'Christmas with Holly' warm holiday fare - East Valley Tribune: Tv

'Christmas with Holly' warm holiday fare

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Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 6:30 am

If flirting and dimples won Emmys, "Christmas with Holly" would sweep.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame event (9 p.m. EST Sunday, ABC) is packed with charm and warmth, enough so to heat a chilly house this time of year. It's so lightweight that it practically floats with ease.

Straight-out-of-a-greeting-card Sean Faris plays Mark, who is raising first-grader Holly alone after the death of Holly's mother. The sparkle off Mark's teeth is blinding.

After breaking up with his girlfriend, Mark packs up and moves with Holly back to his hometown, an idyllic community where his two even-more-charming brothers live. One is all brains; the other is not.

Mark treads water somewhere in the middle of that gene pool.

Carefree Mark works to rebuild his life, resuming his coffee-shop career and rekindling a teenlike romance with uptight Maggie (Eloise Mumford).

As if that's not enough, Holly hasn't said a word since her mother died.

"Holly" has the classic marks of a Hallmark movie -- totally nonoffensive characters that are sympathetic and sappy to the point of being dreadfully dull.

It's also an audience-pleaser, begging to be loved, much like Maggie, who was left at the altar and opens a toyshop (surprise!) in Mark's hometown. In another twist, she's relatively new to the same street corner that Mark frequents.

The characters are so likable you have to wonder why they're so lost. Everyone is gorgeous and huggable. There's nary a flaw that would make them outcasts.

Mark and his look-alike brothers talk a lot about what troublemakers they managed to be as boys, but you get the feeling they aren't capable of stirring up much more mischief than dipping a girl's pigtails in an inkwell. (Yes, I know. That's a very old reference.)

Those elements are what make "Holly" (and just about any other Hallmark-laced film) so alluring to its audience: The transparency of it all.

"Holly" contains no surprises. You know exactly where it's going and how it plans to get there. It's more fluff than fun -- and that can be just fine this time of year.

After all, who needs dourness these days? Such fare has its place -- just not around Christmas.

"Holly" can't really claim to be full of hope and faith. It's far too weightless. If anything, it's empty but sunny, just enough to leave viewers either bored or optimistic.

There are worse ways to spend time staring at your screen these days.

Other highlights for the week of Dec. 9-15 (listings subject to change; check local listings):

SUNDAY

-- "The Amazing Race" (8 p.m., CBS). The teams struggle to make it to the finish line (and win $1 million) in the season finale.

MONDAY

-- "American Country Awards" (8 p.m., Fox). Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth hand out a heaping helping of country-music trophies. Among the entertainers: Jake Owen and Kip Moore.

WEDNESDAY

-- "Barbara Walters Presents ..." (9:30 p.m., ABC). The queen of celebrity interviews rattles off the people she found the most interesting in 2012. Among them: Not me. But boy band One Direction did make the list.

FRIDAY

-- "The Elf On The Shelf: An Elf Story" (9:30 p.m., CBS). In this animated special, an elf helps a boy who's struggling to believe in Santa.

SATURDAY

-- "Cops" (8 p.m., Fox). The 25th season begins. Take that, "Law & Order"!

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