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Juan Pablo Di Pace, Peter Porte and Andie MacDowell star in Paramount Network’s first foray into holiday movies, “Dashing in December,” premiering at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Holiday TV-movies have become quite lucrative over the years, and so we’ve seen more and more networks jumping on the sentimental favorite bandwagon. This year, Paramount Network enters the fray as part of its plan to produce 52 original movies a year.

Their first entry, “Dashing in December,” follows that familiar Christmas movie formula, made famous by Hallmark, with one important distinction. “Dashing” actually has a well-structured plot and true character nuance that sets it apart from some of the other holiday fare you’ll watch this season.

“Dashing” stars Peter Porte as Wyatt, a New York City financial guru who leaves his busy lifestyle and push to receive a promotion behind to go home to his family’s Colorado ranch for Christmas. His mother, Deb (Andie MacDowell), is thrilled to have him home for the first time in five years, but is surprised to discover that one of his reasons for returning is to convince her to sell the ranch and its Christmas Winter Wonderland attraction. His desire to sell immediately puts him at odds with Heath (Juan Pablo Di Pace), the ranch hand that Deb had hoped would hit it off with Wyatt. While reconnecting with old friends and remembering his youth on the ranch, Wyatt finds his Christmas spirit start to reawaken. He also begins to develop feelings for Heath, but roadblocks for the couple continue to present themselves — mainly Wyatt’s desire to sell the ranch Heath loves so much. Meanwhile, Deb struggles to balance her hopes of keeping the ranch with her desire to not be a financial burden to her son.

As I said, it’s a familiar formula with a familiar happy ending. It’s how the movie gets to that happily ever after that makes the real difference here. Each step the duo takes toward each other is filled with true emotion and the issues that keep them apart are real and honest. Heath is nervous to start a relationship after the pain of his closeted first love rejecting him in front of others, while Wyatt thinks he is doing what’s best for Deb when he’s actually pushing aside his feelings about his father’s death.

But these movies don’t work without the lead couple having great chemistry, and Di Pace and Porte have it in spades from the very first second. Di Pace is excellent, as always, and Porte is an outstanding scene partner for both Di Pace and MacDowell.

I am not ashamed to admit that I teared up more than once during this one, as “Dashing” gives us all the feels we expect when watching one of these movies. But it’s also extremely entertaining, and beautifully filmed with a solid plot and a great cast that will make you cry and laugh, all while enhancing your Christmas spirit.

“Dashing in December” premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, on Paramount Network with simulcasts on Logo, Pop and TV Land.

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at

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