What's Worth Watching: Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow on Lifetime for Saturday, November 21

Matt Roush
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow,
Sergei Bachlakov

Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow (Saturday, Nov. 21, 8/7c, Lifetime)

"There's enchantment here, all around us," says Mary Steenburgen as a rural eccentric who sets the tone for Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow, which feels more Disney Channel-meets-Hallmark than Lifetime, but since everyone's in the holiday spirit this week, why not. Based on a story Henson and collaborator Jerry Juhl conceived way back in the late 1960s, right before Sesame Street took the Muppet brand to the next level, Turkey Hollow has been updated to the era of smart phones and trendy vegan-ism. But its heaping helping of schmaltzy whimsy is timeless, providing a fitting curtain raiser to the coming barrage of ’tis-the-season programming.

Steenburgen plays prickly Aunt Cly ("I'm not a hugger"), who dourly welcomes her relatives into her unplugged home for Thanksgiving. Her nephew Tim (Jay Harrington, Better Off Ted), newly divorced, has brought along his kids, pouty Annie (Genevieve Buechner) and precociously perky Tim (Graham Verchere), but is too distracted by work to pay much attention to them. Which gives them the excuse to get lost in the magical woods, reportedly haunted by the mythical "Howling Hoodoo," but actually a cover for a more benign gaggle of fuzzy Muppet-like "magical monsters" with names like Squonk, Burble and Zorp (which represents the noises these cutesy creatures make). When the kids run afoul of a crooked turkey farmer, the monsters go all Lassie to wake the grown-ups to the peril. Adding some spice to this very conventional yarn: Ludacris as an irreverent narrator ("What? I don't get a laugh track?") who makes us wish the rest of the story were a little more fractured a fairy tale.