Tis the season: A guide to the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movie lineup
For many, the Christmas season has already started, even if we're still days away ... from Thanksgiving. In fact, for some especially Christmas-craving folk, the best part of the holiday season has already begun: the Hallmark Channel original movies.
Over the past several years, the Hallmark Channel has built an incredible audience with its cuddly, cozy original films, delivering comfort food blended into a puree for even easier consumption. Each movie takes place in a quaint, quirky small town outfitted entirely by Pier 1 and Crate & Barrel, starring the fifth most popular actor on a hit sitcom or television show of yesteryear – typically a "Full House" star. Each story finds a handsome woman or man who finds love in an unexpected place, aka their hometown, usually after being annoyed by their future romantic interest and usually learning a lesson about letting go of work and embracing family along the way.
It's entertainment that couldn't be safer and more edge-less if it came with a pillow – and that's cranked up to 11 during its beloved Christmas movie season, where each film comes directed by a Christmas postcard and written by a Lexus December to Remember ad. The Hallmark Channel makes snow globes, beautiful and serene worlds obsessed only with wholesome Christmas spirit, love, family, snow, smiles and pleasant all-curing niceness – all while completely insulated from anything happening in the outside world.
And you know what? Considering the world these days, a little soft bland niceness utterly disconnected from reality sounds pretty perfect.
So here's the Hallmark Channel's lineup of sickly sweet Christmas specials for you to watch – and know completely how they end before the opening credits begin.
"With Love, Christmas"
Premieres: Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Emilie Ullerup, a regular co-star of Hallmark's popular "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" TV movie series, and fellow Hallmark standby Aaron O'Connell
Cutesy occupation: Ad executives
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Melanie and uptight Donovan are two ad executives in charge of assembling a Christmas ad for a new cell phone. But that's besides the point, which is that Melanie has Donovan for Secret Santa, but he thinks it's somebody else in the office! Secret Santa shenanigans!
"The Mistletoe Inn"
Premieres: Thursday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Alicia Witt, who was previously seen on "Twin Peaks." Safe to say this will be a very different show.
Cutesy occupation: Aspiring romance novelist
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Witt stars as Kim Rossi, who heads to a writing retreat to focus on her romance novels after a bad breakup. There, however, she clashes with her assignment partner Zeke, but – hear me out – I think they will learn to love each other by the end. And will her ex-boyfriend show up? WHO KNOWS!
Premieres: Friday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Jodie Sweetin, one of many "Full House" alums to be found on Hallmark
Cutesy occupation: Christmas event coordinator
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Jessica (Sweetin) quests to find a new Santa to replace the poor, sick old man who's played him for the town for the past 30 years. The only replacement is his estranged son, driving for Uber hundreds of miles away with no interest in donning his dad's famed red coat and hat. Can Jessica find him and find a place in his heart for playing Santa? Oh, and find love. Finding love is always important too.
"The Christmas Train"
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 25, at 7 p.m.
Starring: An actual all-star cast including Danny Glover, Joan Cusack, Dermot Mulroney (not to be confused with Dylan McDermott) and Kimberley Williams-Paisley
Cutesy occupation: Journalist (but probably nothing too hard ... unless there's a lesson to be learned about the goodness of people!)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Based on David Baldacci's bestseller, a journalist heads on a cross-country train trip that ends up taking him on an emotional journey into rediscovering people's goodness (yep, so he will be a real journalist), the holiday spirit and – dare I say it? – love.
"Switched for Christmas"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m.
Starring: "Full House" appearance number two, Candace Cameron Bure!
Cutesy occupation: No cute jobs ...
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: ... but the lead characters are twins! And when you're twins in a TV show or movie, you switch places with your identical sibling to see what life is like on the other side before you eventually realize how good you had it in the first place. And also it's Christmas, because obviously it's Christmas.
"Christmas in Evergreen"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Ashley Williams, formerly Jeannie Gaffigan on "The Jim Gaffigan Show," and Holly Robinson Peete of "21 Jump Street" (the old and new)
Cutesy occupation: Veteranarian
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: In a town obsessed by the magic of snow globes (because, when you're named Evergreen, you're sure to have a holiday-themed obsession of some kind), the local vet makes a wish to have the most romantic Christmas ever. But perhaps her wish will not come true the way she imagines – especially when she winds up stranded at the airport (almost certainly with a handsome stranger).
"Christmas at Holly Lodge"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Daytime television star Alison Sweeney
Cutesy occupation: No notable profession, though our lead did inherit an inn and ski lodge that she may or may not run in her free time.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: While spending the holidays at her inherited ski lodge and resort, Sophie meets crowds of special people with wonderful stories – including one particular family that wins her heart. And ... the plot synopsis says nothing about finding love along the way. Are we sure this is a Hallmark Christmas movie?
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Maggie Lawson (aka Juliet from "Psych") and Brennan Elliott (aka Graham from "UnREAL")
Cutesy occupation: Actress – in a production of "A Christmas Carol" no less!
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Unfortunately, that production may not happen because the beloved historic theater lost its lease. So our struggling actress and her cast mates team up to create a Christmas miracle. Also, she falls in love with her director.
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Ellen Hollman, star of ... "Spartacus: War of the Damned"? And Bobby Campo, star of ... the horror sequel "The Final Destination"? Here's to Hallmark's first Christmas movie with bloodshed! And ... famed saxophone player Dave Koz. Never mind about the blood.
Cutesy occupation: Real estate developer BUT ...
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: ... our lead actress is talked into working at an old-timey Christmas shop for a week by its handsome owner, in the hopes of saving the store from being bought out by her company. Will she choose her fast-paced job on the rise? Or love, the Christmas spirit and the music of Dave Koz?
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, the John Tucker from the teen comedy "John Tucker Must Die," as well as Brooke Burns and Tom Everett Scott – hot off of "La La Land"!
Cutesy occupation: Sled-building and cotillion class volunteer (also: what is cotillion?)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: After getting laid off from his high-stress, high-tech job, work-obsessed Eric is stuck with a Christmas alone with his three kids and no work. In the days leading up to the big day, however, he finally finds a connection (and I'm not talking landline or Wi-Fi) with his kids and – would you believe it!? – finds love again with Kate, one of their teachers. The kids are going to LOVE that.
"Romance at Reindeer Lodge"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Nichole Galicia and Josh Kelly of "UnREAL" and not one but two "Transformers" films
Cutesy occupation: None. WHAT KIND OF HALLMARK MOVIE IS THIS!?
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: No, it's not the 2000 Ben Affleck/Charlize Theron flop – though why would you be expecting that on the Hallmark Channel? Instead, this romance follows a group of adults swearing off Christmas cheer ... only to wind up at a Christmas-themed ranch. If the place is really called Reindeer Lodge, they only have themselves to blame.
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Bridget Regan from "Jane the Virgin" and ... "John Wick" (immediately DVRs this movie). And after getting stuck playing the douchebag villain in everything from "Transformers" to "Friday the 13th" (that's right, he out-villains Jason), Travis Van Winkle gets to play a love interest.
Cutesy occupation: Travel writer
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: After a breakup right around the holidays, a travel writer still takes her planned getaway – albeit alone. OR SO SHE THINKS! Instead, she gets accidentally stuck sharing a cabin with a widower, his daughter and mother-in-law. Can't imagine what'll happen here – especially when the plot synopsis notes that they definitely do NOT get along at first.
"When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree"
Premieres: Monday, Dec. 25, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Erin Krakow, Martin Cummins and *cues the "Full House" theme for a third time* Lori Laughlin.
Cutesy occupation: Small-town teacher (OK, not that cutesy – not even a cotillion teacher this time!)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: The popular Hallmark TV series gets the full movie treatment – and this Christmas movie (literally premiering on Christmas Day) has everything. An enchanting wishing tree. Disgraced former mayors. A MOUNTIE! But, most importantly, a rekindling of love and the Christmas spirit.
"A Royal New Year's Eve"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m.
Starring: Jessy Schram and Sam Page
Cutesy occupation: Aspiring fashion designer
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: You think Hallmark is done with holiday movies after Christmas is over? HA! There's still New Year's Eve movies to be made! But while the holiday may be different, the general plot outline – mainly unexpected love – is about the same, but with a royal twist! This time, a designer is stuck making a dress for a socialite's bit New Year's party – only to discover the mysterious handsome model she's been working with the dress is actually her reluctant fiancee.
But that's not all for wonderfully corny festive cheer, as the Hallmark Channel's lovable cheese stretches out to its sister station, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Here are the premieres headed your way this holiday season
- "A Joyous Christmas": Sunday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m.
- "Christmas in Angel Falls": Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m.
- "The Magical Christmas Ornament": Sunday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m.
- "The Christmas Cottage": Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m.
- "Karen Kingsbury's Maggie's Christmas Miracle": Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m.
- "Unbridled Love": Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 p.m.
- "Christmas Connection": Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.
For those looking for more Hallmark movies – whether old or new – check out the channel's entire Christmas schedule on its website.
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