Tis the season, and cable networks are doing their best to provide viewers with a little holiday cheer.
Turner Network Television's Miss Lettie and Me, a heart-tugging family drama, has all the ingredients to become a Christmas-season perennial.
Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds do well as Lettie and Sam, former lovers craftily reunited by Travis, a feisty 9-year-old. Holliston Coleman is a standout as Travis, daughter of Lettie's estranged sister.
But most of this drama's warmth and emotional punch comes from Charles Robinson — light years from his role as Mac Robinson, the clerk on the sitcom Night Court
— and Irma P. Hall's portrayals of Isaiah and Rose, who have worked on Lettie's wool farm for decades.
We soon realize that both Travis and the Scrooge-like Lettie are without family. When we see Travis as the angel and Isaiah as a wise man in their small town's Christmas pageant, we know they're playing those same roles in Lettie's life. This feel-good drama follows their low-key planning to fruition, first on Thanksgiving Day and then on Christmas Day, when we're hit with one final surprise.
Kudos also go to executive producer Beth Polson, director Ian Barry, and writer/co-producer Dalene Young, whose script is adapted from a short story. Polson and Barry worked together on The Christmas Wish, and Barry and Young on Going Home.
also looks great, having been shot on location at Georgia's historic Brookfield Plantation, built in the 1800s.
Hallmark Channel's Silent Night
is another warm-hearted holiday drama, this one an uplifting, fact-based story set in World War II Germany.
It stars an unglamorous Linda Hamilton as Elisabeth, a headstrong German mother who takes in three American GIs and three Nazi soldiers on Christmas Eve 1944 — provided they'll keep their weapons outside.
Both sides reluctantly agree and, after contributing to the family's meal, are gradually caught up in the holiday mood, despite the cabin's location near the front lines.
As Elisabeth's 12-year-old son Fritz recalls in voiceover, the end of the war seemed to begin at that dinner table — until the sudden Christmas-morning arrival of another German soldier threatens to destroy the euphoria.
Hallmark's Snow Queen, like Miss Lettie, is about first love and family, but based on a Hans Christian Anderson tale that's updated with some special effects.
But like many of executive producer Robert Halmi Sr.'s other adaptations of fables, Snow Queen
runs far too long: Hallmark schedules its four hours for one night.
The young lovers in the cast, Jeremy Guilbaut and Chelsea Hobbs, perform well, but this project is dominated by Bridget Fonda's icy portrayal of the white-clad, platinum-haired Snow Queen.
Hallmark's Silent Night
premieres Dec. 14; Snow Queen
debuted Dec. 7, and will be repeated throughout the month; and TNT's Miss Lettie And Me
bowed on Dec. 8 as a "Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation, with a number of encore airings scheduled.