Being Thankful for Thanksgiving Specials

Thanksgiving always seems to be a bit of a no-man’s land holiday. Wedged between the “cool kids’” Halloween and the consumer-palooza that is Christmas, Thanksgiving in the United States is usually just a day to eat food and get a preview for how uncomfortable Christmas dinner with these same people will be in three weeks. At least once upon a time my family had a “let’s just get Chinese food” tradition, but lamentably that too seems to be a faded memory…

Because of this rather nebulous state, Thanksgiving doesn’t tend to have big holiday specials or events. Even the Thanksgiving Day Parade, once a staple of the holiday, has become a reason for celebrities to hock their latest projects and it has mostly been taken over by Christmas as well, after all everyone waits to see Santa at the end of it.

Despite this, some great Thanksgiving episodes of TV shows have been made. I took a moment to list a few of my very favorites:

Seinfeld: The Mom and Pop Store

The Gang at Tim Whatley’s Pre-Thanksgiving Day Party. Though Jerry Crashed…

Following the Seinfeld rules of “no learning and no hugging” this episode takes place with Thanksgiving as kind of a backdrop, without the episode being about anyone being thankful or hitting anyone in the feels.   Elaine wins her boss, Mr. Pitt, the opportunity to hold one of the ropes of the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Macy’s Parade. The gang goes to Tim Whatley’s party to view the parade and the trophy she won along with the tickets falls out the window and pops the balloon. This episode also contains the Jon Voight car and Jerry sneaking into Whatley’s party to get dental advice (he wasn’t invited because he’s an instigator). The namesake comes from Kramer’s business with a shoe repair shop he accidentally gets shut down for code violations. The episode ends with a great Midnight Cowboy.

Frasier: A Very Lilith Thanksgiving

That turkey mysteriously vanishes while Niles is cooking it later this episode…

One of my favorite episodes of this venerable show. Frasier and his ex-wife Lilith are desperate to get their son Frederick accepted into the prestigious Marbury Academy. The dean of admissions can only interview them briefly just before Thanksgiving and hilarity ensues. Frasier was always at its best when it was played as a stage farce and this is that quality perfected. Frasier and Lilith obsess over what they said in the interview, make multiple, increasingly cringe-worthy visits to the dean (one of which includes mention of Golda Meir’s little known relative “Oscar”), steal the Crane family turkey, and cause a huge fight in the Dean’s family. In typical sitcom fashion everything works out of course, though in typical Frasier fashion not like anyone expects.

Frasier: The Apparent Trap

Are they getting remarried for real? Frasier’s face says it all…
“What’s this joyous news I hear?”

Yes there are TWO episodes of Frasier and yes they both have Lilith in them, and it has nothing to do with my celebrity crush on Bebe Neuwirth. In this episode Lilith and Frederick end up stuck in Seattle for Thanksgiving and Frederick seems to be trying to maneuver his parents to get back together. Through more excellent farce setup, Frederick puts the seeds of this concept into each of his parents’ minds, and both Frasier and Lilith seek council (Frasier from Martin, Lilith from Niles) about what to do. The absolute discomfort the two of them feel just before they discover that Frederick has been setting them up is gloriously funny. This episode also has some of my favorite all-time Frasier quotes: Frasier (upon hearing Lilith’s date caught something from lab rats): “Now, nobody ever got anything from a rat that wasn’t resolved in a day or two;” Martin (Instructed to find a subtle way to tell Frasier if he think Lilith is coming on to him): “Run for your life!” and Niles (after hearing from Frederick that Frasier and Lilith are getting remarried, in an absolutely flawless strained line reading): “What’s this joyous news I hear?” It is family holiday anxiety to the extreme.

Spin City: The Competition

The fun starts at 4:00 in…

The City Council challenges Mike and the Mayor’s office to a competition to see who can feed the most homeless people turkey dinners (Mike: “Did she just question….my stones?”). The loser has to perform a song at a press event. During some great, typical sitcom setup Mike and crew are Daffy Duck’d into picking the worse shelter, have to improvise their cooking, and deal with personal issues, including James’ girlfriend (played by Jennifer Garner) coming to visit him from home. The absolute payoff of this episode comes after the credits, when Mike and the Mayor’s office have to sing “So Long Farewell” from The Sound of Music at a press event, having lost the bet. Their deadpan delivery of this song is one of the funniest events in the show’s run.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: The Dressing

The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future (aka “Hustlin’ Tom Turkey”)

Yes this absurdist show had a Thanksgiving episode, and it’s a great one. The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future returns in a new “sleek turkey body” interrupting the Aqua Teens’ Thanksgiving dinner with Carl (he stayed outside for fear of catching “some disease,” though his roll was wet…). During typical Aqua Teens nonsense the story told by TCGoCPftF’s story is disassembled and he’s discovered to be a malfunctioning “Hustlin’ Tom Turkey.” Though apparently his old sock is still laser-guided… The story ends as dozens of Tom Turkey descend on the Aqua Teens’ home only to be sent next door to Carl’s where they unleash laser-guided sock vengeance upon him for eating a turkey leg. It’s ridiculous, hilarious, and contains a burned taco pie. What else could we want?

BONUS! Addams Family Values

As a bonus I have to bring up Addams Family Values. Not only is this one of the rare sequels superior to the original film, but it also has one of my favorite Thanksgiving moments in media history. Sure a lot of people point to other movies as “Thanksgiving Movies” (Sorry, I don’t like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…) but how many of those have an original Thanksgiving play including a song?! Not just any song but a great song.  Yes, a turkey just yells at the audience to “Eat ME!”

Halloween Art Contest: Rats in the Walls

Even though I’ve been an illustrator essentially my entire life I’ve never been one to receive accolades or awards for my artwork. While friends genuinely seem to like my work, my experiences in college tended to show me that a lot of people enjoy the “art school” look rather than my kind of improvisational home-spun style.

When my RevPub partner suggested I enter the Halloween art contest at a local art supply store I was hesitant. I’ve previously lost two painting competitions and an illustration award so I didn’t have high hopes, but it sounded fun and different. The catch was it could be done in any media, but had to be on black canvas.

After some consideration I thought I’d try my hand at drawing “in the negative” using white chalk on black, filling in the light rather than shadows. Not only did I enjoy it almost as much as pencil, it reinvigorated my creative side as doing something new made the entire creative process seem like an entirely fresh experience.

It had to be “Halloween” based but that could just be anything horror or creepy related. I decided on an interpretation from H.P. Lovecraft’s Rats in the Walls.

The Original Pencil Sketch. I always start with little rough drawings that to give me some idea where I’ll go when it gets real…
It started well. My pencil sharpener ate the chalk…



I sketched it in pencil first and wished I hadn’t. It didn’t erase as cleanly as the chalk.
I did a shape of a figure back-lit in the door.
HP Lovecraft is writing the tale in the background.
The rat designs were inspired by the Skaven books I’ve read.


The finished product!

Not only was it fun, but it turns out I won the staff pick!  Great fun at Jerry’s Artarama in Nashville!

Jerry’s Artarama Facebook page.

Originals and Remakes: Horror Films that Need a Modern Remake

We hope you’ve enjoyed our October Original vs. Remake series. We had a blast comparing them, and we hope you’ve tried at least a couple!

We also understand many have grown tired of the remake trend; however, a few horror movies need a remake. Whether getting back to classics or bringing light to underrated movies, we wanted to conclude the series with something a little different. Theses movies could and need a modern remake:

James’ Picks:

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920)

The original film in 1920 was a silent German expressionist masterpiece borne out of the inter-war period in Europe. It is a story told from the perspective of one character and actually has a twist worth something (if you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil it here). The main plot revolves around a mad doctor, Caligari, who uses a sleepwalker, Cesare, to murder for him. It is shot with painted shadows, twisted imagery, and a warped perspective as the narrator shares his own mentally distorted view of what happened. I can imagine this film, shot by a talented director using practical effects (Edgar Write I’m looking at you..) for a modern audience relieving some of the abstract and abbreviated storytelling prevalent in the silent era. There was a 2006 remake, but one, true to the original, of wider scope and scale would do this amazing classic justice.

White Zombie (1932)

I first saw this film in a zombie-thon when I was a teenager. It came on with Romero pictures and was distinctly out of place and, for me, unusual. As an adult I’ve come to appreciate just how fascinating this film is and how great a remake would be. It focuses on Madeleine and her fiance Neil. A wealthy plantation owner, Charles, is also in love with Madeleine and enlists a voodoo mystic (played here by the glorious Bela Lugosi…someone would have to up their game to play this role) Murder Legendre (though his name is not really heard in the film except for maybe one piece of dialogue). In a great scene we see Murder use his powers to turn Madeleine into a voodoo zombie, a status of wakeful hypnosis fully under Murder’s control. What would make this a great remake? Well getting back to the original voodoo zombies, powerful zombie masters, great characters straight from the origins of horror (Dr. Bruner is Van Helsing in all but name.) A great modern remake could, again, fill in a vague story from the dawn of horror cinema and bring this tale to a modern audience. Plus it would introduce people to how the zombie legend originated. Let’s face it, the flesh-eating zombie thing is kind of done, whether it be from unknown causes or disease or whatever they cook up. Let’s put some magic back in zombie movies and tell a great classic story in a new way.

Raven’s Picks

Cherry Falls (2000)

Brittany Murphy Cherry Falls
Photo from:

Cherry Falls ranks as my favorite teen slasher. However, many have never seen or heard of it. I realize that a remake would seem a little insensitive to Brittany Murphy, but I bet she would be honored knowing this movie received the attention it deserves. There are two reasons why Cherry Falls needs a remake. First, it was never released in the U.S. I’m guessing Hollywood thought it was too influential, as the storyline suggests teens must lose their virginity to survive. If America’s youth are that easily influenced, it’s time to look at the parents. Second, we haven’t had a good teen slasher since Scream 4, and that was in a series. I can’t remember the last good teen slasher. Hollywood needs to stop making crap that no one wants to see and get back to basics. Cherry Falls had an original storyline – gasp! – and serves horror well, as it’s dark, funny, gruesome, and entertaining. The horror film industry needs to cut back on CGI ghosts and jump scares, and get back to making movies that rely on a good story and actors.

Cabin by the Lake (2000)

Cabin by the Lake

Cabin by the Lake – a USA Network-release – is gold. In fact, good luck finding a DVD copy under $40, and you can find a lower-quality version on YouTube. Judd Nelson plays a writer/serial killer, and Hedy Burress is a fantastic final girl. Nelson not only kills them, he has created an underground garden of victims deep in the lake. The movie is funny, suspenseful and entertaining. A Cabin by the Lake remake would bring back a theme that has disappeared: the crazy writer. I mean a writer who is unbalanced and disturbed on his/her own, not one driven crazy by a supernatural force. The original story is different and refreshing, and again, it would be nice to see Hollywood get back to basics. I enjoy horror movies for a number of reasons, but entertainment value tops the list. Minus a few, modern horror movies are no longer entertaining. They focus too much on mood and CGI, and not enough on the story or character development.

If done correctly, all of these remakes would get Hollywood back on track, and introduce new and forgotten stories and elements to modern audiences. We hope good screenplay writers out there will pay attention!

We’d love to hear what movies you think could use a remake or reboot! Feel free to tell us in the comments or on social media.