Thanksgiving had always seemed like a gratuitous holiday to me, and unnecessarily time-consuming given the impending season. I have lately come to regard it as perhaps the most catholic holiday we have, short of July 4. It's relatively non-denominational. No one says you have to give thanks to God. Give thanks to "Bob," if you like — just remember how lucky you are to be able to lay around and watch football and parades.
Not me. First thing Thursday morning, I'm watching Tantrums and Tiaras, (11/27; 7:15am, MAX), the outrageous documentary about Elton John. Somebody at Cinemax recognized the need for emergency programming for those of us not disposed toward football games (this in no way diminishes my love for the Dallas Cowboys and I plan to watch them stampede the Oilers) and parades, and plopped the Tiny Terror on early in the morning. If I stick around, I can watch Stevie Ray Vaughan in Back to the Beach (8:30am). MAX seems to be going for the feel-good films, comedies, and action films — Indian Summer (10am), Pretty In Pink (11:45am), Days of Thunder (3pm), Never Say Never Again (7pm) — for their Turkey Day fun.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) presents a day of Oscar-winning Best Films beginning with 1931's Cimarron (6am) and followed by 1959's Ben-Hur(8:10am) with Charlton Heston. Yeehaw! Chariot races before noon! Stay tuned for Chariots of Fire (noon), An American in Paris (2:05pm), Casablanca (4pm), Gigi (6pm), Gone With the Wind(8pm), and From Here to Eternity (midnight). More winners continue into the night with Annie Hall (2am) and Mutiny on the Bounty (3:45am).
Our other classic films channel available through the Time Warner cable system, American Movie Classics, decided we needed a little Hope — Bob Hope, of course. My Favorite Brunette (5am, AMC) The Great Lover (6:30pm), and The Princess and the Pirate (8am) set the tone for the day. After that, it's Hope and Bing Crosby all the way with The Road to Singapore (9:35am), The Road to Zanzibar (11am), The Road to Morocco (12:45pm), The Road to Utopia (2:15pm), The Road to Rio (3:45pm), and finally, The Road to Bali (5:30pm). I'm not sure why I'm passing this information along; I think Bob Hope is a jerk, but I like AMC and try to include something for everyone.
Like Cinemax, HBO has a pastiche of films showing all day, beginning with the sequel to Terms of Endearment, The Evening Star (11/27; 7am), and some of them are worth a look. 1988's In Crowd (9:15am) is one such film. This slight tale of love behind the scenes of a Sixties teen dance show is not a wholly successful effort, but one with a great deal of charm. Later in the afternoon, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (2pm) and Some Kind of Wonderful (4pm) will give the holiday that special John Hughes sheen.
VH1 runs a a rarely seen performance of The Wizard of Oz Concert on its Concerts (9am) series. A one-time-only event to benefit the Children's Defense Fund, it was recently filmed at Lincoln Center and features the score plus songs deleted from the original 1939 version. The cast includes Jewel (Dorothy), Debra Winger (the Wicked Witch), Natalie Cole (Glinda). Joel Grey (the Wizard), Roger Daltry, Jackson Browne, Dr. John, Phoebe Snow, Ry Cooder, and Ronnie Spector. Can you say all-star line-up? Three episodes of Behind the Music(noon, 1pm, 2pm) feature M.C. Hammer, Boy George, and Fleetwood Mac, respectively, as Billy Joel and Garth Brooks are the subjects of two episodes of Storytellers (3pm, 4pm). For those of you who have lived for two decades with burning, unanswered questions, The Making of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band (7pm) runs later in the evening. As a cure, there are four hours of Pop-Up Videos in the wee hours of the morning (1am-5am). I saw a new PUV recently for The Clash's "Rock the Casbah," filmed here in Austin during their Combat Rock tour. They neglected to mention that opening act Stevie Ray Vaughan had been booed offstage during the filming of the live footage.
MTV has more of that dang ol' Sports & Music Festival to air (11/27, 8am) on Turkey Day morning. Hope you like Will Smith because you'll be seeing a lot him today. Will Smith's Greatest MTV Moments (11am, 4:30pm) bookends the four-hour Will TV (11:30pm). Fortunately, Beavis & Butt-head Do Thanksgiving with Kurt Loder (10am, 5pm, 10pm) runs three times throughout the day; you'll be glad it did after four episodes of Sex in the 90s (8pm). If you're waiting for Pop-Up Videos to start, check out the four Daria episodes (midnight).
It's the day after Thanksgiving. Most of the country will be suffering post-Turkey Day bloat. A slightly smaller portion will be milling about living rooms, wearing black, and saying "huh-huh" in hushed tones. Count me in the latter category; it's the last Beavis and Butt-head (11/28; 9pm) show and they're dead. The tragic prelude begins the night before (Beavis and Butt-head 11/27, 7pm).
I come to bury Beavis and Butt-head, but I'll praise them too. For a TV show that started out banned from viewing inside my household, it is practically required watching (blame my pal Weezer). Beavis and Butt-head were disgusting, uncouth, rude, and utterly hysterical. Unlike The Simpsons, Beavis made no pretense of social commentary, which made the point better sometimes. No rock critic ever summed up the excess of music videos as well as the boys, and many was time when they'd express openly what I was thinking. I mourn the passing of Beavis and Butt-head. *
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