About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987)

I had so much fun watching the 1980 Dukes of Hazzard Christmas episode and the Christmas episode of the animated series The Dukes last week.  Watching those two episodes again reminded me of the 1987 Christmas TV movie, Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.  The dream team is back together again:  Christmas Comes to Willow Creek stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat as brothers (not cousins) in another holiday story for the ages.

Brothers Ray (Schneider) and Pete (Wopat) may not get along--but they're both still good lookin'!

THAT'S NOT the General Lee!?  In this TV movie the boys are cross-country truckers.

Rather than Bo and Luke Duke, Schneider and Wopat are now playing Ray and Pete, quarrelsome brothers that haven't spoken to one another in over a year.  The brothers have been forced into working together this Christmas by a family friend, Al.  Trucking company boss, Al, has suddenly come down sick and needs a shipment to go from Los Angeles to Willow Creek, Alaska before the holiday.

Al is played by actor/singer Hoyt Axton.

What is going on in Willow Creek, Alaska?

It seems the residents of the small, isolated community of Willow Creek are experiencing a bad year economically.  The community's major employer, a cannery, shut down this previous year and the people have had no money, few prospects, and little hope for an economic turnaround.  Al has family in Willow Creek and was planning on bringing a special payload up there to brighten the children's Christmas as well as offer some hope for the adults.  In the meantime, Willow Creek resident, Homer, has become so disgusted by his fellow community members' lack of holiday spirit that he stages a sit-in on top of the city's water tank until he feels like things have changed.  Homer is a well-liked member of the community and he plays Santa Claus for the children each year, so his emotional blackmail scheme is taken pretty seriously by the others in Willow Creek.

Not in the face, boys!

Despite their differences, Pete and Ray are persuaded to drive Al's delivery (it's a two-man job) to Alaska for him.  Along the way, the brothers will have to deal with each other whether they like it or not. 

It's a long journey from California to Alaska--plenty of time for flashback scenes for viewers to see why the brothers no longer get along.

Making matters worse, Pete's delinquent teenage son Mike seems to get along with his irresponsible uncle Ray better than he does with his own father.

Between Los Angeles and the Yukon, the brothers discover they have more to confront than just each other: Pete tries to fix his troubled relationship with his teenage son Mike, and Ray wants to talk with his estranged wife, Jessie who is now living in Vancouver. 

As the story unfolds, we discover that the brothers are no longer speaking because of their dispute over a beautiful woman named Jessie (played by Kim Delaney).

This made-for-TV movie is a quintessential Christmas film.  It contains the common Christmas story motifs of forgiveness, second chances, hope, a crippling blizzard, a baby born on Christmas Eve, and a family reunited.  Making this film even more entertaining, viewers are treated to an amazing cast to bring it all together. 

Christmas Comes to Willow Creek is available for viewing on DVD--but I haven't seen it re-broadcast on TV in a long while.  Anyone else love this older Christmas favorite?


  1. Okay, first off, I reminded myself to head over to Amazon this afternoon and add this DVD to my wish list, since I had forgotten once I heard it was coming out. So, quite weird to shortly thereafter be checking my reader and seeing your post on the movie!

    I saw this the night it first aired. It was a quintessential Christmas experience, since I watched it laying on the sofa with the tree all lit up. Was a great holiday movie and I have wanted to see it again all these years later. I have never seen it rerun on any channel. So happy it is finally coming out on DVD. I can't wait!

    1. Well, I have to admit I made sure to write about it from a comment you made last year. I swear this movie gets better each time I watch it!

      I never see it in the annual TV listings--I wonder why? Fingers crossed--maybe this year! Every Christmas season some network surprises me with another TV movie I thought everyone had forgotten about. It's an exciting time of year :)

    2. Okay, so it took my FIVE more years to finally rewatch this! I watched this morning via Amazon Prime. I really remembered little, but since it was 30 years ago, I am not surprised. It was good, different. I like the drama being between two brothers as opposed to so many of the newer Christmas TV movies being centered on romance. We did get some romance, but the main pull here was the brothers.

      The one thing that came off as a bit odd, was the shepherd. That was out of left field.

      All in all, I enjoyed it. :)

  2. This is a must watch movie at my house Christmas Eve, we have it on DVD, love love love it