Brandon Gray (Bran), Daniel Pandolph (Panda) and Daniel Thompson (Dan) have decided to tackle the impossible this season: they are recapping and reviewing all 37 new Hallmark Christmas movies this season on their podcast, Deck The Hallmark. Yes, you read that right — all 37 of them. What makes this podcast unique, besides their crazy task, is that all three hosts have different viewpoints on this special movie subset: Bran loves Hallmark Christmas movies, Panda likes Hallmark Christmas Movies, and Dan despises Hallmark Christmas movies. However, my favorite part of this podcast is, without a doubt, the camaraderie between the three of them. It honestly feels like I am listening to a conversation that my friends and I would have and continues to keep me engaged.
I got the chance to talk to the guys about how they met and initially became friends, whose idea the podcast was, who their dream guest for the podcast is and so much more! Keep reading to see what they had to say.
Introduce yourselves to our readers! How did you guys all meet/become friends originally?
Dan: Brandon, Panda and I all taught at the same private school for 3 years, during which time we hit it off and realized that we all had a similar sense of humor. Those two have since moved on from teaching, and I’m now the high school principal at the school. Even though we no longer work together, we’re always looking for ways to hang out. That’s probably been one of the coolest things about this podcast. Even though life gets busy with work and family, we’ve managed to find a new way to continue hanging out.
Tell us about Deck the Hallmark! Whose idea was it?
Bran: I was driving down the road in April thinking about how I wish Hallmark had a year-round Christmas channel. I was already ready for the movies to come back on. And as I thought about these movies and how I wish I had some other guy friends to talk to them about, I hatched a plan that would force 2 of my best friends to watch these movies. This podcast is purely selfish on my part, and I’m ok with that.
You guys will be tackling all 37 new Hallmark Christmas movies, what will your recording/release schedule be like?
Bran: Typically, we’ll record the episodes about movies that premiere on a Saturday on Sunday evening and release those episodes on Monday & Tuesday. And then, we’ll record episodes about Sunday movies on Wednesday night and release those episodes on Thursday and Friday.
Out of the 37 movies premiering over the next two months, is there one or two that you’re really excited about or really not looking forward to covering?
All: We go into depth on this on our preview episode! (Check it out here)
You guys have already had some cool guests come on to the podcast; I particularly loved your conversation with Randy Carter, who edited Switched for Christmas (2017) and was able to clear up some of the confusion you guys had about the film. Anybody, in particular, you dream of having on over the next couple of months?
All: Candace Cameron Bure… she’s the queen of Christmas!
I know you guys all have different opinions about Hallmark movies. But what do you think it is about these Hallmark Christmas movies that make them so successful?
Bran: There’s a Hallmark Christmas movie that came out in 2017 called the Christmas Train where one of the characters says this – “There’s no problem too big that can’t be solved by a sunrise or Christmas morning”. I think that quote explains why people love these movies. There’s something in our inner-most being that truly does believe that the world is a little bit better, or a little nicer, or a little less self-absorbed at Christmas. These movies embody that belief because every movie ends with a happy ending… and sometimes, that’s just what we need.
Panda: I don’t want to get too philosophical here, but I think Hallmark movies have such an intense following for a few reasons. First, I think they appeal to a mass audience, right? Like you can turn on the movie, know exactly what you are going to get, and kinda let your brain rest. Second, I think they are fundamentally positive. The news can really be a bummer. Social media can be infuriating. Hallmark creates a space where you can just enjoy time away from the craziness. Finally, I think Hallmark movies give us a picture of a “utopia” of sorts. I think there is a longing in every human heart for things to be ok–our relationships, our jobs, our love lives, our homes, our holidays. Hallmark offers a version of that and I think it resonates with every human heart. It makes things feel a little closer to how we think the world “should be.” That’s really powerful.
If you guys had to write the script for a Hallmark Christmas movie what would the plot be?
Bran: I’m actually working on one right now! In short, it’s about a songwriter who has writer’s block after his wife passes at Christmas time. He finds inspiration again after falling in love with his daughter’s theater teacher and writes a song after watching his daughter sing a solo at the Christmas play. Standard Hallmark.
I know your podcast only just “officially” kicked off, but what happens after all 37 movies have aired? Will you guys be covering other Hallmark content or is that to be determined?
Bran: It’s yet to be determined, but the plan is to keep going with some older hallmark movies and review some of the new seasonal movies, as well.
What advice would you give to new podcasters?
Bran: Just do it! Don’t be discouraged by numbers — most podcasts never get more then 100 listens. That’s ok. The fact that even one person is willing to listen is pretty awesome.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something, besides Hallmark movies, that you nerd out about?
Bran: Dan and Panda go to the movies every Thursday night. They love film. I nerd out over music and I’m a big fan of buying colorful vinyl.