Ho, ho no! On TV, it's Christmas already
Not yet Christmastime? Bah humbug! In some folks' hearts, it's Christmas every day. On shopping channels, the tree's been up for weeks already.
But it's really tube yuletide once Halloween has passed, when millions of holiday lovers dive into the seasonal spirit. What with TV's usual diet of shouting heads, daddy DNA tests and creepy criminals, many viewers are more than ready to see some family and friends, romance and reconnection, jollity and joy.
So here they come -- yes, this first week of November -- with new holiday movies already premiering, and faves now running around the clock.
Christmas 2013 early birds are the usual suspects:
HALLMARK CHANNEL Countdown to Christmas kicks off at 8 p.m. Saturday with "The Thanksgiving House" starring Lindsay Wagner, Bruce Boxleitner, Justin Breuning and Emily Rose. ("Thanksgiving" unreels again Thursday at 10 p.m. and next Saturday, Nov. 9, at noon.)
But Hallmark Channel's real push comes with this weekend's three TV movie premieres. Next Friday's family film "Pete's Christmas" (Nov. 8, 8 p.m.) follows an overshadowed middle kid ("Diary of a Wimpy Kid's" Zachary Gordon) and his grumpy grandpa (Bruce Dern) through a sort of yuletide "Groundhog Day." Patricia Richardson of "Home Improvement" headlines "Snow Bride" (Nov. 9, 8 p.m.), in which a reporter infiltrates a political family's festivities. Next Sunday's "A Very Merry Mix-Up" (Nov. 10, 8 p.m.) has Alicia Witt paired with Scott Gibson. Or will it be Mark Wiebe?
Hallmark's round-the-clock countdown includes 13 new movies among "over 1,200 hours of holiday programming." Check the lineup at bit.ly/17xuwZf
HALLMARK MOVIE CHANNEL This similar-named sibling (which despite its name also runs shows like "Murder, She Wrote") launches The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas next Monday. HMC's festival mixes newer TV titles -- James Brolin's "Christmas With Tucker" debuts Nov. 25 -- with merry movie classics. The latter lineup includes Cary Grant and Loretta Young in "The Bishop's Wife," Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh in "Holiday Affair" and Barbara Stanwyck's original "Christmas in Connecticut." More at hallmarkmoviechannel.com.
LIFETIME It's a Wonderful Lifetime kicks off Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. with new movie "A Country Christmas Story." Co-starring Dolly Parton and Brian McKnight, it's a multicultural take on country music, seen through an aspiring young biracial singer played by Desiree Ross. Saturdays through year-end feature more new movies with diverse casting (Ashanti, Shiri Appleby, Jordin Sparks, Della Reese, Randy Travis, Christina Milian). See mylifetime.com/movies/holiday.
ABC FAMILY Cable's other early starters are intended for grown-ups, but this channel aims at kids, teens and younger adults. Its long-running 25 Days of Christmas doesn't begin till Dec. 1, but the annual Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas runs Nov. 20-30. Led by non-holiday events like a Harry Potter marathon, this year's Countdown also debuts the Nov. 26 TV movie "Christmas Bounty," from WWE Studios, starring wrestler Mike "The Miz" Mizanin and Francia Raisa of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." More at abcfamily.com/25 days.
Interested in holiday-themed series episodes, animated perennials and music specials? (Hanukkah on "Hart of Dixie"! Lady Gaga with The Muppets! A "Duck Dynasty" Christmas!) You'll find those and much more in Newsday's wide-ranging holiday TV preview running Sunday, Nov. 17.