MAKE ROOM FOR TURKEY: A Forgotten Sitcom Thanksgiving

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, we’re celebrating the turkiest of holidays, Thanksgiving! I’ve gone through several different ideas for what I wanted to do with this post — including a dish that I think I’ll put away and freeze for next year — before deciding to give you a fast food delight: an early sitcom Thanksgiving that you likely haven’t seen before…

From the first year of Danny Thomas’ series, initially titled Make Room For Daddy, here’s Episode #9, “Thanksgiving Story,” which was written by Bob Fisher & Alan Lipscott, directed by Sheldon Leonard, and originally broadcast by ABC on November 24, 1953.

If you’re only familiar with the series under its second title, The Danny Thomas Show, which it took on in 1956 following the departure of leading lady Jean Hagen, this is a treat! While current syndication packages include all seven years with Danny’s second wife, played by Marjorie Lord, along with the transitional 1956-’57 season (which we spotlighted years ago in a tribute to Mary Wickes), this is one of the 90 episodes produced with Hagen that haven’t been formally seen on TV since the 1960s. (I believe that’s the source of this particular episode — note The Danny Thomas Show opening and closing credits.) About a third of the Hagen shows are known to circulate among collectors — I myself have 34/90 — and it’s now become mainstream opinion to celebrate them as being more realistic and character-driven. Frankly, I’ve not yet seen enough to go that far, but this episode, about Danny having to do a benefit in Boston on Thanksgiving, seems based on Thomas’ own life. (Note: Melville Shavelson is credited as a Story Consultant and guests include the recurring Ben Lessy, along with Will Wright, Jerry Hausner, Peter Leeds, and Robert North.) It’s charming — never hilarious like an I Love Lucy, but perfect with a side of mashed potatoes! Enjoy.

 

 

Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more Drew Carey!

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