Supernatural parodies competitors for Sweeps

November 5, 2009

sam n deanAs a TV enthusiast, I love sweeps months. For those unaware, “sweeps” refers to the Nielsen system of measuring television ratings in the United States. The company uses electronic metering technology to capture what channel is being watched as well as gathering information about who is watching. For the months of November, February, and May, Nielsen also processes paper diaries, which are mailed to households in order to keep track of what is watched on each television set and by whom. The data gathered at the end of these months influences both program scheduling and advertising.

As ratings are more closely monitored during these months, networks and programs do their best to impress, and it’s often during sweeps months that television rolls out the big guns. Annoyingly, for those of us using our DVRs, episodes may run an extra one or two minutes longer than usual. Other stunts in the name of ratings include lesbian kisses, characters leaving, crossovers between two shows, ex’s returning to cause trouble for your favourite couple, and big name guest stars checking into the hospital or appearing in the case of the week. However, in this TV enthusiast’s opinion, the best thing about sweeps months (besides four weeks of all new episodes) is experimentation with format.

Often shows that aren’t strictly considered procedurals can get stuck in one format. Initially series like Smallville are interesting, but the viewer soon comes to realize that episodes are becoming familiar, with each installment featuring a new kryptonite-fueled ‘Freak of the Week’ causing problems for our hero and heroine. This is when sweeps month can be a blessing. Fueled by a desire to increase ratings and please their existing audience, shows dare to step outside of their comfort zone and, when done successfully, memorable television is the result.

I count the Buffy musical episode “Once More With Feeling” among the best hours of television I’ve ever seen and a successful experiment in changing the status quo. Now that we’re a week into November sweeps, I’m looking forward to seeing what new experiments the month has in store for us.

There’s certainly plenty for audiences to look forward to, including an upcoming Gossip Girl threesome or the arrival of Dr. Owen Hunt’s ex on Grey’s Anatomy, but instead I’m eagerly anticipating tonight’s all new Supernatural, in which the Winchester boys go where every TV enthusiast wants to boldy go… into TV land! I’m a new Supernatural fan who discovered the show over the summer and now can’t help singing its praises. Unlike many television shows, Supernatural has actually gotten better with age, and I am confident that the fifth season will continue this pattern.

Tonight’s episode “Changing Channels” features the return of The Trickster, who appeared previously in “Tall Tales” and “Mystery Spot”, who casts the brothers into different television genres. Although I’m not only of those lucky TV critics who has already seen the episode, I’ve read two extremely positive reviews and I do love a good TV parody. In tonight’s episode, the Winchesters not only see what life would be like in a Japanese game show and a sitcom, but the Supernatural writers have also cleverly included parodies of Thursday timeslot competitors Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. Personally I’m looking forward to any reference to last year’s terrible “Dead Denny” plot, especially since Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who played Denny on Grey’s) also appeared as Sam and Dean’s father on Supernatural. Along with the known Grey’s, CSI, and sitcom references, critics who received an early look at the episode have revealed that there are an additional two parodies that they aren’t willing to spoil.

I hope my fellow TV enthusiasts enjoy tonight’s parody packed Supernatural. I know I will.

Supernatural airs tonight at 9 PM on the CW, or Sun TV if you’re in Canada.


Terrifying Television: Halloween Episodes

October 31, 2009

With Saturday the 31st upon us, this TV enthusiast will be gathering a collection of her favourite Halloween episodes and settling in to celebrate with some beloved fictional characters. If you’re planning a marathon of your own, or simply looking to kill an hour or two before trick or treating or a Halloween party, here are some of my favourite episodes of Halloween television for your consideration.

How I Met Your Mother, “The Slutty Pumpkin”

how i metBarney: Flight-suit up!

An instant classic from the first season, this episode sees Lily and Marshall attempting to win a costume contest at the bar and Robin having trouble “putting on the girlfriend costume” to please her date. However, the episode revolves around Ted’s annual tradition of attending the Halloween roof party at his building in hopes of meeting “the slutty pumpkin”, the one who got away four years earlier. This has all the heart and all the laughs you’d expect from How I Met Your Mother, and Barney is his usual awesome self. You’ll come away with a few fun new variations on “suit up!” as well as a fun mixed drink recipe!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Fear Itself”

gilesGiles: It’s a sombrero.
Buffy: And it’s on your head.
Giles: It seemed festive.

Buffy has a grand total of three Halloween episodes, but this one is my favourite. “Fear Itself” is full of memorable moments, from Anya’s choice for a scary costume to the now unemployed Giles getting into the Halloween spirit. As Willow, Oz, Xander, and Buffy attend a Halloween party in a frat house, the house comes alive and plays upon the fears of its inhabitants. What really makes the episode are the last five minutes though and the appearance of the fear demon itself.

Dexter, “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”

dexter hallDexter: “I love Halloween, the one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me. People think its fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not.”

I believe that Dexter is one of the most consistently good series on television, which means that it has few weak episodes and this is not one of them. A fan of the holiday because he’s no longer the only one hiding, Dexter celebrates Halloween with Rita and her kids, while also deciphering disturbing recreations of his past left by his fellow serial killer, who has been leaving severed body parts in the locations of childhood memories. The theme of masks and hiding is continued throughout the episode, as is the question of what makes a monster.

Supernatural, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”/”Pilot”

super hallSam: “For us, every day is Halloween.”

I can’t decide which Halloween episode of Supernatural I enjoy more. The pilot has the distinction of being the episode that started it all and as far as pilots go it’s a great one. Twenty-two years after the mysterious death of his mother, college student Sam Winchester has a girlfriend, an interview to get into law school, and no desire to join the family business. Then brother Dean shows up, revealing that their father went missing while hunting demons and Sam rejoins Dean for a one-time deal and a show was born. The pilot manages to hook you in and sets up a season long hunt for John Winchester (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Fourth season episode “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” is worth watching for entirely different reasons. In it, the angels tell Dean that he must find a witch and stop the raising of the demon Samhain or they will smite the town and all of its 1200 inhabitants. The opening of the episode uses the urban legend of razor blades in Halloween candy, but it’s the end, where the audience begins to see the humanity in the angel Castiel that makes this one a Halloween must for me.

Dead Like Me, “Haunted”

dead like me hallGeorge: “It’s not so bad, being dead like me.”

My favourite Halloween episode to date has to be the brilliant series finale of Dead Like Me. The grim reapers prepare for Halloween and George Lass, dead one year in her home town, learns about a reaper legend that says all reapers can be seen as themselves on Halloween. As Mason goes on a candy gathering mission, with George along for the ride, a serial killer is on the loose. Meanwhile George’s family gather in the graveyard to pay their respects on the Day of the Dead. There are few cancellations more upsetting than this one, which was never really explained and caught the writers and producers of the show off guard, meaning some loose ends were never tied up, but the show did go out on a high as George begins to accept her life as a reaper at last.

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Terrifying Television (non-Halloween episodes)

October 31, 2009

If you’ve already exhausted your collection of Halloween episodes, or plan to take advantage of the holiday falling on a Saturday to pack in more television, there are a number of options. A marathon of any genre-themed show, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, or Supernatural, could make for a spooky Saturday, but if you’re looking for a variety of choices, here are a few of my favourite non-Halloween-themed hours of terrifying television.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Hush

hushSince it originally aired, I’ve included this fourth season episode in my annual Halloween marathon. The largely dialogue-free hour features the creepy gentlemen, who glide above the ground in tuxedos and politely applaud each other’s efforts to remove human hearts. The episode combines humour with drama and danger, and as fans of the show are aware, “Hush” is also the first appearance of Wiccan Tara, who would become a recurring character. It’s one of the best episodes of an above average show and also one of the scariest… perfect for Halloween!

Supernatural, “Monster Movie”

monster movieAlthough it isn’t the actual Halloween set episode of the season, this ode to monster movies is filmed entirely in black & white and provides a lighter hour perfect for any Halloween marathon. In a more comedic turn, the Winchesters take on an odd case involving the classic silver screen monsters, including the one and only Dracula. The humour comes from the juxtaposition of details from the 1940’s movies and the contemporary, which results in a memorable moment where Dracula flees on a moped.

Jekyll

jekyllI’m cheating a little here because Jekyll is not one hour of television, but a six hour BBC miniseries. However, I couldn’t write about monsters without mentioning this delightful take on the The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde set in the present day. I’m often skeptical of anything updating a period piece, but the creators have described this as a sequel, rather than an adaptation of the novella by Stevenson. This version of the story utilizes modern technology to cleverly continue Stevenson’s tale, and James Nesbitt is wonderful as Dr. Tom Jackman and his alter-ego. Jekyll was also written and executive produced by the brilliant Doctor Who scribe Stephen Moffat. I can’t wait to see what Moffat will do with his contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes, which he is adapting with Mark Gatiss.

Doctor Who, “Blink”

sally sparrowSpeaking of Stephen Moffat, there’s my favourite episode of Doctor Who, “Blink”. It’s extremely well-written, and even though the episode is “Doctor-lite” (referring to episodes where the Doctor and his companion have very little screen time to allow two episodes to be filmed simultaneously), it has a likable protagonist in Sally Sparrow. The episode is truly terrifying, especially if, like this TV enthusiast, you watched it with a group of friends at 3:00AM in an otherwise empty house. Trust me when I say that you will never look at a statue the same way ever again!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Conversations With Dead People”

conversationsIn my second Buffy pick, four completely separate stories are told, all of them occurring on one night. While on patrol, Buffy encounters an old classmate who has been turned into a vampire, while Dawn spends the night home alone, believing that her mother is trying to communicate with her. Meanwhile, Willow receives a message in the library, and Spike picks up a woman in a bar. The episode has its spooky moments but also some great humour and is one of the best from Buffy‘s final season. The dead and undead theme makes it a great choice for Halloween night.

Supernatural, “Bloody Mary”

bloody maryAlthough I was close to sticking the one with the clowns on this list, purely because clowns are truly terrifying, this early episode is a great choice for Halloween. What Supernatural does so well is make urban legends real and few legends are more well known than ‘Bloody Mary’. If “Blink” makes you think twice about statues, then “Bloody Mary” will make you wary of mirrors!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Buffy vs. Dracula”

buffy vs“Buffy vs. Dracula” is a new edition to my annual Buffy marathon. The slayer was bound to face off against the greatest vampire of all time at some point and although this isn’t one of my favourite episodes of the show, it doesn’t disappoint. In it Xander becomes Dracula’s manservant, while even Buffy seems to fall under The Dark Prince’s thrall. What could be more ideal for Halloween than our favourite slayer meeting Count Dracula? I really can’t think of a thing.

 

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Terrifying Television: This Year’s Halloween Episodes

October 26, 2009

buffy hallAs I mentioned in a previous entry on my favourite Thanksgiving episodes, I like to celebrate the holidays in true TV enthusiast style… by watching a marathon of themed episodes. Predictably my marathon includes episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dead Like Me, but each fall, new Halloween episodes air, some of which will become instant classics and be added to my annual marathon in years to come. This year, with supernaturally-themed new shows like The Vampire Diaries and Eastwick, the amount of Halloween content seems to have increased. Here’s a look at the Halloween-themed episodes airing this week.

Monday

Teen hit Gossip Girl has Lily and Rufus celebrating Halloween in “How to Succeed in Bassness” tonight on The CW, while ABC drama Castle has a nice surprise for any Browncoats out there in the new episode “Vampire Weekend”. The episode features Castle and Beckett investigating the murder of a vampire fetishist, whose body is found with fake fangs and a stake through his heart.

Wednesday

With a show about witches and the devil, it would have been crazy not to have a Halloween episode of Eastwick. In “Bonfire and Betrayal”, Roxie envisions an ill fate for her loved-ones and tries to prevent it from happening. Meanwhile Kat attempts to reunite Will and Joanna, who continues to encounter misfortunes after having trouble with her career and love life. The ABC drama hasn’t received a full season pick-up and it’s ratings have not been promising, but maybe a little Halloween magic can turn that around.

Thursday

NBC has a full night of Halloween comedy lined up beginning with a Day of the Dead party on Community, a Halloween party on Parks and Recreation, and finally a themed episode of The Office, in which the office plans a haunted house for kids in the community. Meanwhile, the pairing of the CW’s best performing show The Vampire Diaries and genre hit Supernatural is a no-brainer for Halloween. Although the later doesn’t specifically have a Halloween episode this season, it’s demon-fighting theme and tendency to tackle urban legends make most episodes holiday appropriate. Lead-in The Vampire Diaries will air the new episode “Haunted”, which includes a visit to a haunted house. Freshman drama FlashForward is also getting into the spirit with an episode titled “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, and CBS has a new episode of The Mentalist titled “Red Scare”. On The Mentalist, witnesses claim that a wealthy man was killed by a ghost haunting his mansion.

Friday

With CBS’ double feature of Ghost Whisperer and Medium, Friday is already a night for the supernatural, so it’s fitting that both shows will air Halloween episodes this year. Melinda encounters the headless horseman in a themed Ghost Whisperer episode called “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, and Alison dreams she has been cast in the zombie film Night of the Living Dead in a Medium episode titled “Bite Me”. The night wraps upon Numb3ers, where the body of a dead woman  turns up at a decommissioned air base where paranormal activity has been happening.

There’s plenty of spooky new television to be had, but if you’re ready for more Halloween content there’s always the numerous specials and horror movies airing all this week. A more complete list can be found here.


Whedon to direct ‘Glee’

October 19, 2009

joss whedonAlthough my last post was also about Glee, I just couldn’t resist the chance to comment on the latest Glee news. Last week I mentioned my wishlist for future guest stars now that the series has been given a full season pick-up, but I never thought to consider the behind-the-scenes talent. EW columnist Ausiello reported today that Buffy creator Joss Whedon has agreed to direct one of the ‘back nine’ (as the 9 episodes that constitute a full season pick-up are called) episodes of Glee.

Whedon wrote and directed a musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “Once More With Feeling” in 2001. The episode ranked fourteenth on TV Guide’s list of  “TV’s Top 100 Episodes of All Time” and was nominated for a Hugo award, which recognizes excellence in science fiction and fantasy. During the writers’ strike of 2008, Whedon created an Internet musical called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which has gone on to win a People’s Choice Award for “Favourite Online Sensation”, the 2009 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, and an Emmy Award in the Short-format Live-Action category.

Glee Creator Ryan Murphy called Whedon, “a great, if unexpected, fit.” adding that he was “thrilled he’ll be loaning us his fantastic groundbreaking talent.” Glee and Whedon’s current project Dollhouse are both aired on FOX. Although the news might have caused Dollhouse fans some concern, particularly after the lackluster ratings the series has received thus far, Ausiello reassured readers that the job wouldn’t affect Dollhouse and would likely take place after the show completed its thirteen episode order.

FOX had previously announced that they would air all thirteen episodes of Dollhouse’s second season, stating, “We’re not saying we’re happy with those numbers, or accept them, but we don’t have to overreact. During [November] sweeps we might have to jack up the numbers a little [with other programming], but we plan on completing the order for this show.” This was due in part to the impressive DVR numbers the premiere of Dollhouse posted.

Fox scheduling chief Preston Beckman also referenced the Whedon’s passionate fanbase, saying that the show’s fate was something of a no-win situation: “If you cancel it, you’re an asshole; if you renew it and then don’t put it back on, you’re an asshole. I’m still paying for ‘Terminator.’ ‘Dollhouse’ has a small rabid fan base that in the world of social media seems bigger than it is. We gave them another season knowing full well we were going to burn in hell if we pulled it.”

Whedon just posted his (humourous as usual) thoughts on directing an episode here. Concluding with, “I’m going to do my best, and more importantly, I’m going to do my best not to gush like a fanboy for eight straight days on set.”

Personally, I can’t think of a better fit for the snarky musical comedy than Joss Whedon. Unfortunately, he isn’t writing the episode as well, but hopefully if his episode goes well it could happen in a second season. Although none of my wishlist of guest stars have been announced yet, those hoping that Glee star Lea Michele (Rachel Barry) would soon have a male singer able to match her considerable vocal abilities are in luck. Her “Spring Awakening” co-star Jonathan Groff has signed on to appear in five or six episodes of the show as the male lead singer of competiting Glee club Vocal Adrenaline. He will also serve as a potential love interest for Michele’s character.


Guest stars who would fill me with “Glee”.

October 14, 2009

gleetopA month ago I wrote about the return of Glee and my fear that too much hype might hurt the show. Fortunately we’re now six episodes into the series, with a seventh airing tonight on Fox, and I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. Glee became the first new series to get a full season order, premiering with a 3.5 rating among the 18-49 demographic and improving upon its So You Think You Can Dance lead-in.

The show’s music has been a hit as well, with ten Glee numbers among the iTunes Top 200 and 1.1 million Glee songs downloaded through iTunes so far. An album compiling these songs, titled Glee: The Music, Volume 1, hits stores November 3rd and a Glee music tour is reportedly in the early planning stages. Fox Broadcasting president Kevin Reilly hinted at the development, telling EW “We’ve had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from our music partners. Certainly if these kids become stars in their own right, who knows? Live appearances. Albums. There’s lots of things that could happen.”

One thing that won’t happen is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  Fourth place network NBC pulled the cast of Glee from this year’s Parade over “concerns that putting the show’s cast on one of the biggest events of the year would amount to outright promotion.” This caused an outcry among fans, known as “gleeks” who pointed out that floats had previously been painted for American Idol and High School Musical, similar competing franchises. Creator Ryan Murphy didn’t seem to mind but did get in a jab at the Jay Leno controversy, saying, “I completely understand NBC’s position, and look forward to seeing a Jay Leno float.”

Although Glee won’t be a part of this year’s parade, they have plenty to be thankful for, including brilliant guest appearances by Josh Groban (as himself), Victor Garber, Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth, and soon singer Eve. Kristin Chenoweth in particular made an impression as Will’s new Glee club recruit April Rhodes, who dueted on “Alone” and belted “Maybe This Time” from “Caberet”. With Glee receiving a full season order, I couldn’t help but consider who else I would like to see guest star in future episodes. Here’s some possible guest stars who would fill me with ‘Glee’.

Hugh Jackman

hugh jackmanAlthough he’s best known for his role in the X-men movies as Wolverine, Jackman has actually been on American television before. “Really?” you may be saying to yourself, “how did I miss it?” Well Jackman served as star and executive producer of the short-lived and critically panned series Viva Laughlin. After two episodes it became the first cancellation of the season. Despite this, Jackman is a true triple threat who has hosted the Oscars and the Tony awards with great charm, and he certainly has the singing chops for a role in Glee.

Idina Menzel

idinaIdina Menzel is something of a no-brainer. Best known for originating the role of Elphaba in the musical “Wicked”, for which she won a Tony, she has also appeared in the movies Rent and Enchanted. “Wicked” appeals to a younger demographic in the same way that Glee does, and with “Wicked” co-star Kristin Chenoweth already appearing on the show to great success, perhaps Menzel will be next! Additionally, she bears a certain resemblance to series star Lea Michele that could make for a familial reveal that would delight broadway fans.

Mandy Patinkin

mandyMandy Patinkin is no stranger to television, having starred in Chicago Hope, Dead Like Me, and Criminal Minds. As a fan still mourning the premature cancellation of Dead Like Me,  I would love to see Patinkin back on television… and I’m not alone. CBS has announced that he’ll be guest starring in an episode of their organ transplant drama Three Rivers, and commenters on this article have also concluded that he would fit right in on Glee. The writers on his previous shows have found ways to write songs into the story, and his work on Dead Like Me indicates that Patinkin is no stranger to quirky.

Neil Patrick Harris

neil pThis one is a long shot, as he likely has a contract with CBS that prohibits guest spots on competing networks, but I’d love to see this man on Glee. Last year he hosted the Tonys then the Emmys to great reviews, and he’s appeared on Broadway in Assassins. More recently, Harris took a break from How I Met Your Mother to play Dr. Horrible in Joss Whedon’s Internet musical and was “A Very Smart Fellow” in Prop 8: The Musical.

Naturi Naughton

naturiThe 2009 version of Fame was fun while it lasted but I don’t remember a lot of these kids’ names. The one exception is the fantastic Naturi Naughton, who stole the movie for me. With her acting ability and huge voice I’d love to see her on Glee, perhaps as a member of a rival glee club, battling it out with Amber Riley’s Mercedes.

Patti LuPone

pattiLuPone won her second Tony last year, twenty-nine years after her first one for “Evita”, and she’s even appeared on television before, in a recurring role in the final season of Oz. In the world of musical theatre she’s nothing short of a legend and she’d make a great guest star on Glee.

Patrick Wilson

patrickAlthough primarily a film actor, he’s appeared on Broadway in “Oklahoma” and starred as Raoul in the film adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera”. Despite his film star good looks, he’s often a character actor who takes on unusual roles and would fit right in on Glee.

Lin Manuel-Miranda

lin manuelIn the two-hour premiere of House Lin Manuel-Miranda made an impression as House’s roommate Alvie and I’d love to see him put in an appearance on Glee. Miranda wrote and stared in the Broadway musical “In the Heights”, which recently won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album so he certainly has the talent. Episodes of Glee to date have included all genres of music from country to rap and Broadway, and Miranda’s free-styling would be a great fit.

Adam Lambert

adamA guest appearance by Lambert would not only fit right in with the Glee high school mantra of being yourself, but would also make business sense for Fox, the network behind both shows. Imagine what a crossover could do when Amercan Idol returns in the new year?! Lambert not only has a fantastic voice, but also has the broadway cred, having appeared in the touring cast of Wicked, and with his CD soon to hit stores, an appearance could be a valuable bit of promotion for both parties.

Who would you like to see appear on Glee in the future?


Thanksgiving in TV land

October 12, 2009

slapsgivingAlthough American Thanksgiving isn’t for another month, Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October each year, and as a dedicated TV enthusiast, I choose to celebrate the holidays by watching some of my favourite television characters attend multiple turkey dinners, fight Native American vengeance spirits, and pardon turkeys. Unfortunately the difference in dates between Canadian and American Thanksgiving means that any themed episodes for this television season will air well after “real Thanksgiving”, as Robin Scherbatsky dubs the Canadian holiday. Yet this lack of new Thanksgiving-themed entertainment shouldn’t discourage the Canadian TV enthusiast because there are plenty of classic ‘Turkey Day’ episodes worth re-watching. Below are a few of my favourites.

Gilmore Girls, “A deep-fried Korean Thanksgiving”

gilmoregirlsRory: How do you feel?
Lorelai: I ate tofurkey! How do you think I feel?
Rory: Tofurkier?

This third season episode saw Lorelai and Rory Gilmore committing to four separate Thanksgiving dinners, a feat which tests even their spectacular appetites. The vastly different dinners include tofurky at the Kims’, a deep-fried turkey with Sookie and Jackson, dinner at Luke’s Diner, and Thanksgiving with Rory’s grandparents, where she reveals that she has applied to Yale, much to Lorelai’s horror. Meanwhile, Kirk gets a cat, and Jess and Rory navigate their new relationship.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Pangs”

buffy pangsAnya: Well, I think that’s a shame. I love a ritual sacrifice.
Buffy: It’s not really a one of those.
Anya: To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It’s a ritual sacrifice, with pie.

This fourth season episode featured Buffy deciding to have her first Thanksgiving away from home, but her attempts to have the perfect Thanksgiving are foiled when a Native American spirit begins killing authority figures. While Willow sympathizes with the Native Americans and tries to find a non-violent solution, Xander, who has contracted various diseases experienced by the Natives, has a different idea. Spike, who is no longer able to harm humans, approaches Buffy for help, offering information about the mysterious organization who took him, and Angel returns to Sunnydale to keep an eye on Buffy after his friend has a vision of her in danger.

The West Wing, “Shibboleth”

west wingCJ: They sent me two turkeys. The most photo-friendly of the two gets a Presidential pardon and a full life at a children’s zoo. The runner-up gets eaten.
Bartlet: If the Oscars were like that, I’d watch.

This second season episode is a reminder of what was so great about The West Wing. In it press secretary C.J. has to decide which of two turkeys will be pardoned, and Charlie goes on a quest to find the perfect carving knife for the President. Meanwhile, President Bartlett has his hands full dealing with a ship of illegal immigrants from China who are seeking asylum as persecuted Christians.

Friends, “The One Where Ross Got High”

friendsChandler: Ross sure is a great guy. You know, I’ve always felt that how a young man turns out is a reflection on his father.
Mr. Geller: I always thought that too. Tell, me, what does your father do?
Chandler: He’s a head-liner of a gay burlesque show.

In this sixth season episode, the Gellars come for Thanksgiving, unaware that Chandler and Monica are dating. Chandler attempts to charm his girlfriend’s parents into liking him so he can tell them the truth, but doesn’t realize that the reason the Gellars dislike him is that Ross smoked pot in college and blamed the smell on Chandler when they walked in. Additionally, Rachel inadvertently prepares a disgusting dessert by fusing the recipes for Shepherd’s Pie and English Trifle.

How I Met Your Mother, “Slapsgiving”

marshallMarshall: See what I got going on here, they’re turkeys but they’re also hands. Because later we’re going to eat turkey, and then I’m going to slap you in your face.

When it comes to How I Met Your Mother, the Slap Bet introduced in the second season episode of the same name is perhaps the best thing to happen to the show. I consider all three episodes involving a slap to be classics and this third season episode is no exception. As Marshall and Lily prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving as a married couple for the first time, Marshall creates a new holiday called Slapsgiving, described as “the one day we set aside each year to gather together and give slaps.” As Marshall psychs out Barney over the impending third slap, Ted and Robin realize how hard it is to be friends with your ex, and wonder if they can make it work. If you only have time for one Thanksgiving episode make it this one. You won’t be disappointed.

More Thanksgiving Choices:

This is by no means a complete list. How I Met Your Mother also has the first season episode “Belly Full of Turkey”, where Robin and Ted volunteer at a homeless shelter for the holiday and Lily visits her future in-laws in Minnesota, while The West Wing also has “Indians in the Lobby”, in which the President is disgruntled that he must spend the holiday at Camp David instead of his home, and C.J. deals with two Native Americans camped out in the lobby. The O.C. , known for its Chrismukkah episode, has a Thanksgiving episode in which Summer balks at coming home for the holidays and Ryan seeks revenge on Volchok for the death of Marissa. “Turkeys Away”, an episode of WKRP in Cincinati won an msnbc.com poll for favourite Thanksgiving episode. Certainly the King of Thanksgiving episodes though is Friends, which also featured a memorable episode in which Brad Pitt (married at the time to Jennifer Aniston) guest starred as President of the “I Hate Rachel Green” Club.

Whether you choose to watch or re-watch some of these Thanksgiving-themed episodes, or decide to digest a turkey dinner with the many choices available in new Monday night TV, I wish all my fellow Canadian TV enthusiasts a Happy Thanksgiving!


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