Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy sitcom Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. I look forward to the holiday, never writing about it. Every sitcom I’ve ever worked on, we’ve had the obligatory Thanksgiving episode. How many variations can you have on the big family dinner going awry? I think I’ve written the “turkey gets burned”, “relatives clash”, “nutty friends invited”, “can’t find a restaurant”, “kids break something”, “Guess who’s Coming to Dinner variation, “Meet the Parents variation”,“football gambler loses big”, “tofu turkey substitute”, “someone accidentally gets dragged seven blocks by the Mr. Potato Head balloon”, “mom’s a terrible cook”, “relative accidentally not invited”, “someone is allergic to something in the stuffing and has a funny seizure”, “power outage”, “thawing frozen turkey last minute”, “food fight”, and “the pilgrim re-enactment” episode fifteen times.

Hopefully, none of these things will happen to you this turkey day. And if they do, at least you’ll have your ACCORDING TO JIM spec script halfway written.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading this blog.


Robert "kebernet" Cooper said...

And here's hoping "food fight" actually does!

Anonymous said...

The Cheers food fight episode is one of my favorite television shows of all time.

moe berg said...

thanks to you, sir, for writing it.

love the insight.

Anonymous said...

Or "My Uncle Joe; the iron worker loosens his belt after gorging, accidentally drops pants revealing his fondness for lacey chartreuse garters"

God, how I love Thanksgiving!

BrianScully said...

I think my favorite "Thanksgiving" sitcom episode was the one that "All In The Family" did where the Meathead brought a Vietnam War draft dodger home for dinner... and Archie had invited a friend of his whose son had died in Vietnam. It was maybe the most poignant, honest thing I've ever seen about Vietnam and how divided this country was by it... at least the most honest thing I've seen in a sitcom, anyway.

And that script was written by Mike Milligan and Jay Moriarty... and if the Emmys were nominating the 10 best half-hours in the 50 year history of sitcoms, I'd nominate Milligan and Moriarty for that very thoughtful, funny, sad and honest episode.

Anonymous said...

Favorite Thanksgiving? The Simpsons first (only?) Thanksgiving episode. Bart destroys Lisa's pilgrim diorama and goes on an odyssey of self-discovery. It's not particularly funny (Except when Bart hallucinates Uncle Sam screaming "IT'S YOUR FAULT AMERICA LOST ITS WAY!" which is even funnier than it was in 1990) but it features some of Bart and Lisa's best writing and characterization and acting like real kids.

Anonymous said...

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Charlie Kennedy said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, Ken!
Thanks for writing this blog!

Anonymous said...

Ken, this Thanksgiving is not starting out of 10 AM ET I still haven't been able to get onto's Turkey Day without Bobby Rich and THE TURKEY HOUR?!!?

Richard Cooper said...

Favorite Turkey Day Episodes:

1) Cheers "Birdzilla"
2) WKRP in Cincinnati "Oh, the humanity."
3) Friends "It tastes like feet."
4) The Bob Newhart Show "Moo goo goo goo."
5) Northern Exposure "I'm definitely not white."
6) King of Queens "Eyepatch."
7) South Park "Starvin' Marvin."
8) Friends "Chandler in a box"
9) 3rd Rock "Gobble gobble dick dick."
10) Ugly Betty "I'm the phantom of the opera."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Happy Turkey Day, Mr. Levine. I suspect everything you said about writing Thanksgiving episodes goes double for Christmas episodes, no?

EditThis said...

One of my least favorite things about working in television is having to endure the holidays episodes every year. Especially when you work for a guy who seems to love Christmas so much that he stretches it over 2-3 episodes. Come to think of it, we actually skipped Thanksgiving this year, but had the token Halloween script to make up for it.

We're deep frying a turkey today, so I'm sure SOMETHING funny (or tragic) will happpen...

maven said...

Hey, Ken:

This is an old friend of yours from your "youth"! Bruce Miller told me about your blog, and, here I am!

Hope all is well with you and your family this Thanksgiving. You're probably aware that Dad passed away 4 years ago. I miss him terribly...especially miss his jokes on what's happening in the news! My mother is at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, not doing too well.

Well, just wanted to say hi!

Bonnie (Burns) aka Maven on blogger.

By Ken Levine said...


Maven's dad was Stan Burns, the head writer of the Steve Allen Show and one of the nicest and funniest writers I've ever met.

Anonymous said...

Dan Coyle,
I read your piece on The Simpsons' Thanksgiving episode this morning. Now this evening, channel surfing, I hit that Simpsons episode just begining and took your advice and watched it. Just great. thanks. When Lisa was writing her self-pity poem I wanted to say to her, "It's derivative darling."
The Simpsons is the best.

Howard Hoffman said...

Here y'all go - the classic WKRP Thanksgiving episode.

We laugh because it's funny. And we laugh because we've worked for guys like Carlson.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to report that Ricky has been kind enough to offer extended TURKEY hours, to make up for Moondog's "industrial action" on Thanksgiving.

Joe Stevens said...

Sorry for necro-commenting, but bumped into the blog and wanted to say thanks. My mom only likes 70s and earlier TV and getting her to like anything later is almost pointless, even the Cosby one was just so-so. She adored the Tofu turkey Raymond, so thanks for an alternative to watching more Beverly Hillbillies every Thanksgiving.