Rick's List — Prime Hallmark Channel Season(s) Draweth Nigh edition

There are a lot of things I don't understand, and modern technology is at the top of the festering heap of my ignorance. So I had no idea what a friend was talking about last week when she explained that, returning home after a long vacation in Maine, she'd left several important gadgets or Siri-things or Blue Teeth or hand-held devices — and until she gets them back, life is going to be primitive.

To illustrate this, she nodded at her very large flat screen television and said, "All I can get is (something involving names of entertainment corporations)." I took it to mean she had been reduced to Basic Cable. She continued, "I came across THIS —" and pointed accusingly at the TV, where an actress named Lacey Chabert was staring with sweet affection at a handsome young thespian dressed in flannel and clearly just in from a day's labor amongst the fruitful vines of his winery.

"I think they're gonna get married!" my friend gushed.

"Oh," I said by way of illumination, "you've found the Hallmark Channel."

"Yes! That's it!" she said, laughing nervously.

"It's okay, don't feel sheepish. You're already addicted, aren't you?"

My friend, high up in the administration of an elite college, nodded and sighed. "Like it's heroin."

Hey, I understand. I've written about the network's insidious nature before. And now, as the humid-damp pages of August whip by like a napalmed greyhound, the Hallmark Channel prepares to pounce. Autumn is a big time, with several new movies about romance flourishing at every harvest fair, pumpkin-carving or apple-picking contest and elementary school Halloween costume party — all taking place in those parts of America where attractive white people escape the city for the bucolic therapies of nature.

But their Fall Festival schedule is only the prelude that blasts us directly into Christmas Proper. It becomes ... frankly, a little embarrassing. Worth noting:

1. This year, the Hallmark Channel will debut 34 newly crafted Christmas movies. Thirty-four!

2. Lacey Chabert will only be in 32 of them.

3. The holiday movie schedule kicks off four days BEFORE Halloween. Seriously.

4. One new heart-warmer is called "Christmas at Graceland." I hope it involves Elvis rising from the grave brandishing a sprig of mistletoe.

5. I do wish the Hallmark fare would stop with the old trope where all the characters chain-smoke and drink heavily in pool halls.

6. Hallmark has a new spinoff network called Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Not sure how this ties into the holidays, but I guarantee you they'll figure it out. Among the titles I'm looking forward to are:

A. "Harry Bosch and the Case of the Missing Christmas Tree Star."

B. "Who Murdered Lacey Chabert?"


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