), but you can buy it, along with previous HHOF flicks, online. Theyâ€™ve got several of the archival titles on VHS clearance for $3.99, too
Hereâ€™s a taste of what TV lovers can find this season.
Sci-Fi guys and gals
These have supernatural elements and/or use some familiar faces from sci-fi TV:
Sundays at Tiffanyâ€™sâ€”A Lifetime newbie with Alyssa Milano in the role of a gal with a seeming dream life whoâ€™s startled to find her childhood invisible best friend isÂ flesh and blood and all grown up.
Holiday Wishesâ€”Amber Benson presides over a teenage switch tale where sheâ€™s the only one who snaps to that two girls have traded places. Sheâ€™s also shadowed by a former love that she let get by her.
If You Believeâ€”Over ten years old and it still stands up. Starring the needs-to-work-more-please Ally Walker, a very young Hayden Panetierre, and Tom Amandes from Everwood, this is the story of an overworked editor whoâ€™s confronted by her childhood self, who sets her back on her true path.
A Very Merry Daughter of the Brideâ€”The star of this light and fluffy film is Joanna Garcia but the supporting cast includes Lucas Bryant from Haven,Â Luke Perry, and Jason Priestley. The plot is about a wedding planner whoâ€™s blindsided when her long-single mom announces sheâ€™s getting married.
Christmas in Paradiseâ€”Eurekaâ€™s Colin Ferguson is on aÂ tropical Christmas vacation with his kids when they meet up with a divorcee and her two kids, Brady Bunch style, in Puerto Rico.
Golden Christmasâ€”Nick Brendan is a single dad who gets reacquainted with a childhood friend thanks to a possibly magical Golden Retriever.
Under the Mistletoeâ€”A widowed single mom finds love again with her son’s hockey coach, thanks to an intervention of sorts from her husband’s ghost. Not as creepy as it sounds, and Stargate SG-1/Smallville’s Michael Shanks is the coach, so there’s that.
Some familiar faces from the CW have done holiday films:
Christmas Cupidâ€”Chad Michael Murray stars opposite Christina Milian and Pretty Little Liars’ Ashley Benson in this new variation on A Christmas Carol.
Flirting with Fortyâ€”Heather Locklear gets some December birthday loving from One Tree Hillâ€™s Robert Buckley in this holiday birthday-themed romantic drama.
Thomas Kinkadeâ€™s The Christmas Cottageâ€”Supernatural’s Jared Padelecki stars opposite Peter Oâ€™Toole (and Smallville’sÂ Aaron Ashmore) in this biopic about Kinkadeâ€™s early days.
On Strike for Christmasâ€”ThisÂ premiere fromÂ Lifetime Movie Network has Daphne Zuniga putting up with family shenanigans from her husband and sons that One Tree Hillâ€™s Victoria would never abide, before finally calling a strike. The husband is played by Gilmore Girls’ David Sutcliffe, who’s also in HisÂ & Her Christmas, about competing advice columnists, opposite Dina Meyer.
Dancing with the Stars holiday gigs
If Dancing with the Stars is your thing, a few of the participating celebs have also done Christmas flicks:
The Road to Christmasâ€”New reigning champ Jennifer Grey did this sweet movie with her husband, Bradley Gregg, a few years ago. Sheâ€™s a power player trying to get to her wedding and heâ€™s a working class single dad whoâ€™s heading home with his teenage daughter when they offer her a ride.
Ebbieâ€”This oldie but goodie had Susan Lucci in the Ebenezer Scrooge role was done in Vancouver 15 years ago, and several of the supporting actors, including Molly Parker, Laura Harris, and Wendy Crewson, are still familiar TV staples. It rotated around Hallmark Channel and Lifetime for years but now seems to be only available on DVD or in syndication.
Holiday in Handcuffsâ€”despite the cringey title, this ABC Family original is actually a sweet movie about a gal (Melissa Joan Hart) who hijacks a seemingly perfect guy (Mario Lopez) and carts him home to her family at Christmas as a stand in for the boyfriend who bailed on her Christmas Eve.
Secret Santaâ€”Jennie Garth is a newly-jilted humbug reporter sent to unmask a Secret Santa and when sheâ€™s put up at the local senior center because the inn is full (geddit), she learns the meaning of Christmas. It was billed at its release as a romance but thatâ€™s not really the case.
More Christmas TV goodness
You can check out full listings of the networks’ offerings at their websites:
Fa La La La Lifetimeâ€”Over 25 films, new and old here, most original Lifetime productions, on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network; several are also online.
25 Days of Christmasâ€”A handful of newbies plus the Raskin/Bass specials and theatrical releases like the Santa Clause and Harry Potter libraries, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express.Â Several of the archival ABCF holiday films are also availableÂ online, but for whatever reason, the two Santa Baby films Jenny McCarthy did aren’t airingÂ this year.
Countdown to Christmasâ€”Hallmarkâ€™s new crop of holiday-themed movies began in November with Thanksgiving-themed films. New entries include the latest Good Witch film with Catherine Bell, and several Santa tales starring TV movie regulars like Lauren Holly,Â Doris Roberts, Jennifer Beals, Ione Skye, and sci-fi staples Eric Johnson and Jewel Staite. This is also the place to catch some of the Hallmark Hall of Fame classics. Hallmark Movie Channel will be running a handful of holiday films this month alongside their regular programming, as well.
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