Candles on Bay Street

Hallmark Hall of Fame's 228th production is predictable, sappy, somewhat maudlin, and by the time it's over, there won't be a dry eye in the house. Alicia Silverstone brings a touch of star wattage to what's really an ensemble-built, "It takes a village" story, based on K.C. McKinnon's bestselling novel.

Dee Dee - Alicia Silverstone Sam - Eion Bailey Rosemary - Polly Bergen Lydia - Annabeth Gish Trooper - Matthew Knight Frieden - James Rebhorn

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s 228th production is predictable, sappy, somewhat maudlin, and by the time it’s over, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Alicia Silverstone brings a touch of star wattage to what’s really an ensemble-built, “It takes a village” story, based on K.C. McKinnon’s bestselling novel. With CBS having jettisoned its movie night and the hallowed “Hall” thus representing a rather lonely remnant of better days for the TV movie biz, this is still the kind of production that should strike the right sentimental chords and, not incidentally, help sell lots of holiday cards.

Sam (Eion Bailey) is a veterinarian in an idyllic northern Maine hamlet (OK, actually Nova Scotia), where he and his wife, Lydia (Annabeth Gish), are building their dream house, even if he blanches every time someone mentions filling it up with kids.

Enter Dee Dee (Silverstone), a free-spirited high school crush of Sam’s who abruptly took off 13 years ago, right after graduation. With her is a 12-year-old son, unfortunately named Trooper (Matthew Knight), the product of the many bad choices she has made in the past.

Lydia is initially suspicious of Sam’s feelings toward Dee Dee, but it’s soon clear that her joie de vivre has helped pull the sober Sam out of his shell. Still, she’s journeyed home for a reason, which is a cue to make sure that tissue box is handy.

Director John Erman is no stranger to such material, including Hallmark’s “The Blackwater Lightship,” another tale of family enduring beyond grief and struggle. And while Silverstone is perfectly fine as Dee Dee, the project benefits from its strong communal feeling, with Gish again delivering after her breakthrough turn in Showtime’s “Brotherhood” and Polly Bergen and James Rebhorn offering characteristically solid support.

The pic also makes good use of music, particularly Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” to establish its warm if somewhat melancholy tone — a Hallmark staple, even if the franchise has at times in recent years appeared to lose its direction.

The holidays remain a window of opportunity for movie producers, with sponsors eager to create the right environment to kick off seasonal campaigns. Now, if viewers will just cooperate and watch, that would truly be an occasion to celebrate.

Candles on Bay Street

CBS; Sun. Nov. 26, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods. Executive producer, Brent Shields; producers, Andrew Gottlieb, John Erman; director, Erman; writers, Michael Bortman, Jonathan Estrin; based on the novel by K.C. McKinnon.

Crew: Camera, Tony Imi; editor, Henk Van Eeghen; music, Marvin Hamlisch; production designer, Veronica Hadfield; casting, Olivia Harris, John Buchan, Sheila Lane. Running time: 120 MIN.

Cast: Dee Dee - Alicia Silverstone Sam - Eion Bailey Rosemary - Polly Bergen Lydia - Annabeth Gish Trooper - Matthew Knight Frieden - James Rebhorn

More TV

  • "The Curse of Cleopatra - Parts

    'Blood & Treasure' Renewed for Season 2 at CBS

    The CBS summer adventure series “Blood & Treasure” has been renewed for a second season. In the series, Danny McNamara (Matt Barr) is a former FBI agent specializing in stolen arts and antiquities. Lexi Vaziri (Sofia Pernas) is a resourceful art thief who is haunted by the tragic loss of her father, which she blames [...]

  • Side-Games-1

    Spectrum Originals Picks up Soccer Drama ‘Side Games’ for U.S. Distribution

    Charter Communications’ OTT service Spectrum Originals has reached a deal with Spain’s The Mediapro Studio for the U.S. rights to its popular series “Todo por el Juego,” (“Side Games”). The series will debut in the States on July 15. The Mediapro Studio produced the series, which was developed by popular Argentine screenwriter Eduardo Sacheri, a [...]

  • Mary J Blige Walk of Fame

    Mary J. Blige Inks First-Look TV Deal With Lionsgate

    Mary J. Blige has signed an exclusive first-look television deal with Lionsgate. Under the pact, Blige and her newly-launched Blue Butterfly productions will develop and produce TV series for the studio. The singer-actress will also have the opportunity to create content across Lionsgate’s various business platforms. “Mary is a very talented artist, fearless visionary and an [...]

  • Discovery Names Andrew Georgiou Eurosport and

    Discovery Names Andrew Georgiou Eurosport and Sports Rights Boss

    Andrew Georgiou has been appointed president of Discovery-owned Eurosport. The sports channels and streaming service has been without a chief since Peter Hutton left for Facebook. Georgiou assumes a wider role than Hutton, running Eurosport as well as overseeing sports rights and marketing across Discovery. It has been moving aggressively into the sports arena, licensing [...]

  • Joe Biden SXSW

    As Democrats Debate, TV News Tunes In Something Other Than Trump

    NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and CBS News’ “Face The Nation” regularly compete for Sunday-morning audiences and scoops from politicos. But this past weekend they looked nothing like one another. On NBC, President Donald Trump dominated the hour by sitting down for a taped interview with host Chuck Todd. Over at CBS, “Nation” moderator Margaret [...]

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and hailed [...]

  • FOX Entertainment Logo © FOX 2019

    Fox Orders Holiday Event Series 'A Moody Christmas' Based on Australian Comedy

    Fox is moving forward with its long-gestating American adaptation of the Australian comedy miniseries “A Moody Christmas” as a holiday event series, Variety has learned. The single-cam comedy follows Dan Moody as he returns home to spend Christmas with his dysfunctional family. When he arrives, he’s met with the inevitable madness of a family whose [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content