From a black Friday comes a darker Saturday, where the floodgates of bad movies slightly about Christmas begin to invade TV.
“Debie Macomber’s Trading Christmas” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.) seems to be cast from some other familiar Halmark Christmas movie, with jabber-talking Tom Cavanagh and Gil Bellows as brothers, Faith Ford as a widowed second grade teacher in Washington State.
Cavanagh and Ford’s characters switch places for the holiday, and each find unexpected romance with those each left behind. Unexpected to them maybe but not for anybody who watches a few minutes of this mush, whose Christmas content is lopped on like a jingle belled afterthought.
Another new addition to the season is “Dear Santa” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) in which a young woman played by Amy Acker intercepts a letter from a tyke who wishes for a new wife for daddy, and decides to play the role. Again, romance seems the big story, Christmas merely the setting. It’s followed by one from 2008, “An Accidental Christmas” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.).
Much more welcome holiday fare is “Elf” (USA, 9 p.m.), whose appeal is as much now from “New Girl” Zoey Deschanel as it is from Will Ferrell, who is also seen in the less successful “Land of the Lost” (USA, 10 p.m.).
In a new TV film that has nothing to do with the holiday and everything to do with malevolent climate change, Jason London and Stacy Keach star in “Storm War” (Syfy, 9 p.m.), about brothers who try to stop their father, a mad scientist, from creating war weapons. Other exaggerated sci-fi fare tonight includes “Stonehenge Apocalypse” (Syfy, 7 p.m.) and “Piranha” (TMC, 9 p.m.).
In big time premium cable premieres tonight, Liam Neeson and January Jones star in “Unknown” (HBO, 8 p.m.) and Martin Lawrence, in the third iteration of his cross dressing series, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” (Cinemax, 10 p.m.).
Feature length animated offerings tonight include “Open Season 3” (Cartoon Network, 7 p.m.), “Gnomeo and Juliet” (Starz, 8 p.m.) and “Bee Movie” (NBC, 9 p.m.).
Elsewhere, chances are that “America’s Cutest Pet” (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.) is not among the “Pit Bulls and Parolees” (Animal Planet, 10 p.m.).
If you missed it Thursday, it’s the prime-time special on “The 85th Anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (NBC, 8 p.m.) looking back at past parades, gets a replay. Also rerun tonight “The 45th annual CMA Awards” (CMT, 8 p.m.).
If you haven’t looked enough at it, pumpkin pie is examined on a new “Unwrapped” (Food Network, 9 p.m.).
Retirement is the subject of films tonight on Turner Classic Movies, with “Dodsworth” (8 p.m.), “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” (10 p.m.), “Easy Living” (1 a.m.), “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (2:30 a.m.) and “The Browning Version” (4:30 a.m.).
College football action today includes Iowa State at Oklahoma (FX, noon), Georgia at Georgia Tech (ESPN, noon), Ohio State at Michigan (ABC, noon), Rutgers at Connecticut (ESPN2, noon), Alabama at Auburn (CBS, 3:30 p.m.), Virginia Tech at Virginia (ABC, 3:30 p.m.), Oregon State at Oregon (ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.), Penn State at Wisconsin (ESPN, 3:30 p.m.), Vanderbilt at Wake Forest (ESPNU, 3:30 p.m.), Florida State at Florida (ESPN2, 7 p.m.), Ole Miss at Mississippi State (ESPNU, 7 p.m.), Washington State at Washington (Versus, 7:30 p.m.), Clemson at South Carolina (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) and Notre Dame at Stanford (ABC, 8 p.m.).
Monsters of Folk play a rerun of “Austin City Limits” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings).
One of the best episodes of “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) this season is rerun, with Melissa McCarthy hosting, fresh off her Emmy win and Lady Antebellum performing.