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'Comfort And Joy' In Short Supply Of Both

Single career woman Nancy McKeon whacks her head and wakes up "trapped" in suburbia in Lifetime Television's Comfort and Joy, a holiday-themed take on the universal career-versus-motherhood debate.

As lead character Jane Berry, McKeon lives life in fifth gear, cell phone in one hand, the wheel of her Jaguar in the other. She's used to making people jump to her commands, but as Christmas approaches, she gets a bit of the holiday blues over the lack of real love in her life.

On the way to a company Christmas Eve party, she spins out on the ice. When she awakens, a handsome man, Sam (Steven Eckholdt, of TV's My Big Fat Greek Wedding) is at her side. It's a pleasant vision until he begins explaining that she is his wife, they have two kids and she's not an executive.

Their home life is as far from life as she knew it as it can be: They have two run-down cars and live on his income as manager of a homeless shelter.

The script tries to inject some slapsticky moments. For instance, in front of her parents Jane tries to cover for the fact she can't remember things, like their remarriage or the identity of the training partner from her once-in-a-lifetime marathon run.

These scenes have a humiliating air of desperation, not humor. The only scene that really works: Jane marvels as her son, unbidden, fills a plate and serves dinner to a homeless man too sick to approach the Christmas buffet on his own.

The script gets the breathlessness and trappings of the executive lifestyle right, down to Jane's industrial chic home and office. But when she enters chintz land, it is all too pat.

As Jane's mother, Dixie Carter is charged with injecting some spice in the treacle, but she just chews the scenery.

Father Paul Dooley, the conscience of the piece (his voice provides the mantra for Jane's new life: "Earn more or desire less"), is relegated to the role of reactor and doormat for his bombastic wife.

One tires of the premise way before the epiphany reveals which of Jane's lives is the real one.

Comfort and Joy debuts Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.