The Silver Bauble #7 - 22/12/18
A Little Re-Jig

Hah, you’d thought we’d forgotten about The Silver Bauble! Well, we’re back, and we’ve decided to keep this as a sporadic thing - it was becoming a bit forced, so we’ve decided to restrict new issues to when we have something to say.

So what’s been happening here at the Christmas UK Cavern? Aside from bunkering down in a corner in the face of all the Brexit news (we’re sure it’ll be fine one way or another, eventually, but… yikes… just… yikes…), we have the decorations up and on, the big food shopping order delivered, the good chocolates opened, and we’ve upgraded our breakfasts and lunches somewhat. Starting the day with pigs in blankets and mince pies suddenly seems rather normal.

We’re big fans of hygge, a Danish concept (pronounced “hoo-gah”) which encourages a cozy home lifestyle. So everything is soft-lit, with the living room lit only by the tree and other Christmas lights, together with a healthy number of candles throwing off a lovely glow and festive scents. It’s a time for relaxing, and combined with a podcast, something to slurp and nibble, and a hobby, it’s a great way to unwind after what has been a pretty damned strange year.

Christmas 24 Has Competition

Something interesting has happened with our Freeview channels. It used to be the case that the pay-for Christmas 24 channel would cover all the recent American Christmas TV movies, and the other channels would keep repeating ancient, ropey Christmas movies year after year. Things have evolved this year - True Christmas, usually guilty of infinitely recycling rubbish movies have added a new generation of Christmas movies to their line-up, and some of them are pretty good. Christmas In Boston is rather old, but it’s still one of our favourites.

Christmas 24 itself is becoming more proactive with its movie roster too, and this year’s line-up featured movies which had only just been shown over in the States. But the biggest news involves Channel 5. This free-to-air channel, together with their digital brethren, has been showing a lot of the new movies that Christmas 24 has been showing this year. Believe it or not, this is revolutionary. If you’re not a fan of the subscription channels, then not only do you have the Channel 5 channels to view Christmas movies on, but their My5 catch-up service has all of the movies on there too for a month after initial broadcast. You can sit down to wall-to-wall Christmas movies all day, and it wouldn’t cost you a penny - and quite a few of these feature in our Good Film Alerts, too, so there’s some gems amongst the dross. We may ditch our Christmas 24 subscription next year as a result - which would be sad as they were the pioneers of wall-to-wall Christmas movies.

Good Film Alerts - The Class Of 2018

We still maintain that most of the Christmas TV movies that appear are pretty forgettable, with paper-thin stories, worn-out plotlines, and an overpowering moral shoved down our throats, but every year there are a handful of movies which grab us and won’t let go. These are not only feel-good movies, but are very festive with a plot that is actually a couple of layers deep. A good mystery also enhances the mix, as well as a life-affirming story. Throw in a few familiar faces, and it has the possibility to stick to you like a leech.

So what’s grabbed us this year?

The Christmas Train: I caught this one by channel-hopping, and the beautiful photography drew me in whilst the subtle plot wrapped itself around me. The addition of movie star Danny Glover made it a keeper as the movie survived a few full rewatches. This seems weird to us Brits as cross-country train journeys are nothing special here. Over in the States, train service investment has been so low that timetables are essentially calendars, and every trip is a special occasion - people usually drive or fly to get from A to B. The idea of a four-day long journey within the same country is just alien to us Brits, but it’s obvious that there’s a good section of America that sees the railways in a romantic nostalgic way.

Pause for laughter from Virgin and Southern train passengers.

This movie has pretty much everything against a very strong festive background - interesting, quirky characters, from Higgins the retired railroader who can’t seem to let go of the trains, through to Agnes the rather nosey passenger with a heart of gold. There’s a mystery thrown in, plus a bit of peril, together with the obligatory love story as old flames are reunited. This is certainly a feel-good movie you can relax to and enjoy.

Every Christmas Has A Story: This is full of actors who you’d recognise, but aren’t sure where from. Sci-fi fans will recognise A Town Called Eureka’s Colin Ferguson, but X Files fans will recognise the town mayor from somewhere - it’s Bruce Harwood who played one of the Lone Gunmen!

This is your typical Christmas-hater-turned-lover plotline, as a TV news anchor lets slip on air that she hates Christmas - which is a bit of a no-no if you front an American daytime news show. She and her producer are sent to “the most festive town in America” to take part in their Christmas celebrations, and in doing so not only find their Christmas spirit, but stumble across a local mystery that is impacting that town’s festivities. Lovely.

Christmas At Holly Lodge: Ah yes, another well-trodden festive film theme: the plucky small local business owner up against a megacorp. Holly Lodge is a holiday destination where families can stay for Christmas and share in the festivities together, returning year after year to form a Christmas tradition. A property developer takes an interest in the site, and sends their lawyer to look over the place. Naturally the lawyer grows to love the place and the woman who owns it, but love never runs smooth until the final scene.

Journey Back To Christmas: Now this was the ultimate slow-burner. It doesn’t throw Christmas down your throats, nor comes with a strong morality story. The layers, though, shine through with each rewatch. A World War 2 nurse is thrown through time by a Christmas comet to 2016, and must figure out a way home whilst being completely disoriented by the new environment. The local police take an interest in her and try and figure out if she’s on the level or trying to pull a scam. As they uncover the mystery surrounding her, she tells the locals about how the town celebrated in the past, and they feel encouraged to bring a few of the traditions back. The nurse finds a surprising ally as together with the townsfolk they figure out how she can return to her own time. Delightful.

’Til Next Time

Christmas Day is in sight, and we wish you and yours a happy, peaceful, Christmas, and a simpler, calmer New Year. The Silver Bauble will return…

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