Alibi V.26 No.10 • March 9-15, 2017 

Idiot Box

Beats Toxoplasmosis

Meow Madness on Hallmark Channel

I’ve always suspected that the Hallmark Channel is run by crazy spinster cat ladies. I mean who else could watch that many romantic comedies about Santa Claus? But that long-simmering supposition has been conclusively proven now that the cable network has announced plans for its “Meow Madness” kitten basketball championship. Yes, you read that right.

The online event is inspired, of course, by the men’s college basketball championship known as “March Madness,” wherein 64 college teams play single-elimination games in four regional brackets. The resulting diminishing pool of winning teams inspires all sorts of betting pools from your office to Las Vegas. Given the cable TV craze for broadcasting various kitten, puppy and even fish bowls on Super Bowl weekend, it’s not all that shocking to see the sentiment-loving schmucks at Hallmark trying to hitch their wagon to a never-ending stream of cuteness. It’s all there in this month-long stunt: heaps of cute cat photos complete with awful feline puns—from the “brack-cats” that make up the competition to the teams (University of Cinci-catty, University of Fish-igan, University of Wis-Cat-Son) to the players (Meow Ming, Kevin Purr-ant, Stephan Furry, Michael Jor-cat). Michael Jor-cat? That doesn’t even count as a pun.

But what pushes Hallmark Channel’s Meow Madness into Looney Tunes territory is the brackets themselves. The March Madness brackets are broken into region: East, South, Midwest and West. The Meow Madness brackets are broken into original Hallmark Christmas movies. You see each kitten basketball star is paired with one of 64 Hallmark Original Christmas Movie titles. Why? I have no freaking idea. So, yeah, we have Region One: Hallmark Channel Classics Bracket featuring such films as A Boyfriend for Christmas, A Bride for Christmas, A Princess for Christmas and Meet the Santas. Region Two: Hallmark Channel 2016 Bracket spotlights such recent network offerings as A Dream for Christmas, A Rose for Christmas, A Wish for Christmas and Love You Like Christmas. (Lord, even reading the titles is tedious.) Region Three: Hallmark Channel 2015 Bracket—as I’m sure you’re eager to learn—offers up stuff like A Christmas Detour, A Christmas Melody, Ice Sculpture Christmas and ’Tis the Season for Love. Region Four: Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Bracket shakes things up with A Nutcracker Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Operation Christmas, A Christmas to Remember and ... a bunch more with the word “Christmas” in the title.

Frankly, I can’t make heads or tales of this. In Hallmark’s own words they’re “bringing cats, college basketball, Christmas and original films under a single banner.” Despite the network press release’s assurance that this is “pure syn-cron-ni-kitty” (Please. Stop.), I’m firmly convinced network executives were huffing scrapbook paste fumes at a Jo-Ann Fabrics when they came up with this so-called “idea.”

If you’re part of the demographic this is aimed at—and you must possess a wall calendar featuring cats dressed up in silly costumes in order to qualify—then you’ll be interested to know the “Meow Madness Christmas Bracket” goes live this Sunday, March 12. Viewers are invited to choose their favorite fake basketball-playing cat/movie in which a workaholic female executive learns the true meaning of Christmas by falling in love with an elf. At the merciful end of it all someone, apparently, has a chance to win up to $10,000. My bet is on anything starring Candace Cameron Bure. That woman is like the Michael Jor-cat of Hallmark Channel movies.