Television’s Thanksgiving Memories

This article originally ran on November 27, 2013.

It’s Thanksgiving and the staff here at Place to Be Nation are giving thanks to our loyal readers by delivering a bounty of Thanksgiving television memories! Included below are clips of each infamous episode as well as our staff’s great commentary. Enjoy this heaping helping of Thanksgiving goodness!

Beverly Hills, 90210 – Breast Side Up

Andrew Riche: When it comes to Turkey Day memories for television, there is one that stands out: 90210 in the super slutty Valerie Malone years. In the show’s Thanksgiving Episode in 1995, we settle at the Walsh home (like always) where Donna is getting her school girl virgin on with her new boyfriend, Valerie tries to fuck everything that moves in phenomenal fashion, David’s weird mom shows up to make the turkey, and for the sake of making things even more campy, Steve Young shows up to toss the ball around. Eat your heart out, Joe Namath and the Brady Bunch! You got nothing on Steve Young throwing it to Mr. Sharknado himself, Ian Ziering.

Seinfeld – Mom & Pop Store

Justin Rozzero: I don’t even know where to start with this one. It is a loaded episode in the middle of one of the best Seinfeld seasons in the catalog. From Jerry’s investigation into his missing Tim Whatley invitation to George buying Jon Voight’s car to Elaine going deaf to Kramer getting a Mom & Pop store shut down, this has it all. AW, YA POPPED WOODY WOODPECKER! Plus a cameo from Arvid from Head of the Class? Amazing. Elaine completely dismantling Kramer & Jerry’s assessment of the Mom & Pop scheme is gold as is the final scene, an homage to Midnight Cowboy. If all our Thanksgiving Eve parties were as awesome as Whatley’s, we would all be living the good life. Why WOULD Jerry bring anything, indeed. Or is it Gerri? With a G…and an I!

South Park – Helen Keller The Musical

Andrew Flanagan: A classic episode featuring backstage drama, Timmy befriending a disabled turkey, and a disturbing look inside Cartman’s mind.

WKRP In Cincinnati – Turkey Drop

Steve Rogers: So legendary of a show that radio shows still pay homage to it with clips of the show itself, and wacky radio shows still parody it to this day. As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!

The Cosby Show: Bonjour Sondra

Todd Weber: The Cosby Show’s inaugural Thanksgiving episode, “Bon Jour, Sondra”, is pure holiday nostalgia from my childhood. From Cliff teaching Theo how to carve the turkey (while both spoke hilariously like Julia Child) to four-year-old Rudy going on and on at the dinner table about the things she’s thankful for (I’M NOT FINISHED!), this episode makes me feel like a junior high student all over again.

Roseanne – Thanksgiving 1994

Todd Gessling: If you could sum up part of what made Roseanne great, it’s that it was a sitcom that could dedicate a throwaway Thanksgiving episode to discussing something as controversial, unpleasant and taboo as abortion. Each of the show’s Thanksgiving episodes are great in capturing the unpleasantness and (comical) misery that can come with bringing the whole family together, but Thanksgiving ’94 is my favorite, mostly because of the great performance by Shelley Winters as Roseanne’s grandmother.

Beverly Hills, 90210 – Radar Love

Justin Rozzero: As a 90210 junkie, I can tell you all you need to know about the Kelly-Dylan-Brenda love triangle and this is an episode where the tension is at its peak. Kelly had stolen Dylan away but old feelings die-hard as Dylan turns down Kelly’s Thanksgiving Dinner offer and instead shows up at the Walsh House, igniting a huge fight in front of their family and friends. Dylan even lands a verbal shot in on poor Jackie Taylor’s turkey cooking skills. This episode delivers a whole turkey stuffed with drama.

Cheers – Thanksgiving Orphans

Steve Rogers: Iconic fun from a Thursday night show, including a food fight that rivals Animal House.

Tim Capel: I’m not really old enough to remember that, but I know I saw it a million times growing up and just rewatched it the other night. It’s memorable for being one of those rare episodes set outside the bar. For various reasons, the cast finds themselves “orphaned” on Thanksgiving and all wind up at Carla’s house. Nerves are plucked as more and more guests arrive, and everyone grows restless waiting on Norm’s behemoth turkey to cook. Carla’s house gets absolutely trashed as the whole thing devolves into a drunken food fight. To cap it all off, we get the first appearance of Vera, in a fashion. Just a perfect mix of high and low-brow comedy that made Cheers so great.

Saved by the Bell: The College Years – A Thanksgiving Story

Caliber Winfield: The College Years may have failed in the ratings; but it never failed to warm my cold heart. Everyone misses their flights home, Screech screws up the turkey for the orphans, and ta-dow – NBC to the rescue! Jonathan Brandis arrives, as does Mr. Belding to save the day with turkeys & food abound! Hey! Hey! Hey! What is going on here? Love, that’s what’s going on here.

The Sopranos – He is Risen

Andrew Flanagan: I love it mostly because it features “Whoa!” by Black Rob. It should also be mentioned that this is the episode where GiGi dies on the toilet. All the scenes with Tony and Ralphie are fantastic as well.

How I Met Your Mother – Revenge of the Slaps

Steven Graham: It’s the slap that brings everyone together. Marshall ties up Barney and offers the slap to Robin or Ted. After a long debate on who should get to be the one to slap Barney, Ted gifts the slap to Robin, who gifts it to Mickey, who gifts it to Lily. When Lily can’t give the slap, Marshall takes it for himself, using up slap #4!

Friday Night Lights – Thanksgiving

Andrew Riche: The other great memory I have of a Thanksgiving-themed episode was from me and Josh Richer’s favorite television drama ever, NBC’s Friday Night Lights. In this case, the Thanksgiving-set episode was actually the season finale in which major events go down. Tim Riggins sacrifices his livelihood to make sure his brother, who had just become a father, would not go to jail. Coach Taylor, who had been unceremoniously fired from the Dillon Panthers in the previous finale, got sweet revenge on that shit-eating soccer dad Joe McCoy and his former team by beating them with his ragtag group of East Dillon Lions. Matt breaks up with Julie (kinda sorta) before going to Chicago. Vince continues his struggles with his mom, his talent on the field, and the streets. And this episode was bittersweet for Landry when he gets to make a clutch field goal to win the game, but loses out on Jess, who falls for Vince. That was the beauty of FNL in general: Despite the different classes, races, genders, and dilemmas thrown their way, the cast was all about family, and how to bond through all the hardship. I give a lot of thanks to that show, because they did it right.

NFL Thanksgiving Football 1993 – Leon Lett’s Blunder 

Greg Phillips: I’ll never forget it. My parents and I were sitting in the living room chowing down on turkey, waiting for our beloved Dolphins to kick the game winning field goal in what appeared to be a giant snow globe against the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. We had little hope going into the game, since my hero Dan Marino was out with a devastating injury, but somehow the team was in position. Within a few seconds, we made the strangest combination of noises I’ve ever heard — groans of disappointment, sighs of curiosity, shouts of jubilance, roars of rage and, finally, cheers loud enough to shatter glass. Pete Stoyanovich’s initial field goal was blocked, but lumbering Leon Lett famously ran after the ball and tried to recover it. Instead, the ball slid in the snow, giving the Fins a chance to recover at the one-yard line. The refs initially moved the ball back five yards, but finally put it where it belonged, setting up a chipshot for Pete and a win for the Fins. Making matters sweeter, the ‘Boys got beat by Steve DeBerg.

Scott Criscuolo: This was of course during the stretch where the Cowboys were easily the best team in the NFL.  In 1993 they started 0-2 because Emmitt Smith was holding out for more money. He got his money and Dallas ripped off seven wins in a row. After a loss to the Falcons they hosted Miami on Thanksgiving in a blizzard (well for Dallas it was a blizzard). I was getting quite annoyed that the Cowboys couldn’t shake off a mediocre Dolphins team with 58-year-old Steve DeBerg at quarterback. Finally after blocking Stoyanovich’s field goal I thought Dallas had shaken off this pesky team. Then Leon Lett, who’s arrogance cost the Cowboys a chance to break the Super Bowl record for points in a game the year before, forgot the rules AGAIN! Since the Cowboys won the Super Bowl that year too, I can laugh about it now. But then I was so pissed. If I was old enough to drink I would have thrown back many an ale.