We had the chance to chat with Hallmark's Queen of Christmas, Candace Cameron Bure, and her The Christmas Contest (and Fuller House) costar, John Brotherton, and their off-the-charts chemistry is part of this soon-to-be Hallmark Classic's winning formula.
Unfortunately, in this modern world, sometimes technology lets us down, and all the festive Christmas sweaters in the world couldn't save me when my Zoom recording of our conversation failed.
But there is still good news, even though part of the joy I had hoped to bring to you is up in smoke.
I had a chance to watch The Christmas Contest for review, and I'll sprinkle in some tidbits from the conversation with the stars that live in my mind.
With the sheer number of holiday originals that Hallmark offers every year, keeping them fresh cannot be an easy feat. And, sometimes movies don't deliver, which means they won't be in heavy rotation many seasons down the road.
But Candace has an excellent track record of picking projects that showcase her charm. There's a reason she got the Queen of Christmas designation this year.
Hallmark has used 2021 originals to highlight the best of their talent, whether it's by extending an already existing story, as we have with The Nine Kittens of Christmas, or getting talent together so that they can share the screen again and recreate the magic.
The Christmas Contest uses this opportunity to give Fuller House fans a special treat. DJ didn't choose Matt for her one and only, but Candace and John get to deliver a different happy ending that is just as satisfying.
The meaning of Christmas is often lost, but in The Christmas Contest, former flames Lara and Ben find themselves going toe-to-toe to win some Christmas dough for charities they hold dear.
At her mother's urging, Lara joins the competition with the hope she'll win money to renovate the senior center that brings mom Donna (Barbara Niven) so much joy. Donna, though, really wants Lara to find some joy of her own again.
Former pro athlete Ben tosses his hat into the ring, hoping to score some cash to help local youths who frequent his rec center, but his actual motives are less genuine -- he needs the publicity to keep his career alive.
Neither enters with the noblest of intentions, but the spirit overcomes them when they realize they are each other's greatest competition.
Using their comedic experience, Candace and John put all of their talents to good use as the contest heats up. There is a baking contest with a twist, a caroling event, a tree decorating segment, and enough snarky remarks to keep them on their toes.
John plays Ben as rather annoying and difficult to love by leaning into the campiness of Ben's celebrity and selfish reasons for getting on board. Candace infuses Beth with the comical need for revenge against the man who broke her heart.
It's no wonder that this is the first movie Candace has ever thought would be fun to revisit. She and John are having a great time in their roles, and their excessiveness lands perfectly.
Candace checked in with us from a home that looked a lot like Hallmark had dropped by to decorate, and her enthusiasm was infectious to the point that John broke into the family decorations earlier than expected.
John has only been in one other Hallmark Christmas film and admitted that doing a movie with Candace was a no-brainer.
Candace pours a lot of her heart into The Christmas Contest. She's got a new clothing venture, Candace Cameron Bure Clothing, and the line is size-inclusive with sizes running from XXS-5X.
When I asked Candace how she overcame barriers to that inclusivity that other designers have noted since styles are often impossible to make work for that kind of size spectrum, her answer was simple.
If any design or fabric didn't work across the board, they moved on, leaving it behind.
The Christmas Contest features several items from her line, as well as some housewares. Lara's wardrobe is gorgeous, so you'll want to keep an eye on it since you can recreate some of it for yourself.
That kind of audience understanding is key to her success across the board, and The Christmas Contest has something for everyone.
Since Lara and Ben represent youths and seniors, the cast is varied and inclusive to everyone and proves that age is merely a number. Everyone is bursting at the seams with excitement for the competition.
And while Lara and Ben's competitive spirit heats up, so do their hearts, and they realize that they might be able to move beyond the past and into each other's arms again.
Recognizing how much they have in common goes a long way to thawing their hearts. And just like Lara and Ben find joy and connection in the holidays, The Christmas Contest will remind you of the wonders of the holiday season.
Join Candace and John on Sunday, November 28 at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel to participate in The Christmas Contest.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.