TV Review: ‘The Secret Santa’

The Secret Santa TV Review Discovery

Discovery Networks have generated controversy in recent years for airing faux documentaries with sketchy disclaimers, although the inflated ratings have usually compensated for any critical tongue-lashings. So “The Secret Santa,” a movie designed to resemble an investigative piece, provokes mixed feelings, serving up holiday schmaltz in a package that might actually trick someone who tunes in partway through into believing that they’re seeing some kind of expose proving the existence of Santa Claus. While the intentions might be nice, doing the equivalent of a found footage Hallmark Christmas movie still seems to warrant inclusion on the “naughty” list.

Following in the footsteps of sister networks Discovery and Animal Planet, TLC, which long ago dispensed with the “learning” part of its original name, has tapped the producers of earlier “Mermaids” specials, which employed similar techniques to beguile the gullible. In that case, the premise was that a fish-like strain of man had evolved in the oceans, bearing scant resemblance to the musical species that has made a fortune for Disney.

Here, the “story” is told through a local reporter in Phoenix who begins tracking the work of a Good Samaritan named Lucas A. Nast, a bearded fellow who, her investigation shows, not only has appeared all over helping families around the holidays, but has done so over a period spanning decades, looking ageless as well.

Despite efforts to sustain the charade with grainy and shaky video, the makers of “Secret Santa” can’t maintain the ruse without a few cheats, such as interview accounts of what happened — reindeer mysteriously popping up in a little girl’s yard — that incorporate video as the flashback events are told. So that cop just happened to have someone filming him on the morning he made his astonishing discovery.

Meanwhile, Nast’s do-gooding tends to be of the beer-commercial variety, ranging from introducing a couple to the child they sponsored to helping a soldier get home in time for Christmas.

It’s harmless in theory, but still cause for a bit of queasiness because of the trend it represents, airing on a channel that specializes in programming devoted to the extreme and bizarre. Therein lies the difference between consciously going to a theater to see “The Blair Witch Project” and potentially stumbling onto something while channel-surfing for “Sister Wives” or “Breaking Amish” — especially when you consider that some people really did take “Mermaids” seriously.

The actors (none of whom, incidentally, receive credit for their work) hold up their end with conviction, and the message, ultimately, is of the “Yes, Virginia” variety, which should temper any browbeating. Plus, there’s that whole “spirit of the season” thing.

Yet even being charitable, “Secret Santa” is more humbug, from a network that has filled plenty of stockings with it.

TV Review: 'The Secret Santa'

(Movie; TLC, Sun. Dec. 14, 7 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in New York by Original Content Group.

Crew

Executive producers, Vaibhav Bhatt, Charlie Foley; producer, Josh Wilkins; director, Geoffrey Madeja; writers, Foley, Bhatt; story, Foley, Bhatt; camera, Jay Silver; production designers, Adri Siriwatt, JT Camp; editor, Jane Abramowitz; music, Andrew Gross. 120 MIN.

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  1. Stan Heck says:

    Listen Brian your always nasty about “Christmas” films. I know some are bad but you failed to see “What was this film was about”. The film was a joy to watch. If you think about it the film delivered on its promises. Since you never seem to have an open mind about these films then don’t watch them.

  2. Hi I was the GATE 1 AGENT IN THE MOVIE THAT SCENE WAS FILMED IN CHGO THE ORIGINAL TITLE WAS “FINDING SANTA” WHICH IS THE NAME I TOLD MY GRANDCHILDREN TO LOOK FOR. I WAS VERY EXCITED TO FINALLY GET A SPEAKING PART AFTER WORKING ON 25 MOVIES I WASNT AWARE THE NAME CHANGE UNTIL YEAR LATER. I STILL HAVENT SEEN IT.

  3. Allan says:

    I am a filmmaker and sincerely make a fake documentary with a theme so sacred? I think unfair and levity to the viewers that just as I believed it was true. In reality this narrative is a double side. Can please unsuspecting but a revolt at being deceived. There are so many magical stories about the real issue, that there is no need to create a false appealing to the noblest sense of the human being that is the credibility / The problem that the very real stories will be interpreted with false.

  4. Charlie crouse says:

    Is this going to be aired again ????? When

  5. Kandis Lannigan says:

    It was a great story, wish it were real and people could just enjoy the possibility. Did anyone notice that the Name Lucas A Nast spells Santa Claus

  6. A story so good I wish it were true. Makes you believe in magic again.

  7. Dee says:

    It was just on a couple of hours ago, loved it!

  8. LUIS MATIAS says:

    can someone let me know the address of Lucas A Nets in usa.

  9. Teresa Dyer says:

    I LOVED THAT MOVIE,The Secret Santa.. WOULD WANT TO SEE IT OVER & over Again..Please play it

  10. Lesley says:

    Will this be on again this year. If so when

  11. donna barbieri says:

    I have been looking through the cable guide and have not seen it listed! Will we be able to watch the secret Santa again this year?

  12. Tammy Dowc says:

    Is the Secret Santa going to be on at all this year 2015.

  13. I loved THE SECRET SANTA and would like to know where can I get a copy of it. I am 68 years old and it reminded me of my childhood. I loved to fantasize and make belive. I really hope I can see it again! IT WAS WONDERFUL.

  14. Stan Heck says:

    Hey this film was very good. It was a family safe film everyone can enjoy. Don’t be a Scrooge. On any film you have to ask “What is the film story”? and “Does it Work”? and :Would I recommend this title to the audience that it was made for” ? This Santa Delivered.

  15. Polita Valledor says:

    Can someone tell me that eskimo glow poem that was stated in the movie

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  17. Alize1525 says:

    I want to see him

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  19. svetlana says:

    Lucas A. Nast = when you move letters you will get Claus, Santa. Magical. I would like to meet that man.

  20. Shauna says:

    My extended family and I absolutely loved this movie. We watched it twice on Christmas Eve. I give it five stars! Highly recommended!

  21. Giovanni Scrittorio says:

    I think Mr. Brian Lowry has been on Santa’s Naughty List since his birth. Only a knucklehead like him can write so distainfully and with such hatred in his words regarding a topic about peace, hope, and love. TLC is oly trying to help reinstill those moral virtues which are rapidily dispating in a world that is close to losing it. So stop being grinchy or like scrooge, enough bah humbug from people like you Mr. Lowry. And get a real job, because as a critic you stink. Where did you get your education Bazooka Joe University.

    • discovery blech says:

      you mean in between them pushing “good old fashion” polygamy, or the constant sex related shows? yeah real good old fashion moral virtues there. there are no morals on tv anymore. hell, kids shows are shoved full of innuendos and trash now days its not even funny.

  22. Miriam Puglisi says:

    How can i Write to him?

  23. Ghhvcfffcc says:

    Yes santa exist just in the U.S. so fake

  24. anais says:

    lucas a nast for christmas is to have a picture of my dog bella she pasted 1 year ago but i dont have a real picture of her

  25. I taped secret santa. I really enjoyed it. I accidently erased it. I would like to know if there is a way i can get a copy of Secret Santa. Sincerely, DJF

  26. catalina says:

    where i found it online ? full video

  27. D. Parker says:

    Loved it… watched it twice “on demand”! So what if it’s a “mockumentary”? That’s part of the fun! I felt joy watching it and will include it on my traditional holiday viewing list along with “Miracle on 34th Street”.

  28. Marge Illich says:

    Was fun to watch. Unique.

  29. The Secret Santa has made me feel foolish. Ive been gooling Lucas A. Nast. What a bafoon I am. the worst part is that the Learning Channelis a channel that I love to watch and have tended to believe in as far as documentaries how dare they mislead people

  30. Dee says:

    Everyone involved in making this DECEPTION is a LIAR!
    Then they got kids to lie…adults to lie…and even a supposed U.S. military mom! Disgraceful!
    Who could ever believe these people in their every day lives?
    And that goes for the goofs with the crop circles, mermaid, and everything else along those lines.

  31. Jacquie C says:

    Hey, I knew it was a fictional account, but I loved this movie. I am an unabashed lover of Hallmark Christmas movies so this is right up my alley. That being said, part of me wishes it were true. Lucas A Nast, you are my hero…

  32. Shirl McNeely says:

    Wish I could get this on DVD, it was so good and interesting! :) I was told about it by a friend. I just had to see it. I did a search on Dish and found it. Enjoyed watching it so much!

  33. Carolyn says:

    Ok well y’all have did it again. I to was one of those people who tuned in half way into the show. I was amazed in wondering how did I miss all of these crazy sightings . On Christmas Day I am sitting here telling my kids about the show with great interest. I find the show and start playing it. My daughter ( Winter) looked it up and told me ” its just a show”

  34. yoanna says:

    I think santa is real beacuse if you saw that flash in no where in the sky wow that is amazing….

  35. linda says:

    A feel good event. Don’t believe in Santa but believe all saints (St. Nick included) have the ability to
    influence earthly conditions. Surely happenings similar to these have occurred but not been recorded.
    God is Love. God is Great. God is All Powerful. Merry Christmas.

    • Celeste Yordan says:

      You know what , fantasy or whatever it”s not believing or not believing ” it’s all about dreaming…..better to dream about pretty things than the junk that is being put on tv these days all negative reference to: demonic, violence and sex and I’m referring at all hours of the day!!!

  36. Dawn Sims says:

    I loved it this and White Christmas ! And as a true believer my Christmas wish would be a travel trailer for Christmas

  37. i spoke to this guy on dec 22nd..he IS santa

  38. Bradley Wilson says:

    I missed to watch this whole program here in South Africa. Is it possible to have a link to either watch online or download. My email is bt.wilson@telkomsa.net

  39. Lucas A nastY says:

    the show wasnt convincing the detectives looked wrong all skinny and on the first 48 there all too fat to run

  40. Galen Bywater says:

    You sir are a SCROOGE!, someone maybe TLC? should make a mock-u-mentary on you!

  41. Stephanie says:

    This show sends out a happy vibe, well for me and my family. My boys (3year and 2year old) get excited about Santa, I love how they are just full of joy when someone mentions Santa.

  42. Mateo rey says:

    Yep its not real ! As a native Arizonan for +30yrs, I’m sad the producers didnt research better. There is no channel 8 in phoenix
    , that belongs to PBS. That is NOT Glendale AZ , Glendale is surrounded by at least 5 other cities inside phoenix metropolitan and doesn’t have desert boundaries or “inside” the desert look like in the show, the houses are all wrong we have modern style with builders such as pruitt and Fulton. Last, despite contrary belief, it does snow in phoenix mostly in the east valley near Scottsdale,

  43. Lucas A Nast- Santa Claus!! Duhh!!

  44. raymond stogner says:

    I find that I have to echo the response by NOTSO FARGONE. Being a skeptic these days seems to have become a contact sport. People are no longer confined to just saying, “decide for yourself, BUT” they have to TRASH it. This was harmless…PERIOD…if it gives SOME people pleasure to believe yet again..then SHUT THE HELL UP. We’ve become so friggin jaded these days and I honestly blame it primarily on the MEDIA. Just stop trying to tell us what the hell to believe, and entertain us…after all that’s all we’re looking for when we click on the tv. This review was simply SHAMEFUL.

  45. NOTSO FARGONE says:

    Sad to see such a jaded attitude actually holding gainful employment. Folks such as yourself cannot accept something so clean and uplifting, with no nudity, or vulgarity to be a positive leaving those who choose to look upon the innocence and message of unabashed kindness to be rubes.
    If anything at all, you are more pitiable than the sad eyes of an neglected puppy in an ASPCA or PITA ad, simply because you CHOOSE to be such a man.

  46. Don says:

    Why does something that can be positive be considered bad. Every day we are told about negative events and know one questions them. So when TLC decides to produce a show about Santa clause and that anything positive is possible do we have to cut it to pieces. Like the message at the end says we all can be Santa clause and even keep the positive spirit alive all year long be it paying for someone’s meal or coffee. So I say, lets not throw stones at something positive for once.

  47. Katie Snead says:

    I don’t know about all of the things mentioned in this special, but I can believe one. A few years ago on Christmas Eve, I was riding home with my mom when we saw a huge light. It was bluish green and shot across the sky in front of us. Too low and too fast to be a plane. We could never explain it… But after seeing it, we felt so much christmas joy, it was weird.

    • Celeste Yordan says:

      Well good for you Katie………in order to live in this world where there is so much negativity, it’s wonderful to read of beautiful and inspirational events of things that happen…thankssssss

  48. Joan says:

    I think that it’s very sad that Mr. Lowery feels that this charming mockumentary is somehow damaging.

    Parents like to have their children believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny et al for as long as possible because we know that their childhood will fly past in what seems like a wink. My parents didn’t take me to Gimbles but they did take me down the street to Macys. It was always the most exciting part of the year anticipating the trip to the “city” to see Santa.

    It seems to me that you are more comfortable with the Grinch.

  49. Mary says:

    Yes it is really sad that these networks have strayed from true documentaries and historical facts. I only pray that our children in this generation will be able to tell the difference between Wikipedia type material and true periodical research.

  50. kayla says:

    His name Was also nick myra which is st. Nicholas of myra who is a saint who brings joy to all peoplw

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