Kurt Russell’s hip Santa leads Christmas TV special onslaught

Can Kurt Russell save our TV Christmas? It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but that won’t stop the networks from unleashing their annual parade of treacly holiday entertainments.

Russell, whose career began when he was 11 doing TV guest spots on shows such as “Dennis the Menace” and “Lost in Space,” has something different in store with “The Christmas Chronicles,” out on Netflix Nov. 22. He plays a hip, no-nonsense Santa whose sleigh crashes on Christmas Eve, thanks to the chicanery of two smart alecks, Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) and his sister, Kate (Darby Camp). Now he needs their help in meeting his gift-delivering deadline.

Some viewers may blanch to see Russell, 67, is playing Kris Kringle. It’s going to have those who remember Russell as Elvis in that 1979 TV movie reaching for the AARP cards, but what can you do? At least he’s not trying to play action heroes like his peers Sylvester Stallone and Liam Neeson. Judging by the trailer, Russell plays the part with panache.

If you prefer a more traditional Christmas TV special, though, the networks have plenty in store.

Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, Nov. 18, Hallmark
Lisa Palmer’s (Jill Wagner) trip home to Evergreen for the holidays finds her shepherding an effort to save the town’s beloved general store, fulfilling the wishes of a Christmas past and finding a romance full of Christmas wonder.

My Christmas Inn, Nov. 21, Lifetime
With the holiday season in full swing, Jen Taylor (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) is about to score a promotion at work. But her life is turned upside down when she inherits a cozy inn states away in Alaska from her aunt.

A Christmas Arrangement, Nov. 21, Lifetime
Flower shop owner Poppy (Nicky Whelan) enters the annual holiday floral show contest. Her main competition is Garrett (Miles Fisher), the underappreciated protégé of florist extraordinaire Blair (Daphne Zuniga). Their rivalry heats up, and a romance begins amidst this whimsical holiday backdrop.

The Christmas Contract, Nov. 22, Lifetime
After her devastating breakup with Foster (Hunter Burke), Jolie (Hilarie Burton) hasn’t been back to her home state of Louisiana. While planning to return for the holidays, she discovers Foster is bringing home a new girlfriend and cannot bear the thought of seeing them together — which is inevitable, as both of their parents run the town’s Christmas market.

Poinsettias For Christmas, Nov. 23, Lifetime
It’s just weeks before Christmas when Ellie (Bethany Joy Lenz) gets a call to return home to help her father (John Schneider) on the family’s poinsettia farm. The pressure is on as the family scrambles to organize and deliver tens of thousands of the brilliant plants for their town’s annual parade. The problem? The poinsettias have yet to turn red!

Christmas Everlasting, Nov. 24, Lifetime
Lucy Toomey (Tatyana Ali) thinks she’s going to celebrate Christmas patting herself on the back for being named partner at her corporate law firm. But an unexpected death in the family derails her plans. Lucy returns home to Wisconsin to receive a surprising welcome. With Dennis Haysbert and Patti LaBelle.

Christmas Harmony, Nov. 24, Lifetime
Soft-spoken Harmony (Kelley Jakle) has gotten used to living in the shadow of her pop star boyfriend. But when he dumps her right before the holidays, she returns to her small hometown — and discovers the heart and music that her big city life was lacking.

Christmas Cupid’s Arrow, Nov. 25, Ion
A lonely hearts club romance set at a small-town college that revolves around a dating website called Cupid’s Arrow.

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