We ran 26 holiday movie plots through an AI art generator. The results may alarm you
Christmas comes but once a year, for a couple of months. Here at the Times Holiday Workshop, located somewhere between the North Pole and the Equator — all right, Los Angeles — we are faced annually with a glut of new holiday films, from Lifetime and Hallmark and elsewhere, the equivalent of greeting cards stretched to 90 minutes. Even if we are not writing about them all, they exert a psychic weight that must be addressed.
One year, I had what seemed like the bright idea not to watch any at all, but merely imagine the plots from the titles; that saved some work. This year, Audience Engagement Assistant Elf Vanessa Franko had the even better idea to ask an actual Artificial Intelligence (DALL-E) to imagine from their official synopses and titles what these movies, with their mix-and-match tropes and grab bag of Yuletide signifiers — movies that will one day be pitched, greenlighted and written by AI, if they aren’t already — might look like. It’s true that some of the results seem more fitting for Halloween, but as Halloween is the official start of the television movie Christmas season, it’s really not inappropriate. In any case, nice or naughty humans, this is the orange or coal in the stocking that is your future, and we are pleased, or do I mean horrified, to give you a glimpse of it. —Robert Lloyd, TV Critic Elf.
The once-overlooked genre has become a lucrative cottage industry — and sparked competition for seasonal viewers. Call it the Christmas movie wars.
‘A Magical Christmas Village’
Nov. 4, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: A Christmas Village brings the magic of Christmas to the lives of Summer and her family, healing old wounds and bringing new love to Summer and her family.
‘Lights, Camera, Christmas!’
Nov. 5, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: When a holiday rom-com movie shooting in her town needs a costume designer, Kerry, a local shop owner, steps into the role. While working on the movie, she rediscovers her passion for costume design and finds herself falling for Brad, the film’s famous leading man.
Nov. 5, Lifetime
Synopsis: Alex has wonderful memories of Christmas with her best friend Beth, until Beth started dating Alex’s ex, Jesse. Because she has missed the last few Christmases with family due to her demanding job as an architect, Alex is excited to spend the holidays with her mother Caroline, who is opening an inn in Switzerland.
‘All Saints Christmas’
Nov. 6, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Lisette is a popular R&B singer who’s getting ready to travel home to New Orleans for Christmas. When the media mistake a photo of her with her music producer ex as an engagement announcement, her family insists that he join her on the trip.
‘Well Suited for Christmas’
Nov. 6, Lifetime
Synopsis: Fashion designer Rachel Rocca lands a spot in a design competition to create a tuxedo for one of the city’s most eligible bachelors, Brett Stone, for a Christmas charity gala.
‘In Merry Measure’
Nov. 11, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: When pop star Darcy returns home to spend Christmas with her sister and niece, she unexpectedly finds herself coaching the high school choir with her onetime rival, Adam.
‘Reindeer Games Homecoming’
Nov. 12, Lifetime
Synopsis: MacKenzie Graves is a biology teacher in Vermont and competes in the town’s holiday tradition “The Reindeer Games.” Fading Hollywood star Chase Weston comes home for Christmas to visit and is begrudgingly roped into participating in the Games.
‘Christmas at the Golden Dragon’
Nov. 13, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: With the town’s landmark Chinese restaurant closing, two siblings find themselves reevaluating their lives alongside the restaurant’s loyal patrons.
‘Inventing the Christmas Prince’
Nov. 18, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Shelby is about to quit her job as a rocket engineer when her daughter becomes convinced that her Scrooge-like boss, Evan, is the Christmas Prince from a story Shelby invented years ago.
‘Three Wise Men and a Baby’
Nov. 19, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Three brothers get the surprise of their lives when they are forced to work together to take care of a baby over the holidays.
‘A Royal Corgi Christmas’
Nov. 25, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Reluctant Crown Prince Edmond returns home just before Christmas in anticipation of being named successor to the throne. To ingratiate himself to his mother the Queen, he gifts her with “Mistletoe,” a rambunctious Corgi in need of some serious training.
‘Steppin’ Into the Holiday’
Nov. 26, Lifetime
Synopsis: Former Broadway star, Billy Holiday, returns to his hometown for Christmas after being abruptly fired as the host-producer-judge of the hit TV series “Celebrity Dance Off.”
‘A Tale of Two Christmases’
Nov. 26, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Thanks to some Christmas magic, Emma gets to experience two different Christmases — one where she stays in the city and celebrates with a new crush and his friends, and one where she returns home for all of the traditions with her family ... and Drew, a longtime friend who may have feelings for her.
Irreverent, diverse and brought to life by big-name talent, VH1’s “Naughty or Nice” movie slate aims to break into a crowded field.
‘Haul Out the Holly’
Nov. 26, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Emily arrives home, hoping to visit her parents, only to discover that they are leaving on a trip of their own. As she stays at their house for the holidays, their HOA is determined to get Emily to participate in the neighborhood’s many Christmas festivities.
‘A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe’
Nov. 27, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Annie Cooper has big shoes to fill when she takes over as CEO of her late grandmother’s small-town cookie company and is doing her best to help their struggling business get back on track. That task gets more daunting when her grandmother’s secret recipe is stolen during the Christmas party.
‘A Holiday Spectacular’
Nov. 27, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: In 1958, Maggie is an heiress from Philadelphia who puts her high-society wedding plans on hold in order to sneak up to New York City and make her secret dream come true: dancing live on stage in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
‘A Big Fat Family Christmas’
Dec. 2, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Liv is a photojournalist eager to make it on her own. To get a dream assignment — shooting the Chang family’s annual holiday party for a cover story — she doesn’t reveal that they are in fact, her family.
‘A Fabled Holiday’
Dec. 3, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Talia and her childhood best friend, Anderson, unexpectedly reunite in a curiously familiar-looking town full of Christmas spirit that restores its visitors when they need it most.
Dec. 4, Lifetime
Synopsis: Gaby Diaz is an app developer from Austin, Texas, and the last unmarried sibling in her very close and very traditional family. Every year, the Diaz family gathers at abuela’s house in Oaxaca, Mexico, a town renowned for its “12 Challenges of Christmas,” which playfully ignites the entire town’s Christmas spirit.
Dec. 4, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: When returning home for the holidays, newly minted pop star Jaylen tells her protective family that Matt is her new beau, when in reality, he’s her overzealous security guard.
‘The Most Colorful Time of the Year’
Dec. 9, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Ryan is an elementary school teacher, who learns that he is colorblind. Michelle, an optometrist and mother of one of his students, helps bring color into his life in time for the holidays.
‘Christmas Class Reunion’
Dec. 10, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: High school classmates, who once dubbed themselves the “cursed class,” reconnect at Christmas for their 15-year reunion.
‘The Holiday Sitter’
Dec. 11, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Sam is a workaholic bachelor who babysits his niece and nephew before the holidays when his sister and her husband have to go out of town. Completely out of his element, he recruits help from their handsome neighbor Jason and finds himself in an unexpected romance.
Dec. 16, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: Ella returns to her hometown to mend fences with her fractured family. With the help of Griffin, her ex-boyfriend, she encourages her family to celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa and to heal their past wounds before it’s too late.
‘ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’
Dec. 17, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: A former actress trying to break into directing tests her skills with a town’s annual Christmas Eve courtroom production in which the true authorship of the famous poem “A Visit From St. Nick” is debated.
‘Hanukkah on Rye’
Dec. 18, Hallmark Channel
Synopsis: A matchmaker connects competing deli owners, but their new romance is put to the test. Will a Hanukkah miracle keep them together?
It's a date
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