TV REVIEW : 'Willow Creek'

Just in time for the holidays, it's big rig action and guys punching each other out.

"Christmas Comes to Willow Creek," the CBS movie airing Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channels 2 and 8, reunites "Dukes of Hazzard" stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat in a macho melodrama that couldn't have looked as bad on paper as it does on film. (Michael Norell did the teleplay; Richard Lang directs.)

The tiny Canadian town of Willow Creek is in desperate straits--the canning company has closed and it's going to be a bleak holiday for the townsfolk.

Back in California, good guy Al (Hoyt Axton, appealingly warm in a too-small guest star role) is planning on taking a truck full of presents to Willow Creek as a surprise. Al gets sick, however, and it's up to brothers Ray and Pete (Schneider and Wopat) to drive the huge rig.

Problem is, Ray and Pete hate each other. See, Pete was going with Jessie (Kim Delaney), but she married Ray. Ray is a free spirit who likes country music; Pete is dull and responsible and listens to opera. Pete also has a son named Mike (Zacharay Ansley) who has green hair and listens to heavy rock and who would rather have Ray for a dad . . .

Will they make it to Willow Creek? Will Mike change the color of his hair? Will Jessie and Ray get back together? Will Pete admit he taps his foot to country music? Will there be lots of fistfights?

It's all pretty silly and it gets sillier. Paul Beckett, as a mysterious sheep herder who helps deliver Jessie's baby in a snow storm, asks Mike to help by saying, "I need someone to stroke the ewe."

And somehow the thankful tears on the faces of the Willow Creek children as they receive their Christmas presents aren't as moving as they might be--the gifts are G.I. Joe dolls and robot cars.

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