I gave the new version of Beverly Hills 90210 a shot. However, the acting was so atrocious that I had to turn it off. My opinion was confirmed when I saw Anna Lynn McCord in The Christmas Parade (currently #64 in my Hallmark rankings.) Her idea of acting was pouting her lips in a different fashion to show “emotion.” Imagine my concern when another alum of 90210, Jessica Lowndes, was set to star in Merry Matrimony. The best thing about dreadfully low expectations – it is easy to exceed them.
Brie Traver (Lowndes) is an art director and is assigned a high profile account. If all goes well, she will make partner. The only snag – her ex-boyfriend is the photographer on the project. Brie is determined to remain professional and not acknowledge that their past will be an issue. They broke up because of distance (him in Paris and her in New York), not some fundamental difference in compatibility, so the feelings are still there. Only a Three’s Company-type misunderstanding keeps them apart (she thinks he is dating and then becomes engaged to the client.)
I have very little snark to say about Merry Matrimony, which is both good and bad. I don’t have anything bad to say, but it was also a thoroughly unmemorable movie. I have nothing to add. You can watch it if you want, but when you wake up the next morning, I doubt you’ll remember it.
25. Christmas Magic
27. Pete’s Christmas
For Thanksgiving this year, I tried to make a different turkey brining recipe than I normally do for the sake of variety. Unfortunately, I got my proportions wrong resulting in a too-salty brine and thus inedible gravy. And the turkey? Well, it was edible, but the turkey was also on the salty side. Northpole: Open For Christmas was like the Thanksgiving dinner I made – unwatchable in spots and just bad in others. The scenes with Santa, Clementine (Bailee Madison) and the other elves in the Northpole were so sickly sweet and cheery it was nauseating. It was like watching Rachel Boston on uppers.
I actually liked the premise (much like I liked my idea for a different brine) Clementine’s mission was simple – get the magical layline in Vermont back online so that Santa can fly around the world in a single night. The magical focal point is the Northern Lights Inn, recently inherited by Mackenzie (Lori Loughlin). Mackenzie is an estate appraiser, always on the road, never in one place long enough to develop an attachment to anyone or anything. When she receives the inheritance, her first thought is to sell the place sight unseen, but she changes her mind to check out the place before she sells. Once there, she remembers that her best Christmas memories occurred at this inn as a child– at least this provides a framework for why she might keep the place (unlike some Hallmark movies where the person’s character completely changes for no reason).
Clementine’s cover story was non-existent – she just showed up at the inn and started helping. Was she a guest? A new staff member? I don’t understand. [Ed. Note – I’m told that her cover story is she is the grand niece of the caretaker, but I have zero recollection of any scene telling us this.] Clementine was under orders not to share anything with Mackenzie, yet she liberally shows her magic and even takes her to the Northpole. Doesn’t that violate “not telling her anything?”
There wasn’t a lot of gravy in Northpole: Open For Christmas, which is a good thing given how salty my gravy was. There were only two scenes at the Northpole, once you get past the nausea from those scenes the movie isn’t bad other than the complete lack of [noticeable] explanation for Clementine.
32. Ice Sculpture Christmas
34. Cookie Cutter Christmas
Just think, in some alternate universe, today there will be turkeys having roasted humans for dinner.
Aired: 11/15/15 on Hallmark Channel
When I first saw the promos for Christmas Incorporated, I thought the lead actress was Cobie Smulders. It wasn’t. While there was nothing wrong with Not-Cobie-Smulders, Robin Sparkles would have made this movie so much better.
Not-Cobie-Smulders was laid off and is now looking for a job. She is rejected for various (and sometimes stupid) reasons, until she applies for a job as the assistant to the CEO of Young Industries. The hiring manager, however, has the wrong resume – which shouldn’t really be a problem, because they hired her, not her resume. It is a problem though. There are three possible scenarios, all of which are so stupid that I find it hard to believe that the clearly employed writers have ever had a job in their lives. The first possibility is that Not-Cobie-Smulders falsifies her W-9, which I am fairly certain is illegal, because there is a warning that you are signing it under penalty of perjury. Second possibility, Young Industries just doesn’t bother with a W-9, also illegal. Third possibility, the W-9s were filled out beforehand and attached to the resume – which means Not-Cobie-Smulders wouldn’t be getting paid, someone else would.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story. The CEO is a 25-year-old man taking over from his late father. His inexperience is obvious. He doesn’t seem to understand economics, marketing, or public speaking – all of which seem like important attributes for a CEO of a large corporation. CEO and Not-Cobie-Smulders head off to a toy factory in Dover, New Hampshire to determine whether to keep it open. CEO has no idea what he is doing so assistant Not-Cobie-Smulders comes up with a good idea to market old toys as nostalgic – a low overhead product, with potentially popular appeal. Then she comes up with a terrible marketing strategy of having everyone in small-town Dover tell everyone they know (isn’t that just each other?) about the old-new product.
Since this is a Hallmark movie, you know not-Cobie-Smulders is going to hook up with her boss – which is clichéd at best. Though I suppose since they hired someone else, it technically isn’t her boss. It also seems apparent that she really isn’t an assistant since she comes up with all the ideas, orders him around, and doesn’t seem to do anything that an assistant might actually do – like his schedule.
Christmas Incorporated suffers from poor writing. I really think Robin Sparkles should have sang a song to save the factory instead of telling people about an old toy.
50. The Wishing Tree
52. Charming Christmas
Airs: Sundays at 9pm ET on TNT
Review: Pilot (+1/2 of second episode)
When one of the greatest TV shows ever (Firefly) was cancelled, a lot of people blamed the cancellation on airing the episodes out of order. That may or not be correct, but airing things out of order can definitely confuse people. Agent X feels like they are airing scenes, not just episodes, out of order.
The series begins with John Case aka Agent X being held hostage. He is rescued by someone – but we don’t know by whom. In the next scene, Case is chasing a terrorist – he didn’t catch the main terrorist, but he caught an agent working for him. I have no idea what the first scene has to do with the second scene. Next we move to the vice president (Sharon Stone) being sworn into office and discovering the existence of Agent X. I am now confused – the VP doesn’t get to select Agent X? Who was Case working for before she was sworn in to office? It is a little known clause in the constitution that the VP runs the Agent X program, but it is a secret from everyone else – including the president.
His first assignment from the new VP is to rescue the daughter of the FBI director, Stanton. The same terrorist Case was chasing in the second scene kidnapped her to get his agent back. After a series of highly unlikely stunts, Case rescues the daughter. Seriously, a hose attached to a 20-pound generator is supposed to stop the fall of an adult male and a teenage girl, and even if it did, wouldn’t the jolt of the stop rip his arms out (or would he be able to hang on to it at all)? In gratitude for rescuing his daughter, Stanton now wants to arrest whoever Agent X is, because he may have violated a few laws in doing so. What? Really? [There is a scene in the second episode that would make more sense that the FBI director wants to arrest him – this is why I say the scenes are out of order.]
I love spy shows, and the idea of Agent X is a good one. Sharon Stone is great as the vice president. But this show is doomed by dreadful writing and ludicrous stunts (Case runs through a window in one scene – runs right through it, doesn’t slow him down at all –try running through a window sometime – er, don’t do that.)
WWYT Rating: 4.5
Nielsen Ratings: 0.2 Cable ratings are always hard to decipher (because they get subscriber fees) This is one of TNT’s lower rated programs – they have cancelled shows with better ratings; they have also renewed shows with lower ratings. I don’t think this show will survive; chance of renewal 40%.
Aired: 11/14/15 on Hallmark Channel
I’m not sure where the title I’m Not Ready for Christmas comes from, but you’ve probably seen this movie before – when it was called Liar Liar. I’m Not Ready for Christmas starts well, but somewhere along the way goes off the rails and never recovers.
Alicia Witt plays Holly, an advertising executive. Don Draper, she is not. Her original slogan “Made in the USA,” makes her a genius – no one seems to notice that the slogan is at least 30 years old. She is also so obsessed with work that she lies to her niece, Anna, about spending time with her. Anna makes a wish with Santa for Holly to stop lying (just like in Liar Liar). Holly then tells the brutal truth for the next several days. In true Hallmarkian fashion, she begins dating a 4th grade music teacher, Drew. After their second date, they shake hands! I once told a female friend of mine, that if a guy shakes your hand at the end of a date it means he isn’t interested. In Hallmark world, it is close to a marriage proposal.
The story goes south from there. Drew gets a job as band director for Northwestern University. This is a mighty large step up from 4th grade music teacher and pretty much a no-brainer that he should take the job. This means he would leave Denver and the woman who he has only shook hands with behind for Chicagoland. But a freak snowstorm, prevents Drew from leaving – forever, apparently – that is one big snowstorm. It also turns out that “Made in the USA” is a lie because the product is made in Malaysia. I am not overly certain why this needed to be the case.
I’m Not Ready for Christmas was a funny and charming for about 75% of the movie, even if it wasn’t an original script. Then the writers stopped making sense and the script fell apart. It still probably makes it the best Hallmark movie this year, though that isn’t a very high bar to clear.
WWYT Rating: 6.19
30. Help For the Holidays
32. Ice Sculpture Christmas
I rarely turn a movie off in the middle. I turned Lockout off only 30 minutes into the movie though. Guy Pearce as Snow is hilarious, but he is the sole bright spot in this severely lacking action movie.
The premise is completely untenable. Snow (Guy Pearce) is framed for murder and treason, but this has virtually nothing to do with the plot (strike one.) Meanwhile, the president daughter (Maggie Grace) visits a maximum-security prison, where all the prisoners are kept in stasis on a space station. She is there to interview one of the prisoners. The secret service agent assigned to protect her brings his gun into the interrogation room (against every rule in existence, including in this movie, and a SS agent should definitely know better – strike two.) The SS agent gets his gun stolen by the prisoner, who then shoots and breaks bullet-proof glass (strike three.) The prisoner then has a straight shot to the control room – the completely unguarded control room (strike four), where he orders the only scientist to open all the stasis pods. He does so with a single button press – awesome security procedures (strike five.) The prisoners take hostages, including Maggie Grace (because that is the only role she apparently plays.)
Back to Snow – he is convicted of the murder and treason he didn’t commit. Without a trial (strike six.) In exchange for rescuing the president daughter, the Secret Service agrees to drop the charges. Of murder and treason (strike seven.) The attempt to sneak Snow on to the space station is in full view of the prisoners (strike eight.) I have a pretty strict eight strikes and you’re out policy, I turned it off at this point. In a brilliant casting decision, they cast a Swedish man (Peter Stormare) as the head of the Secret Service. His forced American accent was so bad I might have had to turn it off even if there weren’t already eight strikes against it.
The entire premise of Lockout is completely ludicrous. I will go ahead and guess it turns into Die Hard once Snow gets aboard the space station, which is OK, but it takes stupid assumption after stupid assumption to get to that point. It is a shame they wasted a solid character in Snow.
WWYT Rating: 3.0
IMDB Rating: 6.1