There are many reasons to pick this one, not the least of which is that this was written by Dateline correspondent Andrea Canning. As I just talked myself out of buying a Keith Morrison Christmas ornament, I felt it was fitting to pick this one for tonight. The title of this also hearkens back to beloved Jessica Fletcher and Murder, She Wrote, which I have been commenting on Facebook for the past 2 years or so. Older Son enjoys the show, and I’m enjoying the memory lane of the 80s fashion and the unveiled misogyny, not to mention the shoulder pads. Plus, this one stars Hallmark mainstay Danica McKellar, who is in my absolute favorite one (loyal readers know which one). I’m also enlisting Husband and Younger Son to play BINGO while we watch. Husband will also be doing shots, I think, so let’s see how it goes.
Stock Footoage of NYC, and Danica is in a store, wearing a short and long skirt where her gay BFF is waiting. Her name is Kaylee King, and she’s a columnist for a paper, and she gets noticed on the street. Sure. Christmas Holiday Party, and some guy just ripped her long skirt with his big feet. They get all googly eyed at each other, but I will tell you that he’s way too old for Danica McKellar, and in my humble opinion, he’s not handsome at all. Kaylee get to hear that the editor of her paper has been forced out – who FIRES SOMEONE AT CHRISTMAS?!?!? We also find out that Kaylee was a therapist with a broken heart who turned her pain into help for others.
Her paper is called Empire City Globe, and on the next day when Kaylee and GBFF show up to work – it looks like a lot more people are getting fired. Guy who stepped on her dress is her new boss. His name is Trip Wyndham, and he just fired Kaylee because his hands are tied – corporate is demanding budget cuts. She doesn’t inquire about her severance or anything. She’s been there 5 years, she should at least get her COBRA paperwork. She’s also bailing on her Aspen trip with GBFF, and then she goes home to sit on her leather couch to write her last column next to a plate of overly iced cookies she’s not going to eat.
She’s headed home to Pineberry for Christmas and calls her sister. Sister owns a bakery, and there’s a niece named Charlotte who also wants to be a writer. Cut back to the paper, where Trip Wyndham is about to get chewed out because everyone loved Kaylee’s column and Trip didn’t do any research and royally f’d up his job on his second day. Guess Trip Wyndham is about to go eat some crow, but before he can apologize, Kaylee hangs up on him. Kaylee and sister have a heart-to-heart about the fact that sister is a widow and doesn’t get out much, but there’s a mysterious man named Rob Hartman who you know will show up soon.
3 Days Later, Trip is still trying to get in touch with her and she keeps ducking his calls. He finally tries to email and she ignores that too. You would think that he would have tried email a little earlier than 3 days, right? Anyway, at the bakery where she’s helping sister Amy, who should show up but Rob! He is already more handsome than Trip Wyndham. Amy totally has the hots for Rob, who is an editor for the town paper and he wants Kaylee to write for him. He says that it is 2 weeks to Christmas, which means that it approximately Dec 10 when this happens. Kaylee hasn’t said anything about filing for unemployment or anything like that. I wonder how much money she actually made during her tenure at the Empire City Globe.
Off Kaylee goes to Christmas shopping and gets blocked by a very bitchy girl. She keeps blocking Trip’s calls, and Trip is getting harrassed at work by the boss. He realizes that Kaylee is a People Person, so he needs to woo Kaylee in person, and he’s off to Pineberry, California.
The lady at the Inn is very helpful and way too nosy about Trip’s business. Ok, please, geography lesson. If she’s in California, near Lake Tahoe, would it snow? I’ve never been. Off Trip goes to the bakery where he’s sure to find Kaylee, who is SUPER pissed to see him. He says he’s not going to leave Pineberry until she agrees to come back to his paper, and she’s told him that she’s already got a job at the Pineberry Press and take that!
Bakery has way too much lighted garland – I call fire hazard. Trip also is told that if he doesn’t get Kaylee back, he’s fired. Kaylee’s new column is going to encourage people to slow down and appreciate the sights and sounds of Christmas, and there can be events, too! ‘The 12 Days Before Christmas – How to Unwrap Your Inner Cheer” – and off she goes to write! Kaylee will not stop trying to get her sister hooked up with Rob.
Next day, she meets Trip in the middle of a snowy day, and invites him to the Christmas Tree Farm, as the first event of her 12 Days. Smell the fresh pine air. Trip shows up looking like the Earl of Grantham in a weird hat and scarf. We also find out that Trip is not a Christmas guy – it wasn’t a big deal in his house. His dad sucked and it was all about money. It’s like he’s the Richard Gere character in Pretty Woman but without any redeeming handsomeness. Anyway, they cut down the perfect Christmas tree, even though Kaylee wore white to a tree-cutting farm.
Next column is about “being your best self and be friends with people at the holidays.” She gets a call from GBFF, and apparently either mom doesn’t know he’s gay, or she’s just mad he hasn’t found a boyfriend, because Kaylee has to run interference with his mother. GBFF is also from Pineberry. Oh, we also find out that Kaylee’s broken heart is that her fiance, Dan, left 2 weeks before their Christmas Eve wedding to run off to Haiti. Like one does. That’s why she hasn’t been home in 5 years.
Amy’s bakery in this town is WAY too big to be just a bakery. Trip shows up to say that he’s read her entire column catalog, and his backstory is that he was too much of a workaholic to get married to his old girlfriend. We also find out that Kaylee wrote a romance novel after her breakup with Dan, and she’s never finished it. She and Trip have a very nice conversation, but is interrupted by Amy, who is frantic because Charlotte hurt herself and she’s in Tahoe, and can’t get there to her daughter, so off Trip and Kaylee go to help her niece at the old folks’ home, where it’s way too decorated, and where Kaylee’s ex fiance Dan is the doctor on call. Even he is more attractive than Trip Wyndham.
Dan invites her for coffee, and says they never really got to talk about how things ended. Blech. Charlotte is fine, by the way, and Kaylee is way too emotional to leave well enough alone and invites Trip to the porch for hot chocolate. But we also find out that a) Dan didn’t leave her because b) he got a job offer to build hospitals in Haiti and wanted Kaylee to go with him and c) she didn’t want to move so she ended it. Trip also asks if she’s dating anyone. I guess because she doesn’t work for him at this time it’s NOT inappropriate?
Trip is under the gun to get Kaylee back and possibly more people are getting fired. Innkeeper Mary is being nosy again with Trip while he fires people via cell phone. Kaylee’s next event is at the ice skating rink, and she meets up with her old English teacher. Shout out to my English Teacher from high school! He says that she was a great creative writer, and then Kaylee match-makes him with Mary from the Inn. But whatever, because Kaylee and Trip get to ice skate together in some kind of tiny montage.
How many berets does this girl own?
Trip and Kaylee again have a heart-to-heart and he admits that he thought her column was fluff, but he does eat the crow he deserves to eat and begs begs begs her to come back to NYC. If she comes back she should totally ask for a raise! She also mentions her GBFF, Steven, who Trip just fired. Cue Sad Trombone Noise. GBFF just showed up at the ice skating rink. This is gonna be awkward! Kaylee refuses to believe that Trip doesn’t call the shots and runs off with GBFF back to her house, where she has second thoughts about Trip’s motives. And GBFF also says that Trip’s not being as honest as she thinks he is, and tells her that he heard Trip’s gonna get fired if he doesn’t succeed with Kayla.
Younger Son is just a few places away from BINGO at this point.
But enough about the fact that GBFF might not be able to pay his rent, let’s talk about Kaylee’s next column in the podunk town paper. It’s about paying it forward. Being nice is good for stress relief, but thank GOD GBFF has shown up, because he gets her to change her boring-ass cookie idea to do a Christmas Cocktail event at ex-fiance Ben’s bar. It’s totally fine that Dan shows up, right? He tells her that the doctor in Pineberry is retiring and he’s gonna come home, and now that Kaylee’s free from NYC, maybe he can warm up cold soup? But it’s not gonna work. And GBFF hits it off with Ben the bartender, who is also a pilot. SPARKS FLY FOR THE GBFF!
BONE TO PICK WITH THE SET DESIGNER. Outside establishing shot of the bar says it’s an English Style Pub. Interior is NOT an English style pub. A lot of stained-glass lamps do not make an English pub. And Younger Son rightly points out that it’s way too filled with people who are not socially distancing. Anyway, Trip and Ben are dick swinging at this event and compete for Kaylee’s attention by buying drinks for the event, and Younger Son had to ask what the term dick swinging meant.
GBFF and Ben are having dinner tomorrow! English Teacher and Innkeeper Mary are on their first official date! There’s so much love in the air. Kaylee’s outfit is sponsored by Kay Jewelers.
Trip apologizes to Kaylee for firing GBFF, and I’m sorry, he should be apologizing to GBFF. But Trip isn’t happy in his choice of life, and his dad steered him away from being a reporter because dad said there’s no money in newspaper. Kaylee says “You should do what makes you happy” and SHUT THE F UP Kaylee.
But before Trip and Kaylee can have any more time together, Dan shows up with a cocktail and sweeps her away. And then she’s inspired to write the last chapter of her novel while sitting criss-cross apple-sauce on her bed. Whatever makes you happy, Kaylee. I wrote my favorite chapter after going to see the movie Argo.
Next day, Trip is at the bakery in his Burberry scarf telling Amy that he likes the “real” people of Pineberry, like Kaylee, and Amy invites Trip over for dinner. Kaylee is cooking with a very large glass of wine, and she’s cooking a lamb tartlette with ratatouille and whipped potatoes. Sister Amy doesn’t believe Kaylee can cook, and Dan shows up because Kaylee forgot her scarf at the bar, and it’s clear that Amy is already drunk because she invites him to stay and there’s more dick swinging between Dan and Trip and my God when is this over.
Kaylee’s dinner looks super gross and everyone is chowing down on the bread instead.
Kaylee burned the pie and douses Trip with fire extinguisher. But apparently everyone is well fed enough to give each other the weirdest gifts ever, and then they play Charades and how DRUNK ARE THEY?
Dan wants Kaylee back and Kaylee is in shock, because she didn’t understand their previous conversation and its subtext? I don’t know. Dan leaves and now Trip gets to gush about the over decorated porch. Kaylee also offers to let Trip read her newly finished novel.
KAYLEE IS THROWING A ‘SNOW BALL’ WHICH IS A GALA ON CHRISTMAS EVE. Trip of COURSE is going to stay for it, and they both have gotten to each other.
Younger Son Got BINGO with 20 minutes to go.
Husband would like to know when she had time to print and bind that novel. I’d like to know why she didn’t write it double-spaced – that thing is SUPER LONG. Trip finishes it and makes a call, and he’s got exciting news – he is gonna get her book published and a syndicated column, but because “she wasn’t ready” and it was done without her knowledge, she’s super pissed. And while I totally feel the whole mansplainy thing about doing it without her ok, if someone wanted to publish MY (still unfinished) novel, I’d crack open a bottle and jump up and down, and not plunge into The Sad Times. She kicks Trip out the house, and he doesn’t do a good job at all about explaining things.
Trip is checking out the day of the Snow Ball, but we also find out that Trip quit his job, and he told all this to Mary the Nosy Innkeeper. Kaylee has to think about that but not before she dresses up to go to the Ball. I refuse to believe that a podunk town newspaper has enough money in their budget to sponsor all of these events. GBFF and Ben are there looking handsome.
Kaylee’s final column is called “Mistletoe Magic” and why is Mistletoe a thing still? Kaylee gives a speech about falling in love and it’s an epiphany speech for her. Your “person” wants the best for your and unwraps your inner cheer.” And who does that for you, Miss Kaylee? Not scruffy Doctor Dan, who is not the person for you in this story, because he needs to go back to Haiti. GBFF is very proud of Kaylee and warns her that Trip is right behind her.
He apologizes for being a man and not talking to her first. And he says GBFF is also rehired and they’re columns are syndicated and she can work from anywhere. He didn’t realize how miserable he was before he met her. He’s gonna go be a reporter, and take THAT, Dad. He’s moving to San Francisco. She’s gonna stay in Pineberry and take that publishing deal. And they dance together and Kaylee is totally I’m not crying you’re crying at this point. He wants to be the man she can trust, the one who brings out the best in her. And she says YES! Kiss and a Merry Christmas. We’re DONE.
Ok, so thoughts. There are many. 1) This wasn’t awful. The writing was good. Way to go, Andrea Canning! I’m sorry I fall asleep through every Dateline on Friday nights. Thank Goodness for Husband who watches it for me and tells me who did it. 2) Danica McKellar is still better than Candace Cameron Bure. 3) The actor who played Trip Wyndham looked old enough to be Danica McKellar’s – if not father, than like, Uncle. It was not good casting. 4)The chemistry between GBFF and Pilot Ben was nice. 5) It’s hard to monitor Younger Son at Bingo, Husband drinking, and writing this all at the same time.
This is what Husband drank during the movie. I don’t know what’s in it. But hey, you can see my tree!
Anyway, all of this is to say I’m happy to watch this, and all the others this Christmas season, just so you don’t have to.