007 movies going non-stop. The big parade marching along. Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. There's nothing like the smorgasbord that is Thanksgiving TV. Okay, so it's a bit tough to see the connection between the holiday, James Bond, and America's favorite problem child. But here you go . . . Thanksgiving is the best holiday because it exists solely for you to relax and do absolutely nothing except eat and watch all kinds of TV with people whose company you enjoy. (Or, in some cases, your family.) With that in mind, here are some shows that will easily help you accomplish that goal.
Thanksgiving Live, Food Network, Monday, 4 p.m./3 p.m. CT
Here's the thing I've always found about Thanksgiving cooking (and I readily confess that I'm guilty of the same thing). Everyone is convinced that their stuffing recipe or their secret pie or their method for cooking a turkey is truly the best. And, as we all often find out two bites into a bird with the consistency of sand or a green bean casserole that looks like something you tell your kids not to play with at the park, these people are usually wrong. That's why it might be a good to take a little advice from professionals like Rachael Ray and Bobbly Flay in this replay of the Food Network's holiday special.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, ABC, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m./7 p.m. CT
Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, Fox, Friday, 8 p.m./7 p.m. CT
I like to think that you can judge all holidays by how many Peanuts specials they get. The more Charlie Brown, the more enjoyable the occasion. So while Christmas, Halloween, and Arbor Day all have their own, Thanksgiving proves itself as the greatest holiday because this week we get two Peanuts events. The former is a classic from my childhood, while the latter first aired last year. But both prove the Peanuts can do what very few other cartoon character do anymore—provide a blend of gentle holiday humor and sentiment that can make even the Grinch-iest of young and old hearts grow by three sizes.
The New Girl, Fox, Tuesday, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT
Every week, I continue to be amazed at how this sophomore sit-com keeps improving. And that's largely because it keeps finding ways to expand. In the beginning, it was a star vehicle driven quite ably by Zooey Deschanel. Then it became a showcase for Max Greenfield's charmingly schmucky Schmidt. This season, though, all the other characters are getting their due. And tonight, more get added to the mix in a special Thanksgiving episode: Jamie Lee Curtis and Rob Reiner step in as Deschanel's divorced parents and comedian Rob Riggle as Schmidt's brother. If previous episodes are any indication, this new installment should be equal parts strange and sweet. (Which, by the way, is how my cranberry apple pie with a walnut glaze has been described….)
Liz and Dick, Lifetime, Sunday, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT
Here's all you have to know about this TV movie. Lindsay Lohan is playing Elizabeth Taylor. What isn't entertaining about the very idea of America's most infamous tabloid target portraying one of America's most legendary (and occasionally infamous herself) actresses? Both women have had lives that played out on the front pages, so it will be fascinating to see what Lohan (who used to be a pretty talented actress before she started staying out past midnight) can do in this tale of Taylor's love-hate-love relationship with Richard Burton (played here by Grant Bowler).
Bond Movie Marathon, Starts Thursday, SyFy, 5:30 a.m./4:30 a.m. CT
Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" more than an endless stream of deadly gadgets, fistfights, and women with vaguely pornographic names. After all, what red-blooded American male isn't thankful for any film that happens to include all of those items? So, SyFy is giving guys what they want in honor of the new Bond movie, Skyfall, by airing a two-day marathon of 007 films starting with the original—Dr. No—and sailing through to 2008's Quantum Of Solace. This should make a nice break for all guys who might otherwise spend the holiday watching football. Just be forewarned that you might need to turn it off for a while if you feel the need to have your cranberry sauce shaken and not stirred.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NBC, Thursday, 9 a.m.
This is the most challenging of the reviews to write this week. And it's not because there's nothing exciting about the 86th edition of this Thanksgiving tradition. Rather, it's the opposite. This may well be my favorite TV viewing experience, so I am trying very hard to resist the usual urge to make some kind of smart aleck remark. Ever since my kids were babies, we've made it a point to get up, get breakfast, and watch Spiderman and SpongeBob float down Broadway. We've listened to every high school marching band known to man. We've seen bad lip-syncing by the casts of hit musicals. There's something that's just so relentlessly innocent and happy about the whole thing that watching it can leave you feeling like you're a 10-year-old again. And on this one day where the goal is to relax as much as possible, feeling like a kid for a few hours is very easy to get used to.
The National Dog Show, NBC, Thursday, Noon
Thanksgiving Day television has always had something for everyone. There's football for the guys. There's usually a romantic movie marathon or two for women. There are cartoon specials for the kids. In their desire for ratings, though, the networks always seemed to forget the one demo that attracts the most attention around the house: the family pooch. Luckily, NBC has started (wait for it….wait for it…) throwing those dogs a bone by broadcasting The National Dog Show. It's fun for the humans to watch, so we can see cute dogs and owners who have scarily started to look like each other. And it's fun for your dogs to watch because it distracts them from coordinating the best plan for stealing table scraps.
Hatfields and McCoys, History. Thursday, 6 p.m./5 p.m. CT
One of the great Thanksgiving traditions is eating leftovers. You enjoy your meal the first time, sure, but there's something even more comforting about eating it again later. It just feels more familiar, somehow. More satisfying. Which is probably the best explanation for the replay of this miniseries that set ratings records when it originally aired earlier this year. It was a detailed, if somewhat traditional, look at America's most famous feud (if you don't count that whole Donald Trump-Rosie O'Donnell thing). And is certainly worth a second look over turkey sandwiches and cold stuffing.
New England Patriots-New York Jets, NBC, Thursday, 8:30 p.m./7:30 p.m. CT
I know some families who have actually substituted ham for Thanksgiving turkey. And others who have opted to avoid inviting anyone over for dinner. Breaking these traditions is a bit unusual, but there is one Turkey Day habit that nobody seems willing to suspend: watching football. This is as much a Thanksgiving staple as watching a long simmering family feud bubble to the top by the time dessert is served. And, once that's resolved, perhaps everyone can forget their gripes by watching the world's greatest football team (I couldn't help myself . . . I'm hoping a Patriot or two might read this and I wanted to make a good impression) take on their archrivals and some guy named Tebow.