Waltons? Little House? Have faith in ratings success of Dolly Parton's latest Christmas movie

My wife, Tamie, and I share different tastes in music and entertainment.

For instance, I love country music, much to the chagrin of the queen of my doublewide trailer.

I also enjoy sappy movies, no matter how predictable, which is why I DVR a lot of Hallmark Christmas films this time of year.

My wife cringes at the dialogue on certain made-for-TV entertainment, including Dolly Parton's latest holiday classic "Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love," starring Jennifer Nettles as young Dolly's mother and Ricky Schroder as her father. I, on the other hand, require a tissue to make it all the way through.

Sentimentality? If you ask me, 2016 could use some. And NBC's huge ratings for Parton's "Christmas of Many Colors" tell me I'm not alone (sorry, honey!).

("It's very good — and frightening," Tamie said when I asked her to read the above lead-in. It's a good thing we have a few things in common, such as three wonderful children and a daughter-in-law we adore.)

Yes, there's a faith angle — a big one — both in the Parton movie and the country legend behind it.

In an advance story, the Los Angeles Times noted:

Nettles reprises her role as Parton’s mother, Avie, in the sequel to last year’s ratings hit “Coat of Many Colors,” based on the country legend’s classic song of the same name.  This time, however, the “9 to 5” star gets in on the action herself, playing a “Painted Lady” who, in a very meta moment, inspires the future image of her younger self, played again by Alyvia Alyn Lind.
The new film is based on two true stories from Parton’s childhood. One concerns the family’s plan to save up money to buy Avie a wedding ring.
“She had a house full of kids and never had a wedding ring,” says Parton of her 11 siblings. The second is “about a Christmas miracle that actually happened to us when we got snowed into our little cabin and we almost froze to death. My Daddy was gone and we were out of food and we couldn’t get out and so it’s about a miracle through prayer that Mama had.”
Parton tears up at the memories and says the greatest gifts the films have given her is the way they bring her parents back to life for her. She hopes viewers will watch with their own loved ones.

“I think we need more family things,” she says. “I think people are missing shows like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘The Waltons.’ And obviously they were because we got really good ratings!”

In case you were wondering: Yes, I grew up watching "Little House" and "The Waltons" and would welcome more shows like that.

Meanwhile, those who saw "Coat of Many Colors" will recall that Dolly's pastor grandfather, played by Gerald McRaney, has a key role. Also, Dolly's father (Schroder) makes a decision to become a Christian in the original film, and the sequel opens with his baptism (I'm 95 percent certain of this, but I've seen a few Hallmark movies since I watched the Parton movie last week, so forgive me if I'm misremembering). And as Parton told the Times, prayer figures heavily in the latest movie.

But what about Parton's own faith?

The L.A. newspaper gets into that. A little anyway:

Although she stresses her own belief in God and that faith is reflected in the film, she believes people from all walks of life can enjoy the message of “Christmas of Many Colors.”
“You don’t have to be Christian,” she says. “You just need to relate to family and love and acceptance and forgiveness."

In a separate piece, a Daily Beast columnist also delves into the religious side of Parton (perhaps going a little overboard even for my tastes):

Coat of Many Colors, with its preachiness and brazen earnestness, suffered its fair share of critical bah-humbugs. But, as faith-based family entertainment at a time when pop culture was overrun with cynicism and agnosticism, the film was a holy unicorn for viewers, who tuned in like churchgoers gathering for Mass. (At the Church of Dolly, of course.)
“I think folks were starved for something like this,” Parton says. “It’s not often you can all sit down and watch something that’s not shy about family and about God anymore.”

Dolly Parton speaks her mind, and it's hard to stop her, huh? She offers few apologies for God being a part of "Dolly-ness," and that gives entertainment writers little choice but to reflect that side of her.

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