“The Santa Stakeout” Recap & Review

Welcome to #CountdowntoChristmas 2021! I am here! I am watching! I am starting to not be super embarrassed that I started this blog all those years ago! Or that I made a Merry Countdown to Christmas Sweatshirt (well, that’s probably still embarrassing). Things got gross and weird for awhile, but thanks to a leadership change, things are starting to look up for Hallmark Channel and I am overjoyed. So, let’s begin!


Today, my friends, we have a mystery. Yes! A Christmas mystery. But, if you are squeamish like me, don’t fret—it is fun, and the only gory thing is our female lead biting the forehead off of a gingerbread man.

Because it’s a mystery and not the regular Hallmark rom com, I feel like I must say that this recap shall be spoiler heavy so read at your own risk.

*a tinkling of fairy dust and a pair of candy canes meet to form a heart, then a loud ding gongs (and I mean so loud that I got nervous something was wrong)*

Ooo look! An ALL NEW very special Hallmark Channel announcement! Let’s just get out my binoculars to see…

(but watch “The Christmas Doctor” because I loved it)

Wow, okay, cool, I guess? Just an announcement that I am watching an ALL NEW movie? Nice.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled content. Surely that *DING candy cane* announcement will happen only once and not after every single commercial break……

Let’s try again.

Detective Tanya Morris is

  • new in town
  • festive
  • stuck sharing a desk with a grump.

Oh, and she’s a RoOkIe detective. But, back in Wisconsin she learned a thing or two about procedure in her police work days. Now, she’s ready to Nancy Drew all over Denver. 

Detective Ryan Anderson

  • is gruff
  • has had enough
  • of Tanya’s jolly humming and Christmas decorations and stuff.

Ryan doesn’t care about the holidays (so he says) and is just football-watching with the boyz on Christmas. He’s also a thief of Advent calendar chocolate, but surely we shouldn’t expect him to steal…

fine…

art…

too…

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

These two reluctant desk-mates are called into their Captain’s office. Captain Fletcher is about to retire and HAS NO TIME to deal with a mess. There have been three fine art thefts at Christmas parties and SOMEONE HAD BETTER FIGURE IT OUT NOW. Tanya notices something quite suspicious while looking at the case file. The same Santa is at every single one of these parties. And he has a Grand Theft Auto past (not the video game…like the actual crime…but he might play the game just for fun…this is not clear).

Do we have a naughty Santa? Oh, I hope! (Okay, gross, not like that what is wrong with you????).

Also, it is important to note that the Captain has a ditzy assistant named Talbot who drops things and trips and doesn’t know what a cheeseburger is. He’s a real treat.

The next thing you know these two enemies are living together. No, I haven’t accidentally fast forwarded to the end of the movie. Tanya and Ryan move next door to stakeout Santa aka Mr. Christmas aka Francis Miller. Honestly, this might be the best way that two Hallmark leads have had to unexpectedly live together. Even though they are trying to take down an art thief Santa, this is the safest saaaaaay whaaaaat we have to live together but we don’t really know each otherrrrrr plot. 

  • Yes, they are SPYING on a guy, but it’s still much less dangerous than staying in a chalet in the mountains with a stranger because you were accidentally double booked. 
  • Yes, they are peeking around an alleged criminal’s garage and office, but there is somehow way less chance of a stabbing happening than moving in with a fireman because you and your cat have no place to live but in his attic.  

Even though this is a serious stakeout, Tanya and Ryan don’t lay low for long. Five minutes into their mission they get noticed by their sweet neighbor, Stanley, and have to change their names to Rupert and Tasha and pretend they are newlyweds.

Soon after they do some very obvious snooping, the pair finally meet Francis Miller. His yard is decorated to the nines. To the tens even! He is obviously a bad dude, but also obviously a super sweet dude? Hmm…I just can’t quite decide. He’s got this smile and voice that can easily be very nice or very villainy, and, wow, I just can’t read him. I love this. I love him.

Tanya sleuths her way over to the Carmichael Employment Agency to meet Francis-Santa-Christmas’s boss, Lois Carmichael. Her passion is employing out of work actors, and is always busy over the holiday season renting them out as elves and Santas and cute Christmas things and….oh my gosh, do you think Lois gave an unemployed candy cane animation a job at the Hallmark Channel? OKAY, this lady is looking suspicious!!!!!!!

*DING! two red and white candy canes kiss and startle my head to jerk up from my #hallmarkies and #thesantastakeout twitter feed*

DANGIT!!!! Here is another ALL NEW very special announcement! just to announce this movie is ALL NEW.

You know I will do everything in my power to bring up this side-eye pig in any and every situation.

Tanya and Ryan get invited to a festive party with all of their new neighbors wearing amazing Santa sweaters that I am currently coveting. There, they meet a very interesting collection of characters. WHO ARE ALL SUSPICIOUS.

  • Stanley says the phrase “guilty as charged!” and we discover that he and his wife own an art and antique shop. SUSPICIOUS.
  • Christopher and Eric are opening a restaurant and complain about high costs. SUSPICIOUS.
  • An extremely flirty teacher with a huge crush on Ry-upert, Alicia, complains about her teacher salary. SUSPICIOUS.
  • A woman talks about reindeer personalities. SUSPICIOUS.
  • Mr. Francis Santa has an office with blueprints and power tools. SUSPICIOUS.
  • Detective Tanya takes a picture of a chalet on Mr. Francis Santa’s computer. DOUBLE SUSPICIOUS.

At the end of the party, Tanya and Ryan find themselves under mistletoe and a bunch of adults urge them to PDA. SUSPICIOUS. Anywho, these two coworkers are getting cozy and are opening up to each other about their divorces and holiday time loneliness (Ryan) and their police chief fathers and moving because of nepotism fears (Tanya). After doing minuscule amounts of detective work and losing Mr. Miller-Christmas-Santa-Francis after tailing him, they have a flirty tinsel fight and attend yet another party.

The person I find most SUSPICIOUS at the moment? Talbot. He’s strolling into Tanya and Ryan’s unlocked (??) back door, pretend-yelling at them while delivering a message from the Captain, and is continuing to be an airhead (think Randy Disher in Monk). Personally, I think he’s playing dumb. 

Here are some delightful and amusing things that happen:

  • Christopher yells “Eric! They have caramel!” and Eric leaves a whole conversation by saying “youuuuuu’ll have to excuse me, they’ve got caramel!” Absolutely amazing.
  • Alicia keeps hitting on Ryan—who she believes is married—and gets super pouty when she doesn’t succeed in her seduction.
  • The neighborhood goes caroling.
  • Adorable Stanley keeps being adorable.
  • Tanya and Ryan continue to fall for one another.

*D I N G! The ALL NEW candy cane is back and why!?, I wonder, as I clutch my heart because I have just been scared to almost death.*

OH MY GOSH. Please, just let me write about this movie, for the love of Santa, my gosh! And, yes, for the sake of announcements, I’ll just announce that I have an ALL NEW kitten sitting on my lap as I type this thing up.

ALL NEW CAT! His name is Arthur and he was no help at all.

Tanya does some good ole fashioned detecting and discovers the location of the chalet she found on Francis Santa’s computer. It’s his next job, and they are determined to catch him in the thieving act.  She, Ryan, and Talbot work the party undercover as elves (but not super undercover because they still have their same faces and hair). 

As they spy on Francis doing Santa stuff, Tanya and Ryan slow dance all in love-like because the party hostess tells them to slow dance! After she makes a presentation about a precious piece of art????! Well, in my opinion, what happens next is her fault. The lights flash off then back on again. Christmas Miller Santa has disappeared! Along with two Van Gogh paintings!!!!!!! Talbot pops out of NOWHERE and if that ain’t the most SUSPICIOUS thing that has happened this entire dang movie.

Things start to move fast:

  • Talbot is like, we’re arresting Mr. Francis Santa Miller Christmas (Mr. FSMC from now on).
  • They get back to their houses to find a Van Gogh in his trunk.
  • Mr. FSMC is like “Actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen” and claims he is innocent!
  • They handcuff him anyway!
  • Tanya and Ryan get kicked off the case!
  • Talbot is obviously the bad guy, correct? He’s OBVIOUSLY THE THIEF, CORRECT?!

Not correct. 

I, apparently, am an idiot. And Talbot, just actually is one too.

It wasn’t Talbot, at all. It wasn’t Stanley. It wasn’t Eric and Christopher. It wasn’t Alicia. And, it definitely wasn’t Mr. FSMC because he’s just been working as an office party Santa, and secretly being charitable and building a house for someone who needs help this Christmas.

It was Lois Carmichael of the Carmichael Employment Agency! Of course it was the woman who hired the dinging candy cane ALL NEW animation. She has been hiding behind Mr. FSMC’s Grand Theft Auto past, and stealing precious pieces of art from jobs he’s been working. And, she would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those fake newlyweds!

Yay! Tanya and Ryan solved the case! Mr. FSMC gets out of jail! The “newlyweds” seem like they might date! Ryan decides to permanently live in the stakeout house! He invites Tanya over to bake cookies! The End!


I rate The Santa Stakeout a 4.5/5 which is Karen Carpenter Singing Merry Christmas, Darling on my scale of Christmas Sounds.

The Scale

  1. The Hallmark Channel All New! candy cane ding
  2. A metal shovel scraping against slightly icy concrete
  3. Sleigh bells
  4. The wonderful crispy crunch of walking through a foot of snow with boots on
  5. The A Charlie Brown Christmas album

Friends…we already have a contender for favorite of the season! 

First of all, THE OPENING CREDITS: unmatched in this Hallmark world. UNMATCHED, I say. So cute, so fun, so creative. I might put that on repeat instead of the Yule log this year.

Second of all: it’s funny! And thoroughly enjoyable. It has the right amount of goofiness, and made me feel all cheerful. To top it all off, watching this movie was a truly relaxing experience. Hallmark has made me STRESSED lately (okay that past couple years), so this was nice.

Third of all: the large cast of characters. Paul Campbell and Tamera Mowry-Housley were great leads of this goofy bunch of characters. The party scenes were my absolute favorite. Every actor just seemed like they were having fun.

Fourth of all: give me a Santa coffee now.

Finally: lovely, wonderful, beautiful, fun, splendid, exciting, whoop whoop!

(P.S. I know these recap/reviews usually have screenshots of the movie, but Sling TV decided to block that feature soooooooooooooooooo there’s that.)


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought about The Santa Stakeout, and if I’m having a day where I’m not super duper anxious, I’d love to chat about it!

2 thoughts on ““The Santa Stakeout” Recap & Review

  1. CoffeeFourTheWin October 28, 2021 — 2:11 pm

    THANK YOU for mentioning the candy cane “ALL NEW” ding. What the crap is that?! Every time it made that noise I thought something magical was happening in the movie and I just missed it….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I had thought it was something magical and not a near death experience 😂 Fingers crossed Hallmark turns down (or off) the DING!

      Like

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