Picks and Pans Review: Snow

updated 12/20/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/20/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC Family (Sun., Dec. 12, 8 p.m. ET)

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Tom Cavanagh entertained a loyal band of Ed fans for four seasons. Ah, but that was a fairly well-written series. The real test of a comic actor is whether he can charm you into sitting through a lame Christmas movie, and Cavanagh manages to make this one watchable with his portrayal of a fish-out-of-water Santa Claus.

Nick Snowden (Cavanagh), who just took over his family's North Pole-based gift-giving operation, faces a crisis after a hunter (Patrick Fabian) captures one of his young reindeer and it winds up in a small California zoo. Posing as a regular guy, Nick goes south to rescue the animal and winds up falling for Sandy (Ashley Williams), a zoo staffer trying to fend off the egotistical hunter's romantic advances. Insanity being a turnoff to most women, Nick is understandably reluctant to come right out and say he's Santa, but circumstances force his hand when the reindeer's flying ability becomes evident.

Snow is hardly a top-shelf production—this Santa has a bare-bones workshop and no elfin employees—and Bobb'e J. Thompson mugs far too much as the kid Nick befriends. Still, Cavanagh's silly-sincere performance delivers a little holiday cheer.


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