On Oct. 30, 1978, just before Halloween, what is arguably the funniest, best-written, Thanksgiving-themed sitcom episode ever aired as part of WKRP in Cincinnati‘s first season.
My family used to loyally watch WKRP, and as a kid I thought it was pretty funny. It wasn’t until I watched reruns in the 1990s after working as a disc jockey that I realized how spot on this show was. It was one of these series people in radio could really respect, but the humor and characters were hilarious enough to be appreciated by everybody.
Hence the beauty of “Turkeys Away.” This is the episode where the Thanksgiving turkey drop promotion goes horribly wrong, resulting in some fowl chaos on the streets of Cincinnati and one of the most perfectly written sitcom closing lines I’ve heard. Here’s the famous clip, for those who either haven’t seen it (or haven’t seen it yet this year).
One of the reasons WKRP was so well done is the show creator, Hugh Wilson, is a former radio man. The turkey drop was inspired by a real-life failed promotion from a Texas radio station.
These failures are comedy lovers’ gains. The “Turkeys Away” episode is beyond comedy classic. It has inspired countless fanart and t-shirt designs you can find on everything from Etsy to Tee Public.
However, the turkey drop idea endures. There’s a small town in Arkansas that has been doing it for years, and not everyone is happy about it.
There are very few situation comedy episodes that really stand the test of time. Even in these days where more and more comedy is being “cancelled” or criticized, the staff and air talent at WKRP still brings people of several generations some seasonal laughs.
If only Mr. Carlson had thought to use wild turkeys like in Arkansas…they can fly pretty well.