Turkey Day Entertainment

by Alan Rapp on November 24, 2016

in Essays 

Although not as numerous as Christmas themed programs, there quite a few Thanksgiving specials and movies worth a look. Aside from some NFL football, Thanksgiving always makes me pull out some old favorites to watch.  There are two things I make time to watch every Thanksgiving. The first is a very special episode of WKRP and the second is Home for the Holidays. Here’s a little about them and some other Thanksgiving themed fun you might enjoy.

Turkeys Away” from WKRP in Cincinnati:

Wonderfully funny stuff as Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump) plans a rather unique turkey giveaway in downtown Cincinnati.  The event is covered live on the air by Buckeye News Award winning reporter Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) as the rest of the cast sits in the studio listening in a mix of laughter and horror.  “Oh the humanity!”  (Watch the awesome here.) The best episode of the series and for my money the funniest Thanksgiving themed episode/movie/special of all time.  Nessman’s commentary of events and Carlson’s last line of the show are just priceless.  Read the full Season One DVD review.

Home for the Holidays:

Now my family isn’t just like the Larson family, but there are some small similarities that make me smile every time I watch Claudia (Holly Hunter) return home for Thanksgiving to her tumultuous family.  A little too crazy at times, but also filled with outstanding performances. And hidden beneath the hilarity beats a warm fuzzy movie.  Also starring Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott, Geraldine Chaplin, Cynthia Stevens, Steve Guttenberg and Claire Danes.  Directed by Jodie Foster.

Others you might enjoy:

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:

This time Martin teams up with John Candy, in Candy’s best movie role, as an unlikely odd couple trying to get home for Thanksgiving.  The movie gives us wonderful lines such as “You’re going the wrong way!” and “Those aren’t pillows.” as well as a good reminder why you should never throw away your car rental receipt.  Each actor is allowed to play to their strengths as Martin plays the uptight snob to Candy’s laid back slob;  it makes one of the best collaborations of either man’s career and a darn nice Thanksgiving movie to boot.  Part of our Top 10 Steve Martin Flicks, see all ten here.

Pieces of April:

April (Katie Holmes) invites her estranged family out from the suburbs and into the city to her small apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.  Things start going wrong before anybody even shows up.  A little uneven, and sometimes slow, but there are some good performances and fun moments in this film about family and relationships and the need to stay connected to each other.  Also starring Patricia Clarkson, Sean Hayes, Oliver Platt, Derek Luke, and Sisqo.

Hannah and Her Sisters:

The tale of three sisters (Barbara Heshey, Dianne Wiest, and Mia Farrow) and their family opens at a Thanksgiving party.  Woody Allen’s idea of family is certainly interesting as a husband begins lusting after a different sister, and another sister grows interested in one of her sister’s ex-husbands, played by Woody Allen who spends much of the movie musing over the meaning of life.  Also starring Michael Caine, Max von Sydow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Turturro, Daniel Sturn, and comedian Louis Black.  One of Woody Allen’s best.  Want to know more?  Read Louis’s review here.

The Ice Storm:

Thanksgiving weekend with the Hoods might be a little too exciting.  Ben (Kevin Kline) and Elena (Joan Allen) go to a key party and contemplate swinging.  Their son Paul (Tobey McGuire) home from college leaves immediately to pursue a wealthy girl in the city (Katie Holmes) in hopes of losing his virginity, and their daughter Wendy (Christina Ricci), emotionally starved and growing more sexually promiscuous, enjoys exploring other people’s houses when they aren’t home.  Things are cold and crazy all over, and then the ice storm hits.  Also starring Sigouney Weaver and Elijah Wood.  Directed by Ang Lee.

Pangs” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

From the rather drab Season Four comes a nice Thanksgiving episode as Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller) tries to make Thanksgiving dinner for the Scooby gang while also fighting the spirit of vengeance of the Chumash Indians who wants revenge for the wrongs inflicted on his people.  Funny stuff including Spike’s hunger and homelessness which leads him to seek shelter with the slayer, Willow and Giles’ argument about how to fight the spirit, and Xander’s mystical illness which includes syphilis and smallpox, among others.  Angel (David Boreanaz) guest stars.  Read the full Season Four review here.

Shibboleth from The West Wing:

The entire staff of the West Wing celebrates the holiday as C.J. (Alison Janey) chooses a turkey to be pardoned, Toby (Richard Schiff) tries to get Leo’s sister nominated to an important education post against Leo’s wishes to jump start the issue of school prayer, Charlie (Dule Hill) seeks a new carving knife for the President, the President (Martin Sheen) calls the Butterball hotline for advice, and Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Sam (Rob Lowe) take meetings about the 83 Chinese immigrants who have illegally entered the country and are requesting religious asylum.  A great episode all around filled with madcap action and some hefty issues as only this series can.  Read the review for the Complete West Wing on DVD.

Thespis” from Sports Night:

The show’s live broadcast is haunted by the ghost of Thespis, Dan (Josh Charles) bugs Casey (Peter Krause) relentlessly about the anniversary of the date, Dana (Felicity Huffman) thaws out a turkey on the light grid which falls onto the ancor desk during a commercial break, Isaac (Robert Guillaume) frets over the impending birth of his grandchild, and just as Dana’s world is unraveling Jeremy (Joshua Malina) explains the true meaning of Thanksgiving, in true Linus fashion.  Fun stuff!  Check out the review for the Complete Sports Night on DVD.

Chuck Versus The Nemesis” from Chuck

thanksgiving-chuck-vs-the-nemesisSarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Chuck (Zachary Levi) deal with the awkward fallout from the kiss. Bryce Larkin (Matt Bomer) returns from the dead. Meanwhile, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) is dealing with Thanksgiving dinner and the jealousy of Morgan’s (Joshua Gomez) new girlfirend. The episode ends on Black Friday with a battle in the Buy More (saved by pineapple, believe it or not), and a choice for Sarah – to remain with Chuck or leave with Bryce on his new mission hunting Fulcrum. Best moment: Chuck’s dark, and oddly specific, toast for what he is most thankful for this year.

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