Hallmark TV Channel's Countdown to Christmas movie marathon is already...

Hallmark TV Channel's Countdown to Christmas movie marathon is already underway. Sarah Lancaster and Brendan Penny star in "Tis the Season," about a struggling New York actress's return to her hometown. Credit: Crown Media / Bettina Strauss

Merry Christmas!

What, you think I'm early? Not when TV's shopping channels have been hawking holiday merch from tree-decorated sets for weeks already. Not when your local warehouse club has shoved aside Halloween wares to stock Santa and snowmen.

Not when Hallmark Channel is about to start its annual ratings-magnet marathon Countdown to Christmas -- on Halloween night.

That's because viewers are itching to get to it, too -- all that reassuring warmth, romance and reconciliation, all those dreams-come-true and Santa, too. It's 55 straight days of seasonal uplift. Plus Mariah Carey.

Hallmark kicks it off at 8 p.m. Oct. 31 with a family favorite to watch with your still-costumed kids. Macaulay Culkin's Christmas-themed "Home Alone" commences the mood, before Nov. 1 spotlights the first of the channel's whopping 17 new original holiday films. That one isn't Mariah's. They're saving her directorial debut, "A Christmas Melody," for almost last, when the Harborfields High grad also stars in her Dec. 19 premiere. In the meantime, Hallmark delivers a double dose of new titles every week, even stuffing the long Thanksgiving weekend with new films on five straight nights.

Sibling channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has its own Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas festival starting round-the-clock Oct. 31. HM&M's four new originals include franchise faves like Alison Sweeney's "Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery" (Nov. 22) and "Debbie Macomber's Dashing Through the Snow" (Dec. 13). Plus, Jericho native Jamie-Lynn Sigler stars in "The Christmas Note" (Nov. 29).

There's more. The past week has seen a parade of Christmas announcements by other channels (though most restrain themselves until closer to the holiday). Lifetime's Very Merry Christmas event launches Thanksgiving weekend, with Nov. 28's "A Gift Wrapped Christmas" (Meredith Hagner, Beverley Mitchell) and Nov. 29's "The Christmas Gift" (Michelle Trachtenberg, Rick Fox); five more originals premiere in December. ABC Family beats turkey day with its "Young & Hungry" Christmas episode Nov. 24, while mother-ship network ABC waits till Nov. 27's day-after for "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" to launch its lineup of animated faves. ("A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs Nov. 30.)

Even streaming services are getting holiday-happy. Netflix debuts its special "A Very Murray Christmas" Dec. 4 with Bill Murray, George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus and many more.

Stay tuned for more holiday happenings.

Films for the season

Holiday movie originals for November:


Nov. 1 at 8 p.m.: "Tis The Season For Love," Sarah Lancaster, Brendan Penny.

Nov. 7: "Ice Sculpture Christmas," Rachel Boston, Brenda Strong.

Nov. 8: "Charming Christmas," Julie Benz, David Sutcliffe.

Nov. 14: "I'm Not Ready For Christmas," Alicia Witt, Dan Lauria.

Nov. 15: "Christmas Incorporated," Shenae Grimes-Beech, Steve Lund.

Nov. 21: "Northpole: Open for Christmas," Lori Loughlin, Dermot Mulroney.

Nov. 22: "Merry Matrimony," Jessica Lowndes, Christopher Russell.

Nov. 25: "Once Upon A Holiday," Briana Evigan, Greg Evigan.

Nov. 26: "The 12 Gifts of Christmas," Katrina Law, Aaron O'Connell, Donna Mills.

Nov. 27: "Crown For Christmas," Danica McKellar.

Nov. 28: "A Christmas Detour," Candace Cameron Bure, Paul Greene.

Nov. 29: "Angel of Christmas," Jennifer Finnigan, Jonathan Scarfe, Holly Robinson Peete.


Nov. 22: "Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery," Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison.

Nov. 29: "The Christmas Note," Jamie-Lynn Sigler.


Nov. 28: "A Gift Wrapped Christmas," Meredith Hagner, Beverley Mitchell.

Nov. 29: "The Christmas Gift," Michelle Trachtenberg.

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