Alibi V.28 No.28 • July 11-17, 2019 

Idiot Box

Holiday Hell

Christmas in July on Hallmark

Hallmark Channel has a problem. And his name is Kris Kringle. For a cable outlet founded by a greeting card company, it’s no real surprise to see their programmers addicted to holiday-centric fare—even when there’s no holiday in sight. But the network is almost criminally obsessed with Christmas. Witness, for example: Hallmark’s “2019 Christmas: A First Look Preview Special.” This hour-long special promises to give viewers an early sneak peek at all the new original movies coming to this year’s “Countdown to Christmas” event. The preview special is airing this coming Saturday. It is, in case you hadn’t looked at a calendar recently, July.

Not unlike anti-vaxxers and measles, Hallmark Channel has contributed mightily to the pestilential spread of Christmas movies. Once confined rather logically to the month of December, Christmas movies now creep back earlier every year, snowing over Thanksgiving and threatening to cover Halloween in eggnog and romance. This year, Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” programming event is scheduled to start on October 25. That’s two full months before Christmas!

It’s not difficult to see why Hallmark likes the holiday so much. Few dates on the calendar possess such pre-generated goodwill. Hallmark and its audience are addicted to a formulaic, feel-good brand of romantic comedy. Christmas suits this formula to a T. We start with an overworked, emotionally bottled-up female executive. (Bonus points if her name is Eve or Joy or Noel or Holly and it can be worked into the title.) Her big-city corporation is, inevitably, trying to buy up some mom-and-pop operation—ideally one connected to the Christmas season (a tree farm or a toy factory or a fruitcake bakery). Our protagonist is prevailed upon to travel during Christmas (no problem, since she has no family or romantic entanglements) to some bucolic rural village and oversee the hostile takeover. Invariably, the mom-and-pop business has just been handed down to some thirtysomething hunk with a week’s worth of stubble who’s good with his hands (he chops the trees or makes the toys or bakes the cakes). What will our overworked executive do? The romantic possibilities are endless. (Actually, they’re not: The outcome is obvious from the get-go.)

As if two months worth of Christmas movies weren’t overkill enough, Hallmark has already launched its “Christmas in July” event. This amounts to another 31 days of Santa hats, candy canes and kissing. And starting Friday, July 12 at noon, Hallmark goes full-on 24/7 with the Christmas crap. Prior to “2019 Christmas: A First Look Preview Special,” you can watch A December Bride, A Very Merry Mix-Up, Christmas Joy, Switched for Christmas, It’s Christmas, Eve (her name is Eve—get it?) or any one of a dozen other fa-la-la-la-features.

As far as the special is concerned, it’s basically Hallmark fave Lacey Chabert (A Royal Christmas, A Christmas Melody and the immortal Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe) giving you a taste of the 40 (yes, 40!) other holly jolly rom-coms you’ll be watching come the end of the year. Hallmark stalwarts like Candace Cameron Bure, Scott Wolf, Danica McKellar and Chad Michael Murray will join her. As will a bunch of adoptable puppies (no, I’m not kidding). Do you really need this in your life? Are you the kind of person who thinks Christmas should be celebrated year-round? Do you have sexual feelings for Santa Claus? If the answer is yes, tune in to Hallmark for the rest of July. Or seek help.

“2019 Christmas: A First Look Preview Special” premieres Saturday, July 13 at 8pm on Hallmark Channel.