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Sitcoms celebrate Thanksgiving with holiday themes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We still have a week until Thanksgiving but, as with retail stores, radio stations and ads, Christmas has already come to some parts of the tube.

The Hallmark Channel has been playing Christmas movies and specials nearly round the clock since last Saturday, for instance, and Lifetime starts in on Friday, with at least eight hours of movies almost every day. ABC Family, once satisfied with just 25 Days of Christmas, begins its Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas programming on Sunday.

Thanksgiving isn't completely ignored on TV, though. In addition to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and specials like "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC), many networks sitcoms still show love for the holiday.

Some already have, like ABC's Wednesday night comedies. They're either pre-empted or in reruns on Thanksgiving eve, so they showed their Thanksgiving episodes this past week. The network's other two comedies -- "Happy Endings" and "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" -- air theirs at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, respectively.

On NBC, "Up All Night" is the only Thursday night show hitching its plot to the holiday, with a Thanksgiving episode at 8:30 p.m. tonight. "Go On" and "The New Normal" will do the same at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, as will "Guys with Kids" at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

On CBS, "Mike & Molly" is the lone sitcom participant, at 9:30 p.m. Monday. Fox has two animated Thanksgiving episodes with "The Cleveland Show" and "Bob's Burgers" at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, and all its Tuesday comedies ("Raising Hope," "Ben and Kate," "The New Girl," "The Mindy Project") are variations on the theme.

It make sense that sitcoms more often have Thanksgiving episodes than dramas since most sitcoms are centered on families or groups of friends, and that's a major part of what the holiday's about. After all, as Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) said in a past Thanksgiving episode of "The Middle," "I want family in this house. Otherwise, it's not Thanksgiving; it's just overeating!"

Speaking of food, the big meal is, of course, the other key part of the holiday, and I'd imagine it's easier to build a 30-minute episode around that than an hour-long one. However, although dramas are less likely to acknowledge the holiday in a full-on themed episode, some do so in a passing or secondary manner.

For instance, there will be Thanksgiving-related subplots on CBS' "The Good Wife" at 9 p.m. Sunday and "NCIS" at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Among the other disasters encountered on NBC's "Chicago Fire" at 10 p.m. Wednesday is an out-of-control deep-fried turkey fire.

I like Thanksgiving because I like getting together with my family. The characters on TV shows aren't part of my family, but they're part of my life. They're a part that relaxes and entertains me, maybe cheers me up when I'm having a bad day, and I'm thankful for that.

If you don't care about Thanksgiving, don't worry; the special Christmas episodes are just around the corner.

•••

Series premiere: "Ghost Town Gold," 10 p.m. Thursday, Discovery (miniseries with Western memorabilia hunters).

Season premieres: "Mysteries at the Museum," 9 p.m. Thursday, Travel; "Sister Wives," 9 p.m. Sunday, TLC; "The Layover with Anthony Bourdain," 9 p.m. Monday, Travel.

Season finales: "America's Next Top Model," 8 p.m. Friday, CW; "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team," 9 p.m. Friday, CMT; "Rehab with Dr. Drew," 8 p.m. Sunday, VH1; "Covert Affairs," 10 p.m. Tuesday, USA.

Specials: "Restore the Shore," 11 p.m. Thursday, MTV (live "Jersey Shore" Hurricane Sandy benefit); "We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston," 10 p.m. Friday, CBS; "The American Music Awards," 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC; "The Dust Bowl," 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday, PBS (Ken Burns documentary); "Inventing David Geffen: American Masters," 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS.

Of note: Vice President Joe Biden appears on "Parks and Recreation," 9:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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