Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The greatest Thanksgiving episode ever

Here's a scene from the classic episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. The idea came from a real radio station promotion that went awry. A plane was going to drop free turkeys on listeners. But they used frozen turkeys. Here's the scene. And tomorrow, another WKRP treat. The rarely heard long version of the theme song.

Happy Thanksgiving!

18 comments:

Workman said...

That is honestly one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV.

I was just a kid, but I remember every word.

Brian said...

When my wife bought me the box set of the first season for my birthday this summer, we immediately put this episode on. It never gets old.

Captain Obvious said...

WKRP is definitely an eternal favorite of mine and it shall never die in my heart... <3

Captain Obvious said...

...and I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the extended theme! Please make it an MP3 so I can save it in perpetuity! I find myself idly singing the theme sometimes, including just recently!

Beth Ciotta said...

I loved WKRP. I remember this episode well. Hilarious. What a great way to start the morning.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Ken.

Jaquandor said...

Shit. Now I'm a nine-year-old kid again, drooling over Jan Smithers. Just what I needed!

estiv said...

One correction, Ken: the turkeys weren't frozen, it's just that turkeys can't really fly. Might as well drop penguins out of a plane.

The key point in the original true-life incident was that the company doing the promotion was trying to recreate an older but mostly forgotten promotion from several decades before, in which something like a thousand ping-pong balls were dropped from a small plane over the town. Maybe ten of the ping-pong balls had a special mark on them that entitled whoever found one to a free turkey. Unfortunately, those details had been lost, while the phrase "turkey drop" remained, so the people trying to re-create the event thought that you just dropped turkeys from a plane. With unfortunate results. For the turkeys.

There is a great account of all this that has been reprinted many times, but right now I can't find it or the name of the author. It's pretty Thurber-esque, with phrases along the lines of, "The stately matron who was splattered with turkey guts in front of me was able to contain her glee far better than I was." I was always a little miffed that the WKRP writers did not acknowledge the source better. But then it was such a great show, and the execution of the idea was so beautiful.

VP81955 said...

As God is my witness...

BTW, believe it or not, my initial word verification was c(f)klw. Suddenly, I'm having memories of the Motor City and Bill Drake...

Joey Smallwood said...

Sorry to be a downer, but I heard a report that Jan Smithers was in a car accident this week, and was described as driving "erratically" and "naked". The story indicated she has been going through some difficult times. I hope things get better for her.

Kenneth said...

But we need the famous comment, "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

And Jaquandor, I agree with you about Jan Smithers. I think she was the start of my college-girl-grad-student-with-glasses fetish. I'm on Tina Fey now....

Max Clarke said...

I saw this once as a kid, never forgot it. Just brilliant. Maybe Les Nesman's finest reporting moment. Thanks to Ken for reminding me of the episode, that was so long ago. Just the thought of it makes me smile.

VP81955 said...

Speaking of good sitcoms, I just got BBC America on my cable system, and I've discovered the original "Coupling." Love it! It's everything "Friends" never had the courage to be.

Paul Duca said...

Personally, Ken, the real media event of this Thanksgiving is the ReelRadio Repository debut of TWO additional episodes of Bobby Rich's THE TURKEY HOUR (and the annual availability of the three others in its collection).

And my heart goes to Jan Smithers...I have never really forgiven James Brolin for leaving her in Nova Scotia, to go off with Streisand.

A note for vp81955--could you please email me at tomservo56954@comcast.net? I have a question you can definitely answer for her, thanks to the lady in your avatar.

Michael said...

Here's the followup clip containing Carlson's immortal line.

I don't know how the actors kept straight faces during these scenes, though you can see Loni Anderson and Jan Smithers start to crack up just as the clip ends.

Tom Quigley said...

Have the first season of WKRP on DVD and couldn't let Turkey Day pass without watching "Turkeys Aweigh"... In fact, watched it twice, after my brother-in-law stopped by with my 14-year-old nephew and I played it over again for them -- and my nephew, who's never seen it, thought it was hilarious!....

When I lived in LA, and was able to secure a meeting with Matt Dinsmore, one of the producers of THE NEW WKRP IN CINCINNATI, the syndicated first-run successor to the CBS show that was produced about 10 years later, the only topic of conversation for the first five minutes or so was that episode... And it was nice to find out that Bill Dial, who had written it, was the new show's executive producer...

Tallulah Morehead said...

"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

Wasn't that classic remark repeated this season, by whichever idiot network exec put VIVA LAUGHLIN on the air?

The Crutnacker said...

One of the great tragedies is that we'll never see complete episodes of WKRP again, with the cost of music licensing.

This and M*A*S*H were everyday necessities to me, an addiction that kept me going. WKRP seems to be one of those few shows where you can mention a single line or scenario and get people giggling.

One of my favorite episodes was the one where there is a bomb threat at the station, and Johnny Fever is convinced that the phone cops are out to get him.

They also handled the Who concert tragedy tastefully.

Honestly, was there any guy out there who preferred Loni Anderson to Jan Smithers? Even to my preteen eyes, Jan was the hot one.

The Crutnacker said...

Question for Ken.... Could this episode have even been filmed today? I'm just imagining the flack that PETA or someone else would give the show over making light of cruelty to animals.

Damned funny stuff.