Cooking with Love (2018 Hallmark Channel)

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Cooking with Love

Stars: Ali Liebert & Brett Dalton

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Hardworking and optimistic television producer, Kelly, doesn’t have time for love. Along with her mentor Amanda, Kelly dives into another season of The Little Gourmet, a kids cooking show, when hot-headed Chef Stephen drops into Kelly’s life as a last-minute replacement host. As the two struggle to make peace and a successful show, they realize they have a lot more in common than they thought—a love of food, the kids they encounter, and each other.

 

Thoughts

Kelly is a reality show producer (we know this because she wears airport headphones) with a heart of gold. Oxymoron much? She is a people-pleaser and just the nicest person. I mean she works with kids on a kid cooking show, The Little Gourmet. When Chef Betty slips a disk in her back the production team is tasked with a finding a replacement. Instead of going with the sweet red-headed Canadian chef, they go with hot-headed Stephen Harris. Stephen throws spaghetti on a food critic at his restaurant, but he would be good for social media engagement!  

Stephen’s manager, Adam, comes to the restaurant to convince him to do the kids’ cooking show. It will improve his image because his book tour has been cancelled and restaurant is less popular than ever. This is his opportunity to show the world he isn’t such a bad guy!

On set, Stephen and Kelly don’t hit it off. He is a total diva and refuses to wear the chef Boyardee hat (A Toque!), only cooks with copper pans, and won’t talk with the kids off camera. Since things aren’t going so well, Kelly is assigned to babysit Stephen by Amanda, her lady boss (who is moving on to an executive position and this will be her last season on The Little Gourmet). It is also revealed that Jeremy, the new guy, is up for the lady boss’s job, superseding Kelly’s rank/experience.

At a farmers market, Stephen tries convince Kelly to elevate the menu with things like radicchio. She tells him he needs to connect with the kids, because they are chefs… just like him! So they make hamburgers and sloppy joes! He gets what he wants and radicchio is added to the show! Too bad, his personality isn’t. Kelly tells him to try smiling, but it is terrifying. He won’t even let the kids make mistakes (it is a reality show); he just takes over for them.

Stephen is creeply listening to Kelly as she talks to a kid contestant and then later reads her idea notebook. He tries to talk her into pitching an idea. Later, In a production meeting, Kelly pitches the dea of doing Hometowns… just like The Bachelor. Basically, they would film on location with the kid’s families. Jeremy doesn’t like it (he is a hater), but Amanda does and greenlights the idea!

On set at the firehouse, Kelly is HEAVILY being flirted with by a fireman (Rick) while Stephen jealously, watches on. Right before filming the big chili cook off, Cody (one of the kid contestants) decides he wants to quit the show. He is worried he will let his dad down. Stephen talks him down by sharing a personal story about the time her cooked a burnt turkey for his dad. Kelly is impressed and maybe even falling in love??? After a successful day of filming they call a truce.

Out of the kindness of his own heart, Stephen takes Kelly to the kitchen to cook. She admits she doesn’t really cook, I mean she DOES make a “mean tray of ice.” They cook a sexy pizza together, somehow without getting into a flour fight! While they’re cooking, we learn that Stephen was an army brat who moved around a lot growing up. Jeremy totally interrupts just as things are getting hot and heavy (and by hot and heavy I mean Stephen touches Kelly’s face). Then Jeremy steals Kelly’s idea notebook!!!!!!!!

In case you forgot, this is a Valentine’s Day movie. Stephen and Kelly both realize they don’t have plans and awkwardly agree to meet at Stephen’s restaurant on Valentine’s Day. It is not a date though, it is a work thing. Kelly’s co-worker helps her get ready, she was going to wear jeans and a sweater!!! (We do NOT get a getting ready montage, so that was disappointing.)

At Stephen’s restaurant, Kelly is in red dress. (I’d say it was sexy, but it was pretty conservative.) Over dinner, Stephen and Kelly share more about each other. We learn that Kelly’s mom passed away four years ago and worked with kids too. That is why Kelly is so good with kids, but she wants to do more—make a real difference. Later, on a stroll through the city, they eat chocolates that the kids made, Stephen buys her flowers (Yellow for friendship…), and they talk about relationships and love finding you when your ready for it. Stephen walks Kelly to her door and tells her that he is glad he is working with her on the show—instead of kissing her.     

Kelly makes a home cooked meal! (Spaghetti with meatballs and chocolate chip cookies.) This time we get a montage. Kelly calls Stephen to tell him the good news. They have witty banter and after hanging up Stephen receives a call from his manager. Chef Betty is back and Chef Stephen is out.

Kelly immediately goes to the restaurant to invite Stephen to the taping of the grand finale, but he is flying out to LA for a new show he got to cross promote his new cookbook. He thanks her for everything because none of these new opportunities would be happening if it wasn’t for her.

Back at work, Kelly walks into a meeting where Jeremy is successfully pitching her ideas from the idea notebook. Kelly confronts Jeremy in the hallway; he denies everything and tells her that if she had the same ideas that she should have shared them sooner. Defeated and alone, Kelly receives a thank you card (A Hallmark Card, of course) from Tommy the first winner of The Little Gourmet.

At the grand finale, Stephen stops by (I thought he had a flight to LA??) to tell Kelly that he is offering an apprenticeship at his restaurant to the winner. While filming the LIVE episode, Chef Betty throws her back out picking up some peppers. (Seriously!) Kelly chases after Stephen to get him to host the show. Chef Becca wins! (Rightly so, because she shared her chocolate with Cody, who forgot to grab his.)

Jeremy’s sneaky notebook stealing gets found out and Kelly gets the rightful credit and the promotion! Kelly tells Stephen about her promotion and he tells her that he is turning down the LA gig to stay in town. He could say goodbye to New York, but not Kelly. He gives her a single rose and they kiss.

Side Note

Ali Liebert’s first starring Hallmark role was A Gift to Remember. (She has played the best friend role in MANY MANY TV Movies.)

Cooking Fact? “A julienne cut is ⅛ inch cut no more, no less!”

I didn’t hate the kids in this one, I guess child actors are better when they aren’t obsessed with Santa and snow.

First Hallmark movie I’ve seen where the girl gets the guy, promotion, AND he changes HIS plans to fit into her life.

Overall rating

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (4 Hearts)

🍷🍷 (2 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

Her Stolen Past (2018 Lifetime Movie Network)

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Her Stolen Past

Stars: Shanice Banton, Darlene Cooke, Barbara Eve Harris

Synopsis (via Lifetime)

When Sonya Daniels finds the birth certificate of a kidnapped baby, hidden in her late mother’s home, she’s shocked. What was her parents’ connection to the missing little girl and could her mother’s murder somehow be connected? Sonya hires attractive detective Brandon Hayes to help her investigate. But someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from uncovering the truth. Determined to unravel the mystery, Sonya doesn’t realize how deadly the answers she’s looking for will be.

Thoughts

The movie begins with an elderly woman putting a mysterious envelope in a drawer and then later walking alone in a parking garage. She hears someone following her and start running to her car looking back. No, this isn’t an episode of Golden Girls, It’s LMN so the elderly lady is promptly shot and killed. (She does manage to get a sold left hook in though). At her funeral we discover that the elderly lady was Sonya Daniels mother. We also learn that Sonya has an Auntie who loves her, a white friend, and that she is being watched by a mouth breather.

Sonya is back in her mother’s home, reliving memories and sorting through her things. (Again with her white friend, while the mouth breather watched from a parked car outside the house.) Sonya is studying to be a doctor at John Hopkins and will be selling the home. The police don’t have any information on who killed her mom, but there have been a few break ins in the neighborhood.

Sonya finds a box with her name on it in her mom’s closet. Inside the box is a designer bag with a birth certificate for Heather Bradley. (Whose parents are Dawn & Olivia Bradley, one of the richest woman in town.) After a quick Illuminate (Fake Google) search, Sonya and her white friend (who we learn is a nurse!) discover that Heather Bradley was kidnapped from Church. The white friend (Seriously, why has no one said her name yet?) has a friend from tennis class who is a former police officer and is now a private detective. Sonya goes to meet Brandon Hayes (A handsome, casually dressed detective.) He tells her to go to the police because it is evidence in a missing persons care, but than quickly changes his mind and decides to help her??? (But he will need her birth certificate….)

After a break in, Brandon comes to check on Sonya and offers to take her to her white friend (Missy, she’s got a name now.) for the night. Missy tells Sonya that Brandon is single and recently divorced for some reason. Brandon comes over the next morning with news, there is no record of Sonya’s mother ever giving birth and he thinks that Sonya’s birth certificate is probably a fake. Sonya insists on going to see the Bradleys. She WILL get to the bottom of this, with or without Brandon. (Who she is paying to do this job, but she is very involved.)

At the Bradley’s house (Which is very big and has a statue.) Mr. Bradley recognizes his wife’s bag and introduces them to his son, Grayson. Grayson thinks Sonya is just another gold digger and is very rude to her. Then Olivia comes home from the gym and she looks a lot like, Sonya. (Just saying!) Olivia is very controlled by her husband, who also manages the business she inherited from her father. He force feeds her antidepressants and tells her she is acting crazy.

Sonya continues to do even more detective work. (Without Brandon, who is busy sitting at his desk?) She discovers via her Auntie that she is adopted and it was a closed adoption (So no records to check.) and she gets security footage from her Auntie’s new security camera to see who broke into the house. She also goes to the church and learns that her mother was in the church choir until the kidnapping happened. (But she still doesn’t think her mom is responsible.)

Brandon shows up again, after hours, and Sonya starts making out with him. Then cock blocker Auntie comes over and interrupts to tell them that Sonya’s mom was getting upsetting phone calls. Then she leaves!?? You came over just for that, Auntie?

While sleuthing some more, Brandon and Sonya find a dead body! (Rebecca Gold, the babysitter who lost Heather at the church.) Brandon vows to work with the police now that things are getting real. The police station a office outside of Sonya’s house to make sure she is safe. (That always works!) Brandon also stays over with Sonya and they eat Chinese and have a heart to heart. The next morning the police are back and they have the DNA results. Sonya is Heather Bradley. (We all knew that from the beginning though, right?)

On their way to tell Mr. Bradley, Sonya and Brandon are shot at in the parking lot. Brandon gets shot, but it isn’t a big deal. They tell Mr. Bradley who isn’t wanting to tell his wife, because she is too fragile. (Or he is behind keeping it all covered up….)

Then ANOTHER body shows up, it is the personal trainer of Grayson Bradley… Lifetime is working hard to misdirect. Brandon then learns that Olive has a history of violence and mental instability. Could she be the murder? I hope not because she is at Sonya’s house!!!

Turns out it wasn’t Ms. Bradley it was MR. BRADLEY! But why? He arranged to have Sonya/Heather stolen because she is not his daughter. Olivia had an affair, so he had the man killed and paid the babysitter to get rid of Sonya/Heather. It is a lot of backstory to get out in the last 5 mins. I honestly don’t think I fully understand the motives of Mr. Bradley. He tried to kill them but then Olivia shoots her husband to save Sonya/Heather.

With the horror behind her, Sonya/Heather moves into her mother’s house and transfers to a local doctor school to be close to her new family, and Brandon.

Side Note

Based on Lynette Eason‘s Harlequin Love Inspired – Suspense novel Her Stolen Past.

Every transition shot in this movie is an aerial shot of a random small town. EVERY SCENE TRANSITION!

Overall rating

🔪 🔪 (2 Knives)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime, LLC

My Secret Valentine (2018 Hallmark Channel)

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My Secret Valentine

Stars: Lacey Chabert & Andrew Walker

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Chloe is upset her dad might sell their winery and “stress snacks” with a cute guy who turns out to be Seth, the wine rep. They spar until she goes to the cabin, rundown since her mom died. There she finds a note offering help from Handyman and she thanks him, signing In Need of Repairs. Meanwhile, Seth tries to win her over, but it’s Handyman she’s crushing on, so she asks that they meet. Walking into the Tavern together, Seth and Chloe have no clue they’re meeting each other until he figures it out, keeping her entertained when Handyman fails to show. The day of the festival, Chloe and Seth win a contest and seal their victory with a kiss. But their joy is short-lived when her dad admits he’s decided to sell. Racing to the cabin to talk to Handyman, Chloe sees the torn contract and realizes Seth was her secret crush all along.

Thoughts

Lacey Chabert (Chloe, but really it’s just Lacey at Valentine’s Day.) gets a mysterious phone call from her dad, he wants her come home. Lacey (Chloe) doesn’t seem too concerned. She get offered a job to manage a new restaurant that her POC boss is starting. She has to think about it, because she wants to start her own restaurant and can’t be a restaurant manager forever.

Next we meet Seth (Andrew Walker) who works for a wine company. His POC boss is trying to a upgrade their image to be more respectable beverage company and want Grange Family Wine to be that for them. Seth volunteers to be the sales rep for the company and go out to the winery, if he nails the deal he could be up for a promotion to VP!

At the winery, we realize that Lacey’s (Chloe) family owns Grange Family Winery and is back in town for the Valentine’s Day Winefest! Her redheaded Canadian best friend fills Lacey (Chloe) in on the things happening in the town and reveals that she has taken over managing the winery. We learn that Lacey’s (Chloe) mom died and her favorite cabin is available for rent as a perk of the winery. Before she leaves, Lacey (Chloe) writes a message on a chalkboard, welcoming the guest and apologizing for the repairs that still need to be done.

In honor of Lacey’s (Chloe) homecoming, her dad hosts a dinner and promptly announces that he will be retiring from the winery business and he has taken a meeting with Stratosphere (the big company). Lacey won’t have it, and insists on being at the meetings.

At the store, Lacey (Chloe) meets a handsome stranger. (He helps her get something off the top shelf, because he is so dreamy and tall.) They both love snacking! She stress snacks and he hungry snacks. The store rudely closes, by turning off the lights on them while they are in the store. Later, at the meeting Lacey (Chloe) realizes that “snack guy” is the sales rep from Stratosphere, Seth. She tells him what is what and is pretty sassy about not wanting to sell the winery. Angry and upset, Lacey (Chloe) goes to the cabin and sees that the current guest has left her a note on the chalkboard. Out of boredom, he fixed the repairs and signed the chalkboard, “Handyman :)” Lacey (Chloe) gets him some tools and leave him another note. (In pretty cursive!) “You’re my hero handyman.” Turns out Seth is handyman and he is staying at the cabin.

Seth makes his sale pitch to Lacey (Chloe) and her Redheaded Canadian friend. Lacey (Chloe) isn’t having it. Then Seth gets a call from his POC boss, who is on her work elliptical, who is angry that he hasn’t closed the deal yet… it’s been less than 24 hours. In an effort to win over Lacey (Chloe), Seth starts to learn about the business from the ground up. He works in the vineyard picking grapes (they are sour and he eats them, Lacey is amused), he stacks boxes, and even drives a tractor with Lacey’s (Chloe) dad. It has the opposite effect and Lacey (Chloe) is more annoyed than ever!

There is a leak in the cabin, so Lacey (Chloe) goes to let the repair man in. Another note is on the chalkboard.

“There is something comforting about a creaky house, it’s like you’re never alone.” Lacey is thrilled and exclaims. “It’s like you’re in my head!” Before she leaves she writes another message…

“Any chance you know how to make a sentimental coo coo clock, coo coo again.” (Very Random, but okay.)

The next day, Seth and Lacey (Chloe) go on deliveries together. (In a weird looking truck.) Seth pretends to be french and then later country to charm the customers. It works and Seth’s southern charm sell TWO CASES for the winery with a upscale restaurant in town. None of this whole section really makes any sense. It is just an opportunity to see Andrew Walker be adorable. To celebrate they go to the waterfront (?) and eat cheese and hate on boxed wine (I will fight you, Hallmark. Back off trash talking boxed wine.) We also learn that Seth’s Dad died when he was 15 and he became a “city boy” after that. As the sun sets, they talk about what fulfillment is to each of them.

Next we get a little montage of Chalkboard writing.

Him: “Your bill is racking up.”

Her: “Does your handyman experience cover advice for dealing with a jerk at work?”

Him: “ I find the best Jerk repellent is doing the unexpected instead of fighting back smile 🙂 A jerk is only a jerk if you let them get to you!

Her “ I smiled until my cheeks hurt”

Lacey (Chloe) admits to her redheaded Canadian friend that she has a crush on her Handyman and asks if she knows the name. (She doesn’t.) Then they start sleuthing! Looking at the online booking site for the cabin, they don’t find out much. Lacey (Chloe) is no Nancy Drew and invites her handyman to meet IRL. When Seth and Lacey (Chloe) both arrive at the same restaurant they are confused. Seth figure it out before Lacey does and he sits with her and messes with her. He is her wingman and makes her feel better about “being stood up” by her handyman. It is a pretty cute scene, but how will Seth make things right once she finds out he was lying.

Seth gets another call from his POC boss. (She is off the elliptical now.) She is angry because it has been two days and he hasn’t closed the deal. Lacey (Chloe) also gets a call from her boss, she has reconsidered her offer and wants to promote her to restaurant partner instead of manager.

Finally, it is the Valentine’s Day Winefest! (With sooooo many heart decorations.)  There is a wine tasting competition, and of course Lacey (Chloe) and Seth enter. They feed each other blindfolded and drink wine. (Sounds kind of sexy, but it wasn’t depicted that way at all.) They, of course, win. Lacey (Chloe) goes to tell her dad that she wants to run the winery. She is too late though, her dad signed the contracts. Seth landed the deal and Lacey (Chloe) is so upset that she cries and runs off.

Instead of Seth comforting her or chasing after her, Lacey (Chloe) is comforted by her dad. He tells her that finding what makes you happy isn’t always easy.” She goes to the cabin to recollect herself and accidentally spills wine on the TORN CONTRACT! She realizes that Handyman is Seth and chases after him. He tells her that she should run the winery because it knows it better than anyone else. She tells him that she was secretly hoping it was him all along. They kiss, while the redheaded Canadian friend looks on awkwardly in the background.

Side Note

If this town was only an afternoon drive away, WHY DID SHE NOT VISIT SOONER?!?

Andrew Walker is soooo dreamy. His is my ideal man.

For a movie about wine, they sure didn’t drink enough of it.

Overall rating

❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (3 Hearts)

🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷(5 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps (2018 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps

Stars: Holly Robinson Peete & Rick Fox

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Billie Blessings has gone from beloved chef, restaurant owner, and morning show segment host to #1 suspect in a murder case when one of the executives at the network dies from poisoning. When the head chef at Billie’s restaurant is arrested and held as a suspect, Billie takes matters into her own hands by digging deeper into a mystery that could incriminate people close to her while risking her own life in the process

Thoughts

I’m not familiar with this genre of TV movie, I’m not sure how Hallmark will pull of a G-rated murder mystery. I’m basically only watching this because HRP is their first black actor in a leading role… ever? So, here we go!  

As the opening credits role we see a mystery person in a gas mask baking a rat poison cake. Then cut to Billie Blessings (HRP) who is a TV chef who is filling in for Wake Up, West Coast TV morning show anchor. (Laney, who recently died from a hazelnut allergy.)  There is so much exposition it is hard to keep up. Lance is the male co-host, Rudy is a producer who wanted Billie to be the co-anchor and is fighting with his ex/boss (Gretchen), there is a assistant, and a camera guy. Everyone wants to eat the cake (Which is poison, but no one know it.)

Then we also meet, Aunt Kassandra, who wants Billie to start focusing on dating and make her restaurant a priority. Maurice, the head chef of Billie’s restaurant.

Producer Rudy is at his apartment, when he receives a cake from Blessings (Billie’s restaurant) that says “congratulations.” When he goes to his wine cellar to get some afternoon wine, he sees “RIP” scrawled in red on his wine fridge. Rudy arrives at the big TV network dinner disoriented and ill looking. As he makes the big announcement of who the new co-host will be he dies! The restaurant is immediately closed because the paramedics on scene determines it is cyanide poisoning. Cue the police on scene to investigate the murder. Lucky for Billie it is her old high school boyfriend, Ian, AND they are both newly single.

The next morning at the TV show, the new co-host is there. It’s Tiffany Moon, a girl with no experience and crippling stage fright. (Perfect choice, Rudy.) Billie talks to her and gives her advice like:

“If your asked a question you don’t know the answer to, repeat the question to buy yourself more time.”

Even mediocre advice can’t keep Billie on set, Gretchen (who is now the new producer) fires her. Back at the restaurant Maurice is taken into custody because he sent the cake to Rudy. Later, at the precinct Maurice admits to finding cyanide in the restaurant and hiding it in his car. (He didn’t want Billie to get in trouble.)

Billie, Aunt Cassandra, Assistant girl (Kiki), camera guy (Phil), and waiter man (Juan, of course.) all get together over coffee and pie (This is Hallmark, after all.) to figure out who done it. They create a list and star system for people with motives. Billie is on the case and goes to the investigate. She bumps into Ian and they compare notes, I was hoping in a flirty way but it turns out to be pretty tense and confrontational

While retrieving Maurice’s dog from his building, Billie takes cyanide from under his sink and hides it in her purse. When she gets home she finds “Stay out of this” written on a mirror with red lipstick (?) Billie doesn’t heed the warning and meets with Tiffany Mood to see if her and Rudy were dating. They weren’t but Tiffany is convinced that she is next to be murdered.

In between murder investigation and saving her restaurant, Billie and Ian share a romantic dinner. They catch up on what they’ve missed in each others lives and what could have been. Only to be interrupted by Maurice, who is now out of jail! Maurice learns that Billie is now the number one suspect.

Billie turns the tables on the situation and goes on air to confront Tiffany. She gets her to admit that she is being harrassed and then she tells everyone that Laney might not have had an allergic reaction, she was poisoned too. The police double down on Billie as suspect numero uno.

Things get crazy at this point. The Camera Guy (Evan) gets hit over the head and almost exploded in his house, thankfully Billie saves him. (Don’t worry, she is still a suspect.) Tiffany leaves a note that she is leaving town. Because, live TV is too stressful… not all the MURDERING?!?! Billie and assistant Kiki, track Tiffany down and take her to Rudy’s apartment to get the evidence to convict her for murder. Before they can, Billie and Tiffany are locked in the wine cellar and Kiki is “attacked.” Ian (Maybe the worst cop ever?) comes to save them but Billie ask for two more hours to solve the case.

Billie is convinced a recording has the evidence to prove who murdered Rudy and Laney. At the TV station, Billie is trying to log into Rudy’s computer when (Spoiler) the assistant pulls a gun on her. She had access to all of Billies passwords and keys, and she has the motive of wanting to be a co-house of West Coast TV. Kiki is apprehended by Ian and all is good. Billie and Ian summarize all this in a romantic chat on the terrace. Setting up successful (but predictable) new franchise for Hallmark.

Side Note

I didn’t hate this movie! HRP and Rick Fox has great chemistry. I also LOVED LOVED Aunt Cassandra. (Karen Robinson)

This is the first starring role for HRP in a Hallmark movie. She was previously the token black friend in “Angel of Christmas” in 2015 and “Christmas in Evergreen” in 2017.

Rick Fox is a fox.

Al Roker made a cameo. He apparently co-wrote the novel this movie is based on.

Random Note: I’m not too familiar with any of the mystery series on Hallmark, but apparently Lacey Chabert is set to star in “The Crossword Mystery,” about a brilliant crossword puzzle editor who helps a police detective (Brennan Elliott) solve crimes? By using crossword puzzles? Please explain this to me.

 

Overall rating

🔎 🔎 🔎  (3 Magnifying Glasses)

🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

 

January TV Movie Guide (Hallmark & Lifetime)

Hello Everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday! We are back with a preview of ALL the January TV movies coming your way. The Podcast and Blog won’t be covering most of these movies, but I thought it would be a great resource for you!

My pre-viewing ratings are as follows:

Pour it Up (I’m all for it and am excited to watch.)

Let it Breath (I’m going to have to wait and see.)

Put a cork in it  (I will be hate watching or hating myself for loving it.)

Movie details (Date, actors and movie titles) are subject to change. I will update more information as it becomes available. Enjoy! As always, please share your thoughts on the movies on the blog, I love hearing from you.

 

Love on the Slopes (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Jan 6th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel

Stars: Katrina BowdenThomas Beaudoin

Synopsis via Hallmark

Alex copyedits for a travel magazine, but wants to be a writer. Now the magazine is holding a contest for a spot on the writing staff, and a plane ticket to anywhere in the world! Alex pitches an article on extreme sports photographer Cole Taylor, but is told to write about trying the risky sports herself. Her boyfriend Barton is supportive, but doesn’t see Alex as very daring. Determined, Alex heads to Colorado where she meets Cole and convinces him to be her guide. Though a klutz, Alex is soon skiing and zip-lining, all as Cole photographs her exhilaration and they fall in love. But when Barton arrives and tells Cole he’s part of the article, Cole feels betrayed. Later though, after reading the piece, Cole is happy for Alex, and even happier when she returns with a plane ticket and an invitation to join her on a trip, sure to be the first of many!

Thoughts

Hallmark’s Winterfest is like Hallmark Christmas movies with the Christmas removed, WHO WANTS THAT?!?!

However, I do like Katrina Bowden. Especially if she is playing a klutz. “Let it Breath”

 

A Tale of Two Corys (Lifetime)

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Premieres: Jan. 6, 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime

Stars:  Elijah MarcanoJustin Ellings Scott Bosely

Synopsis (Via Lifetime)

Feldman (Elijah Marcano and Scott Bosely) and Haim (Justin Ellings and Casey Leach) skyrocketed to fame after meeting on the set of the blockbuster movie The Lost Boys and quickly became young Hollywood heartthrobs. They collaborated on popular comedies including License to Drive and Dream a Little Dream and basked in being Tinseltown royalty in their early teens. But as their stars rose, their lives began to quickly spin out of control with endless partying and drugs. As their fame and fortune increased, dark secrets haunted them. Young and impressionable, the actors suffered through years of sexual abuse at the hands of industry insiders. With studio offers drying up and their reputations becoming tabloid fodder, Feldman eventually turned his life around by getting sober, getting married and having a son. Haim, however, continued his downward spiral and by the time the two starred in their own reality series, The Two Coreys, not even Feldman was able to save him.

 

Thoughts

I missed the whole Corey phenomenon originally and only know them from VH1. (Is that still a channel?) and reality TV. Corey Feldman is a producer on the project so I will “Let it Breath”.

 

Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Premieres: Jan 7th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel

Stars: Candace Cameron BureYannick BissonMarilu Henner

Synopsis via Hallmark

A Hollywood film crew descends on the town of Lawrenceton, GA to produce a film based on a book written by Aurora’s onetime boyfriend Robin Crusoe. However, when the lead actress, who is playing Aurora is killed, the real Aurora and the Murders Club must investigate a long list of suspects.

Thoughts

 

Candace Cameron Bure stretches her acting ability by playing an auburn haired woman. People like her, but I’m going to have to “Put a Cork in it”

 

Frozen in Love (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Jan 13th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel

Stars: Rachael Leigh CookNiall Matter

Synopsis via Hallmark

Mary faces the grim reality of her quaint but stagnant Denver store closing, she reaches out for some PR help to turn things around. At the same time, the handsomely wild, flashy “live-in-the-moment” Denver Royals hockey star Adam is sent to the same PR firm to fix his reputation, and the two are paired together in a seemingly mutually-beneficial buddy system: repair his image and give her the chance to reinvent the store and do something big to save it. Along the way, they both learn the important lesson that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it only matters how many times you get back up again, which opens up two seemingly opposites for much needed change, and unexpected love.

Thoughts

Love Rachel Leigh Cook, but Niall Matter with anyone other than Erin Krakow is SCANDALOUS. “Put a Cork in It”

 

Past Malice: An Emma Fielding Mystery (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Premieres: Jan 13th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Stars: Courtney Thorne-SmithJames Tupper

Synopsis via Hallmark

When archaeologist Emma Fielding is called upon to consult on a state historical project and discovers the body of another archeologist in a secret chamber beneath the castle, she calls in her pal, FBI agent Jim Conner, to help her sort out the evidence and determine whether the “Curse of the Chandlers” is real, or simply a local legend invoked to divert attention from the killer, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Thoughts

Archaeologist?!?! “Put a Cork in It”.

 

Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story (Lifetime)

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Premieres: Jan 20th, 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime

Stars: Catherine Zeta-JonesRaúl MéndezJuan Pablo Espinosa

Synopsis via Lifetime

Academy Award and Tony Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in “Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story,” a Lifetime feature based on the life of drug lord Griselda Blanco, a pioneer in the Miami-based cocaine trade. At the age of 17, Griselda Blanco, made her way to the U.S. with a fake passport with her first husband Carlos. Living in Queens with her three sons , Griselda became enticed by the money the drug world offered, and quickly became embroiled with local drug runners. Griselda masterminded the use of beautiful women, the elderly and children as the mules and created false-bottom suitcases to smuggle cocaine from Colombia. With money rolling in, her sons abandoned school and entered the family business instead. A move to Miami would further expand Griselda’s empire, and lead to the death of her second husband Alberto (Juan Pablo Espinosa), giving the rise to her nickname, The Black Widow. Her willingness to use violence against her Miami competitors, led her rivals to make repeated unsuccessful attempts to kill her. In order to protect her youngest son with third husband Dario (Raul Mendez), Griselda moved to California where she was later arrested by the DEA and sentenced to a decade in jail. The case against her collapsed and upon her release, she was deported to Colombia, where she was ultimately gunned down in 2012. In her lifetime, Griselda’s drug distribution network spanned across the United States and she was suspected of ordering over 200 murders.

Thoughts

Academy Award AND Tony winner? “Pour it Up!”

 

One Winter Weekend (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Jan 20th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel

Stars: Taylor Cole & Jack Turner

Synopsis via Hallmark

A relationship writer at a women’s magazine has recently sworn off dating and joins her best girlfriend for a snowboarding weekend. A reservation snafu forces them to share a chalet with a couple of guys they’ve never met, one of whom is a company CEO who is also lying low on the dating front. However, once he and she get to know one another better, they begin to wonder if perhaps they should rethink their whole “non-dating” status, until each finds out what the other does for a living, and he bolts.

Thoughts

I will never be able to forgive Taylor for Christmas Festival of Ice! “Put a Cork In It”

Morning Show Murders: Mortal Mishaps (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Premieres: Jan 21st, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Stars: Holly Robinson Peete and Rick Fox.

Synopsis via Hallmark

Billie Blessings has gone from beloved chef, restaurant owner, and morning show segment host to #1 suspect in a murder case when one of the executives at the network dies from poisoning. When the head chef at Billie’s restaurant is arrested and held as a suspect, Billie takes matters into her own hands by digging deeper into a mystery that could incriminate people close to her while risking her own life in the process.

Thoughts

Could Hallmark be making progress on the POC issue? I think Rick Fox is a fox, sooooo “Pour it Up”

 

Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story (Lifetime)

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Premieres: Jan 27th, 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime

Stars: Toni BraxtonTrevor MorganYaya DaCosta

Synopsis via Lifetime

Seven time Grammy® Award winner Toni Braxton stars as Antoinette Tuff, a struggling single mom from Georgia who heroically averted a tragedy, saving hundreds of lives when she convinced a deranged gunman who stormed an elementary school to surrender. On August 20, 2013, shortly after arriving to work at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, Antoinette the school’s bookkeeper, was in the front office when Michael Hill, a young man with a history of mental illness, snuck in, armed with an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. As the school went into lockdown, Antoinette was left alone with Michael, who repeatedly threatened to kill everyone. Showing enormous courage and empathy, along with nerves of steel, Antoinette convinced Michael to surrender by using her own life struggles to connect with him. Antoinette’s faith in God guided her through the toughest moments of her life, ultimately preparing her for that fateful day.

Thoughts

I’m like yay Toni Braxton, but then I’m like Lifetime school shooting movie??? “Let it Breathe!”

 

Winter’s Dream (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Jan 27th, 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel

Stars: Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson.

Synopsis via Hallmark

A former ski champion reenters the competitive world when a 16-year old downhill racer asks for help, leading her to reawaken an old passion and find a new love.

Thoughts

I have no clue what this movie is about, and I suspect neither does Hallmark. Even my prepubescent crush on Dean Cain can’t save this one. “Put a Cork In It”

A Christmas Prince (2017 Netflix)

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A Christmas Prince

Stars: Rose McIver (From IZombie!) and Ben Lamb.

Synopsis (via Netflix)

Christmas comes early for an aspiring young journalist when she’s sent abroad to get the scoop on a dashing prince who’s poised to be king.

Thoughts

NYC (Or Chicago?… why was there a Chicago flag in the establishing shots?) journalist, Amber wants to become a real journalist. She gets a BIG assignment to Aldovia to cover the playboy prince and his family. The rub is if she accepts the job, she will miss Christmas with her dad. (Who owns a diner!)

After getting her fathers approval we immediately cut to Aldovia, where a handsome (Not really!!!!) stranger steals her cab. She then rides a press van, where a fellow journalist tells her to quit the business. The journalist are at the press meeting and are told it is canceled! (Cue upset group reactions: Argh! Ahhh! Gerrr!)

Determined to get her story, Amber skirts the security and other journalist to sneak into the castle. She gets down to hardcore journalism (Which includes taking pictures of a knights armor and a large hall.) Amber gets mistaken for a tutor to Princess Emily, Martha Anderson! When she is brought to meet the royal family, Amber/Martha realizes that the handsome stranger (Really, not tho!) is the prince! She is embarrassed for yelling at him for seating her cab, so she does an awkward curtsy and then promptly breaks a vase.

Later, at tutoring we have Emily (Who has Spina bifida, and is full on Tiny Tim/Secret Gardening it up.) goes all von Trapp kid on her and places a mouse in Amber/Martha’s chair (Better than a pinecone, I guess?) The two briefly learn things before going out side and do some archery with the now freshly shaven, and I GUESS handsome Prince Richard. (Emily nails a bulls eye, and Amber/Martha breaks a window… so she is a klutz… but not as good as Sandra Bullock, of course.)

Amber/Martha is invited to dinner, where is if offered a disgusting looking jellied meat. We also learn that the Prime Minister has doubts about Prince Richard will be able to step up and be king. (Perhaps Cousin Simon might be a better choice? He is next in line even though he is EVIL!) Emily begins to come around and accept Amber/Martha because she is not like everyone else.

We get a decorating scene, but instead of a montage (Ah la Hallmark), with decorations and memories attached to each one. King Richard (who is now deceased, obviously.) had a thing for handmade ornaments. (Like an Acorn or Elephants that look like Bears.)  Netflix ups the anti! Lady Sophia arrives. (Prince Richard’s ex girlfriend, who was summoned by the queen to convince him to take the crown._

Amber/Martha is working on her article, when Princess Emily discovers her. Amber/Martha quickly shuts the laptop, and tries to play it cool. Princess Emily tells her to cut the crap, and reveals that she already snooped through Amber/Martha’s laptop and knows everything. They agree to a deal, Emily will keep Amber/Martha’s secret as longs as she agrees to write the truth about Price Richard. (Who isn’t an actual playboy, despite the fact that he wears a pinky ring!)

*ALL this at the 30 min mark. Sooooo much faster pace than a Hallmark film.

Out on the town, Amber and Emily run into “The real Journalist” who recognizes Amber/Martha. Emily gets rid of him by telling him she will send him to the dungeon. (Will it be the last we see of him?) Richard is also out on the town and he skips a event to build a snowman and start a snowball fight with random kids.

On a less successful outing with Emily, Amber/Martha decides sledding it s good idea! There is a a moment when I thought the movie was taking a dark turn, but thankfully Netflix understands the genre of movie they are creating. The outing turns into a snowball fight with Richard, and we get the romantic falling in the snow.  Too bad the bad guys, Sophia and Simon, see all of this and tells the queen, who reprimands her. (While also hinting for an invite next time, she has experience with a toboggan.)

While trailing Price Richard, Amber/Martha’s horse gets spooked and bucks her off. We then get a FULL ON Belle in Beauty and the Beast during scene with wolves surrounding her and her hair falling. Prince Richard comes to her rescue (aa all princes should do.) and takes Amber/Martha to a cabin to warm up by the fire. They talk about why Prince Richard doesn’t want to becoming king. He doesn’t like the press because everything he does is a headline. He then shows Amber/Martha a poem his father wrote for his mother just before he died. It is a mysterious riddle! They almost kiss when the horses neigh. Richard goes out to investigate leaving Amber/Martha alone to find adoption papers for Richard! ADOPTION PAPERS! Will she break the story?

Prince Richard and Amber/Martha go for a walk on the castle grounds and have a heart to heart, culminating in not one but TWO kisses! Meanwhile the bad guys, Sophia and Simon, break into Amber/Martha’s room and find out her true identity AND the adoption papers.

Skipping the makeover montage (Which I personally fell I was entitled to!) We cut right to the Christmas Ball! Amber/Martha looks like Cinderella, but instead of glass slippers she still has on those damn Chucks. Prince Richard is impressed and he even takes her on the floor for a dance. Apparently, at the Christmas Ball is when Richard becomes king? Before crowning the new king, the Prime Minister asks if anyone who has a reason that he should not be king to come forward. (Like a wedding?) Sophia and Simon gleefully tell everyone what the adoption and take over the crown as king and queen respectively. (Oh and that Amber/Martha is a journalist.)

Prince Richard writes off Amber/Martha and accepts his Queen Mother. But what will become of the crown.

At the airport, dejected and heartbroken, Amber/Martha talks to her dad on the phone. He triggers something in her memory and she pieces together the puzzle of they mystery poem! It was a clue leading to the stupid acorn ornament, which has a letter amending the law so that Prince Richard can rightfully become king!

Amber/Martha crashes the coronation and reveals the truth. The Queen believes her and the letter in marked with the king’s official seal. With that Richard becomes king on Christmas!

Back in NYC at Now Beat, Amber/Martha submits her story and it is rejected. So, she quits to start a blog about the real King Richard. The blog is a huge success and until she gets paid for successful blogs, she can work at Rudy’s Diner… On New Year’s Eve, Amber/Martha is cleaning off tables when some jerk throws a snowball at her window. It is KING Richard II, who is there to propose to her.

Amber/Martha can’t leave her blog job, or secondly, her Dad. King Richard II puts her worries to rest buy telling her he will buy her dad a diner in Aldovia and give him a wing of the castle. She accepts and they kiss in an empty, snowy, New York street.

The End! Merry Christmas!

Side Note

This wraps up this years coverage of holiday made for TV movies! Check back for more TV movie updates, soon! Thank you to the over 10,000 of you who check in with Lifetime Uncorked this December.

I didn’t recognizes Rose McIver for the first half of the movie, because she wasn’t in her iZombie makeup.

POC Alert: Pretty much all of Amber’s co-workers. “This is going to make your career, Amber”

POG Alert: Also a gay co-worker, hooray! “Where there is a tiara there is dirt, trust me!”

Does no one notice Amber/Martha constantly recording video on her phone?

Movie created quite a buzz earlier this month: Here is one of my fav articles via Buzzfeed.

Pacing was so much faster and more enjoyable than Hallmark, for me. Maybe because I’ve seen 32 of the 2017 Hallmark movies and am a bit jaded.

Overall rating

🎄 🎄 🎄 🎄 (4 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷 (5 glasses of wine required)

 

*Photo Credit: © 2017 Netflix

Rocky Mountain Christmas (2017 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Rocky Mountain Christmas 

Stars: Lindy Booth & Kristoffer Polaha 

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Sarah Davis heads to her uncle’s struggling ranch to escape New York and the spotlight from a recent breakup. Returning home for the first time since her aunt passed, complications arise when Graham, an entitled Hollywood star, arrives at the ranch to prepare for his next film. As Sarah and Graham start to bond, Sarah may get more for Christmas than she bargained for.

Thoughts

Sarah is throwing herself into work to get over a break up. (She is an interior designer at a hotel, and up for a promotion for the whole chain of hotels!) Unfortunately, for Sarah the city of New York won’t let her get over it. Paparazzi and trash celebrity news channels are following the break up. (Her ex is a tech guy who created a Goggleish website and is is now dating a famous actress.)

To get away from it all, Sarah heads to Colorado for a Christmas just like she always remembered growing up. She stays with her little brother (who is hot AF) and uncle who inform her that the town Christmas parade and tree lighting are canceled because her Aunt Beth died. Her friend (Not Lesbian lover, they “joke”.) quickly talks her into planning the parade.

Then a handsome Hollywood actor rolls into town, to study a role. Graham is on a mission to learn everything about ranch life, and asks Sarah to help him. She refuses because Christmas is about family. Unable to accept no for an answer, ARROGANT Graham follows Sarah to a bar and drinks eggnog while attempting to talk her into it. She agrees on one condition, he has to help her decorate for the Christmas parade.

While unpacking Christmas decorations in the barn, we get an interesting back story for Sarah. She doesn’t like actors because her Mom IS (not was, as in not dead.) an actor. While Sarah was growing up she and her little brother were carted around all over the country while their mother chased her dream. After a while Sarah’s Mom just left them with their Uncle Roy and Aunt Beth. SHE ABANDONED THEM!!!! (The Dad was never in the picture.) I cannot remember a backstory so complicated and dramatic as this one. (Plus no one is dead! Well, Aunt Beth died… but who cares, right?)

While cutting down a tree, we get an interesting back story for Graham. He isn’t filming a film as quickly as he said. He lied to spend Christmas with a real family. His parents died when he was in High School and he has been alone ever since. “The more he works, the less it hurts.” Another complicated and dramatic storyline.

While laying on the ground (for some reason) Nicole (a famous actress) shows up and is also staying on the ranch, putting a wrench between Sarah and Graham’s budding romance. While making peppermint bark, Graham confesses his relationship with Nicole is a publicity stunt and he has true feelings for Sarah. For some reason she doesn’t believe him.

Again, not one to take no for an answer. Graham invites himself to go with Sarah to a radio station to promote the Christmas Parade, despite her protest. Good thing he goes with, because Sarah chokes on air and he saves the day and the Christmas Parade is properly promoted. (and Graham is the self appointed grand Marshall.)

Graham and Nicole get called back to Hollywood by the studio head to do some promotion on their movie, that has yet to even be filmed. Of course, Nicole tells Sarah before Graham can even talk to her. They fight. (in the snow.)

Uncle Roy (who owns the ranch, but is selling it) brings them back together!

Then we finally get the anti-climatic Christmas parade, set to a really dumb Christmas song by Alan Jackson.

Somehow, they both end up deciding to quit their jobs and stay at the ranch. SHE QUITS A HIGH PAYING NYC JOB AND HE QUITS ACTING IN A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE TO LIVE ON A RANCH. (A ranch by the way, that I’m not sure isn’t being sold.)

Merry Christmas, WHATEVER!

 

Side Note

Hmmmm, we get a gay joke in this one….. Yippie?

It took THREE WRITERS to come up with this…

Leads were ok, I’m never not into Kristoffer Polaha 

The B-Storylines were very random. Little brother and Nicole end up together & something with Roy and the neighbor-lady.

 

Overall rating

🎄  (1 Christmas Tree)

🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2017 Crown Media United States, LLC