As the air turns a little crisper and the leaves yellow and redden, many people will turn to the person nearest to them and exclaim in amazed, cheery unison: Only three months until Christmas! Granted, it’s too early for the halls to be decked and for any sugar plum fairies to move rhythmically inside childrens’ heads, but it’s time to start preparing for the avalanche of holiday TV movies headed your way – and it’s coming way sooner than you think.
Hallmark Channel, the leader in comfort-food Yuletide-based telefilms, will commence its Countdown to Christmas spectacle on Oct. 28 at 10 p.m., as the network converts into a 24-7 original TV movie channel, first revisiting classics from years past. And on Nov. 5 at 9 p.m., the season of giving truly begins, as new originals begin piling up like blizzard-sent snowfall. This year’s batch of films welcomes back familiar faces such as Lacey Chabert, Lori Loughlin, Danica McKellar, and Alicia Witt, as well as first-time Hallmarked stars like Jaime King, Mena Suvari, and former American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky.
You want Jack and Jill (as in Jack Wagner and Jill Wagner)? Done. How about someone that rhymes with Wagner, like, say, Meredith Hagner? Can do. Cookie factory in jeopardy? Fake couples turning real? Mystery gifts? People named Christmas Carol and Terry Christmas? It’s all happening. EW is giving the first look at a list – checked twice, of course – of the upcoming Hallmark Channel holiday movies. (Note: Several more films will be announced at a later date.) In addition, we present the slate for sister channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which will kick off its “The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas” campaign on Oct. 28 as well. Prepare to envelope yourself in the pre-Christmas spirit.
(Note: Titles, airdates, casts, and loglines of movies have been updated throughout post.)
A WISH FOR CHRISTMAS
Premieres: Oct. 29, 8 p.m. ET/PT
Starring: Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls), Paul Greene (A Christmas Detour)
Official logline: “Sara Shaw (Chabert) is the type of woman who prefers to sit on the sidelines at work, but when her big idea for a Christmas initiative is stolen, she makes a wish to Santa that she’ll finally have the courage to stand up for herself. When Santa grants her wish and she gets a chance to make prove herself to her boss (Greene) but Santa’s wish only gives her 48 hours. As the clock ticks down, Sara will discover how to channel the Christmas magic and speak her mind all on her own.”
THE MISTLETOE PROMISE
Premieres: Nov. 6, 8 p.m.
Starring: Jaime King (Hart of Dixie), Luke Macfarlane (Brothers and Sisters)
Official logline: “A chance meeting between two strangers who share a disdain for Christmas results in The Mistletoe Promise, a pact to help them navigate their holiday complications – together. But as they spend more time with each other and experience the magic of Christmas the phony couple discovers there may be more to their contract than business. Based on the best-selling novel by Richard Paul Evans.”
EVERY CHRISTMAS HAS A STORY
Premieres: Nov. 12, 8 p.m.
Starring: Lori Loughlin (Fuller House), Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Willie Aames (Charles in Charge)
Official logline: “A TV personality (Loughlin) has an on-air snafu and admits she hates Christmas. Following the debacle, she is invited to the Most Christmas-y town in America to try and repair her image. Forced to work with her ex-boyfriend Jack (Ferguson), the show’s producer, the magic of Christmas and this special town will change the way she views Christmas and her life.”
Premieres: Nov. 13, 8 p.m.
Starring: Jill Wagner (Wipeout), Wes Brown (True Blood)
Official logline: ”Aunt Sally’s Christmas Cookie Company is sold to a large conglomerate and executive Hannah (Wagner) must seal the deal and shut down the factory, which is the small town of Cookie Jar’s lifeblood. What was supposed to be a simple assignment for Hannah becomes complicated when she meets Jake (Brown), the factory owner who’s determined to keep the factory in town. Despite not being a fan of the holiday, the Christmas spirit in this small town is infectious and she gets swept up in the joy of the season while also falling in love.”
MY CHRISTMAS DREAM
Premieres: Nov. 19, 8 p.m.
Starring: Danica McKellar (Wonder Years), David Haydn-Jones (A Cookie Cutter Christmas), Deidre Hall (Days of Our Lives)
Official logline: “Christina Masters (McKellar), the manager of McDougal’s flagship department store, is determined to land the manager position for their new Paris location. She sets out to impress Victoria (Hall), the store’s owner, by creating the best holiday display in McDougal’s history. Fresh out of inspiration despite assuring Victoria otherwise, Christina turns to a recently-fired store employee (Haydn-Jones) who also happens to be a talented artist and single dad to his young son. As they work side-by-side, the business relationship becomes personal and she finds herself falling in love. Will the allure of her dream be too strong or will she choose to follow her heart?”
A DECEMBER BRIDE
Premieres: Nov. 20, 8 p.m.
Starring: Jessica Lowndes (90210), Daniel Lissing (When Calls the Heart)
Official logline: ”Aspiring interior designer Layla O’Reilly (Lowndes) is dreading the Christmastime wedding of her cousin who’s marrying Layla’s ex-fiancé. Although Seth Murphy (Lissing) is the one responsible for introducing the bride and groom, she begrudgingly accepts his offer to be her date as she’s out of options. Seth gets carried away at the reception and announces they’re engaged, forcing a mortified Layla to keep up the pretense. But as the faux couple spends more time together they find themselves feeling something very real. Based on the book by best-selling author Denise Hunter.”
CHRISTMAS IN HOMESTEAD
Premieres: Nov. 24, 8 p.m.
Starring: Taylor Cole (The Originals), Michael Rady (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Michael Nardelli (Revenge)
Official logline: “Jessica (Cole) is one of the most famous actresses in the world, leading a glamorous – if tabloid worthy – life. But all that is thrown for a loop when she goes on location to shoot a holiday themed film in the Christmas-obsessed town of Homestead, Iowa. While a romance brews between her and Matt (Rady), a local inn keeper who is a single dad, she also gets a taste of small-town life and rediscovers the true meaning of Christmas.”
Premieres: Nov. 25, 8 p.m.
Starring: Alicia Witt (Nashville), Gabriel Hogan (Heartland)
Official logline: ”Isobel Gray (Witt) plans a storybook Christmas with her boyfriend, including a snow-covered cottage in the Northwest, and a carefully composed bucket list of classic holiday traditions. But when the boyfriend goes AWOL, the list proves challenging and a tempting new romance turns her life upside down. Will Isobel have a White Christmas ending under the mistletoe?”
LOOKS LIKE CHRISTMAS
Premieres: Dec. 4, 8 p.m.
Starring: Anne Heche (Hung) and Dylan Neal (Dawson’s Creek)
Official logline: “Carol (Heche) is an over-involved mother but nothing compares to the holiday season when she goes over-the-top spearheading her kid’s school’s Christmas Spectacular each year, which earned her the nickname Christmas Carol by the parents and faculty. All that changes the day Terry (Neal) moves to town with his teenage daughter. Also single, he is very fond of the holiday himself, having volunteered to mount the Christmas play each year at his daughter’s former school. Carol tries to politely tell the single dad his help won’t be needed but he has no intention of stepping aside. The tug-of-war turns into something of a rumble and it becomes clear neither of these parents is willing to work with the other. With the competition lines clearly drawn in the sand, the dueling duo sets out to outdo each other to create the most memorable Christmas spectacular ever. The pressure is ON to make this the best Christmas ever as it’s anybody’s guess if ‘Christmas Carol’ will live up to her moniker or if newly titled ‘Terry Christmas’ will become the new holiday hero. The two will ultimately learn the error of their ways and put aside their differences while learning they have a lot more in common as an unexpected romance begins to bloom.”
A NUTCRACKER CHRISTMAS
Premieres: Dec. 10, 8 p.m.
Starring: Amy Acker (Person of Interest), Sascha Radetsky (Flesh and Bone), Sophia Lucia (Dance Moms)
Official logline: “Rising star Lilly James (Acker) lives and breathes ballet. Her sister, Beth, is not only her biggest fan but often forgoes her own needs to make sure Lilly has every opportunity possible. Lilly’s devotion pays off when she is accepted into the New York City Ballet. Her biggest dream comes true when she lands the lead role of Clara in The Nutcracker and will make her debut on Christmas Eve. As she prepares for her big night, she receives the tragic news that her sister has died. She is removed from the show by none other than Mark (Sascha), her boyfriend and dance partner. Betrayed and heartbroken, she vows never to dance again. Years later, Lilly’s niece (Lucia) receives the same Christmas wish, the role of Clara in the prestigious Philadelphia Nutcracker Ballet, only to find that the Ballet Director is Mark, who betrayed Lilly years ago. Will Lilly see the truth about her past, and allow herself a second chance to dance and another chance to find love?”
MEANT TO BE (working title)
Premieres: Dec. 11, 8 p.m.
Starring: Brennan Elliott (Strong Medicine), Bonnie Somerville (Code Black)
Official logline: “Maddie (Somerville), a high-powered marketing executive, is on her way to a client’s wedding but her plans are derailed by car trouble. When a fork in the road leads her to Christmas Valley, a town in love with Christmas, an unexpected encounter and a group of strangers that start to feel like family will have her questioning what she’s really been missing in life.”
NEXT: A magical sleigh and 12 days of surprise Christmas gifts