I put on my coat to run a couple of errands and my wife was positioned comfortably on our living room sofa watching the latest Hallmark Christmas movie. In the minute it took to tell my wife goodbye and kiss her on the cheek, I got the lay of the land:
Young advertising executive Melanie had to team-up with her controlling coworker Donovan to come up with a creative pitch for a commercial for an important client. To make matters worse, she got Donovan’s name in the company holiday gift exchange. Can you say Human Resources nightmare?
I shook my head, happy that I had to head out for my errands: The tension was just too much for my precious cholesterol-filled heart to take. I know what you think. You think I’m poking fun of my wife and her love of syrupy love stories. No, no, it’s nothing like that, my mind really raced with questions:
Would Melanie be able to keep her identity hidden from Donovan? How would Donovan react when he found out that Melanie was his Secret Santa? And, even worse, who would get the prized promotion and partnership that they both coveted?
I had to force myself to stop with the questions and shut the door behind me. I returned a couple of hours later to find my wife and now my daughter in the same spot, still glued to Hallmark. Instead of Melanie and Donovan, the made-for-TV movie on the screen now featured Winnie Cooper from the late 1980s TV show “The Wonder Years.” Winnie had changed though. She was now a down -on-her-luck maid in New York City, who went by the name Allie, and had somehow caught the fancy of a well-to-do king. Once I stopped wondering why Winnie had dumped Kevin Arnold (aka Fred Savage) for Maximillian, King of Winshire, and wasn’t espousing the beauty of mathematical equations and STEM careers for young girls — you go Danica McKellar — I discovered that the story really was quite similar to the first Christmas movie.
I again threw twenty questions at my wife in rapid-fire succession. Why was Winnie, er Allie running away in the middle of the night from the King? And why the heck was the king chasing her on a beautiful stallion? Don’t they have cars in his kingdom?
I plopped down my purchases, sat down on the couch, and begged my wife to tell me how she survives with such romantic tension in the air. She, of course, gave me a look of death that said I better stop making fun of Hallmark and ruining her holiday fun or I would be sleeping outside in the cold.
Inquiring minds need to know
Yes, my new favorite pastime is to make fun of Hallmark Christmas movies, but I do have serious questions.
Since the Hallmark producers seem to hire the same actors and actresses, do they get a reduced rate? Do they tape one movie at a time or do they run the actors through a hamster-like treadmill, making the most of their time. For example, does actress Candace Cameron Bure, who seems to show up in every Christmas movie at one point or another, shoot “Christmas Under Wraps” all in one shot or does she spend her mornings on the “Under Wraps” set and then skip across the street to the set of “A Christmas Detour” to shoot that movie? How exactly does that work?
And that’s not all, where do the producers find these quaint little Christmas villages? Every Christmas movie seems to be set in one little village or another. And when they’re not in an Aspen, Colorado-like setting, they take place in the big city, but it’s the cleanest and most festive city known to mankind. One Hallmark movie about a bookshop worker who falls in love with a stranger who falls near the shop and can’t remember his name supposedly takes place in Philadelphia. Hmm, I work near Philadelphia and I have to say, the movie set looks nothing like the Philly I know and have grown to love. Where are they filming these movies and when can I move there?
Getting on board
My wife absolutely loves Hallmark’s Christmas movies. She can turn on the TV and immediately tell the difference between a Hallmark Christmas Movie and one on Lifetime or another channel. I suspect she loves them because no matter the story, no matter the plight, the protagonists find love and happiness. I inevitably point out the innumerable plot holes, bad acting, and the screamingly poor amount of diversity. She’ll shush me and tell me go to another room.
I run the risk of angering my wife further, but I need to get in touch with Hallmark. I have a great money-making proposal for them. In fact, I think it’s something the senior Hallmark executives might like.
The magazine Business Insider estimates that Hallmark spends on average more than $2 million to produce each holiday movie. While cheaper than it costs to produce an episode of “The Game of Thrones,” “Stranger Things” or even a network-run show, the movies are still expensive to make. I have an idea for Hallmark and its sister station Hallmark Movies & Mysteries to cut costs and build on their franchise.
Here’s my idea. They should come up with a wonderful new Christmas movie, the topic wouldn’t really matter. Here’s one idea right off the top of my head: A children’s book author comes home to take care of her parents and falls in love with a local veterinarian. You could call it anything, “Christmas in Sunny Valley” or “A Second Chance at Christmas.” The title wouldn’t matter. The movie just needs to end with the two falling deeply in love.
All’s well that ends well, right? But not so fast, especially when there’s money to be made. While they film “Christmas in Sunny Valley,” they would film a sequel, with the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel prepared to run that one the following spring.
The plot again would be pretty simple. Unfortunately, love in Sunny Valley is not so sunny, in fact, it’s fallen on hard times. Johnny, the veterinarian, has had it up to here with Joannie, the school teacher’s habit of leaving her dishes out. He hires a mafia-connected hit man to take her out one dark and stormy night. The story follows local detective Danny “the Bullet” Jones, with the help of Joannie’s determined sister Karen, as he fights the local mob to hunt down his man. The credits roll with the Bullet putting the hit man and Johnny away for life.
The ratings would be out of this world, but we’re not done. Since Hallmark has built a name on happy endings, the channel would be able to come back the following Christmas with the final piece in the puzzle: a holiday movie with Danny “the Bullet” Jones falling in love with Joannie’s sister.
With one swift move, I’ve given Hallmark three instant Hallmark Hall of Fame classic movies that they could play for years to come. What do you think? I think my idea has some merit. It can’t be any worse than some of the holiday movies I’ve seen on the network.
As I finish writing this and prepare to hit “publish,” my wife is shaking her head at me and pointing to the door. I’m thinking that’s not a good sign! Anyone got a spare room?