AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And while the turkey is in the oven, there may be a parade on in the background, perhaps a football game or just straight up cheese.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HATS OFF TO CHRISTMAS")
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: She has to save the store. He just might win her heart.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A COOKIE CUTTER CHRISTMAS")
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: Want the perfect Christmas cookie?
DAVID HAYDN-JONES: (As James) Why don't you let me help you out?
ERIN KRAKOW: (As Christy) You want to teach me?
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: The best ingredient is love.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EN VOGUE CHRISTMAS")
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #3: This holiday...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: What if En Vogue got back together to do a Christmas show to save the opera house?
EN VOGUE: (Singing) Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
CORNISH: Saving the day, trees, cookies, love. They're all staples of the holiday TV movie, typically a light romance wrapped in lots of Christmas cheer. They may not be award winners, but our pop culture blogger Linda Holmes says, they've got an audience that shows up every year with bells on. Hey, there, Linda.
LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Hello, Audie.
CORNISH: So those TV promos we just played - what movies were they from?
HOLMES: Those were clips from Hallmark's "Hats Off To Christmas," which takes place in a year-round small town Christmas hat store...
HOLMES: ...Logically enough, "A Cookie Cutter Christmas," which is about a cookie baking competition and Lifetime's "An En Vogue Christmas."
CORNISH: And lest people think we are not fans, we are here to say that you actually watch these movies, right?
HOLMES: Oh, absolutely. They carry these on a few cable networks. The Hallmark Channel alone is making 12 new ones this year. I will eventually wind up seeing all of them.
CORNISH: Oh, my gosh.
HOLMES: And it is not just me though. Hallmark announced that they have been the most-watched network among women 25-54 - that includes me - for the last four weekends in a row. And they show these round-the-clock.
CORNISH: All right, so let's play clip from another one of these movies. This is from "The Tree That Saved Christmas."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE TREE THAT SAVED CHRISTMAS")
LACEY CHABERT: (As Molly Logan) Well, I have no idea what it means. But in a city of 19 million people, this tree found me.
ERIC KEENLEYSIDE: (As Gordon Logan) This is real life, sis. It's not one of your short stories.
CHABERT: (As Molly Logan) I've got to go.
KEENLEYSIDE: (As Gordon Logan) What was that tone in your voice? What are you going to do?
CORNISH: All right, call the Emmys.
CORNISH: Call now.
HOLMES: Yeah, so according to the synopsis of "The Tree That Saved Christmas," airing on UPtv on Sunday, the woman in that clip...
CORNISH: Do we need a synopsis with a name like "The Tree That Saved Christmas?"
HOLMES: Oh, you might think you don't. But I'm telling you, you do. The woman in this clip, who is played by Lacey Chabert, who you might remember from "Mean Girls" or "Party Of Five..."
CORNISH: Of course.
HOLMES: ...Has to save the family Christmas tree farm from foreclosure by the bank and is helped when she discovers that her Christmas tree is a tree that she rescued from destruction when it was a tiny sapling.
CORNISH: You're saying - this is a political film, is what you're telling me? A socioeconomic message here.
HOLMES: These are always pro-small business, anti-corporate movies. They're - frequently the man is some terrible corporate dude who comes to town and wants to ruin the Thanksgiving Day parade or close down the year-round Christmas hat store.
CORNISH: OK, so are any other networks trying to get in on this?
HOLMES: Well, some of the other basic cable networks do them. Hallmark is definitely the big one, then you have UPtv and also Lifetime does these, as well.
CORNISH: OK, you mentioned Lifetime doing these, but do they actually have any new Christmas movies?
HOLMES: They do. We heard the clip at the top from an "En Vogue Christmas," which is a fictional movie in which at least a version of the '90s group reunites for a benefit performance to save an endangered opera house.
CORNISH: It's meta.
HOLMES: Well - and by the way, that is also pretty much the plot of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," if you happen to remember the '80s, as well as the '90s, so this is a classic plot line. They discover that their reunion is the most popular thing in the entire world and they get that news from, you know, some of their pals.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "EN VOGUE CHRISTMAS")
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Your fans they want this concert. And deep down, I think you want it too.
HOLMES: There you go. There you go.
CORNISH: Aw, well, I love En Vogue, but seriously, like, what is the appeal here?
HOLMES: Yeah, well, if you set up a scale where, you know, provocative art is a one and escapism is a 10...
HOLMES: ...These movies are like a 14, 14-and-a-half. Holiday time can actually be a little fraught and a little stressful. You know, you want something uncomplicated, and sometimes saving the Christmas tree farm from foreclosure is a pretty good option.
CORNISH: All right, Linda, well, I am as always jealous of your job. Linda Holmes, she writes about pop culture for the NPR blog Monkey See. Thanks so much.
HOLMES: Thank you.
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