As I was shoveling the foot and half of snow in my driveway this week and trying not to freeze to death my thoughts wandered to the Thanksgiving shows I like to watch. While there are the obvious Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Garfield’s Thanksgiving and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, which are mandatory every year, there are also some not so obvious choices. The first on my list is the two part Thanksgiving arc for ALF.
A.L.F. (Alien Life Form)
ALF, a quirky TV show airing Monday nights on NBC from 1986-1990, featured an Alien from the Planet Melmac named Gordan Shumway. Gordon, nicknamed Alf in the show, crashed into the Tanner family garage while following a radio signal sent from Earth. The Tanners take him in, hide him from the Alien Task Force and hilarity ensues. During the third season of ALF they produced a Thanksgiving special guest starring David Ogden Stiers, probably best known for playing Major Charles Winchester on M*A*S*H. Stiers played Flakey Pete, a homeless man hanging around the Tanner neighborhood. Alf leaves food out for Pete but when Pete discovers Alf is an Alien he calls the Alien Task Force to claim the reward money.
While waiting for the Alien Task Force to arrive Flakey Pete enters the house and confronts Alf. Alf pretends he is a dog but Pete isn’t buying it. Once they start talking, the two bond over their shared military career, Pete in the Air Force and Alf in the Melmac Orbit Guard. And both being homeless, Planet Melmac was destroyed and Alf has no home to return to.
The Tanners come home from the neighbors Thanksgiving feast and discover Flakey Pete. They show Pete kindness and ask him to stay for supper. The bonds of friendship and the kindness of the Tanners touch Flakey Pete and when the Alien Task Force arrives he says he is the Alien. The Task Force reprimands him for making a prank call; Alf’s secret is still safe.
You can watch all seasons of ALF on Amazon free with ads.
ALF 1986 Promo
ALF Season 2 Promo
Q*Bert Thanksgiving Special
Remember the Q*Bert cartoon? It was part of the Saturday Supercade that ran on CBS from 1983-1984. Saturday Supercade was a series based on popular video games of the time. There were cartoons based on Frogger, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Pitfall Harry[link] and of course Q*Bert.
The Q*Bert cartoon focuses on Q*Bert, a teenage…Q*Bert (What the heck is Q*Bert!) and his friends, Q*Tee, Q*Bit and Q*Ball. The cartoon always found a way to incorporate bouncing from cube to cube and have them change color. The Thanksgiving episode tells the history of Q*Bert Thanksgiving. I always enjoyed the video game and loved the Saturday Supercade!
Cheers, Thanksgiving Orphans
The final one on my list is my favorite. It shows the not so joyful side of the holidays. Cheers’ Thanksgiving Orphans episode gathers all the bar mates together for a the holiday.Cheers ran for 11 seasons on NBC’s Thursday night lineup. The show revolves around a cast of characters who all come to Cheers, a bar owned by Sam Malone, to share a few drinks and laughs.
Sam runs the bar with the help of Woody, Carla and Diane serving up insults, innuendos and laughs along with the regulars Norm, Cliff and Frasier. (If you haven’t watched Cheers you need too…like right now! All seasons are on Netflix) In Thanksgiving Orphans all are without family for various reasons and they decide to celebrate Thanksgiving together at Carla’s house. And like any Thanksgiving, the turkey takes to long to cook, the football games end too soon and there’s never enough beer! As the frustration mounts it all culminates in a massive food fight. But Woody sums it up best in the final scene when he says, covered in food, ‘I knew this was going to be the greatest’
Cheers Thanksgiving Meal
Other good choices on the not so obvious list (but not ones I watch ever year) include
- Amazing Stories: “Thanksgiving” starring a Kyra Sedgwick and David Carraddine
- The A-Team: “Family Reunion”
- Animaniacs: Turkey Jerky
- Married… with Children: “A Bundy Thanksgiving”
However you spend the day have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!