For some, it’s the sight of disgusting egg-nog flavored drinks at Starbucks. For others, an embarrassingly tacky Christmas tree display at your local drugstore. But for me, the first sign of the holiday season is television’s stable of cheesy, holiday-themed made-for-TV movie fare. Nothing quite matches seeing a gussied up Kelly Ripa (or an actress of her caliber/pay scale) re-learning how to love her gruff ex-husband, just in time for Christmas and to their children’s great joy. And you can bet your wholesome bottom-dollar those little dickens are getting a puppy under the tree too! BRING IT ON, HALLMARK.
Enjoy any of these fine “films” with a hot beverage, preferably a cup of Swiss Miss (made with water, not milk, for an extra dose of crappiness) and maybe some CheeseNips and a handful of your mom’s peppermint bark.
— Also, I want you to go ahead and visit this page so you can appreciate how IMPOSSIBLE it was to narrow down the list to just 5 picks (10 with Beal’s). Making me choose between Dave Coulier and Christine Baranski AND Luke Perry vehicles? Why are you so cruel, world?–
5. Comfort and Joy (2003)
Why sit through the Nicholas Cage-Tea Leoni feature film The Family Man when you have a crappy, made-for-TV version starring Lifetime Movie stalwart Nancy McKeon? And DIXIE CARTER? It’s pretty much The Family Man except instead of Nick as the materialist-bastard-wakes-up-as-doting-husband-father, we’ve got Jo over here, who wakes up after a car accident to learn that instead of a high-powered business woman, she’s now a homemaker in the ‘burbs. But DIXIE CARTER. I would watch Dixie Carter and her Southern sassiness over Nicholas Cage any day, and apparently I’m not the only one considering his financial and box-office troubles. Can we put Dixie and Annie Potts in the NEXT National Treasure movie?
Please enjoy this clip that proves families are way better (especially around the holidays when cookies and cheery music is involved) than gobs of money and black satin sheets and, also, Nancy McKeon was apparently so rich that she has never peeled a potato. Hilarious.
4. Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
Can someone please tell me why Melissa Joan Hart is so desperate to prove to her family that she’s getting married? First this and then that fake wedding movie with Joseph Lawrence? I don’t think I’m alone in thinking we’d get a lot more from Clarissa. But those are cute boots. And I’m kind of happy to see Mario Lopez get dragged on the ground, I’ll admit it.
So, MJH is a waitress who kidnaps a dude and drags him home for the holidays. All the women have wonderfully intricate and large soap-opera hair, Bobby from My Boys is in it, JUNE LOCKHART plays the dotty grandma and apparently George W. Bush is the dad.
3. On the 2nd Day of Christmas (1997)
I want you to revel in this with me for a second. Mark Ruffalo is in this movie. Mark. Ruffalo. He plays Bert, a dude who works at this store where con artist Trish (Mary Stuart Masterson) is caught stealing with her niece Patsy. To keep them out of social services’ laps for the holidays, he agrees to look after them. And HO! there will be romance. And you will want to a die a little upon watching this clip.
2. A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000)
Oh, this one brings me SO MUCH JOY. “‘Tis the season to be nasty”! What would the holidays be without a horrible version of Dickens’ classic, completely over-covered A Christmas Carol? This gem provided our first glimpse into how deliciously bitchy Vanessa Williams can be and also introduced us to her trademark one-eyebrow trick, which she would soon master as Wilhemina Slater on Ugly Betty. As EBONY SCROOGE, Williams plays a pop singer who is certain to get a few lumps of coal in her stocking. Will a visit by three ghosts (one of them played by KATHY GRIFFIN? Best movie ever) change her spirits?
1. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Oh, is it the part of the program where I get sentimental? This little muppet movie, made for the small screen in the late ’80s, has a special place in my heart as it’s one of the fine holiday programs that I watch every year with my brother to celebrate the Christmas season. It USED to exist on an old VHS we used to tape it off the TV, along with such classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which really belongs on a separate list- holiday specials or something, in case you’re wondering why it isn’t represented here. I’m going with a sentimental choice for #1 because Beal already claimed The Christmas Toy), The Little Rascals Christmas Special (cartoon version. Funnily enough, we never actually watched this cartoon, only this special), and The Berenstein Bears Christmas Special. Now, we have the little movie on a proper VHS but it’s missing some songs (including the home video footage of the muppet babies. COME ON. How can you cut that?!), forcing my brother to jump up and change tapes every ten minutes (because our old VHS lacks the beginning of the movie. A little more gets cut off every year). Confused? All this means is the depth of our affection for it, nothing more.
Last week, I’m pleased to say that we introduced this one, my favorite, to our six-year-old niece who seemed to enjoy it (especially the part where Miss Piggy gets blown away in a snowstorm).