Over the years, television has produced many such memorable moments as family and friends gathering together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Below, the top 10 episodes for which I give thanks.
1. “The Bob Newhart Show” – “Over the River and Through the Woods” (1975)
Bob (Bob Newhart), Jerry, Howard and Mr. Carlin get completely drunk while spending the holiday at Bob’s apartment while Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) is visiting her family. Enjoy special moments of ordering Chinese food for Thanksgiving.
2. “Bewitched” – “Samantha’s Thankgiving to Remember” (1967)
There’s nothing more authentic than an original Thanksgiving with actual Pilgrims and Indians. Ironically, Darren (Dick York) is the one put on trial for being a witch and not Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery).
3. “Saturday Night Live” – “Paul Simon/George Harrison” (1976)
Paul Simon, who hosted the second-ever episode of “SNL” in October of 1975, returned the following fall as both emcee and musical guest. The highlight of that episode was his rendition of “Still Crazy After All These Years” dressed as a turkey.
4. “WKRP in Cincinnati” – “Turkeys Away” (1978)
Les (Richard Sanders) reports Hindenburg-style from a shopping center parking lot as Mr. Carlson’s (Gordon Jump) top secret Thanksgiving promotion involves dropping live turkeys from a helicopter.
5. “Cheers” – “Thanksgiving Orphans (1986)
Everyone spends Thanksgiving at Carla’s (Rhea Perlman) house, including Diane (Shelley Long) dressed as a pilgrim woman, where it all ends up with a big food fight by the end of dinner.
6. “Northern Exposure” – “Thanksgiving” (1992)
The Indian “Day of the Dead” tradition of throwing tomatoes at white people especially gets under Joel’s (Rob Morrow) skin. The finale with the big meal is particularly touching.
7. “Friends” – “The One with Chandler in a Box” (1997)
Even though there are many great Thanksgiving episodes for this series, my favorite is the one where Joey (Matt LeBlanc) is so mad with Chandler (Matthew Perry) that he sentences him to several hours in a big wooden box while the other friends celebrate the holiday.
8. “The West Wing” – “The Indians in the Lobby” (2001)
While two Indians formally protest in the White House lobby, the highlight is when President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) has an extended and funny conversation on the Butterball hotline.
10. “Gilmore Girls” – “Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” (2002)
Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) overcommit themselves to four different Thanksgiving celebrations, with Lane, then Sookie, then Luke and finally the formal dinner with the Gilmores.
Photo: “The Big Bang Theory” Credit: Warner Bros.