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Hallmark for the Holidays: 'Once Upon a Holiday'

Wednesday’s original Christmas movie kicked off a new Hallmark tradition: the 5 Night Thanksgiving Movie Event. Wednesday through Sunday, Hallmark is airing an original Christmas movie every single night. How did Hallmark know that I wanted this, that I needed this?

It doesn’t matter—just know that I’m thankful for you this Thanksgiving, Hallmark Channel.

Once Upon a Holiday
Starring Paul Campbell, Briana Evigan, Greg Evigan

Briana Evigan and Paul Campbell in Countdown to Christmas
Katie (Briana Evigan, Step Up 2: The Streets) is in New York for Christmas, and she has a packed agenda. Her Aunt Margaret lays out a schedule of speeches, meetings, and tree lightings. Life is busy when you’re the princess of Montsaurai.

Katie has loved photography since her mom gave her her old camera. She asks for one hour to visit an art gallery, but Aunt Margaret says there’s no time; they’re too busy, and they have to be home for the Christmas festival in three days.

Luckily, Katie can vent to an old family friend, George. Katie tells him how she used to love holiday visits to the city with her mom, and she doesn’t want to be a princess. So while George and Margaret are talking, Katie slips by security and makes her escape!

Elsewhere in the city, apartment renovator Jack is helping rewire his friend Harry’s magic shop. As a thank-you, Harry invites Jack to his Christmas potluck. Jack has dinner plans with his sister, Emma, but Harry is weirdly insistent. He wants to set Jack up, but Jack says he’s not ready to get back into the game—but he will stop by.

Katie is spending her afternoon of freedom wandering and taking pictures with her cool hipster camera before she’s duped by muggers. Jack sees everything, and he chases after the muggers but loses them. He offers to call the police or give Katie a ride to her hotel, but Katie says she’s fine. (She is passing up a fantastic meet-cute; what is wrong with this girl?) So Jack lends her some money and goes on his way.

Back at the hotel, Margaret is freaking out. She calls in Simon, who works for the royal family. He will keep things quiet and find Katie ASAP. She cannot miss the Christmas festival.

At dinner, Emma pressures Jack to get to know her boyfriend, Ross, a news reporter. He’s just looking for a big story so he can get a network job. But Ross is the worst, and coupled with Emma also nagging Jack about his dating life, he takes off for the potluck.

Briana Evigan in Countdown to Christmas

Coincidentally, Katie is loitering outside of Harry’s. The gallery was closed, and she’s been wandering the city, and she’s totally lost (but pretends she isn’t). And since Jack is the best, he invites her to come inside.

Harry wants all the dirt on Katie; Jack has never brought a girl with him before. But Jack says he’s just helping her out. And Katie—exhausted from her day as a peasant—falls asleep on Harry’s couch. The next morning, Katie runs off like Cinderella at midnight, but Jack goes after her when she forgets her locket. He offers her a ride—again—and this time, she takes it. They go to the gallery, but Katie bails when she sees Simon’s men lurking.

Briana Evigan and Paul Campbell in Countdown to Christmas

Meanwhile, Margaret and George are covering up Katie’s disappearance, so George meets with the press on her behalf. Conveniently, Ross is covering the event, and when George claims the princess is sick, Ross gets suspicious. Could this be his big story?

He finds the princess’s hotel, but, unsurprisingly, no one will let him see her, even with a bribe. But that doesn’t stop him from lingering and eavesdropping. Finally, Ross tracks down George with an ultimatum: Either Ross gets an exclusive interview with the princess, or he’ll go public with the story that she’s run away.

The runaway princess is currently crashing at the apartment Jack is renovating until she can figure things out. Emma drops off some new clothes for Katie and begs her brother to pick up the Christmas tree—she doesn’t decorate until Christmas Eve because she’s dumb—and Katie offers to help.

Afterward, they go back to Harry’s for lunch and Harry tells her all about Jack. He used to be a hotshot real estate agent but he hated it. He decided to do what he really wanted, and his terrible fiancée left him for it.

Later that night, Jack is doing some late-night sanding, and he gives Katie a new camera—one of those newfangled digital ones—and asks her not to disappear.

Countdown to Christmas

Over at the Montsaurai Quartet concert, Ross is creeping on the royals when he spots a photo of Katie on the program and bolts. (If Ross doesn’t know what the princess he’s writing about looks like, I’m beginning to understand why he’s not more successful.)

The next morning, Katie and Jack FINALLY go to the art gallery, but Simon’s men have caught up to her. She kisses Jack as a distraction, then calls George and asks him to keep Margaret off her back; she promises to be back soon.

Things are officially weird now, so Katie opens up to her new friends. They made her feel welcome, and she knew they didn’t just like her for who she is. But before she can come clean, she’s interrupted by a manic Ross trying to break his big story. He barges in and reveals Katie’s identity. Emma is pissed that his story is more important than their relationship. With a little help from Harry’s vanishing cabinet, Ross becomes a lot less annoying.

Her secret is out, but Jack FINALLY gets Katie into the gallery. And he even manipulates Simon to get Katie a little more time with the photos. But Margaret and George arrive, and it’s really time for Katie to go home.

In Montsaurai on Christmas morning, the princess pulls up to the Christmas festival, and Jack opens her door! He wants to start a new tradition in Montsaurai, one where they spend every Christmas together, for the rest of their lives.

Briana Evigan and Paul Campbell in Countdown to Christmas


  • “You like Christmas and photography. What more do I need to know?” —Jack
  • “Smell that, Trish? Something’s fishy.” —Ross is gross
  • “She shows up one day, tells him she didn’t sign on for some guy who works with power tools.” —Harry on why Jack’s ex-fiancée was the worst
  • “Kinda hard to be chipper when you stop looking forward to waking up in the morning.” —Jack’s life in the NYC realty game was ROUGH

How many of the “29 signs that you are watching a Hallmark Christmas movie” does this movie check off?

  • Musical performance
  • Santa-like character
  • Christmas magic (figurative)
  • Kissing in the snow
  • Rediscovering the joy of Christmas
  • “Christmas hasn’t been the same since _______ died”
  • Hidden identity
  • Falling in love in approximately three days
  • Terrible girlfriend (mentioned)
  • Picking out a tree (technically picking up a tree …)
  • TOTAL: 10

You know who deserved more screen time in this movie? Ross’s camerawoman, Trish. She was a scene-stealer, and any woman who rolls her eyes at idiot men as much as Trish does is a true hero.

How mad do you think those muggers were when they realized they stole a presumably empty handbag and a 30-year-old camera?

And finally, I find it extremely hard to believe that Simon’s team (and their predecessors) have kept the royal family alive for 300 years when they can’t even find one girl in a GLASS BUILDING. And, like, there was ZERO security at the Christmas Festival. Either Montsaurai has a zero percent crime rate, or Simon needs to be fired ASAP.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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