ABC Christmas Movie: Same Time, Next Christmas

Date of airing: December 5, 2019 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: TBD

I was hoping to get into the Christmas spirit with the Hallmark Channel’s white white-collar Christmas love stories, but if you are a regular on this blog (and you aren’t, because why the heck would you care about my TV opinions?) you might have noticed I haven’t written up about more than one Hallmark Channel Christmas film yet, and I say that as someone who has already watched about 30 of them to develop a feel about how those films are supposed to look like. But here I am now, surprisingly getting into the Christmas spirit not with the help of the Hallmark Channel, or Lifetime, or Up, or Freeform (which produced this offering, making me wonder if it was initially slated to air on ABC’s sister cable channel) even the Netflix Christmas film offerings, but with the help of ABC of all broadcast networks, which for some reason has decided to produce a television movie in an age where broadcast network television movie events are rare and extinct, and to tell the viewers who can’t get enough of Christmas love stories on television between the end of October and Boxing Day that there is one more TV network interested in making this a tradition. And ABC comes with elements that could get them ahead in the Christmas love story game: The network doesn’t have to watch out for critical voices lambasting the absence of minority characters and a diverse cast, because ABC is already known for putting women and men of color into the center of storylines (thank you, Shonda Rhimes). The network doesn’t need to shy away to at least tease that there are gay characters in their stories, although we are still in an era in which writers, directors and producers shy away to portray same-sex love more directly on camera (Drew and his boyfriend Todd, who has been blessed with a ridiculously hot six-pack on his chest, didn’t even hold hands here). And the network probably can get a few of the TV A-listers into the game, as I consider Lea Michele one of them, and seeing her back on television after GLEE and the personified nightmares and tragedies that surround the back story of the FOX high school pop musical dramedy was quite the delight.

The hot gay couple does not get the chance to love each other on screen.

Not that I would consider SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS a very well-done Christmas television event, let alone a film to remember for the ages, it was still a solid-enough offering to make me smile here and there, and to get me hoping that there is still goodness in the world and that you don’t necessarily have to follow the impeachment inquiry 24/7 via cable news and podcasts. Put on an 82-minute long love story and just forget all about the woes and worries of the world and maybe you get a heartache about the beauty of the world, which SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS definitely portrayed: beautiful people, beaches on Hawai’i, colorful sunsets, characters who actually love each other, happy ends all around, and no villain to be found. Seriously, Greg wasn’t even angry that the day before the wedding, his bride decided to walk out of that relationship, which makes Greg a wonderful man as well — even the white-collar guy who jumped at the opportunity to propose to Olivia in this beauty of an island and become a cliched personality in the process, got a happy end, because in his case he was spared living in a marriage with a woman who would be lusting after and dreaming about another man she has known since childhood.

Story-wise, SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS has barely anything new to offer to distinguish it from all the other 50-or-so Christmas love stories you are able to catch on television each year: A boy and a girl run into each other one day, they fall in love, and for the entirety of the film they are trying to form their feelings about each other (and trying to get away from the relationships they are currently in) before ending the film on a happy note, as boy and girl are finally together for real. The plus points SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS is offering though is a wedding at the end, the decision to place the narrative over multiple Christmas seasons, and a divided focus on the supporting characters who have an equal level of stories and troubles to go through. Also, Lea Michele smiles a lot, and not unlike her film’s love interest, I also could not get enough of that smile, begging the question why people haven’t cast her in more things that have nothing to do with music and more to do with love stories. She might be known for her singing career and stage musicals, if there is one thing SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS has successfully proven, it’s that Michele is a proper lead for romantic comedies. I could probably say the same about her co-star Charles Michael Davis, but I never believed that television love stories with an 82 to 84-minute length are always about the male co-star, which is a problem writers need to take care of at one point. After all, one of the rules of each Hallmark Channel Christmas films is that the central character is the woman, and the stories are told from her emotional point of view. ABC knew how to adapt that rule for their own Christmas love story.

Lots of romantic things have happened in this water, and now we got a screenshot of one of those things.

In the meantime, the film was definitely getting some touchdowns with its depiction of Hawai’i. I consider the group of island as the place I wanna die on, and now I am starting to consider to just move there and retire from life in my thirties, knowing that nothing can get crappier than following the current madness of planet Earth, but nothing can get prettier than watching a sunset on a beach on O’ahu. SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS is not just a love story, but it’s also a two-hour long advertisement about spending some time on Hawai’i, and if I had any money, I would buy a ticket now and start retiring. But if any network is attempting to put yet another love story onto the islands, let one thing be known to the writers, producers and directors of said productions: Bring a little bit of Hawaiian culture into the story, and maybe the film will be more unique. At the end of the day, SAME TIME, NEXT CHRISTMAS is just another Christmas love story on television that tried to be more special with its setting and narrative choices, yet it was still just a generic romance novel with a boy and a girl who run into each other, fall in love, and spend the entirety of the film trying to form their feelings about each other (while trying to get away from the relationships they are currently in) before ending said film with a kiss on their lips.

Ratings Archive: Men of a Certain Age (Season 2)

Network Viewers Nielsens
  (in million) (Households) (A18-49)
2×01 2010/12/06 TNT 2.404 1.6/3 0.6/1
2×02 2010/12/13 TNT 2.197 1.5/2 0.5/1
2×03 2010/12/20 TNT 2.314 1.5/3 0.5/2
2×04 2010/12/27 TNT 2.318 1.5/3 0.5/1
2×05 2011/01/03 TNT 2.110 1.4/2 0.4/1
2×06 2011/01/10 TNT 1.630 1.1/2 0.5/1
2×07 2011/06/01 TNT 1.846 1.2/2 0.4/1
2×08 2011/06/08 TNT 1.347 0.4/1
2×09 2011/06/15 TNT 1.438 0.4/1
2×10 2011/06/22 TNT 1.598 0.4/1
2×11 2011/06/29 TNT 1.502 0.3/1
2×12 2011/07/06 TNT 1.786 0.4/1

Ratings Archive: Men of a Certain Age (Season 1)

Network Viewers Nielsens
  (in million) (A18-49)
1×01 2009/12/07 TNT 5.397 1.6/4
1×02 2009/12/14 TNT 4.425 1.3/4
1×03 2009/12/21 TNT 3.70 1.1/3
1×04 2009/12/28 TNT 3.12 0.9/2
1×05 2010/01/04 TNT 3.10 1.0/3
1×06 2010/01/11 TNT 2.87 1.0/3
1×07 2010/01/25 TNT 2.35 0.8/2
1×08 2010/02/01 TNT 2.27 0.6/2
1×09 2010/02/15 TNT 2.07 0.6/3
1×10 2010/02/22 TNT 2.64 0.9/3

Hannah Montana (“Miley Get Your Gum”)

Season 1, Episode 2
Date of airing: March 31, 2006 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.731 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.628 million viewers with Tweens 9-14, 0.901 million viewers with Tweens 12-17

If Oliver would have been this obsessed about Hannah Montana and continued to follow her like a creep, then I would have considered this to be a show created and written by Dan Schneider, minus all the foot fetish stuff. Oliver was the worst character of all during this episode, and it’s interesting to note that a character like him would not make it through network notes 13 years later — a guy following a woman from point A to point B and continuously telling her that he loves her and that they will be together, even though she is not interested and even says “No” a few times? Oliver would have had his first restraining order and he is only in middle school at the moment. Thank the heavens that Miley told him she is Hannah Montana, or else the story of an obsessive Oliver Oken would have continued and that would have been the worst.

Someone is weirdly, deeply, crazy, madly in love with a teen idol.

It’s Oliver who made this episode anything but entertaining, and it’s his obsession that had do more than just roll my eyes. It’s also the character as a whole in this episode that proved HANNAH MONTANA has stepped out of the realm of timely television shows, showcasing that it has been produced and aired in an era that never saw the rise of #MeToo coming, let alone brought fear into certain Hollywood writers, producers and executives who thought they will always get away with the crap they have been pulling behind closed doors, and are still pulling. This episode could almost be a prime example and important chapter in a dissertation that deals with #MeToo in Hollywood, and the differences of stories and character traits before and after Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates. It does make me interested in what the writers room was thinking about the episode when they broke it, and whether or not there were some worried faces and voices within the writing or production team. But this episode was written by a man, so we can assume Michael Poryes did not think about how awful Oliver’s behavior was.

That being said, Oliver knows about Miley’s biggest secret now — two episodes of the show exist now, and two of Miley’s best friends have come to learn about her greatest secret. Of course those two friends are perfect and would never spill said big secret, because we can’t have that, even though it might be an interesting story every once in a while. I would even go so far to say that the writers missed a chance to have Miley be scared about her career and normal life as Miley Stewart, when Oliver knows. The boy might be certifiably crazily obsessed with Hannah Montana, but I feared he would sing like a canary in school when he knows who Hannah Montana really is. And with two people knowing Miley’s secret, the chances that someone else at school will know are now 200 percent. But this is a Disney Channel show, and teenage characters are supposed to trust their teenage friends, so consider it a promise that neither Lilly nor Oliver will ever think about telling the whole school that Miley is Hannah Montana, sort of like how Ned told the whole class during PE that Peter Parker knows Spider-Man. Dick move, Ned, dick move.

Only girls who want to get rid of boys who crush on them chew black gun.

The B story was okay. Jackson has a girly car and he didn’t like it, because he is too manly to be a girl, even though he dressed in girl’s clothes in the series opener. Two episodes in and the show is already defying some of the continuity it established for the sake of a joke. Besides that, I really don’t know what the problem with the “girly car” was. Is it cheap? Does it drive? If the answer to those questions is “Yes,” then Jackson should not be worried about anything else. The kid has a car, nothing can bring that feeling of having a car down.

The End of the F***ing World (Episode 6)

Series 1, Episode 6
Date of release: October 24, 2017 (All 4)

The detective inspectors got some answers, Alyssa and James have been turned into full-on criminals now, and their parents have come to realize they either won’t ever see their kids again, or they will, but only with metal bars between them. I was glad about the fact that Eunice and Teri learned about Clive’s evil hobby and that they considered manslaughter charges for the teens, which might make things a little more easier when the police catches up James and Alyssa. Which hopefully happens quickly, otherwise Alyssa and James are irredeemable, considering all the other little and medium-sized crimes they have committed up to this point, and probably will commit during the next two episodes. This becoming the THELMA AND LOUISE-type story though makes my heart a little happy, despite the fact that Alyssa and James only killed one rapist and locked one annoying woman in the washroom. Maybe another evil entity in England should get the boost to Hell through James and Alyssa’s criminal and murderous activities, and maybe I get the show I wished for after all — two killers cruising through the country, offing bad people (mostly rapists, because that would make things easier), falling in love with each other, getting chased by the police, and the drama and thriller aspect climbs and climbs until the inevitable climax of the storyline. There is still a chance for THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD to get there, but the question is when — during the season finale or in the second season?

The message is sent — will the evil boss receive?

This episode felt more like a road trip like any other. This time around, the two teens were driving, and sometimes they were looking out the window of their stolen car, admiring the cheap British view. What a shame they still didn’t talk a lot to and about each other, although I still understand that neither James nor Alyssa are chatty kitties, so there won’t be a lot of talk between them. The story even dropped the sexual tension between Alyssa and James, which became super obvious when Alyssa was mostly interested in looking out the window and having a nap instead of … I don’t know, giving James roadhead. It might be just a little bit weird that it’s all about the journey for the two teens now, when they started off their adventure by stripping half naked and having some intimate moments in closed quarters. I guess that is part of Alyssa’s character arc — giving sex to the men in front of her to get around a problem is probably a tactic she employed quite easily (even to her stepfather?), but now that she doesn’t have to, and she sees something more in James than just another male person who can be “paid off” in sexual favors, she gets a chance to live her own life, without the fear of having to sell herself to get what she wants. Yeah, that seems like the most obvious character development, so I’ll take it.

It has become noticeable though that James hasn’t gotten through much of development since Clive got a piece of James’ knife in his neck. The one thing he realized (that he is not a psychopath) was obviously the only thing unresolved about his character, and now the only thing he does is assisting Alyssa in living her version of a mindless life, and driving her to her father. In a way, he is there for her all the way and he kind of stopped living for himself, whether he actually has fun being with Alyssa on the road, or craves his own little adventure of sorts.

Cool people drive in ugly old cars.

By the way, I was happy that Frodo didn’t become part of the road trip. I was highly amused by his no-shits-given attitude, as he was … smashing the gas station, but I probably would have done the same like James and Alyssa: run away from him, and quickly so. This guy really wasn’t interested in any of the bullshit from his boss-mother any longer. Probably because his parents gave him a crap name, and he was working a crap job with a crap boss. I’m surprised he didn’t turn into a psychopath himself and became James’ best friend from here on.

Early Edition (“Bat Masterson”)

Season 1, Episode 16
Date of airing: February 22, 1997 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 12.8 million viewers, 8.3/15 in Households

Ah, those 1980s and 90s shows that have a two or three-headed cast and focus a lot on the guest stars of the week in a story that might be interesting for a hot second or two, but become one amongst the forgotten after a week, right before the main characters gets into a new adventure. There is probably some high rewatch value in shows like these (if the stories are intriguing), and it turns out the EARLY EDITION writers were planning to carry that kind of show into the twenty-first century. I don’t really mind, since there is always room for anthology television with regular characters, but maybe the stories should in fact be a little more interesting. This episode wasn’t, thanks to Bat Masterson, also known as Mike, not being an intriguing-enough character for me. Or the fact that the story was pretty much a predictable snoozer midway through, when even I came to realize that Ike was the guy who shot Mike’s partner, and that all of this is just a way for Mike to get out of his urges to play the role of Bat Masterson and see it as his one and only life. By the way, is there a medical term for Mike’s condition? Dr. Feinstein definitely wasn’t going into the psychological aspects of her patient, which is probably because the writers decided not to put too many research hours into it. But maybe it would have made this hour a little better if the writers had delivered a more scientific and medical back story for Mike, his decision to step into the role of Bat, and believing that he is Bat.

Mr. Masterson was not the only cop on a horse chasing bad guys in the 1990s.

But oh well, Gary made himself known as the guy who wants to help other people, and his co-stars of the week tend to notice now. Before this episode, the paper directed him to help the people in need and sometimes he stuck around, because he knew there was still trouble to come and his help was still needed (best example would be the episode “Gun”). But in this episode he genuinely wanted to hang out with Bat/Mike and kind of watch over him, just to make sure the old Sheriff doesn’t get int any more trouble. For the first time, Gary became the protector and helper for someone without looking into the paper first, to see if there is new trouble brewing. For the first time Gary became something of a counsellor, for people to talk to when they need someone, because maybe their lives are a little more interesting on an emotional level. Maybe this is an intended change after the ending of “The Wall, Part 2,” which said that Gary is now a changed man because of the events depicted in that episode, but maybe it’s also just a coincidence. EARLY EDITION is after all a 1970s/80s proceduralized show with focus on guest stars, which happened to air in 1997 when shows were about to change and television was about to step into the next century.

Meanwhile, the actual story of the episode was… yeah, it definitely was a snoozer. I could have taken a nap instead, but here was a guy who thought of himself as a hero of the Wild West, a genre I was never really interested in to begin with (too many macho men who have guns and shoot people like there’s no tomorrow is not really my thing), and never was Bat a more aggressive or angry person, as if everything was picture perfect and happy-go-lucky in the 1800s. If Bat Masterson of this episode really existed in 1800s, then the guy would have been murdered by whichever gang came through town first, because there is no way that Bat could have ever survived in the job by being nice and correct and lawful and always choosing the right-sounding words. I’m actually impressed that no one in Chicago during the two weeks Bat/Mike was out on the street found this crazy dude and decided to either beat him up or mug him. I mean, wouldn’t he be a perfect target for a little nightly crime by some random gangster thinking himself as the coolest bandit in town?

Why did this guy have a gun at this place of employment?

The story also made some ridiculous choices. Mike was living in something of a mental institution, so why does one of the orderly guys Dr. Feinstein has hired a pistol for Mike to steal and potentially wave around? When the guy said that Mike stole his gun, all I could do was roll my eyes into the Andromeda galaxy, being shocked about the fact that someone in this joint was actually packing loaded heat. That’s one crazy plot convenience, and one that doesn’t make the episode look better at all. Also, it doesn’t make gun-crazed America look better when the muscle men of mental institutions carry anything more than a night stick. Imagine if the rapey fat bastard from TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY had a gun and was all alone with Sarah Connor, as he was licking her face…

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“Gung Ho!”)

Season 1, Episode 26
Date of airing: October 25, 1993 (FOX Kids)

In which Jason and Tommy were sequestered to a test of teamwork in this episode, all while their Power Rangers friends were battling against supercharged putties that could have killed them, meaning Zordon sent his two greatest fighters into their meaningless adventure during one of Rita’s latest attacks. If I had been a teenager with attitude in 1993 or 1994 and Zordon would have sent me hiking up a slope to get some weapons while my best friends were getting pummelled left and right, I would not have been so accepting about Zordon’s little ruse like Jason and Tommy apparently were, but maybe the two fighters didn’t have time to be angry at Zordon for this little stunt, since they were right about to start the Ninja competition. It’s funny though how the retrieval of the weapons was just an exercise and Zordon just dropped the line of Titanius being a “valuable ally and friend.” Zordon is a major douche, but then again, the writers just made the decision to have Jason and Tommy go through this team-up trouble for this episode, even though the two seemed perfectly fine working together in previous episode, making me ask the question why the two needed to learn how to be a team.

It’s ninja time on the super karate television show!

I was a little surprised that the fight against the super putties was so damn short. I was eating my dinner while watching this episode and I usually take only half the running time to much it all down, but I was still chewing during Rita’s “They give me such a headache” scene, signalling the end of the battle of the episode, which in MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS terms means it’s about to be the end of the episode. Consider me surprised that I wasn’t finished with my dinner and the episode was telling me it was about to end. Turns out the American writers and producers were more interested in the competition at the end, which five minutes (a quarter of the episode) were spent on, still making me ask when the first episode will come that only has American-produced footage and zero seconds Japanese Super Sentai stuff. It’s quite obvious that MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS wanted to showcase their two greatest assets in the cast and have them fight for four minutes, but here I am, thinking that the producers must have contemplated for a long time to just have Jason and Tommy in an episode, doing their thing, and save on Super Sentai footage for an additional episode. Then again, maybe the Super Sentai footage needed to be used to cut down on money and time for the production of the American episodes, and producing an entirely American episode was a no-no for the studio and network who just wanted the sweet, sweet advertising cash?

The Red Ranger will now carry the shield for an incredibly boring mission.

Meanwhile, Rita’s ideas of sending the Power Rangers into the afterlife become more boring with each episode. While I’m happy that the super putties she mined from a previous episode finally made an appearance here, she could have answered that attack with a super putty monster, because really, if you want the Power Rangers to die, maybe they should be killed by supersized monsters. Rita thinking that her super putties were able to do the job show once more that she does not have the brain power for total world domination.