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Eloise Mumford and Sean Faris star in “Christmas With Holly,” which debuts Sunday.
TV Review

‘Christmas With Holly’ won’t be instant classic

In the new Hallmark Hall of Fame production, “Christmas With Holly,” a radiant young woman who has just bought a toy store meets a handsome young man who runs the nearby coffee shop. She has a beagle named Olive. He is raising his 6-year-old niece, Holly, who is unable or unwilling to speak after the death of her single mother.

They all live on a small island in Washington state, and the movie takes place mostly between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you can’t figure out how the story will end, you haven’t watched many recent Hallmark Hall of Fame episodes, especially those that conclude at Christmas. In terms of the tears that the creaky plot tries to evoke, several dozen angels must have earned their wings making this show. It airs 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

On the credit side, the lead performances of Eloise Mumford (as Maggie Conway) and Sean Faris (as Mark Nagle) are appealing, and the two have chemistry. As his brothers, Dana Watkins (Scott) and Daniel Eric Gold (Alex) make a convincing set of squabbling siblings and loving uncles. The movie, filmed in and near Halifax, Nova Scotia, is travel-poster-pretty.

But on the debit side, little Holly (played by Lucy and Josie Gallina) seems more sullen than adorable for most of the movie, and it’s a mystery why everyone finds her so endearing.

The movie is tolerably watchable in the worst Lifetime/Hallmark Channel sort of way, more icky than heartwarming.