After the festive spirit-crushing of yesterday’s Christmas Countdown, warm, fuzzy feel-good salvation is at hand with today’s special Hallmark moment: “Mrs Miracle”. A made for TV adaptation of Debbie Macomber’s bestselling novel.
Widowed architect Seth Webster lives with his boisterous twin sons in small town America. Overwhelmed, he tries to get a housekeeper to help look after his family but when a succession of agency placements quit, all seems lost until the day Mrs Merkel appears at his front door and quickly finds her place in the family as nanny, chef, housekeeper and wise advisor.
Meanwhile, across town a lonely young travel agent still nursing the hurt of being jilted by her fiancé is facing a lonely Christmas, separated from her estranged family. Mrs ‘Miracle’ will certainly have her work cut out for her.
If you haven’t guessed already, Mrs Merkel is very much cut from the same cloth as Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee and quickly sets about interfering with the town’s citizenry to bring her master plan to fruition. Unlike Poppins or McPhee, though, Mrs Miracle isn’t afraid to get a bit rough to get her way: she disposes of the Christmas Pageant director by having her ‘accidentally’ fall of the stage.
Doris Roberts is deliciously sly as Mrs Merkel, and her slightly doddery mischievousness elevates this beyond your normal Hallmark made-for-TV fare. Of course, the real ‘star’ name here is James Van Der Beek as Seth but this isn’t ‘Dawson’s Christmas Carol’. He’s very likeable in the role of the still grieving widower who is reluctant to acknowledge the loss of his wife and his children’s mother and shares good screen chemistry with Erin Kerpluk, who plays Reba the travel agent.
It’ll come as no surprise that through a variety of clever tricks, manipulation and the merest hint of magic, Mrs Merkel manages to bring the two of them together and not only save the Christmas pageant but heal the rifts of two families at the same time.
It won’t win any Oscars, and it was clearly shot on a budget but it’s got bags of warmth and a big heart which it wears proudly on its sleeve. This is undemanding, cosy, snuggle up on the sofa and drink some hot chocolate Christmas entertainment and although it’s derivative and has zero surprises up its sleeve, I heartily recommend it for a quick Christmas pick-me-up.