by Kara Kovalchik – November 25, 2009 – 11:10 AM
What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is it a day of gathering together with beloved family members to share a bountiful repast, or is it the chore of getting up at six o’clock in the morning to shove croutons up a dead turkey while the rest of the family slumbers contentedly? Wherever your emotions fall in the overall Thanksgiving spectrum, we hope to give you some temporary relief by revisiting some of our (and hopefully your!) favorite TV turkey moments.
1. Cheers reveals what Vera Looks Like (Briefly!)
In the “Thanksgiving Orphans” episode, most of the regulars who frequent Cheers have no special plans for Thanksgiving, so they accept Carla’s invitation to a potluck dinner held at her home, with Norm in charge of bringing the turkey. Norm, however, unskilled in the nuances defrosting a bird before roasting it, brings an enormous frozen turkey to the party. Tempers begin to flare when it seems like the turkey will never be ready, and a food fight breaks out. Norm’s oft-mentioned but never seen wife, Vera, arrives during the melee, but before viewers can get a good look at her, she receives a pie in the face. So, who played Vera? That role was given to George Wendt’s real-life wife, Bernadette Birkett.
2. The Drunken Origin of the Bob Newhart Drinking Game
TV Guide rated the “Over the River and Through the Woods” episode of The Bob Newhart Show at #9 of the 100 Greatest Episodes Ever. It’s also Newhart’s personal favorite. Emily is going home to Seattle for Thanksgiving and Bob decides to stay home because his “patients might need him” (when in reality he can’t bear the thought of skipping stones across Puget Sound with his in-laws). His friend Jerry brings a large jug of vodka and cider, and starts taking slugs from it every time his alma mater (William and Mary) is scored against during the Big Game. Joined by Bob’s neighbor and a patient, the quartet plays the drinking game throughout several more televised football games until they realize that they should probably eat something. Bob drunkenly tries to order Chinese food on the phone:
“I’d like some Moo Goo Gai Pan. What do you want, Jerry?”
“I, too, want the Moo Goo Gai Pan.”
“Another Moo Goo…Goo Goo…”
“Bob! You said ‘Moo Goo Goo Goo!’”
“Maybe I’m ordering Chinese baby food!”
This episode inspired the “Hi, Bob” drinking game, where participants down a shot every time those words are spoken during an episode of the show.
3. WKRP’s Strange (and True) Turkey Day Promotion
Arthur Carlson, the station manager on WKRP in Cincinnati, longs to play more of an integral role in daily operations. So, in the “Turkeys Away!” episode, he secretly plans a special Thanksgiving promotion – dropping live turkeys out of a helicopter over the Pinedale Shopping Mall. The station’s earnest but clueless news reporter Les Nessman is on the scene reporting live, and at first states that skydivers are jumping out of the copter. But when no parachutes open…he suddenly realizes that he is witnessing live turkeys hitting the ground “like sacks of wet cement.” Mr. Carlson hadn’t intended any animal cruelty; “As God is my witness,” he states after the event, “I thought turkeys could fly.” Oddly enough, this episode was based on an actual radio station promotion that one of the show’s writers had witnessed. The stunt was inspired by an annual “turkey drop” festival held in Yellville, Arkansas, which was finally halted in 1989 after animal rights activists got wind of it.
4. Will and Grace struggle to Keep the Story Straight
Will and Grace fans learned the entire back story of all the main characters in the “Lows in the Mid-Eighties” episode (which originally aired as a one-hour special in November 2000.) Flash back to 1985, when Columbia student Grace brings boyfriend Will home with her for Thanksgiving. After dinner, Grace is all hot and bothered when they retire to her bedroom, but Will feels conflicted and rushes to the bathroom to call Jack, whom he’d met briefly earlier that day. Jack has already correctly noted that Will is gay, which Will vehemently denied at the time. “If you’re all hot for your girlfriend, then why are you on the phone with me?” Jack asks him. In addition to clarifying quite a bit, the show does bring up one inconsistency. This episode briefly shows Diane, the only woman with whom Will was intimate, but she’s a redhead played by a writer’s assistant. In a later episode, Diane is portrayed by blonde Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino.
Since you’re probably reading this at work while marking time until the long weekend begins, why not chime in with your favorite Thanksgiving TV episodes?
Please check out more of Mental Floss’s Confessions of a TV-Holic
Posts by Kara:
by October 31, 2009 – 12:10 PM
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by October 9, 2009 – 2:34 PM
Posts by Kara:
by July 22, 2009 – 5:18 PM
I just watched the most adorable movie on Lifetime. “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus” was very relevant to my life and my current romance. So much of what Crystal Bernard (Helen from “Wings”) said about Steve Guttenberg‘s Nick were the same excact words I would use to describe my boyfriend!!
Quick, fast romance. When you know it’s “the one,” — You KNOW.. Kind man who loves to make people happy. I smiled throughout this movie and was just waiting for Bernard’s Beth to “believe.”
OK, I confess, part of this movie got really creepy. Steve Guttenberg as Nick was a complete stranger to the single mother and she left her kid with him after he “volunteered” to babysit her 7 year old son. She knew his first name only and that he lived in a hotel. I don’t care HOW NICE a guy is, you don’t leave him alone with your kid when you JUST met him and don’t even know his NAME!!
Then again, this movie was a cute love story fantasy and it was as predictable as, oh, say the upcoming Barbara Walters interviews, but it was sweet and it made me happy. I plan to DVR the next showing so I can write down some of the beautiful words she sad describing her perfect man/santa.
And yes, my big cute boyfriend would make a great Santa!!
No longer do the Gosselin children have to have TLC cameras in their faces.
This is wonderful. Kids shouldn’t have to work so their parents could have “nice things.” Some sheeple think the kids were having fun and that they were awarded great opportunities. Yes, Opportunities to be humiliated. Opportunities for their classmates to have fodder for years and years.
Thank you, Jon Gosselin, for finally doing the right thing and stopping the cameras. TLC is disgusting for suing you for doing the right thing. Keep fighting for those kids. THEY NEED YOU more than ever.
TLC’s vendetta against Jon Gosselin: It’s transparent and pathetic. To get a bitter woman to use her hatred against her estranged-spouse and broadcast this on TV for wonderful “memories” for those kids is a form of abuse. Someday, TLC, Those kids will sue your fucking asses off. It won’t be TLC/Discovery/OWN . . . It’ll all belong to The Gosselin children with the help of A Minor Consideration. Oprah Winfrey is teaming with a company that will drain her legal budget to try and destroy Jon Gosselin. THEY WANT TO FILM THOSE KIDS and it really doesn’t matter who, what, where, why or HOW that happens. It will happen.
FoxNews: They are using clips from the 2008 presidential election to show how many people are showing up at Sara Palin’s book signings. They did this with other footage and Jon Stewart nailed them. Now they do it again?? “This footage just in . . .” and they show a crowd with signs that say “McCain/Palin 2008”.
Foxnewsisnotnews . . . . . We all know that, right??