By day, John Podhoretz is a columnist for Commentary Magazine, the New York Post and elsewhere.
But if you follow him on Faceboo, you will see that the Hallmark Channel, which has produced hundreds of Christmas-themed movies with essentially one plot, should hire Podhoretz to generate the latest holiday-themed dreck.
Social media has already divined the plot of every Hallmark holiday movie …
… but Podhoretz has applied Hallmark’s generic plots to the political circus of the past few months, going further as well by casting the lead roles:
When a disappointed 2020 pollster (Lea Michele) returns to her home town to help her father (Max Gail) fulfill the orders at his Christmas wreath farm, she meets a sexy widower (Generic Canadian). What will she do when she discovers a mail-in ballot he didn’t mail in—and opens it to discover he would have voted for the losing candidate she had said would win in a landslide? With a little help from a mysterious bearded man (Bruce Dern), can she learn to forgive and love? Watch “A Christmas Without a Postmark” on the Hallmark Channel.
(TV viewers of a certain age might remember Gail from “Barney Miller.” Dern is a character in my favorite Western comedy, “Support Your Local Sheriff.”)
When a hard-charging member of the Electoral College (Kate Walsh) returns to her hometown of Holly Springs to help her father (Len Cariou) fulfill the holiday orders at his fruitcake store, she meets a local fig farmer (Generic Canadian). But when he tries to convince her to change her vote to protest her candidate’s support of a new dried fruit tariff, their future is put in danger. Can a mysterious bearded man (Oliver Sacks) come through with new evidence of voter fraud along with a sprig of mistletoe? Watch “A Faithless Elector Yuletide” on the Hallmark Channel.
(Sacks, by the way, is dead. The response from one commenter who pointed that out? “CGI, my friend.” Another commenter suggested, “That screams for a Wolf Blitzer cameo as the newscaster improbably reporting on a local tariff referendum.”)
A hard charging agribusinesswoman (Katherine Heigl) is sent back to her home town by the conglomerate run by her hard-charging boyfriend (Scott Caan) to shut down the local mistletoe farm. She discovers it’s run by her high school beau (Generic Canadian), a widower whose son takes bassoon lessons from her father (Chuck Grassley). With a little help from the product, and a little magic supplied by a mysterious bearded man (Jack Dorsey), can a city-slicking takeover artist find it in her heart to save the farm and play Yuletide wind-instruments duets with the widower? Watch “A Double-Reed Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel.
A hard-charging marketing director of an international egg nog conglomerate is sent to the town of Nutmeg Springs to buy the local spice farm and corner the market before Christmas. She didn’t count on meeting the hunky town podiatrist, a widower whose son has an albumen allergy. What will happen when she gives the child a glass of her product? Will his violent and ceaseless vomiting indicate that she has put him into anaphylaxis—or does the boy just have good taste? Only a mysterious bearded man can help find the answers. Becki Newton, Wayne Gretzky, and Grigory Rasputin star in “A Hangnail for the Holidays” on the Hallmark Channel.
(I was not aware that Gretzky has ever acted in anything besides commercials. Nor Rasputin, who has the same problem casting Sachs would have.)
Stacey Staceyington (Meghan Ory), a hard-charging takeover specialist at the world’s largest maypole conglomerate, is sent the town of Compost Corners to buy and shut down the local log farm run by hunky widower Goodman Brown (Anthony Perkins). But when a snowstorm threatens the annual Yuletide Sacrifice, she and Goodman must work together with a strange bearded man to ensure the Hellmouth stays closed and doesn’t ruin the holiday season. Ari Aster directs “It’s Beginning to Look a Lottery Like Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel.
(A commenter pointed out that Perkins, of “Psycho” fame, would not fit the “hunky widower” characterization even if he were not, like Sachs and Rasputin, dead.)
It’s a sad day in Prothonotary Warbler Springs when the town’s favorite owl is transported by mistake to Rockefeller Center in the giant Christmas tree cut down for that purpose. Sparks fly when local Manhattan birder Chris Cooper (Cuba Gooding Jr.) accuses the town tree doctor (Natasha Henstridge) of being a Karen. Can they find a path to peace and avoid firing and arrest through the mediation of the big-hearted 30 Rock security guard (Generic Canadian) who drives the tree doctor and Chris Cooper back to Prothonotary Warbler Springs for the annual Birding and Egg Nog Wassail? And who’s that mysterious bearded man with the mistletoe? You’ll know when you watch “Owl Be Home for Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel.
(Someone contact Generic Canadian’s agent. He’s going to be busy the next few months.)
“Owl Be Home for Christmas” prompted a comment, “with the greatest of respect, that I do not know another Jew who cares so much about terrible Christmas movies,” to which Podhoretz replied: “Buddy. We invented Christmas. We wrote White Christmas. We wrote the Grinch. We. Are. Christmas.”
That in turn resulted in this: “There is an economics Ph.D thesis in how Christmas provides American Jews with all the positive externalities without imposing any of the stress or responsibilities. It’s the greatest free ride around. Almost as if we arranged it that way!”
It certainly could be pointed out as a member of a religion that celebrates the birthday and post-death resurrection of an observant Jew that a lot of the Christmas music I listened to (and still do) as a child was performed by, shall we say, pre-Christians, and not just secular songs …
… in the same way that (as another commenter pointed out) the producers of many pre-Hallmark holiday movies were of the same religion as Irving Berlin.
Podhoretz’s first “plot” prompted a guest contribution, and you will see why I included it in one sentence:
Dana Strivers (Staci Keanan), a New York based public relations specialist, returns to her hometown of Notch Falls, Wisconsin, to help oversee a recount of the contested election. A chance encounter at the Christmas tree lot with her onetime fiance Chad Potter (Shane West) stirs up repressed feelings, especially since his Potter’s wealthy father (Robert Pine) owns the company that’s the town’s largest employer and is working for the opposing candidate. “Counting on Christmas” debuts Dec. 12 with a special lead-in show hosted by Jodie Sweetin.
Older readers would recognize Pine as Sgt. Getraer on “CHiPs.” Younger readers might recognize Pine as the father of Chris Pine, who tries to play Capt. James T. Kirk in the J.J. Abrams (destruction of) “Star Trek.”