Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz: Review of 1980 TV Special

The Wizard of Oz is one of the earliest movies I remember enjoying as a kid. My parents were visiting their friends’ house and I tagged along to play with their kids. While the parents were upstairs enjoying each other’s company (remember when having “company” was a thing?) the kids were in the basement watching The Wizard of Oz. I can’t remember exactly what year this was, circa 1982 I’d say, but I’m pretty sure we watched it on network TV.

The Wizard of Oz is one of the last appointment television movies along with It’s a Wonderful Life. This year, Turner Broadcasting is showing the film on Thanksgiving. It’s fitting that the film has landed on Thanksgiving because back in 1980, an animated special continued the story of Oz while centered around Thanksgiving! I had never connected with the special before so this review so this take is based on my first ever watch of Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz (also referred to as Dorothy in the Land of Oz.)

The star of Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz is the voice of the late great Sid Caesar, comedian and live television pioneer of the 1950s. He plays a couple of roles in the special as the Wizard and narrator, and U.N. Krust the talking mince pie who uses different accents. The special was written by Romeo Muller who is known for writing the classic Rankin/Bass holiday specials. His production company Muller-Rosen Productions (with Robert L Rosen) was also responsible for the first three Strawberry Shortcake specials and The Little Rascals Christmas Special (also which I’ve never seen.)

I just finished viewing Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz for the first time. It’s a nice journey through Oz in the same vein as the original movie, but with a few new characters. While the scarecrow, tin man, and lion are pictured in several scenes, they really aren’t part of the story which was a little surprising. My new favorite character was the tiger. I couldn’t quite place his voice and after doing a quick search, I realized he is the hotel clerk in the Garfield in Paradise special and has been used as the annoying salesman in numerous other voiceover roles. The Thanksgiving angle seemed a little forced throughout the special and it would have been better served just leaving it out of the story for just a new tale of Oz.

For someone who has enjoyed the original film over the years, I thought the special was fun but probably not one that I would even introduce my kids to at this point in time. Since I never connected with it in my youth, I don’t have any nostalgia for it which maybe some of you have. It’s available on YouTube so if you have never watched it, check it out below and give me your thoughts in the comments. If it was part of your childhood and you still watch it each year, I’d also like to hear from you!

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About Jason Gross 80 Articles
'80s kid and '90s grad. I've been writing and podcasting about 1980s pop culture since 2011 at my Rediscoverthe80s.com website. I collect vinyl, comics, Batman memorabilia, and all things Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.