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Thanksgiving Tale, A

USA



Original Air Date:
1983
Channel:
Showtime
Prod. Co.:
Paul Fusco Productions
Genre:
Thanksgiving special
 

0
Votes
Characters & Voices
Tom -
 
"A Thanksgiving Tale" is a work of brilliance. This children's special was first aired on Showtime in 1983. It was performed with puppets by some of the same people who went on to do "Alf."

It is the story of Tom, a nerdy turkey with dreams of show biz success on the legitimate stage. He gets off his bus at the wrong stop, and ends up in New Jersey. (When the bus driver said "Newark," Tom mistook this for "New York.") Tom hooks up with a group of cats, who offer him a bed for the night. Tom doesn't realize their real intention: To eat him the next day as their Thanksgiving dinner! A group of dogs living in the same alley come to Tom's rescue. The story of the conflict between the cats and dogs eventually mirrors the traditional (perhaps, not so PC or historically accurate) portrayal of cooperation and sharing between Native Americans and the early American settlers during the first Thanksgiving.

This synopsis might suggest a cloying, overly sentimental kid's story. But in a move that was way ahead of its time, this show avoided making their characters cute and sugary. The cats and dogs bicker like a dysfunctional family. They are selfish and self involved. Even in the end, during their Thanksgiving pageant, they retain their recalcitrant personalities. "I don't know how I got talked into this!" one irritable dog yells out from backstage, unhappy at having to wear a dorky Indian outfit in the pageant. "I hope my mother isn't watching."

Tom is a hilarious and sweet creation of self delusion, stupidity and show biz egomania. Although he's the character with the least understanding of what is happening, and with the least amount of power to affect the action, he eventually emerges as the voice of both reason and kindness. He is the heart of the story. (I'm just sorry we didn't get to hear him do his Elvis impersonation.)

Each cat and dog is vested with their own unique personality. Costume and production design are top notch. The clubhouse the cats live in is very "real," with dirty windows and clutter. One character wore a necklace made out of paperclips. Tom's bag has a copy of "Variety" stuffed into it. These details enhance the story.

As with "The Simpsons," there are many subtle references to pop culture. Watch closely for allusions to Tennessee Williams, Cary Grant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" TV game show, and Bob Dylan's unique singing style. If you get a chance to see "A Thanksgiving Tale," don't miss it.

- Kevin-94
 
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In 1956, DC Comics executive Paul Levitz was born.