Ho, ho, ho, Halloween, the joke’s really on you this year.
Cable TV powerhouse Hallmark says that the 2017 version of its insanely popular -- and nonstop, as in airing 24/7 -- holiday movie season will kick off on Oct. 27.
That’s four days before trick-or-treating happens. And one day earlier than 2016’s mistletoe-y marathon began airing around the clock on Hallmark Channel and its sister network, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Meanwhile, it’s the gift that will keep on giving: Right up until Jan. 1, 2018, when the last of the feel-good, sealed-with-a-kiss flicks toting titles like “Window Wonderland” “Fir Crazy” and “Ice Sculpture Christmas” airs.
Along the way, the marathon will bulldoze right through Halloween, Thanksgiving and any other “special” day in its path.
“Whether a returning favorite from holidays past or brand-new yuletide offering, Hallmark Channel’s schedule is brimming,” the network said in what has to qualify as a colossal bit of understatement. Its lineup, dubbed “Countdown to Christmas,” will offer a whopping 21 new movies this year (its most ever) along with lots of oldies-but-goodies from previous programming years.
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Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will offer up another dozen more new movies during its holiday programming event, known as “The Most Wonderful Miracles of Christmas.”
Please. The real miracle is that they didn’t decide to start showing Christmas flicks before Labor Day.
(By the way, they’re not kidding about that “countdown” part at Hallmark Channel, where a meter on the web site ticks off the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds remaining before it all begins).
This acute case of tinsel-itis is valid: Last year’s holiday movie event brought in a combined total of just over 111 million viewers. It’s all gotten so big, back in March, Hallmark created a “March Madness”-type bracket wherein 64 of its holiday movies faced off against each other and fans competed for prizes.
This year’s holiday lineup will again feature some of the biggest stars in the unofficial Hallmark repertory company, including Lori Loughlin, Catherine Bell, Alison Sweeney and the duo it calls its “Queens of Christmas,” Lacey Chabert and Candace Cameron Bure.
Other casting notables: Danny Glover and two-time Oscar nominee Joan Cusack co-star in “The Christmas Train” on Hallmark Channel on Nov. 25. Meanwhile, don’t touch that dial! Kathie Lee Gifford headlines “When God Winks at You” on Dec. 17 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
And if you just can’t wait until Oct. 27, well, it turns out Christmas Comes Early is coming even earlier than that. On Oct. 22, Hallmark Channel will air a special “Countdown to Christmas Preview,” hosted by -- who else? -- Candace Cameron Bure.