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Television

10 holiday TV movies: the real and the surreal

George Wendt and Shelley Long

Lifetime

George Wendt and Shelley Long

It wouldn’t really be November and December without holiday TV movies. They take over Lifetime, ABC Family, and the Hallmark Channel with their corny stories of lessons learned, love rediscovered, and spiritual gifts given. To be fully authentic, the movie must have a bad pun in the title and at least one former TV star — preferably from “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” or an old sitcom — in the cast.

Here are 10 holiday movies. Five are fake, five are scheduled to air between now and Christmas. You decide: Which are real and which are surreal?

1. “HITCHED FOR THE HOLIDAYS”

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Stars: Joey Lawrence, Emily Hampshire, Marilu Henner.

Story: A man and a woman pose as a couple for the holiday season, to please their meddling families. Will they fall in love by New Year’s Eve? Let’s ask the writer of “The Wedding Date.”

Message: Fake it till you make it.

2. “TONIGHT IS CHRISTMAS, EVE”

Stars: Heather Locklear, Tom Cavanagh.

Story: When Adam gets lonely right before the holidays, he calls his high school sweetheart, whom he hasn’t seen in three decades. She’s newly divorced and depressed, so Adam’s call comes at the wrong moment. Or maybe it’s the right moment?

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Message: It’s never too late . . . for an actor to find a role in a holiday movie.

3. “THE MISTLE-TONES”

Stars: Tori Spelling, Tia Mowry.

Story: When Holly is rejected by the local Christmas singing group run by Marci (Spelling), she forms her own group, called the Mistle-Tones. Which of them will win a sing-off on Christmas Eve?

Message: A cappella groups have dumb names.

4. “KRISTMAS IS KOMING”

Stars: Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian.

Story: In this scripted movie, the Kardashians play themselves. They are getting ready for the holidays and trying to come up with the perfect gift for their mother, Kris, who is feeling old now that she is a grandmother. Special guest: Oprah comes to counsel the sisters when they can’t stop arguing.

Message: Kristmas shop until you drop.

5. “HOME FOR HANUKKAH”

Stars: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Susie Essman.

Story: A workaholic lawyer doesn’t want to go to her parents’ Connecticut home for the holidays. She’d rather stay in New York City alone and get some work done. But her mother, Essman, is pushing her into a visit. Surprise: Mom’s got someone for her daughter.

Message: Mother knows best.

6. “MERRY IN-LAWS”

Stars: Shelley Long, George Wendt.

Story: The “Cheers” alums costar as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who are the parents of a normal guy who doesn’t always wear red and white. When their son gets engaged before the holidays, the Clauses pay him and his fiancée a visit.

Message: Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

7. “LOVE AT THE CHRISTMAS TABLE”

Stars: Lea Thompson, Danica McKellar.

Story: Two best friends have spent every Christmas together since they were toddlers. Now, in their 30s, he realizes she is the one. Will his dreams come true?

Message: Winnie some, lose some.

8. “CHRISTMAS PRESENCE”

Stars: Ian Ziering, Nolan Gould, Kelly Rutherford.

Story: After the death of his wife, a father of three young kids jumps into his work life and lets his own parents and his attractive assistant — Rutherford — do the parenting. Will he be on a business trip for the holidays? Or will he stay home and rediscover his family?

Message: Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.

9. “A BRIDE FOR CHRISTMAS”

Stars: Arielle Kebbel, Andrew Walker.

Story: She has sworn off relationships after calling off her third engagement. He has made a bet with friends that he can get a woman to marry him by Christmas. Who’s zooming who?

Message: Sometimes, my friends, the title is a spoiler.

Jenny McCarthy

Charles Sykes /AP

Jenny McCarthy

10. “THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF THE NORTH POLE”

Stars: Jenny McCarthy, Anna Farris, Brittany Snow.

Story: In this comedy, the ladies of the Arctic try to throw a holiday benefit for needy children. But their bickering is putting the event — and their friendship — in limbo.

Message: In sub-zero temperatures, exfoliate frequently.

ANSWER KEY

1. Sunday, Nov. 25 on Hallmark

2. Never

3. Sunday, Dec. 9 on ABC Family

4. Never

5. Never

6. Sunday, Dec. 16 on Lifetime

7. Sunday, Nov. 25 on Lifetime

8. Never.

9. Saturday, Dec. 1 on Hallmark

10. Never

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter
@MatthewGilbert
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