As the leaves get brighter and the air gets crisper, life shifts.
We turn to pumpkins and cider, to costumes and … Christmas movies?
Really. The first new Christmas film (shown here) reaches TV on Friday (Oct. 22), nine days before Halloween. There are two more this weekend … then three more each weekend after that.
Those are on the Hallmark Channel, but others – Lifetime, Freeform, Ion, UPtv – will follow, next month. Even CBS, which hasn’t had a new TV movie in nine years, plans two Christmas ones this year.
One explanation is basic: Overwhelmed by choices, viewers have become reluctant to try anything unfamiliar; Christmas movies are very familiar.
Each Hallmark one debuts at 8 p.m., then reruns at 6 p.m. the next day, with the Sunday ones rerunning at 6 p.m. the next Friday. This weekend, it’s Danica McKellar (shown here) in “You, Me & The Christmas Trees” (Friday and Saturday), Catherine Haena Kim in “Boyfriends of Christmas Past” (Saturday and Sunday) and Tamera Mowry-Housely in “The Santa Stakeout” (Sunday and Oct. 29). Past movies rerun throughout the day.
Skeptics might figure the Hallmark films keep repeating themselves: A bright-eyed young Caucasian returns to her home town, where she finds joy and an old boyfriend.
But Hallmark has tried to change in recent years. It replaced its top two executives and hired Wonya Lucas, who is Black, as its president. If you look at the central character in each of the 16 Christmas movies announced so far, you’ll find an Asian (Kim) and three Blacks (Mowrey-Housely, Ashleigh Murray and Jordin Sparks).
Beyond that, the old formula persists. Lots of cheery-looking TV-series stars are recycled; these first 16 movies include Candace Cameron Bure, Lacey Chabert, Katee Sackhoff, Alison Sweeney, Lyndsy Fonseca, Alison Sweeney, McKellar and Mowry-Housely, plus interlocking films about sisters, starring sisters Ashley Williams and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
Guys occasionally star (James Denton, Brandon Routh) and older guys are occasionally around to be a crime suspect (Joe Pantoliano) or an estranged dad (Terry O’Quinn).
Other channels used to wait until Thanksgiving. That’s when Lifetime will again have a big splash, with new Christmas movies on four straight nights.
But Lifetime won’t be waiting for that. It also plans to show new ones on Nov. 12-13 and 19-20. And UPtv has announced that it has nine new Christmas movies – five of them arriving before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21.
The big guys will also join in. Nov. 12 has been declared “Disney+ Day,” when the streamer has a flood of new shows, including a “Home Alone” Christmas movie, “Home Sweet Home Alone.”
No, our calendar doesn’t include Disney+ Day. But it also thinks that Christmas comes after Halloween and Thanksgiving. It must be confused.