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It's a weeks before Thanksgiving, so you know what that means: Christmas!
At least that's the case on the Hallmark Channel – and its sister network Hallmark Movies & Mysteries – which will begin its onslaught of seasonal holly jolly on Saturday night with "Jingle Bell Bride," featuring all of the usual beloved cliches. A very important holiday shindig? Of course. A small town/big city dynamic? Do you even have to ask? A romance with a Handsome Local? You already know the answer to all of these questions.
And yet that's part of the Christmas charm of Hallmark: soft, saccharine, predictable holiday love stories that are perfect for getting into the holiday spirit ... and even more perfect for drinking games about all of the tropes. It may be hell for some, but it's heaven for growing numbers across the nation – so much so that Netflix and many others have tried to get in on the business of seasonal soft-focus sweetness.
But Hallmark did it first – and arguably best. And for its fans, here's a full guide to the movies coming to Hallmark complete with premiere dates, plot synopses and just a gentle flurry of sass.
"Christmas in Vienna"
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Dr. April Kepner from "Grey's Anatomy" (aka Sarah Drew) and Brennan Elliott, who was once de-jawed in a Chucky movie! I imagine he'll fare much better in this movie.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Somebody's budget didn't take a hit in 2020! Yes, Hallmark's seasonal globetrotting takes them from Rome last year to Vienna, where Drew is trying to rekindle her old passion for violin while also finding a new passion for Elliott. Hey, isn't this basically the same plot as "Chateau Christmas"? Meh, I don't care. Have you googled images of Vienna at Christmas? It's lovely. They could bring out the digital cast of nightmare furries from "Cats," and I'd still be charmed as long as Vienna at Christmas was the backdrop.
"Meet Me at Christmas"
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Remember "JAG"? "NCIS" before there was "NCIS"? Well, here's co-star Catherine Bell (who Hallmark fans will recognize more so from "The Good Witch"), who will meet Mark Deklin – a member of the "Christmas in Evergreen" HMCU (the Hallmark Movie Cinematic Universe) as well as a sporadic supporting role on Netflix's "Grace & Frankie" – assumably at Christmas.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Christmas: It's stressful enough on its own. So why do Hallmark characters pile parties and weddings on top of Christmas in these movies? It's the most unrealistic part of all of these movies – and that's saying something considering they all take place inside literal snowglobes. Bell learns this lesson the hard way when her son's wedding planner bails, leaving her and the bride's uncle to put together the big day – and put together a mystery about their pasts. And the mystery of their hearts? Yes, that too.
"A Timeless Christmas"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Ryan Paevey is our handsome lead. Fun fact: He was once in a music video, working as the body double for Robin Thicke – aka an improvement on Robin Thicke. He'll fall in love with Erin Cahill, who made her breakthrough as the pink Power Ranger in the spinoff "Power Rangers Time Force." And speaking of time ...
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Paevey plays a man from 1903 who makes the grave mistake of travelling in time to 2020. The bad news? Well, (*gestures at everything*). The good news: He makes Cahill, who treats him to a modern Christmas. I don't care how much he learns to love Cahill, our refined modern hot chocolate and incredible motion picture technnology; ESCAPE BACK TO 1903 WHILE YOU CAN!
"The Christmas Doctor"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Holly Robinson Peete, one of the key Hallmark favorites, will find romance with Adrian Holmes, who's popped up in popular shows like "The Boys" and "Letterkenny."
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: The plot synopses for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries selections are so much more intense than the regular Hallmark holiday movies! Read this one: "A week before Christmas, Dr. Alicia Wright (Peete) is offered an assignment away from home. A mysterious man from her past journeys to find her before Christmas and brings with him a revelation that could change Alicia’s life forever." Change her life FOREVER!? Are they just going to fall in love, or is she about to find out she's secretly the queen of the universe with the power of life and death in her literal hands?
"A Nashville Christmas Carol"
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Sure, Hallmark hallmarks Jessy Schram and Wes Brown are here, but the real stars are the avalanche of country singers: Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, RaeLynn and Kix Brooks, the only Nashville star whose songs are kid tested and parent approved.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: A television producer burning the candle at both ends on a holiday country music special is visited by three ghosts from the past, present and future that show her the error of her ways in this Southern fried take on the Christmas classic. And somewhere, Charles Dickens is very confused and wondering what the heck is a television – or a RaeLynn.
"The Angel Tree"
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Lucas Bryant, which somehow isn't the name of a famous country music star, joins Jill Wagner, Hallmark mainstay and – her peak performance – "Wipeout" co-host. I miss people splatting themselves across bouncing red spheres for my amusement.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Wagner plays a writer on the trail of the mysterious human saint who's attempting to find the person behind gifting wishes from an "angel tree." She also runs into an old friend. I wonder if these two storylines will weave together in some romantic and sweet way ...
"The Christmas House"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: The family drama's got a big cast, but it's headlined by Jonathan Bennett – aka the guy who asks what day it is in "Mean Girls." (It's Oct. 3.)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Don't let the bafflingly generic name fool you; there's a lot going on under this roof as one of the key subplots involves a gay couple trying to adopt their firts child – a big change for Hallmark, which in January pulled an ad featuring a same-sex couple getting married to much controversy. And here's a bonus treat – literally – as it's got Treat Williams ("Everwood") as the patriarch trying to bring his distant family back together for the season.
"A Godwink Christmas: First Loves, Second Chances"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Two very familiar faces from my Hallmark Holiday Hell-ing: Brooke D'Orsay – a Hallmark regular who I will always remember also played one of the blonde college girls playing a, uh, let's say unique bathroom-based board game adaptation in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" – and Sam Page, a Whitefish Bay native who's ranged from prestige TV ("Mad Men," "House of Cards") to easy-going Hallmark rom-coms ("Christmas in Rome").
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: What is a godwink, I hear you ask through your computer? Why, it's just an adorable word for a coincidence. Say, for instance, if you wound up stuck in traffic right next to your old high school sweetheart on Christmas ... which sounds terrible, because I would NOT be in my best form if I was stuck going nowhere on the freeway on a holiday. I imagine D'Orsay and Page do better.
Premieres: Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Don't know – but I hope it's Lori Laughlin!
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Who knows?! No, really; it's a mystery. Maybe it's another surprise "Borat" sequel.
"A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado"
Premieres: Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Canadian actor Mark Taylor and Rochelle Aytes, who horror movie fans might recognize as one of the werewolves from the cult favorite "Trick 'r Treat." She also voiced one of the zombie survivors in the hit video game "Left 4 Dead 2," so this must be a soothing change of pace – from maulings to mild Christmas tree bickering.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: A party planner battles it out with a Handsome Local Firefighter for the perfect spruce tree that's on his property. The Hallmark website says they're in Colorado, but other publications say that it's called "A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn." You know, those famously similar, easily confused locations. Just come up with a festive place name like Jinglesburg or Mistletoetown or Dreamscometrueville, because we all know it's just Canada now.
"Good Morning Christmas!"
Premieres: Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: "Days of Our Lives" star turned Hallmark favorite Alison Sweeney along with Marc Blucas, who played Cameron Diaz's doofy friend Rodney in the Tom Cruise action-comedy "Knight and Day," which has been forgotten completely by time. (A shame! It's fun!)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Two rival television hosts are sent to cover the same small-town Christmas celebration but (*puts finger to earpiece*) I'm hearing reports that they might ... start falling in love? More on this developing story at 10. (Side note: The movie originally had the title "A Merry and Bright Christmas," which I'm pretty sure is the title of about 17 other Hallmark holiday films.)
"Christmas By Starlight"
Premieres: Thursday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: "Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen" star Kimberley Sustad and "Battlestar Galactica" co-star Paul Campbell – who also wrote the movie. But most importantly, he wrote his own wild IMDB bio.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: "Christmas By Starlight": Well, that sounds magical and enchanting! What's this about, some time travel or a some magical tree topper? Oh, it's about a lawyer trying to save her family's restaurant by acting as the legal counsel to the guy in charge of the development firm knocking it down. Nothing says romantic whimsy like legal shenanigans!
"Five Star Christmas"
Premieres: Friday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: "One Tree Hill" star (and occasional director!) Bethany Joy Lenz will fall in love with Victor Webster from the Netflix Canadian import "Workin' Moms."
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: I want to live in the Hallmark universe. Not because it's holly and jolly and totally COVID-free, but because apparently the travel and bed-and-breakfast critic job market is THRIVING! And apparently it's so influential that people will seek you out to give their parents' new cozy resting spot a five-star review on your blog or magazine – and fall in love with you along the way, which feels like an ethical question mark. Sounds more like sponsored content to me. Anyways, very excited about Hallmark's first foray into ethics in hard-hitting B&B journalism.
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: I keep misreading the title and thinking this is a biopic about the two-time Oscar-winning star of "inglourious Basterds" and "Django Unchained." But who needs Christoph Waltz when there's Lacey Chabert, one of Hallmark's royalty. She's joined by Will Kemp, who starred in the Netflix ice skating drama "Spinning Out." Why aren't there more Hallmark movies about ice skaters? I bet you could even cast Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski for the climax.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Well, it's not ice skating – but dancing is basically ice skating! And dancing is how Lacey Chabert's character tries to recover from her Christmas dream wedding melting before her eyes, waltzing her way to happiness – and, hear me out, love? – with an instructor, played by Kemp. And to answer the question you're thinking of: No, Chabert's never been on "Dancing with the Stars" ... perhaps making this a glorified audition. Maybe she saw how fellow Hallmark star Jesse Metcalfe did and figured she could do better.
Premieres: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Hallmark regular Trevor Donovan teams up with Jen Lilley, who – fun fact – has a Best Picture winner on her filmography! Remember "The Artist"?! It won so many Oscars and then was never heard from again – partially because it's a silent movie.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: But seriously, how good is the journalism industry in Hallmark World!? Everyone's either a baker or a journalist reporting on Santa Claus or reviewing pancake breakfasts at a small town's 17th bed-and-breakfast – or, in the case of "USS Christmas," taking a friendly family trip on a Navy boat over Christmas and finding breaking news: a hot sailor. Oh, and also a mystery in the ship's archives.
"If I Only Had Christmas"
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Warren Christie, previously seen getting menaced by space rocks in "Apollo 18," will fall in festive love with ... my god, it can't be ... Candace Cameron Bure! The night immediately after fellow Hallmark queen Lacey Chabert?! That sound you just heard was every Hallmark fan's mind exploding.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Perhaps knowing that Hallmark fans' minds are still boggled, the story here is very simple – even by Hallmark standards. A cheery publicist teams up with a grumpy businessman to help a charity. I bet five bucks their plan involves a Christmas party/fundraiser with a brilliantly generic theme like "the Christmas spirit" or "snow."
"Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Round four of this Hallmark festive franchise stars Holly Robinson Peete (take two), Coach Clayton from "Riverdale," Rukiya Bernard from Syfy's "Van Helsing" and Antonio Cayonne, who appeared in the new "Psych" movie that's on Peacock – which, now that Quibi is dead, has reclaimed the title of Goofiest Name for a Streaming Service.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: In this latest chapter of the HMCU, Peete's Michelle prepares for her wedding while Bernard's Hannah starts to wonder if her relationship with Cayonne is working out how she hoped. Meanwhile, I'm wonder why Hallmark didn't call the last movie "Christmas in Ever-three-n." Or maybe we could call this one "Christmas in Ev-four-green?" Or maybe I'm just sleep deprived.
"A Little Christmas Charm"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: "Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe" alum Brendan Penny joins "Twilight" star Ashley Greene, here trading in sparkly vampires for sparkly jewelry. An excellent trade-off, I'd say.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: It's not "A Christmas Charm" or "Charming Christmas." It's just a little Christmas charm. I appreciate the modesty. Anyways, a jewelry designer teams up with a investigative reporter to return a lost bracelet to its owner by the holiday. Because this is the most important thing a reporter could be investigating. Step aside, Woodward and Bernstein.
"Christmas She Wrote"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Former child star and current author, math genius and Hallmark go-to Danica McKellar will fall for Dylan Neal, who appeared in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movies as ... Bob. Because nothing screams sexy, steamy romace like a character named Bob.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: McKellar plays a romance columnist who gets fired right before Christmas. She should pivot to bed-and-breakfast criticism! But instead, she heads back home to recuperate with her family ... only for Neal to show up and try to win her back to the publisher. Seems like this should be a short movie! "You're fired!" "Oh no!" "Nevermind, how would you like a paycheck again?" "Sounds great!" (*roll credits, play "Jingle Bells"*)
"Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: LACEY CHABERT! That's right: You get not one, but two Chabert joints this holiday season. Truly it is the season of miracles. Her partner this time is Ruby Herring murder mystery solver Jake Killian (Stephen Huszar), who somehow has never been the murderer despite having the word "kill" right there in his name.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Stamped with the Blake Shelton Seal of Approval, this spiritual spinoff of "Time for Me to Come Home for Christmas" (is Shelton getting paid per word in the title?) follows Chabert as she and four other strangers end up at Huszar's inn for the holidays, mysteriously invited by somebody trying to reveal their lie to one another. This is dangerously close to the premise of a "Saw" movie.
"Cross Country Christmas"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: The outstandingly named Greyston Holt and "She's All That" star Rachael Leigh Cook, who's been welcomed back into the Hallmark fold despite crossing enemy lines and making "Love Guaranteed," a glorified Hallmark movie romance over at Netflix. TRAITOR!
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Cook and Holt are old classmates who get stuck in a storm trying to get home in time for the holidays, "no matter the mode of transportation," according to Hallmark's official plot synopsis. They better slap on some skis in this movie or else this Hallmark movie is also caught in a blizzard ... of LIES!
"A Glenbrooke Christmas"
Premieres: Sunnday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Taylor Townsend from "The O.C." (aka Autumn Reeser) reunites with her "Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade" co-star Antonio Cupo. This is something I know now! This is information in my brain that's taking room that could be used for math or financial knowledge!
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: A very relatable heiress runs off from her busy life of ... being an heiress by running off at Christmas to a small town where she meets a hunky fireman – as if there's any other kind of fireman in a Hallmark movie.
"Christmas Comes Twice"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Just one of the sisters in "Sister, Sister" with Tamera Mowry-Housley and Michael Xavier, who was in a superhero movie. No, as perfect as it would be, it wasn't "X-Men" – he was actually in "Shazam!" as a carnival cop.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Hope Xavier isn't tired of carnivals, as a holiday carousel sends Mowry-Housley back five years in time (TAKE ME WITH YOU!) to give her a second chance with the true love that got away. Anyways, the other Mowry is definitely showing up, right? You don't cast a twin in a time-travel scenario situation and not have her interact with her older or younger self. Or maybe that would alter one's timeline and shift fate completely? You know, I have a strange feeling these quantum physics conundrums will NOT be addressed by a Hallmark Channel holiday movie.
"The Key to Christmas"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Hallmark hardcores will recognize Taylor Cole as the crime reporter Ruby Herring, while lunatics will recognize Steve Lund as one of leads from the deranged "Banana Splits" horror movie. (Yes, they made the retro kids show band into bloody horror villains. No, I have not lost my mind.)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: In what's either the start to a charming and winsome romantic adventure or yet another "Saw"-esque horror movie, Cole and Lund star as a couple who find a key and a riddle on their doorstep. Actually, maybe I have lost my mind; "The Banana Splits Movie" has broken me.
"A Christmas Carousel"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Rachel Boston, a Hallmark regular who also had to go on a terrible date with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "500 Days of Summer." Hopefully things go better here with former Old Spice man Neal Bledsoe.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Another carousel? Did Big Carnival sponsor this year's Countdown to Christmas lineup? Anyways, there's no time trickery this go-around as a woman is hired by the monarchy of Marcadia to fix their carousel by Christmas. This kingdom sounds great; I want to live in a place where the most pressing concern this winter is an amusement park ride not working.
"Swept Up By Christmas"
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Lindy Booth, most famous for the world's worst trip to the mall in "Dawn of the Dead," and Justinn Bruening, who I'm pretty sure played the guy Dr. Kepner abandoned at the altar on their wedding day. I hope those two don't run into each other at the Hallmark Channel holiday party! (Holiday gatherings? In 2020? Ha!)
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: "Swept Up By Christmas": a new Hallmark movie as well as what I promise my roommate about the mess left after my New Year's party. Anyways, Booth and Bruening play an antiques dealer and a cleaner dueling over how to handle their latest assignment, only to find a whole bunch of history – and heart-swooning – amongst the mess.
"Love, Lights, Hanukkah!"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Mia Kirshner and ... Ben Savage?! Cory Matthews himself? How could you do this to Topanga?
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: Last year, Hallmark dabbled in diversity by creating a few Hanukkah movies. It, uh, did not go well. Just a guess, but when your Hanukkah movies are accused of anti-Semitism, something went wrong. Hopefully second time's the charm with "Love, Lights, Hanukkah!," about a restaurant owner who discovers her Jewish heritage, along with a new family and handsome love interest in the process. I'm thinking they get it right this time; Mr. Matthews would never do anything to disappoint Mr. Feeny – or "Taxi" star Marilu Henner, who's here too!
"Project Christmas Wish"
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
Who plays the soon-to-be couple: Amanda Schull has danced her way to Hallmark after starting her career as the lead in the cult ballet movie "Center Stage." She'll romance Travis Van Winkle, who you will recognize as every movie jerk bro in the mid-2000s ("Accepted," "Transformers") He was even the most memorably inhumane character in the "Friday the 13th" remake – and that movie has Jason Voorhees stab-murdering people with a machete.
Cutesy romantic kerfuffle/Christmas conundrum: A kindly neighbor used to making other people's dreams come true gets the tables cheerfully turned on her as her Christmas wishes start coming true. Is one of those wishes to fall in love? I don't know; do Hallmark movies only have five basic scripts?
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.