By Mandi Bierly
Updated March 26, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT
Credit: McCarthy: Dimitrios Kambouris/; Loughlin: Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Benz: Steve Granitz/
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Hallmark Channel has announced an ambitious slate of 35 original movies for the 2009-2010 TV season. That’s five more than it gave me us this year. Here’s a sampling of what’s in store, courtesy of a press release. If you had to watch one film, which would you pick?

The National Tree: “Willful Oregon teenager Rock Burdock (Evan Williams, Save the Last Dance 2) wins a national Christmas tree contest and convinces Corey (Andrew McCarthy, Lipstick Jungle), his overprotective father, to move the 15-year-old tree that commemorates Rock’s birth to Washington, D.C. Corey, in turn, persuades Rock to transport the tree on a road trip across the country so he and his son can enjoy some quality time together.” Chance I’ll Tune In (CITI): 80 percent. It sounds completely ridiculous, but I have such fond memories of McCarthy in Hallmark’s 2003 original Straight From the Heart.

A Soldier’s Love Story: “A young boy’s letter to a soldier serving overseas forever changes lives. Through a series of letters, Jared Marshall and Sgt. Vince Carerra bond over a love of baseball. Jared reveals his loneliness and estrangement from his dad after his parents divorce. When Vince returns home, he meets Jared and his mother, Dana (Lori Loughlin, 90210). The two begin to fall in love. Complications arise when Vince gets his orders to deploy. CITI: 50 percent. (60 percent if Vince is hot.)

Uncorked: “Johnetta ‘Johnny’ Prentis’ (Julie Benz, Dexter) world is turned upside down in beautiful and scenic wine country. Johnny is a high-powered executive on the fast track and definitely not looking to fall in love. When a business conference takes her to wine country she meets handsome widower and Chef Andrew Browning (Scott Elrod, Men in Trees). Over the weekend, Johnny loses her job when her company is taken over by a competitor. Andrew invites Johnny home to meet his family, and in helping his parents’ winery, she begins to fall in love with him and his family. When Johnny is offered another high-powered position, she must choose between Andrew and her highly ambitious career.” CITI: 110 percent. Honestly, you could not write a plot that would appeal to me more. And Scott Elrod, in you case you don’t recognize the name, played Cash on Men in Trees. CASH. I’m prepared to follow him to any cable channel that will hire him.

addCredit(“McCarthy: Dimitrios Kambouris/; Loughlin: Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Benz: Steve Granitz/”)

Mrs. Miracle: “Seth Webster is a frustrated, single father who can’t find a housekeeper to manage his overly energetic twin sons. When a seemingly magical housekeeper arrives at Christmastime, she helps Seth move on after his wife’s death and find new love that brings the family together again.” CITI: 65 percent. I’ve seen this movie many times, even on Hallmark, and I’ll sit through it again.

Christmas in Canaan: “In the rural town of Canaan, Texas, a clash between two classmates — one, a tough farm boy, and the other, a bright bookish black boy — evolves into an unlikely friendship. The boys’ families devise a plan to teach them a lesson after they fight, but it is a wounded puppy that eventually brings them together. It is amidst the magic of Christmas that the boys learn about family, hope and love despite living under the shadow of racism…. The movie is based on the book Christmas in Canaan by Kenny Rogers and Donald Davenport.” CITI: 10 percent. However, it is bringing me such pleasure knowing that my colleague Dan Snierson will have to watch this for his annual holiday movie scorecard in EW.

The Christmas Gift: “Three spirited orphans get their best Christmas gifts ever — a family. When their orphanage is closed for repairs over Christmas, the boys are sent to temporarily live with a childless couple. The couple falls in love with the boys, but isn’t sure about adopting three children. The boys begin to compete with each other, only to discover that they too have become an inseparable family.” CITI: 40 percent. I’m sure it’s not as horrifying as it reads.

Home Sweet Home: “A career-driven fashion designer returns to her small hometown when she gets word that her grandmother is ill. There she discovers the town is undergoing tough economic times. At the same time, she reunites with her high school beau. After losing both her grandmother and her job, she finds new meaning in life when she helps a friend launch an alternative energy system that helps her beloved hometown.” CITI: 95 percent. I’m a sucker for an overworked city girl who learns to love her roots again. Even if the phrase “alternative energy system” bores me.

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas: “Charley and Eileen Fox, together with their children, Hannah and Toby, find themselves on December 23 without a tree, presents or Christmas spirit. Like too many modern families, they have grown apart, too busy with their individual lives and schedules to spend time together, even on the holidays. All of this is about to change when, due to elf error, Santa sets out on the night before Christmas Eve and crashes on the roof of the Fox home. Santa’s sleigh is disabled, his magic gift bag is missing, and even worse, he has amnesia! Will Christmas be lost or can the Fox family come together and save Christmas and, in the process, their holiday traditions?” CITI: 100 percent. I was only at 20 percent until “due to elf error.”

Puppy Love: “An unruly pound puppy is the last thing that single mom Abby Nelson needs. But how can she say ‘no’ when her daughter, Katelyn, is having a tough time with their recent move to her dad’s retirement home. In just one day, Katelyn has fallen in love with the scraggly mutt. When Ben Fallon, a handsome former baseball player and the rightful owner of the puppy, steps forward Abby and her family decide to share custody of the dog. In the midst of their differences of raising an unruly puppy, Abby and Ben begin to fall in love.” CITI: 100 percent. Again, I was at 20 percent until “handsome former baseball player.”

Shadow on the Mesa: “After his mother’s death, Wes Corbin, a young, half-Indian gunfighter, meets the white father he has never known. When a dangerous range war breaks out, it’s up to Wes to defend his new family.” CITI: 60 percent. (70 percent if the gunfighter is hot — and how couldn’t he be? — and the family has a daughter he’s attracted to.)

The Wild Girl: “Ned Giles, an aspiring news photographer, joins the 1932 Great Apache Expedition on the search for a young boy, the son of a wealthy Mexican land owner who was kidnapped by wild Apaches. Ned finds himself on an unexpected and perilous journey through rugged terrain, when a captured wild Apache girl must be exchanged for the kidnapped boy.” CITI: 85 percent.The only thing going through my mind right now is “What the what?” Which is actually a good thing.

Working Miracles: “Buddy Hoyt wants to be a ‘somebody,’ but he’s just an ordinary man with an ordinary life and his fiancée likes him just the way he is. Buddy gets his wish after an accident when he is gifted with the ability to heal others. Life gets complicated when Buddy learns that he is draining his own energy every time he heals someone else — it may even kill him. Will Buddy choose his new-found fame over the woman he loves?” CITI: 80 percent. Though, I am sorta offended that they would even bother to pretend that he won’t choose the woman he loves.


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