I Watched Finding Santa

I will be the first to admit that I’m not as much of an expert on Hallmark Christmas films as some members of my family but I think that I have figured out that general formula.  Basically, in every Hallmark Christmas movie, one of the girls from Full House either lives in or returns to a small town where it snows all the time and she falls in love while celebrating the holidays.  There is always one person who doesn’t have the holiday spirit but, by the end of the movie, they’re saying “Ho ho ho” and drinking eggnog.

In Finding Santa, it’s Jodie Sweetin’s turn to fall in love during Christmas.  She plays Grace, who lives in the town of Green River.  From her parents, she inherited an all-year Christmas store and the responsibility for organizing the town’s annual Christmas parade.  With the parade’s 50th anniversary approaching, Grace wants everything to be perfect but then the town’s Santa Claus, Tom (Jay Brazeau), slips and breaks his arm.  Tom runs a Santa school but he says that none of his students are ready to don the red suit.  Tom says that only his son, Ben (Eric Winter), can steer his sleigh.  The only problem is that Ben has no Christmas spirit and doesn’t want to be Santa.  Grace goes to Boston to try to change his mind.

Finding Santa starts out like a typical Hallmark Christmas film, with Grace loving Christmas and Ben feeling that Grace is making too big a deal about it.  The thing that sets Finding Santa apart from other Hallmark movies is that, for once, the Christmas skeptic has a point.  Grace does make too big a deal about the Christmas parade and protecting her parent’s legacy.  Grace is so obsessed with making everyone else’s holiday season perfect that she forgets to enjoy it herself.  Of course, by the end of the movie, both Ben and Grace have fallen in love and learned an important lesson about the true meaning of Christmas.  It’s a cute movie that teaches an important lesson about taking time for yourself.  Plus, I like the idea that there’s a school where you can get a Santa Claus degree.

Before I watched this movie, I was feeling bad because I overslept and missed our annual Christmas parade this weekend.  Getting to see the Green River Christmas Parade in Finding Santa made me feel better,  I don’t know the name of the man who plays Santa in our parade but he’s been doing it for years and he always does a great job.   He probably graduated at the top of his class from Santa School.

The Real Santa Claus, circa 2015 (picture taken by me)

I Watched Mingle All The Way

On Saturday night, I needed some cheering up so I watched Mingle All The Way on the Hallmark Channel.

Mingle All The Way is a Hallmark Christmas movie, which means that everyone in the movie goes from Grinch to angel in just two hours.  Molly (Jen Lilley) has created an app that pairs professionals together so that they can attend events together without having to worry about it turning into a romance.  Jeff (Brant Daugherty) works in public relations and is a single father.  When Molly allows her co-worker to set up her profile and Jeff lets his sister to do the same thing for him, the end result is that they end up getting paired together.  At first, they don’t like each other, because Molly thinks that Jeff is rude and Jeff thinks that Molly is to wrapped up in her work.  Then, Molly meets Jeff’s daughter and Jeff meets Molly’s family and they all come to loe each other.  It’s a Christmas miracle!

There was nothing surprising about Mingle All The Way but that’s not a problem.  It’s a Christmas Hallmark film so it’s not like I was expecting it to reinvent the wheel or anything like that.  I just wanted it to be a sweet and cute movie about people falling in love during the holidays and that’s what the movie delivered.  Hallmark movies have become as much a part of Christmas as the tree, the stockings, and old St. Nick coming down the chimney.  The holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of people and Hallmark movies like Mingle All The Way are there to provide an escape.  On Hallmark, every gift is perfect, every season is merry and bright, and we all get to experience our ideal Christmas.

As for why I needed to cheered up, it all has to do with baseball.  Ever since Adrian Beltre announced he was retiring, I’ve been feeling down.  If my Rangers couldn’t make it to the World Series with Adrian batting for them, how are they going to do it without him?  All I want for Christmas is a home run hitter who can play third base.  Until that happens, at least I know I can turn over to Hallmark and watch movies like Mingle All The Way.

Val’s Movie Roundup #6: Good Witch Edition

Unfortunately, the only movies in this series that were available for streaming were the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th films. I am renting the others and will review them at a later date.

The Good Witch's Family

The Good Witch’s Family (2011) – Here’s what I can gather in general about this series. Catherine Bell plays a witch named Cassandra Nightingale who owns an antique/miscellaneous items store in the town of Middleton. Not a witchcraft store really, although it is called Bell, Book, and Candle. She is married and has two children that don’t appear to be her biological ones. I don’t think they really explain that at this point, but I’m pretty sure they’re her husband’s kids. Maybe in the earlier films. Luckily, it isn’t important. You can jump into this series with any of these four films and not really feel lost. Basically, Cassandra stands around looking pretty in nicely chosen outfits acting like Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine while minor and meaningless micro-plots pop up around her, resolve, and the movie ends. Honestly, that’s it. It can be pretty boring. Some of these more than others.

This one revolves around a bridge that is going to be built before the town is annexed by Delaware. The mayor likes it while the mayor’s wife doesn’t. They want Cassie to become mayor. Because “family” is in the title, the movie has a tie in with Cassie’s family. In this case, a recently rediscovered family member turns up and causes some trouble using her own witchcraft. All the witchcraft in this is very subtle and implied, not really explicit. Cassie figures out her motives pretty early, but lets things go until it’s time to wrap things up.

This one, like the others is boring, but average. I really must say that the outfits chosen for Bell are quite nice. They do a good job dressing her. It’s a minor thing, but it was enough that I noticed.

The Good Witch's Charm

The Good Witch’s Charm (2012) – Now this Good Witch movie is a stinker. Cassie is now the mayor. There’s a newborn. And a little crimewave is going on. A very minor crimewave. Cassie is caught on video teleporting. I mentioned before that the magic is implied in this series. We do see her suddenly show up when a character turns around, but we never actually see the trick pulled. This time it’s explicit. The video goes viral and a reporter shows up. It’s probably worth mentioning that there is a lady who owns a shop nearby and she is always around. Also, Cassie’s foster mom shows up in town.

Again, a bunch of minor plots that all resolve without really providing anything but an excuse to check your Twitter feed. This just happens to be a particularly boring one. The stupid video thing is stupid and the resolution will have you irritated. If you do enjoy these movies, then I would hop over this one. Even someone who dubs themselves as a lover of Hallmark movies on IMDb said this was pretty boring.

The Good Witch's Destiny

The Good Witch’s Destiny (2013) – This movie is a notch up from The Good Witch’s Charm, but it’s still not the totally average experience of The Good Witch’s Family. There are again micro-plots, but the “destiny” of the title has to do with something her daughter is investigating. At this point, she is in college. She wants to write a paper on the backstory of a family member whose portrait is hung in their house. They refer to her as the Grey Lady. There was some sort of fire and it happened on or around her birthday. Since Cassie’s birthday is coming up, the daughter is worried.

Of course, there’s never anything to worry about when Cassie is around. Maybe she’s always so laid back and confident, not because she is anything like Jadzia Dax with lifetime’s of knowledge, but since she always reads the scripts. This one is wholly unremarkable, but it will not annoy you like The Good Witch’s Charm. I really don’t expect much from a Hallmark movie. They are usually rather formulaic, but these one’s that are really just TV Shows made up of TV Movie episodes seem to be pretty boring. Not sure why that’s a thing. The other Hallmark movies don’t do that. Oh, well. This one’s okay.

The Good Witch's Wonder

The Good Witch’s Wonder (2014) – The biggest problem with this one is that Cassie cut her hair! Catherine Bell looked so pretty with long hair that had bangs. Otherwise, this is the best of the four. Again, some micro-plots, but it has a decent major plot that can keep your attention. No, not the son getting married. Yeah, there’s a son, and the fact that it took so long for me to mention him tells you how important his existence is.

The major plot is basically ripped from a Lifetime movie. A girl is clearly needing a place to hide out and becomes an employee of Cassie’s. A douchebag shows up under the pretenses of doing some work for that lady with the other shop, but he’s really there to come after her. He wants her to steal something for him, then he’ll leave her alone. You know where this all goes. It’s just nice to have a real plot that the movie focuses on and that it is somewhat interesting. This is the best of the four I watched.

I fully intend to get the first three films and if a commenter on IMDb is right, this series lost it’s magic by The Good Witch’s Family where I came in. So hopefully those movies will be better.

Val’s Movie Roundup #4: Hallmark Edition

Recipe For Love

Recipe For Love (2014) – The movie begins with Lauren (Danielle Panabaker) as a kid writing a food blog about cafeteria food. She is told that’s a no no by the school. Then we jump ahead to when she’s an adult working in a kitchen. Suddenly, an opportunity falls into her lap. She is asked to ghostwrite a cook book for a television chef named Dexter Durant (Shawn Roberts). At first there is a little friction, but it doesn’t last long. The two open up to each other pretty quickly. We see behind the facade Dexter puts on for the audience and Lauren genuinely wants to make this cookbook happen. It’s not like this is a story about a woman whose voice is hidden behind a man’s. And it’s not about tearing down this fake personality to see Dexter fall from grace or watch him give up this thing he was only doing for fame. They work together, fall for each other, and both come out of the process better then when they began it. They both still love cooking and want to continue to do so with each other. I really liked that she wasn’t bashing against a wall that finally comes down in the end. Both of them begin to deal with each other as real people early on. I liked this Hallmark movie better than most I have seen.

Catch A Christmas Star

Catch A Christmas Star (2013) – I swear if it isn’t a dog movie, it’s a bible movie, otherwise it’s a Christmas movie. In fact, director John Bradshaw has made eight of them. This film introduces us to a family that has a little girl who likes a singer named Nikki (Shannon Elizabeth). She shows up at a record signing and wouldn’t you know it, turns out Nikki knows her Dad from the past. There’s no sense in spelling out the rest of the plot because you already know it. I didn’t like this one. I didn’t feel any chemistry. Shannon Elizabeth doesn’t act well. She certainly can’t sing. And while she is probably the nicest and sweetest person I could ever meet in real life, she looks like a plastic doll to me in this movie. I just couldn’t push past that. I’ve only seen four Hallmark Christmas movies, but I would go with A Royal Christmas (2014) instead.

My Boyfriends' Dogs

My Boyfriends’ Dogs (2014) – This year I replaced my desktop PC with a Mac. I kind of regret the choice of going with a Mac because the software is lousy. The hardware is giving me some problems too. But I’m going off on a tangent. My point is that while the computers have given out over the years, the monitors still work fine. As a result, I have the monitor that comes with the all in one Mac and two monitors from previous computers attached for a three monitor setup. This movie is like that. It follows Bailey (Erika Christensen) as she goes from one boyfriend to another, picking up their dogs along the way. It’s actually quite funny to see two of them show up on her doorstep with a dog for her to adopt. At the center of this series of dates is the guy at the pet shop cast because we can instantly tell he’s a good guy. Now all of this is told in flashback. At the beginning of the movie, Bailey wanders into a cafe wearing a wedding dress where she recounts her story to a some guy and Joyce Dewitt of Three’s Company fame. Turns out the final boyfriend almost became her husband before she ran out, dogs and all. I won’t spoil the ending, but it will have you yelling, “Oh, come on!” This one’s okay, but Recipe For Love is the best of the four in this roundup.

For Better Or For Worse

For Better or for Worse (2014) – This one is a Romeo and Juliet style story. You have the mother who does weddings. You have a father who does divorces. Their children decide to come together, become vegans, and organic farmers. Obviously, that doesn’t go to well with the parents. What follows is the parents getting closer while trying to drive the kids away, only to figure out that as weird as it seems, the kids are actually pretty happy together. The two parents also turn out to be happy as well with each other. Wait, I just realized something. I know it’s a little wishy washy, up for argument, and they did it in Clueless, but that smells a little like incest. A little weird for a Hallmark movie. Oh well, is it worth your time? You can do worse. It’s a decent 90 minutes or so without commercials. I wouldn’t seek it out, but if it’s on, then just enjoy it to pass the time.

Val’s Movie Roundup #2: Hallmark Edition

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (2015) – Despite what people say elsewhere online, you can’t come into this film without having seen any of the other Signed, Sealed, Delivered TV Movies/Episodes. I know this because I tried and it doesn’t work. The movie is about four people (conveniently picked so we know that they should pair off) who get dead letters and track down who should have received them. Sounds like it should be a procedural, but it’s not. This series seems to set up a tiny little bit of a plot, then spends the whole time having the characters develop through conversation. The reason this film will lose people who are brand new is because it reaches all the way back through everything to the first episode of the show to bring Oliver’s (Eric Mabius) wife into his life again. The wife is played by Poppy Montgomery in a role far better than in Tammy and the T-Rex. Yeah, I’m going to work that movie into as many reviews as possible. There are also flashbacks. You really need to come to this as the culmination of all the previous stuff. As a result, my experience with this film was not good. It felt inert. Kind of like passing away slowly, but painlessly. I know that sounds brutal, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (2014) – This Signed, Sealed, Delivered is a different beast. It’s still the same characters and once again a dead letter has shown up. This time it’s a letter for God. You’d think it’s for Santa considering Christmas is in the title, but this is less a Christmas movie as it is a Christian movie. Unlike From Paris With Love, you can come into this without knowing anything. That’s a real plus! Again, it’s not about plot, but character development. And subtle slow development at that. I wonder how long Hallmark is planning to keep this show going. It can feel like being teased at times. Like near the end when Norman (Geoff Gustafson) reaches up to gently touch Rita’s (Crystal Lowe) face. You know she should just grab him in her arms, but it never happens. Instead, he walks away while she is lit up like a Christmas tree. If you have to choose between the two TV Movie episodes of this show to start with, then please start with this one. You’ll have a far better time, and most likely will enjoy From Paris With Love much more than I did.

Surprised By Love

Surprised By Love (2015) – When the cake gets destroyed, just make a new one from Twinkies! There’s nothing really to be surprised about here. You have a driven girl with the wrong guy. You have one of those guys who achieved some sort of nirvana by wandering from place to place. He’s kind of like the magic negro or magic eccentric type character that turns around other people’s lives simply by coming in contact with them. And finally, you have her boyfriend who is stuffy and clearly doesn’t belong with her. Our heroine runs into the magic man who is selling driftwood. Yeah, and his car runs on vegetable oil. I’m not making that up. What happens is that her boyfriend thinks it will be really clever if she brings home the magic man, whom she knows from high school, to be an embarrassment so he looks wonderful. Guess what happens? At least the grandpa who pretends to have dementia so he doesn’t have to talk to anybody is kind of funny. This one’s harmless.


Nearlyweds (2013) – Yeah, that’s easily the best scene in the movie. A phone call comes in with a job offer and while the person is leaving a message, the dog pees on the phone and it shorts out. But let me back up. This movie is about three girlfriends who all got married around the same time by the same guy. Problem though, he dies before he can sign the paperwork. That means, technically, legally, they’re not actually married. Typical, but could be humorous. Except it’s not. One of the big problems is that the husbands don’t find out about this until 48 minutes into the movie. At that point there are 39 minutes left. I don’t know why it takes so long. Everything prior seems like filler, then the secret is out, and still next to nothing happens. I know it’s Hallmark and a TV Movie in general, but they really should have done more with this. It’s not a concept that’s necessarily doomed from the start. Too bad.

My 2012 Emmy Nominations

So, for the past few days, I’ve been happily hopping around my section of the Shattered Lens Bunker and do you know why? 

Because it’s awards season, that’s why!  With the conclusion of the 2011-2012 TV season, Emmy ballots have been mailed and votes are being cast and, come July, we’ll know which shows and performers have been nominated for the 2012 Emmys. 

Before that happens, however, I would like to play a little game called “What if Lisa Was Solely Responsible For Picking the Nominees.”  Here’s how it works — I looked over and studied the complete list of the shows and performances that have been submitted this year for Emmy consideration.  And then, from that list, I picked my personal nominees.

(A complete list of every show and performer that’s been submitted for Emmy consideration can be found here.)

Below are my personal nominations in the major Emmy categories.  Again, note that these are not necessarily the shows and performers that I believe will be nominated.  Instead, these are the shows and performers that I would nominate if I was solely responsible for picking the nominees.

A complete list of my nominations in every single Emmy category can be found here.  (And yes, there’s a lot of Lifetime on the list.  There’s also a lot of Community.)

Best Comedy Series

Bored to Death (HBO)

Community (NBC)

Girls (HBO)

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Raising Hope (Fox)

Veep (HBO)

Best Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Breaking Bad (AMC)

The Client List (Lifetime)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

Pan Am (ABC)

Ringer (The CW)

True Blood (HBO)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Five (Lifetime)

Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Hatfields & McCoys (History Channel)

The Hour (BBC America)

Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Outstanding Variety Series

Conan (TBS)

Fashion Police (E)

Key and Peele (Comedy Central)

The Soup (E)

Tosh .O (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Variety Special

Betty White’s 90th Birthday Party (NBC)

Celtic Women: Believe (PBS)

The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (Comedy Central)

TV Land Awards (TV Land)

Wendy Liebman: Taller on TV (Showtime)

Outstanding Nonfiction Special

Bobby Fischer Against The World (HBO)

Catholicism: Amazed and Afraid (PBS)

Crime After Crime (OWN)

God Is The Bigger Elvis (HBO)

6 Days To Air: The Making of South Park (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Nonfiction Series

America in Primetime (PBS)

American Masters (PBS)

America’s Most Wanted (Lifetime)

Beyond Scared Straight (A&E)

Inside Story (Biography)

Outstanding Reality Program

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)

Dance Moms (Lifetime)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)

Scouted (E)

Storage Wars (A&E)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)

The Bachelor (ABC)

Big Brother (CBS)

The Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

Survivor (CBS)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Johnny Galecki in The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Danny McBride in Eastbound and Down (HBO)

Joel McHale in Community (NBC)

Lucas Neff in Raising Hope (Fox)

Jason Schwartzman in Bored To Death (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jeffrey Donavon in Burn Notice (USA)

Damian Lewis in Homeland (Showtime)

Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead (AMC)

Timothy Olyphant in Justified (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Idris Elba in Luther (BBC America)

Rob Lowe in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Steven Weber in Duke (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Dominic West in The Hour (BBC America)

Ben Whishaw in The Hour (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (Fox)

Lena Dunham in Girls (HBO)

Tina Fey in 30 Rock  (NBC)

Julia Louis Dreyfuss in Veep (HBO)

Mary-Louis Parker in Weeds (Showtime)

Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope (Fox)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Claire Danes in Homeland (Showtime)

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Ringer (The CW)

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Client List (Lifetime)

Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (CBS)

Elizabeth McGovern in Downton Abbey (PBS)

Anna Paquin in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Kristin Davis in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Anne Heche in Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Rose McGowan in The Pastor’s Wife (Lifetime)

Emily Osment in Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Sara Paxton in Blue Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Charlie Day in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Danny DeVito in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Donald Glover in Community (NBC)

Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Danny Pudi in Community (NBC)

Matt Walsh in Veep (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama

Bruce Campbell in Burn Notice (USA)

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Giancarlo Espositto in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Alexander Skarsgard in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Powers Boothe in Hatfields and McCoys (History Channel)

Justin Bruening in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar in Hide (TNT)

Sir Roger Moore in A Princess For Christmas (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Tony Shalhoub in Five (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy

Alison Brie in Community (NBC)

Kristen Chenoweth in GCB (ABC)

Anna Chlumsky in Veep (HBO)

Gillian Jacobs in Community (NBC)

Cloris Leachman in Raising Hope (Fox)

Aubrey Plaza in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in Drama

Christine Baranski in The Good Wife (CBS)

Kristen Bauer Von Straten in True Blood (HBO)

Kelly MacDonald in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Christina Ricci in Pan Am (ABC)

Sophia Turner in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Deborah Ann Woll in True Blood (HBO)

Supporting Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Tammy Blanchard in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Kaley Cuoco in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Lisa Edelstein in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Jessica Lange in American Horror Story (FX)

Jena Malone in Hatfields and McCoy (History Channel)