Thanksgiving doesn't have enough TV specials. Oh, sure, it's got Charlie Brown, but I covered how weak that is earlier. And there's the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, but aside from seeing how cold and wet the Broadway dancers are going to be doing their thing in Herald Square, it's basically just a big long commercial. And then there's the Dog Show with Mr. Peterman from Seinfeld that NBC is trying to push as a Thanksgiving tradition. And really, what says Thanksgiving more than dog modeling?
But there's another option, a Thanksgiving classic from 1978 that's still as funny today as it was then. Maybe more so. Of course, I'm talking about the "Turkey Drop" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.
WKRP is one of the best sitcoms of all time (though due to complicated music rights, only the first season is available on DVD). And there's no reason why this TV classic shouldn't be a Thanksgiving Day tradition—if not on one of the networks, then on TVLand or NickatNite or something. It's a natural. But enough of my pitch—see for yourself in the transcript below.
(And Happy Thanksgiving.)
-- Teague Bohlen
Dr. Johnny Fever: (in outro from music) All right, fellow babies, and now it's time to go to our live man-on-the-scene at the Pinedale Shopping Mall for the big WKRP Turkey Giveaway. So take it away, Les Nessman!
(cut to outside shot at Pinedale Shopping Mall)
Les: This is Les Nessman, your man-on-the-scene at the Pinedale Shopping Mall, where the excitement is mounting. We're here to witness the big WKRP Turkey Giveaway...
Shopowner: Hey...hey you got permission to be out here?
Shopowner: You're blocking my store here, buddy.
Les: Don't you know who I am?
Les: I'm Les Nessman. I won the Buckeye Newshawk Award last year.
Shopowner: Good for you, Buckeye. Now get outta my doorway.
Les: I'm sorry. (moves away)
Shopowner: (going back inside) Freak.
(cut back to station, in the booth)
Andy Travis: So far so good, huh?
Les: (broadcasting) I'm here with hundreds of people who have gathered to witness what has been described as perhaps the greatest turkey event in Thanksgiving Day history. All we know for sure is that in a very few moments, there are going to be a lot of happy people out here.
(cuts back to live Les outside)
Les: Now the crowd is...the crowd is...(reacting to people staring at him and brushing by) the crowd is curious, but well-behaved. Oh! I think I hear something now. Uh, the crowd is moving out into the parking area, and...oh yes, I can see it now. It's a...it's a helicopter, and it's coming this way.
(cut back to Andy in the booth)
Andy: A helicopter?
(cut back to Les, on scene)
Les: It's flying something behind it...I can't quite make it out. It's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From... W.... ... K... ... R... ... P!! (as Les spells the station call letters, cut back to booth, with everyone making hand gestures as if pulling the letters out of Les; then, back to Les, on-scene) Les: What a sight, ladies and gentlemen, what a sight! The copter seems to be circling the parking lot now, perhaps looking for a place to land...no, something just came out of the back of the helicopter! it's a...a dark object, uh...perhaps a skydiver, plummeting to the earth from only 2000 feet in the air...and a second, and a third! ...No parachutes yet.
(cut back to the booth)
Les: Those can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but—OH MY GOD, THEY'RE TURKEYS!!! Oh, no, Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're crashing to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, this is terrible. (cut back to Les on-scene) The mob is running around pushing each other...oh my goodness. Oh, the humanity! People are running about...the turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Folks...I don't know how much longer they're...the crowd is running for their lives. I think I'm going to step inside...I can't stay out here and watch this any longer...(stops short of going into the shopkeeper's store)...no, I can't go in there. (cut back to booth) Children are searching for their mothers, and...oh, not since the Hindenberg tragedy has there been anything like this! I don't know how much longer I can hold my position here, Johnny. The crowd...
Johnny: Les? Les? Les, are you there? (pause) Les isn't there. (composing himself) Thanks for that on-the-spot report, Les. And for those of you who just tuned in, the Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at eleven.
(And then, later at the station, the aftermath...)
(Les enters the reception area looking ruffled and bewildered)
Venus Flytrap: Les! Are you okay?
Les: (with a vacant, haunted look) I don't know. A man and his two children tried to kill me. After the turkeys hit the pavement, the crowd kind of scattered, but some of them tried to attack me! I had to jam myself into a phone booth! Then Mr. Carlson had the helicopter land in the middle of the parking lot. I guess he thought he could save the day by turning the rest of the turkeys loose...it gets pretty strange after that.
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Andy: Aw, Les, c'mon now, tell us the rest.
Les: I really don't know how to describe it. It was...like the turkeys mounted a counterattack! It was almost as if they were ...organized!!
(Mr. Carlson enters with Herb, both bedraggled and covered in turkey feathers)
Mr. Carlson: As God is my witness…I thought turkeys could fly.