Thursday, November 25, 2010

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 MODERN FAMILY spec script halfway written.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading this blog.


Joe W. said...

At least you still have the "which Thanksgiving do we go to?" plot to fall back on.

Brian said...

The Cheers Thanksgiving Orphans episode is here:

RockGolf said...

How many TV Thanksgiving episodes can you identify?

(or click the link in my name.

Of course, nothing will ever outdo the WKRP Thanksgiving ep.

Howard Hoffman said...

Ken's tweeting the parade right now. Hilarious.

dgwphotography said...

It's a toss up between the WKRP and the Mad About You (going through 5 turkeys) thanksgiving episodes as my favorite.

Mister Charlie said...

Thanks for writing this blog, Ken. A year's worth of funny, educational and interesting reading!

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Friends had 9 Thanksgiving episodes out of 10 seasons. Oddly enough, they almost always felt fresh and distinct from one another, especially in the last few seasons.

Mac said...

Thanks for writing the blog. Happy Thanksgiving. I've no idea what it's about other than a great plot device in PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES - so, good enough for me!

Gary said...

Happy Thanksgiving, thanks for the blogkey. ~80 days till pitchers & catchers report. I need to say that as we get another layer of snow over the ice.

Powerhouse Salter said...

My least favorite holiday episodes are anything inspired by Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

D. McEwan said...

What about the turkey-comes-back-for-revenge plot, which The Simpsons did in one of their Halloween shows.

Too bad The Dick Van Dyke Show is no more. Though it would involve working with Mary again, you could do the "comedy writers face having to write yet another Thanksgiving episode when they've already written every Thanksgiving plot under the Sun three times" storyline.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and many more. I'm thankful that the ratings for Sarah Palin's Alaska dropped 40% in week 2.

te said...

"you could do the "comedy writers face having to write yet another Thanksgiving episode when they've already written every Thanksgiving plot under the Sun three times" storyline."

A variation of the old newspaper columnist's last resort, "Deadline is in half an hour and I don't have anything to write about."

Re: Thanksgiving. There's always the clip show of Thanksgivings past.

Anonymous said...

My favourite Thanksgiving episode was actually in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

It was perfect, right down to the vengeful Indi... Native American spirits...

Roger Owen Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA said...

I never enjoy watching Thanksgiving episodes, either.

And ever since watching Grindhouse Thanksgiving is ruined forever. If you've seen the fake trailers in the middle of Grindhouse, you know what I mean!

benson said...

I had to check, but the Dick Van Dyke show never did a Thanksgiving episode, though they did do a Christmas show.

Got to agree that WKRP is the best (especially for all the radio folks that have been forced to do idiotic promotions.)followed by Mad About You.

BTW, we did a buffet.

wv: cosersh. kosher after too much Manischewitz.

Paloma said...

Thanks for writting this blog.
Happy Thanksgiving, Ken

Greg Ehrbar said...

I'm partial to when "bumbling Aunt Clara" (TV GUIDE's words) sends everyone to the first Thanksgiving. You get Dick York's timing, especially with the "Thee-eth, thou-eth, I had puff-fed rice" thing. You get Marion Lorne, just looking around and doing that funny. You get Sandra Gould as Mrs. Kravitz, who gets the best line: "I don't like this dream. It's too much work." And the unearthly radiance of Elizabeth Montgomery. Sorry, maybe I'm too attached to it all to be objective. But it's Thanksgiving and I can eat all the pie and stuffing I want, right?

Tom Quigley said...

dgwPhotography said...

"It's a toss up between the WKRP and the Mad About You (going through 5 turkeys) thanksgiving episodes as my favorite."

I worked on that MAD ABOUT YOU episode, and believe me, it was just as funny in the studio watching it being filmed as it was seeing it on TV...

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chalmers said...

Congratulations, Tom, I wish some channel would run "Giblets for Murray" at this time of year.

There's a scene where Ira is supposed to laugh at Jamie, but I've always thought the reaction is too quick and real to be anything but the actor "breaking."

Everything works in the episode, but, for some reason, each line Ping Wu delivers as the Korean grocer cracks me up.

Tom Quigley said...


The episode is available on two different MAD ABOUT YOU DVD sets, the show's third season set and Paul and Helen's favorite episodes set.

I watched it Thursday night and remember the spot you're referring to. The filming was 16 years ago, so I don't recall for sure if John's reaction was genuine and he was breaking out of character or actually playing what Ira was supposed to be doing.

The number of turkeys that craft sevices had made up for the show (yes, they were all real turkeys and actually cooked) was I think twice the number of turkeys that were actually used in filming.

I also remember that since the filming was running long that night with so many resets due to all the physical action and the need to put the sets back the way they were at the start of esch scene, the audience coordinator let me take groups of audience members down onto the soundstage itself as the night wore on, to let them get a "crew's eye view" of what filming a sitcom was like.