By Deborah Yaffe, Oct 17 2019 01:11PM
Last month, as blog readers will recall, we jointly pondered a Jane Austen Christmas mystery: why a made-for-TV movie named Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen – allegedly based on Austen’s novel of the same title, minus the snowmen – had vanished from the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas schedule.
But thank goodness! In keeping with the spirit of the season, joy can now spread across the land! The movie will air after all, albeit as part of Hallmark’s Miracles of Christmas schedule, which features seven new sappy romcoms, as opposed to Countdown’s busier slate of twenty-four.
Last year, as blog readers will recall, Hallmark aired not one but two nominally Austen-inspired Christmas movies. Both claimed to be based on Pride and Prejudice but turned out to have essentially no connection to Austen’s novel. Instead, as I pointed out at the time, both told “the story of a driven workaholic named Darcy who falls for a creative free spirit while they jointly plan a community Christmas gathering.”
Judging from the video preview available on the Hallmark Channel website, this year’s Austenesque offering, Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen, represents a radical departure from that model. It’s the story of a driven workaholic named Edward who falls for a creative free spirit while they jointly plan a community Christmas gathering.
And get this, you stick-in-the-mud Janeites with your purist notions of literary fidelity: While the movie centers on two sisters who co-own an event-planning company, the free-spirited one is named Ella, while the staid, responsible one is named Marianne.
Mind-blowing, I know. I’m reeling, too.
Still, a mystery remains – and I don’t mean the mystery of why people with no actual interest in Jane Austen keep slapping her name onto properties bearing only the most tenuous relationship to her work. That’s a puzzle whose solution is a five-letter word beginning with M.
No, the mystery I have in mind concerns the scheduling of the new movie, which, according to Hallmark’s publicity, will premiere on November 29 at 9 pm. Meanwhile, over at the Countdown to Christmas schedule, a film called Christmas at the Plaza is scheduled for the same night at 8 pm.
Unless Plaza is an hour-long divertissement, which seems unlikely – Hallmark’s hour-by-hour schedule for the end of next month doesn’t appear to be available yet, so I can’t check for sure – we may be facing a veritable Clash of the Titans, or at least of the Titanically Mediocre Christmas Movies. How can two films occupy the same hour of air time? Making that work may take a true Christmas miracle.