A Grandpa for Christmas



Hallmark Channel

9 p.m. Saturday

If only the world were as uncomplicated, well-meaning and schmaltzy as the one writer David Alexander gives us in this pleasant made-for-television movie "A Grandpa for Christmas," we'd be in pretty good shape. "Grandpa" doesn't give us suicide bombings, freeway pileups or road rage. Instead, we're handed an almost palatable story about a girl who gets to know her long-lost grandfather. Better yet, we're given some time with veteran actor Ernest Borgnine, who plays the grandpa -- and that's a good thing. Nothing wrong with feeling good for a while.

Borgnine and young actress-singer Juliette Goglia shine in this sugary seasonal tale about a retired song-and-dance man who has been estranged for years from his daughter (Tracy Nelson) and now gets to reunite with her and his granddaughter (Goglia) in time for Christmas.

Director Harvey Frost gives the picture a warm glow and takes Alexander's shamefully sweet script to heart. The music is soft, the characters are superficial and the drama unfolds slowly. Even the dialogue and exchanges between characters are brief. No one seems to interact with anyone else, giving a strange feeling indeed. But few will care because Borgnine and Goglia make it more than worth our while.