The Popcorn Stand: Happy Thanksgiving, from ‘WKRP’

A few days ago I wrote about weird Thanksgiving traditions and now on this Thanksgiving Day, I continue my weird Thanksgiving tradition: It’s my second annual homage to “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

It was in 1978 when the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati” episode aired when Arthur Carlson came up with a Thanksgiving Day promotion. Carlson proclaimed after his disastrous promotion he thought of every detail. Every detail except one.

Turkeys can’t fly. Or at least turkeys are really unable to fly at heights where they’re dropped out of a helicopter. Of course we actually don’t see the disastrous results of Carlson’s promotion of dropping live turkeys from mid-air.

But we can imagine the “humanity,” as WKRP reporter Les Nessman described it. Being able to imagine what it would look like when a bunch of live turkeys hit the ground while Les Nessman described simultaneously the horror — while showing the horror on his face — of the scene was what made this episode such a classic. Or as Nessman put it the live turkeys were dropping like “sacks of wet cement.”

Another factor that makes the scene so great is Nessman is a somewhat clueless, naive reporter. You can watch the scene where Nessman describes the carnage here:

And the line uttered by Carlson at the end of the episode also remains a classic: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

I always wondered what Carlson expected to happen if as he thought, turkeys could indeed fly. Were they just going to fly away? Or were they suppose to fly safely to the ground? And when that happened were the people supposed to try to catch the turkeys or what? Because you know they weren’t going to stay still.

Anyway it’s a classic episode I’ll never forget. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

— Charles Whisnand


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