First of all, know that this is the first time I have ever done a review on a show like this. Typically, I review films, television shows, and oftentimes I get to see them early. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. I didn’t see this beforehand. I watched it in primetime with everyone else. And the idea struck me that as Hallmark probably would reprise this at some point during the holiday season (and since it features some of my favorites), I figured I would review this show as a tremendous way to get into the holiday spirit. And let me say–the show did not disappoint. Never was I not completely enraptured with the action on my screen, and more than once, I had to call my daughter in to watch certain portions as I was fully impressed.[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srOaBaNZdlU[/embedyt]
When it comes to Christmas, no network does it better than Hallmark–at least in my opinion. Moreover, I can always count on the best entertainment has to offer as well as recipes, crafts, and merely pleasant stories (and sometimes emotional ones) from Home and Family. All too often, I forget about this show as it is on during the day, and I rarely have time to get caught up even if I record it to watch later. But this is a special show for an extraordinary time of year. Therefore, it was the easiest thing in the world to make time for this Christmas special, and indeed it was one of the best decisions I have made this holiday season.
It’s our primetime, holiday special extravaganza! Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare welcome Hallmark stars Holly Robinson Peete, Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar, and Barbara Niven to talk about their Hallmark Channel Original Movies: “Angel of Christmas,” A Christmas Melody,” “Crown for Christmas,” and “Christmas Detour.” Grammy award winning musician LeAnn Rimes performs three holiday songs from her new Christmas album, “Today Is Christmas.” Our home is lit up to music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with “Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas in Sarajevo.” Aerial Ice Extreme is here with a gravity-defying, acrobatic, ice skating performance of “All I Want for Christmas.” United States military band, the Six String Soldiers, perform an acoustic version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Cristina cooks a delicious standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding, and our Hallmark family shares their favorite holiday side dishes: Lacey Chabert’s white sweet potato pie, Barbara Niven’s pumpkin bars, Dan Kohler’s imperial walnuts, and Dr. JJ Levenstein’s brown butter spice cake. Our “Home & Family” DIYers: Ken Wingard, Shirley Bovshow, Paige Hemmis, and Tanya Memme are teaming up with Hallmark stars: Lacey Chabert, Barbara Niven, Holly Robinson Peete, and Danica McKellar to make themed Christmas wreaths. Our family is sharing holiday memories and special traditions for moms and babies and fathers and sons. And, our special Santa Quartet, featuring Ken Wingard, Dan Kohler, Matt Rogers, and Matt Iseman are singing a jolly, Christmas favorite.
One of the highlights of the show is the Trans-Siberian orchestra’s music and the heavenly light show that coincides with the music. I am always a pushaover for a Christmas light show, and when you pair it with award-winning music from one of my favorite orchestras, it simply cannot be more enthralling. I have yet to make the pilgrimage to see this orchestra live yet, but it is on my bucket list. And after seeing the dazzling lights, I believe I have moved it to the top of my list. Although the confines of the television cannot truly reveal the spectacular nature of this extravaganza, even in this spectrum, the look is simply stupefying. If you only get to watch one portion of the show, don’t miss the three (I think) light shows scattered throughout the show.
Towards the end of the show, the audience is also treated to the music from Six String Soldiers as they perform an acoustic version of I’ll Be Home for Christmas. There is nothing like a military music group, in my opinion, and this one certainly doesn’t disenchant.
The song they have chosen is the ideal one to remind us of the men and women serving us abroad who won’t be home for Christmas because they are working hard to keep us safe and free. In light of recent world events, this music takes on a whole new meaning as we are reminded of what should be truly valued in this world. It’s not about money–it’s about friend and family that you hold dear.
Of course, there is nothing like a complete cross section of the Hallmark family and listening to them sing a Christmas carol together. Welcome to the beginning of this rollicking Christmas show, and it was honestly enjoyable to hear and see the interactions between long-standing members of the show as they always seem to get along so well. Did some of the interactions come off as cheesy? Yes, but that’s what made it even more entertaining. Part of the charm of this show is that they sound “rehearsed,” and it’s even funnier when the jokes are so corny that they are hilarious.
Of course, at the heart of the show are Mark and Cristina, the perennial favorite hosting duo who always bring their humor, expertise (well, at least Cristina’s expertise–not always sure about Mark–just kidding I promise–Mark is a one-of-a-kind host who is probably the best sport out there) and devotion to Hallmark and quality programming. The audience is always regaled with exclusive information, superior performances, and general amusing times whenever these two are around. And when it comes to the holidays, you can’t beat the effortlessness and veritable joy of the season these two bring to the show. Honestly, without these two as hosts, I would probably find the show rather lackluster and possibly boring. But these two have a fun on-screen chemistry that works as perfectly as a clock.
Just in time to promote her new Christmas movie Crown for Christmas (review here) is Danica McKellar. But, of course, there are plenty more celebrity guests.
Included in the celebrity line-up is the radiant and talented Barbara Niven. She is one of the perennial favorites who simply can’t do any wrong where Hallmark (and her fans) are concerned. She is on there to promote her upcoming holiday movie, A Christmas Detour, and that is one I greatly anticipate. I plan to review it after it premieres tomorrow night, but because Barbara and Candace Cameron Bure are in it, I know I will relish it. And after viewing the clip Barbara shared, I am even more convinced. To see Barbara play a “mean mom” is such a departure from the kind and sweet part in which we normally see her. I am ecstatic about this film, and I know it will become a fast fan favorite.
But because Barbara Niven is stopping by, you know that she is going to share an inspiring story. And I can promise you, she did. I don’t want to spoil it for you lest you get the chance, but you might want to have some Kleenex nearby as Barbara is one of those special people who is so real that she never minds displaying her emotions. And to me, that is something remarkable. I am convinced that with Barbara, what you see, is what you get. She never comes across as being a fake no matter what else one may say about her. I am honored to be able to support such a compassionate and sensitive soul, and I plan on supporting her for the rest of her career and beyond.
The highlight for me, however, is hearing Lacey Chabert talk about her upcoming holiday film A Christmas Melody. This has been the film that I have been anticipating since her co-star Brennan Elliott tweeted about it. Now, I realize that the big news is that Mariah Carey directed and starred in it, and that is great news for Hallmark. Additionally, Lacey shares some great anecdotes about filming and working with Mariah.
But my favorite part is when they show an exclusive clip of the film. Yes, it features Lacey, and don’t get me wrong, I love her like crazy. But there are a few actors with whom I have connected a bit more deeply for whatever reason, and when I saw her co-star Brennan in the clip, my excitement level shot through the roof. The pairing of him and Lacey is already legendary (loved All of My Heart after all), but seeing them together again is going to be the most sensational, non-family moment of the holiday season. I am fiercely supportive of Brennan’s works, and seeing him in the clip made this the single most invigorating moment of this holiday special. So thanks to Home and Family and Lacey for making that moment possible.
Of course, can it really be the holidays without Cristina in the kitchen? I think the absolute answer to that is absolutely not! This is Home and Family, and with the holidays upon us, it’s nice to see the celebrity guests, as well as Cristina, share some holiday favorites with us.
Dr. JJ Levenstein’s brown butter spice cake Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Jeremy lee/Alexx Henry Studios, LLC
As Hallmark always brings the finest entertainment to its viewers, and with Aerial Ice Extreme, indeed they have done just that. While I don’t think their skill always comes across as well on the television screen, even what we are privileged to see is breath-taking and decidedly scintillating. I was impressed with their amazing aerial acrobatics, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You was the perfect accompaniment to their prowess.
So what is a Home and Family Holiday Show without a DIY project? There is no way we could class this as Home and Family without something to make at home, and so check out the great wreaths they made.
One of the most special moments of the show was when the family and guests sat around and discussed their “birth” stories. Hearing them tell these sweet and compellingly emotional stories truly touched my heart, but I have to say there was one that stood out.
Kym Douglas is one of the “family” members on the show, and when she told the story of her son, I was so touched and was nearly brought to tears. I don’t want to spoil the story, but if you get a chance to hear the miraculous story, by all means, do so.
And what is Christmas without a silly song? And in this case, four of the guys dressed up like Santa and sang and danced to a song filled with hilarity and Christmas spirit.
Personally and for the record, I always think Ken Wingard enjoys these moments way too much! But I guarntee there is no other place where you will get entertainment like this!
Another special moment was when Cristina read one of the most beautiful Christmas prayers I have ever heard on non-religious television. I salute Hallmark for taking the plunge and reminding us all of the true meaning of the Christmas season.
And finally, one of the most cherished guests on the show is singer LeeAnn Rimes. I have been a fan of hers for quite some time, and I even purchased her new Christmas album before this show aired. LeeAnn performas three of her most beloved songs from that album.
My favorite moment from her was her acapella rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Definitely a moment worth savoring as I was awe-struck.
If you want an extra special treat, be sure to check out her new Christmas album Today is Christmas. You won’t be sorry.
If you get an opportunity to watch this holiday show, it is definitely not one to be missed. If you are not in the holiday mood after this show, then there may not be any hope for you. There is something for everyone in your family (I had to keep calling my daughter into watch the different parts, but she was always glad she did.).
For information on all of these recipes, wreaths, interviews and more, check out the following: