The plot of this episode is a major bummer. Woody catches his wife’s father cheating and has to decide what to do about it. YIKES. Luckily, we’re here for the B-plot, so let’s ignore everything about what’s going on with Woody.
Rebecca is hosting a friends-giving and she’s invited the whole Cheers crew. Unfortunately, she might have given everyone in her family food poisoning the last time she cooked Thanksgiving dinner. This leads Sam to suggest hosting a potluck at Cheers instead. Rebecca was going to make grilled cheese for everyone (less risk of food poisoning) but with Sam hosting, they can have a turkey.
Norm can’t remember whether or not his father-in-law is dead, so he repeatedly asks Vera who won’t respond to him because WTF. Then a pissed-off Vera decides to spend Thanksgiving at her family’s house without Norm. So Cliff suggests that Vera call her parents’ house to see if her father answers. Only when Cliff hands Norm the phonebook, he can’t remember Vera’s maiden name! Okay well now that I’ve typed it out, it sounds awful. But it was very funny when George Wendt said all the lines.
Anyway, Thanksgiving at Cheers is probably Norm’s ideal Thanksgiving. Sam’s even allowed him to bring his barcalonger into the bar — though he did have to sign an agreement stating it would be removed by the end of the day.
Meanwhile, Rebecca has decorated the bar for Thanksgiving…which is interesting because Thanksgiving decorations are not like a thing, are they? Anyway, she’s used Halloween decorations that the store was throwing away. But she’s got a pretty good explanation for it: “The witches came over with the pilgrims and then the pilgrims burned them all at the stake.” This explains the skeletons as well (ick) and she doesn’t mention it but I will, the ghosts too. Honestly, it tracks. That’s airtight logic, Rebecca.
She intends to borrow plates from Melville’s because they’re closed for the holiday. And she’s also cooking the turkey in their oven on the sly. Fraser then suggests she borrow the candlesticks while she’s at it. And Sam mentions that she better take some silverware because they don’t have enough plastic sporks.
No one wants to listen to Cliff’s stories for an entire meal, so Sam tells him that he’ll be sitting at the kid’s table as the “adult supervisor” — a role he takes very seriously and seems a little flattered by. Meanwhile, Norm eats his meal in the barcalounger.
As the gang toasts John Alan Hill for “donating” all of their borrowed items, he appears in the bar. Evidently, Melville’s has a silent alarm. But strangely, even John Alan Hill is generous on this day of giving thanks. So he lets the Cheers gang eat in peace (but makes them promise to sanitize the Melville’s items before returning them).
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Honestly, I didn’t think Rebecca’s grilled cheese meal sounded bad. But I guess the lesson here is that you really gotta be mindful of those silent alarms.
At the top of this episode, the gang’s resident advisor (Mike) who is about thirty-five years old announces that he will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a group of underprivileged kids. For this reason, he can’t use his NFL tickets.
Mike offers the tickets up to the group and only-child Zack pitches a whole sob story about how his “brother” Teddy has just returned from the Peace Corps and would love to attend an NFL game with him because Zack is a sociopath. He doesn’t even want to go to the game. As it turns out, his plan is to scalp the tickets.
Meanwhile, Slater coaches his girlfriend, Alex on how to make a good impression at his family’s Thanksgiving Dinner.
Don’t talk politics with Slater’s father
Laugh at his uncle’s jokes
Pretend to be Mexican when speaking to his grandma
Sounds like this relationship is destined for long-term success!
A college friend, Leslie, declines an invite to spend Thanksgiving with Kelly, opting instead to help Mike with his dinner. She says her family isn’t big on Thanksgiving, which Zack is surprised to hear because her ancestors were on the Mayflower.
Leslie asserts that some of her ancestors were at the First Thanksgiving, and invented the three bean salad. (No amount of facepalm emojis will suffice. Please go back and click that link if you skipped over it.)
Leslie spends most of her day making turkey place cards out of construction paper and school glue. They’re actually pretty cute. But Mike reprimands her, saying: “These are tough street kids, not the Olsen kids.” Because I guess only wealthy white kids enjoy crafts? What the actual fuck, Mike?
A lot of things happen in quick succession: Mike and Screech attempt to lift a pool table. Mike injures his back. Screech tries to help Mike by pushing his wheelchair, but Screech sucks so he rams the wheelchair into a wall at top speed. Mike ends up with a concussion. Screech decides to stay with Mike and “help” him even though Mike begs him to go back home to LA with everyone else.
Lucky for everyone else, Screech isn’t with them when they take a shortcut on the drive back to LA and breakdown in the middle of nowhere. I can only assume the one thing that would make that awful situation worse is Screech.
Zack is stressed because he wants to get back home and sell the NFL tickets. When they see a car, they all try to flag it down except for Alex who scares off the passing vehicle by pretending her flashlight is a gun because she believes them to be Pod People…because they drive a Chevy.
Everyone thinks she’s stupid, and she is deeply heart by their reactions. She sounds delusional. Like maybe it’s just the stress of breaking down on the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, but like she may want to consider seeking professional help.
After spending the night by the broken down car, the gang gets towed back to college on Thanksgiving morning.
Zack announces that he’s trying to fly back to LA on standby. Kelly tells him he’s selfish. (He is.) He denies it. (Of course he does.) And Slater calls him out for not adding anyone else’s name to the standby list.
After talking things over with Mike, they all decide to spend Thanksgiving with the underprivileged kids. The only problem is that Screech switched out the order for cooked turkeys to an order for frozen turkeys in order to save a little money.
So the kids show up to eat while the turkeys are still frozen. Zack runs off to find an open store while Screech tries to thaw the turkeys with a hair dryer. (I am sure this is not a best practice for food safety.)
Before he leaves, we learn that Zack secured a spot on the standby list by pretending to be a doctor picking up an organ donation. (Just in case you thought he wasn’t a piece of shit. Wanted to set that record straight real quick.)
Zack returns from Seven Eleven (the only open store, which he tells us repeatedly in an offensive accent like he’s trying to be Apu or something.)
While Screech tries to thaw the turkeys in a sauna (yikes), the news interviews Mike. In the middle of the interview, Screech serves the kids a platter of turkey jerky…ugh. Zack also tries to co-opt the interview to request an extra plane ticket to LA. GEEZE.
Then Jonathan Brandis shows up with an actual cooked turkey and if you’re a millennial girl then you’re heart just broke in one thousand different ways. (If you’re not a millennial girl, Jonathan Brandis was like a baby River Pheonix whose life also ended tragically at a young age.)
Sweet Angel Jonathan Brandis saw the turkey jerky news report and decided to deliver an actual meal to the kids! It turns out a few celebrities had this same idea (and all evidently live in the San Francisco area) because Marsha Warfield from Night Court shows up next with another beautiful turkey. Jenna von Oy from Blossom arrives next (btw Kelly Kapowski is announcing all of these people as they enter.) Jenna brought pie btw.
Then Mr. Belding from the show’s original run show up to honestly as many fan cheers as Jonathan, Marsha, and Jenna got. And this sounds like a live studio audience but honestly idk I guess it could be a track. He’s in town to visit his mother and decided to bring by some mashed potatoes, which he promptly asks Jenna von Oy’s to sign her name. Considering that Jenna is approximately sixteen years old at the time of this filming, it’s more than a little weird.
Kelly makes a nice little speech about thankfulness just in time for Brian Austin Green to show up with cranberry sauce. OMG THIS WAS A LEGIT 90’S WHO’S WHO. I truly wasn’t into this episode at all but this ending was all very heartwarming to my millennial heart. (Fun fact: This episode was probably filmed shortly before Tiffani Thiessen became Brian’s castmate on 90210.)
Zack pulls Kelly aside to do something truly nice for once. He’s gotten a ticket back to LA and he’s giving it to her. Zack tells Kelly her happiness is more important that money and she says, “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” which is really kind of a bummer when you think about it.
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Do not outsource your supply chain management (unless you live in an area with a lot of very giving celebrities willing to pitch in at the eleventh hour.)
In other exciting news. The SBTB reboot is now streaming on Peacock! Have any of you watched it yet? Let me know in the comments!
Home Improvement was VERY dedicated to the Christmas episode, featuring one in each of their eight seasons. This was features a Christmas village — not a a cute little village that your grandma has on a table for the holiday season but a real human-sized Christmas village.
Tim wants the Taylors to dress up in costumes and take their Christmas card photo in the Christmas village. He’d also like to make it spaced themed. “Manager on the Moon.” He finally wins Jill over when he promises that they can do it her way next year if she doesn’t like how this year’s photo, which he promises to keep “tasteful and simple.”
For Tim, “tasteful and simple,” seems to mean dressing his children like elves, his wife like a sexy Mrs. Claus, and donning a Canadian Mountie outfit for himself. Sadly, the snow machine malfunctions and crashes into their glass door.
So Jill takes over the Christmas card from this point on. (P.S. This episode is *technically* a Thanksgiving episode, which makes sense because most people take Christmas card photos around that time.)
The Taylors spend Thanksgiving with Tim’s Tool Time co-host, Al, and his girlfriend, an orthodontist who makes this joke:
“What do you call an animal that’s white and hairy and shaped like a tooth? A molar bear!”
In the end, the Taylors compromise by taking a normal Christmas photo (no creepy costumes) in the Christmas village. Sadly, this time Tim makes TOO Much snow and it all falls off the roof of the village and all over them. Oh well.
Very Special Holiday Lesson: It was the 90’s. There was nothing wrong with going to Sears Portrait Studio. Why complicate things?
Even though last I said that Cheers had the best Thanksgiving episode ever, I think this is probably the best Thanksgiving episode ever. And I wasn’t lying last year. I just didn’t know this episode existed. But now I do. And now I think it’s the best.
So there’s actually not a lot going on in this episode. Tim is having all of his friends and family over to his house for Thanksgiving, but he choses not to invite this one really annoying guy. But then he sees him at the soup kitchen, where Randy is volunteering. He’s kind of disturbed by the whole event, so he does what any good, stressed human would do. He falls asleep. And this is what he dreams:
As it turns out, this dude isn’t actually down on his luck. He just goes to the soup kitchen because he thinks the soup is tasty and “pays for it” with his “tax dollars.” So really, he’s a total turd. But Tim’s learned from his claymation dreams and decides that even total turds deserve a friendly meal on Thanksgiving.
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: “Even the lowliest creature needs a friend.”
Harvey and Sabrina are on the rocks (she kissed Josh from the coffee shop) so she’s not going to be able to spend Thanksgiving at his house this year. Since they are broken up, Harvey suggests that they return all of the stuff that they’ve accrued from each other over the years.
Salem is surprisingly upset about all of this. He sobs while Sabrina combs through her stuff looking for things that belong to Harvey. (He was expecting to be Harvey’s best man at Harvey & Sabrina’s wedding.) When Hilda and Zelda see the awful sad-fest going on in their home, they decide to prepare a Thanksgiving meal (a holiday witches do not celebrate) for Sabrina.
But the next day at school, Dreama (geez, did Sabrina have a different friend literally every school year?) notices that Harvey saved a framed picture of Sabrina and is keeping it in his locker. Meanwhile, Zelda and Hilda are freaking about about having to stuff a turkey. I don’t blame them. It’s horrifying.
(FYI witches have to prepare Thanksgiving meals by hand, as they are discouraged from celebrating Thanksgiving.) But they find a loophole. They conjure up some pilgrims to cook for them!
Sabrina’s decided to try a “forgive and forget” spell to get back with Harvey. But he literally forgets everything–who she is and who he is. So she tries a series of other spells based on cliche phrases. They all backfire horribly.
Having discovered that Hilda and Zelda are witches, the pilgrims tie them up and try to burn them at the stake. But they’re witches, so they quickly get out of that mess. Realizing that they do not have the upper-hand hear, the pilgrims agree to cook dinner in exchange for safe passage home.
Sabrina finally figures out that the best way to fix her relationship with Harvey is to go back and time and stop herself from ever kissing Josh. But when she tries that and she and Harvey still are broken up, her aunts tell her that this means her break-up was “meant to be.”
But then they run into each other in the hallway and Sabrina apologizes for bumping into Harvey. And then they end up apologizing to each other for like hours about everything that went wrong in their relationship.
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: In case you didn’t notice, this “apologizing” thing is what Harvey and Sabrina needed to do in the first place.
Greg is making a movie about the Pilgrims for his history class. Pretty soon all of the adults in his house take over writing the screenplay. Greg’s pretty pissed about it and I guess fails to see that he’s getting away with not doing his homework and also not getting in trouble.
It’s only a matter of time before the entire production is out of Greg’s hand. Carol wants to dress all of the girls in color because of the color film, even though Greg insists that pilgrims only wore black and white. All of his sisters demand the same part and say they won’t be in the movie unless they’re cast as the lead “Priscilla.” Bobby and Peter are pissed that they’re forced to play pilgrims, when they would much rather play racially stereotyped braves.
Greg kind of freaks out but like in a really Brady-fashion. And his awesome parents are completely understanding. They’re not even mad that he got mad because they realize they were being jerks. This concludes our instructional video on how to have a healthy fight with your family.
Also, Greg casts Jan as the lead just like he always wanted to. (Ha, Marcia.) Then Mike has to explain to Peter and Bobby that the pilgrims stole all of the Indians land and you can tell he feels a little awkward about it. It’s 1970 now so things are about to start getting really guilty for the white folks.
Anyway, they finally get the movie done and Greg puts everything in slow-motion. So it’s basically a pantomime. And it’s basically the greatest film ever made, as far as I’m concerned. Like Florence Henderson really missed her calling at a 1920’s dramatic actress.
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Don’t boss your kid around, but do let him boss the rest of the family around.
Mr. Carlson, WKRP’s station manager, has been bugging everyone around the station because he’s looking to be “more involved.” There’s nothing more annoying than an insecure boss–well except maybe an insecure boss with a Thanksgiving project.
Mr. Carlson keeps all of the details very hush hush, so all that the station team knows is that the project has something to do with giving away a bunch of turkeys. News anchor, Les Nessman, calls this “the greatest Turkey event in Thanksgiving Day history.”
Soon a helicopter appears over head and Les Nessman assumes that is is looking for a place to land. But then something falls out of the back of the helicopter. And what follows is a Turkey Hindenburg-esque Disaster:
Oh and the humane society is pretty pissed.
Very Special Thanksgiving Lesson: Some turkeys actually can fly. But not usually the plump ones we eat for Thanksgiving. And probably not any turkeys that are dropped over a parking lot by a radio station’s helicopter.
I know we Americans tend to skip this holiday more and more each year, but this year in particular it kind of took me by surprise–the holiday skipping, that is.
On my drive to work Friday, my radio station played it’s usual morning variety. But when I drove home, a mere 9 hours later, it was ALL Christmas music. It was like someone flipped the switch somewhere in middle of the day and whoops, it’s Christmastime!
My boyfriend tried to explain that the shocking jump from Halloween to Christmas these days is all about decorations. I insisted, “I LOVE THANKSGIVING DECORATIONS!” And he said, “You do? Really? What Thanksgiving decorations do you love?” And I said “I love GOURDS!”
But the truth is, there are no gourds decorating my home. And all I can offer you in the hopes of remembering this time of thanks and giving is a memorial to episodes from the past. Here is this year’s lineup:
WKRP in Cincinnati: Turkey’s Away
The Brady Bunch: The Un-Underground Movie
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Love Means Having to Say You’re Sorry
Home Improvement: The Wood, the Bad and the Hungry
Sorry Friends, but Cheers has the best friendsgiving episodes ever. Why is that?(fragments for stylistic purposes) Because these people have reached the where friendship truly becomes family. The point where your friends drive you crazy just as much as any blood relative could. The point where you spend the holidays together because you have no one else to spend them with and, even though it’s awful, you would not want it any other way.
In “Thanksgiving Orphans” the gang from Cheers heads over to Carla’s house for a Thanksgiving potluck. Things start off on the wrong foot when Norm (who is supposed to be brining the never seen wife, Vera) ends up having a huge fight with his wife and doesn’t cook the Turkey at all before arriving to Carla’s. And it’s a big turkey. And it takes forever to cook. Meanwhile, Dianne insists that they wait to eat until all of the food is on the table, so no munching on candied yams while the turkey is still cooking. This means everyone gets hangry by the end of the evening. Carla and Norm start insulting each others cooking and everything devolves into a gigantic food fight. And when Vera finally does show up to dinner, we don’t get to see her face. Dianne has hit her square in the face with a pumpkin pie that Sam narrowly dodged.
Very Special Lesson: Things don’t always have to go perfectly to have the perfect Thanksgiving.
Very Special Thanksgiving Activity: Don’t forget to have a little fun this Thanksgiving. In my opinion, everyone should play a game. If you don’t have any standard family games, try this Thanksgiving Bingo that Jennifer Lewis at Flavorwire made a couple of years ago. But I suggest using this idea to make your own Bingo boards, so that you can make sure all of your familial quirks are represented.
It is Thanksgiving morning and Danny’s mom is snowed in and can’t make it out of Tacoma. This leaves the Tanner’s without any Thanksgiving food, so the men decide to take the girls out to a restaurant. But DJ will have none of it. She’s all like Thanksgiving should be spent at home! We always had Thanksgiving with mom at home! (Yep, this is one of those rare episodes where we admit the girls once had a mom and that she died tragically). Also, Joey walks around randomly saying the “Miracle of Thanksgiving” and making a trumpet noise. Was he also the voice of Face on Nick, Jr.?
DJ says that she can handle the meal because her grandma was going to put her in charge of the turkey, so she can handle the whole thing. Plus, last year her mom taught her how to make a “picture perfect pumpkin pie.” So in honor of the late Pam Tanner, the family decides to stay home and let the ten year-old cook.
The first season of this show is just so great. I still cannot understand why Joey is a necessary addition to this family, but at least when the girls were younger it made sense that they needed an extra hand (maybe). Anyway, this episode is super cute because everyone is adorable and dancing around the kitchen while setting the table.
Everything is really shaping up into an excellent Thanksgiving. Only, DJ did not remember to defrost the turkey and so they somehow end up with a frozen yet browned bird. This is amidst a large pre-dinner speech in which DJ asks Danny if her mom would be proud of her for making dinner. And how she wasn’t sure she could do it, but things really turned out great.
So how can they possible tell this little girl who is trying to impress her dead mom that the turkey she made sucks? Well, they don’t exactly…they shove the turkey back into the oven, crank it up as high as it will go, and try to purchase a turkey off of a couple of lost travelers who ask if they can use the phone. None of it pans out though, and the non-defrosted turkey catches on fire. Then Stephanie drops the “picture perfect pumpkin pie” and everything is ruined.
Danny takes DJ aside and tells her that her mom would have been proud of her for bringing everyone together to make the Thanksgiving meal because Pam knew that the important thing about Thanksgiving is family. But the really heart-wrenching stuff (and yes, I’m already tearing up by this point) happens when Jesse goes to talk to Stephanie (who is hiding in her closet because she dropped the “picture perfect pumpkin pie). At first things start off with the run-of-the-mill “everyone makes mistakes” lesson, but Stephanie is very adamant that not everyone makes “pie mistakes.” So Jesse decides to tell her a story about when he was a kid and did something very stupid to show that sometimes kids do stupid things and it is okay. He takes her to his room to show her a childhood photo album, specifically a haircut that he allowed her then ten year-old mother to give him when he was five. Stephanie feels better after hearing the story and enjoys seeing childhood pictures of her mother, but Jesse ends up being very upset by the whole interaction.
I guess it is easy to forget as the series goes on that Jesse is Pam’s kid brother and spends a lot of the first season being arguably more affected by her death than anyone else. I guess it’s less depressing on a sitcom to show the grieving brother rather than the grieving children or spouse, but nevertheless his performance is very effective. Danny and Jesse realize that they will never get over losing Pam, and that some bad feelings just stay with you. But Danny tells Jesse that it’s important for him to keep sharing his memories with their family because that is what will keep her a part of their lives and is probably the only thing that will ever make him feel better.
Very Special Lesson: Don’t let the children cook the turkey.
Very Special Activity: Share all of your great (and not so great) stories with your families this season. And if they’re driving you nuts, then you can post them here!