TV Guide

What to Watch on TV Thanksgiving Weekend

Don’t be stressed by the oversized buffet of options. Here’s a helpful guide to the TV specials and marathons worth sampling over Thanksgiving weekend.

11.27.13 10:45 AM ET

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re going to eat too much and drink too much and ask relatives prying questions and shop like animals and most importantly sit in front of the TV for hours, nay, days on end and it’s not just acceptable, it’s expected.

Yet distressingly, the buffet of TV viewing options offered over Thanksgiving weekend is as wide and varied as that of the grandest Thanksgiving feast, presenting an anxiety-inducing series of issues: What to watch? For how long? Where to find it? The myriad of options…it’s all too much.

To ease the stress, we’ve combed through the dozens (and dozens) of specials and marathons planned for the long weekend, hand-picking a handful that are worth sampling. There’s some Gaga, some Charlie Brown, some 007, and some miniature schnauzers. In other words, there’s something for everyone. Mangia.

Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular

This image released by ABC shows performer Lady Gaga, center, with muppet characters Miss Piggy, left, and Kermit the Frog in a promotional photo for the upcoming show "Lady Gaga & The Muppets' Holiday Spectacular," airing Thursday, Nov. 28  at 9:30 EST on ABC. (AP Photo/ABC, Rick Rowell)

Rick Rowell/ABC

Lady Gaga? Super weird. Love her. The Muppets. So weird. Love them. This pairing makes no sense. It should be amazing. Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kristen Bell, and RuPaul will also appear, because why not.

Thurs., Nov. 28 at 9:30 p.m. EST on ABC

The National Dog Show

THE NATIONAL DOG SHOW PRESENTED BY PURINA -- Pictured: Wire Fox Terrier, Best in Show winner for 2012 -- (Photo by: Bill McCay/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Bill McCay/NBC, via Getty

There’s one parade that gets all the attention on Thanksgiving Day, with bloated, billowing versions of Snoopy, SpongeBob SquarePants and Elmo and terrifying Tim Burton creatures inching through the New York streets with so much lethargy you’d think they were filled with gaseous tryptophan instead of helium. It is an American injustice that Macy’s dog-and-sponge show upstages the one parade worth watching each Thanksgiving: of trotting terriers, dachshunds, greyhounds, and dogue de bordeaux(es?).

The National Dog Show is a treat each year, brimming with the silliest looking little doggies you have ever seen being felt up by old men in three-piece tuxedos while slightly overweight handlers try desperately not to appear winded while jogging alongside their charges. John Hurley will be providing color commentary this year. It will be amazing. And if you really want this to be a holiday everyone will be thankful, you’ll follow up the competition with a screening of Best in Show. Come for Posey’s braces. Stay for Coolidge’s lips.

Thurs., Nov. 28 at 12 p.m. EST on NBC


This photo released by Warner Bros shows the cast of "Friends" from the final episode which wil air May 6, 2004 on NBC. It was taken in Burbank, Calif, Friday, Jan. 23, 2004. From left are Jennifer Aniston as Rachel, Matt LeBlanc as Joey, David Schwimmer as Ross, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe, Matthew Perry as Chandler and Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica. (AP Photo/Danny Feld, Warner Bros)

Danny Feld/Warner Bros., via AP

They say friends are the family you choose, while family is the family you’re stuck with. It’s a charming phrase that turns upsettingly dark once you’re stuck with said family for a prolonged feast with a side of nagging and personal questions on Thanksgiving. So skip the darkness, plop yourself on a couch, and spend the holiday with the family you choose, your friends. As in THE Friends.

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In a wise bit of programming, considering the NBC sitcom’s annual Thanksgiving episodes earned legendary status, TBS will be airing all 10 said episodes of the series in a Thanksgiving Day marathon. What to look forward to more? Brad Pitt being evil to Jennifer Aniston or Monica dancing with a turkey on her head??? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Thurs., Nov. 28 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. EST on TBS

Harry Potter

In this film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, from left, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe are shown in a scene from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." The movie pulled in $21.9 million to become the franchise's top-grossing chapter at $318.5 million domestically. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Jaap Buitendijk)

Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros., via AP

While The Hunger Games may have holiday-appropriate naming to its advantage—“hunger”…Thanksgiving…get it?—Katniss Everdeen shouldn’t be the only YA-franchise-turned-pop-culture-phenomenon we’re talking about this Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a holiday about giving, Katniss, stop hogging the attention.

Treat Hunger Games fatigue with a three-night Harry Potter marathon. Potterpalooza begins on Thanksgiving Day and continues until Saturday, culminating with the network premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2, which, in case you’ve been cursed with a memory charm, was an epically awesome movie. Team Peeta? Team Gale? Team Potter.

Begins Thurs., Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. EST on ABC Family, concluding with the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 premiere Sat., Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. EST

James Bond

FILE - This publicity file photo released by Columbia Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond in the action adventure film, "Skyfall." Agent 007 is real to millions of moviegoers, and once again they will flock to see Bond battle for queen and country when his 23rd official screen adventure, "Skyfall," opens fall 2012. (AP Photo/Sony Pictures, Francois Duhamel, File)

Francois Duhamel/Sony Pictures, via AP

For those who prefer their apple cider shaken and not stirred, Syfy will be airing its annual two-day James Bond marathon, including Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale. Be warned that watching 007 rescue bikini-clad damsels in distress with his hands tied behind his back while hanging upside down from a helicopter as Russian spies shoot sniper rifles at him will make your “today I put on sweatpants and ate four bowls of mashed potatoes and various portions of six different pies” day seem woefully insignificant.

If you’re still in the mood for seconds, Syfy will be marathon-ing all weekend. The network will beam down six Star Trek movies on Saturday, while Sunday features an airing of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skulls.

Begins Thurs., Nov. 28 at 1 a.m. EST and continues to Sun., Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. EST

Charlie Brown

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect: on what we’re thankful, how we can give more…and how freaking old we are. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the airing of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The special debuted in 1973, with Charlie Brown earnestly trying to impress the Peanuts gang with a holiday feast but ending up humiliated when Snoopy and Woodstock serve his guests toast and popcorn as the main dishes. Related: this is a Thanksgiving dinner I would very much like to have.

If you’re craving more Peanuts before Thursday’s signature dish, ABC Family is showing a marathon of Peanuts movies: Race for Your Life; Snoopy, Come Home; Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown; and A Boy Named Charlie Brown. So, you know, the ones you’ve never heard of.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs Thurs., Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. ABC Family’s Peanuts marathon begins Wed., Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. EST.

Bob’s Burgers

BOB'S BURGERS: The kids' can't believe their dad is a good teacher  in the all-new "Bob And Deliver" episode of BOB'S BURGERS airing Sunday, Dec. 8 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.   BOB'S BURGERS ™ and © 2013 TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Bob’s Burgers is airing a Thanksgiving special on Sunday night titled “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” and it will be delightful. I haven’t seen it, but I know it will be delightful because—have you been watching Bob’s Burgers?—it’s a delightful show! The animated comedy has quickly become the highlight of Fox’s Sunday night lineup. Your good deed to, err, yourself this Thanksgiving should be to spend the long weekend catching up on irreverent, sassy, and razor-sharp comedy if you haven’t seen it yet. There’s only been 52 episodes so far, which, OK, is a lot. But they’re 22 minutes long, so that’s less than 20 hours. And ‘tis the season for gluttony, anyway.

“An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” airs Sun., Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. EST on FOX. Catch up on Bob’s Burgers on Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE premieres Tuesday, Sept. 17 (8:30-9:00 ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Mary Ellen Matthews/FOX

Mary Ellen Matthews/Fox

It’s been kind of a bummer year for new network comedies. The Michael J. Fox Show started off with a brilliant pilot, but all momentum—creative or otherwise—has totally fizzled. Robin Williams’s The Crazy Ones is doing OK in the ratings, but is also just OK in the laughs. Anna Faris and Allison Janney do their best to sell what they’re given in Mom, and that’s the best thing I can say about that show. But stealthily, Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become the one comedy of the fall worth watching week after week.

Andy Samberg channels the spirits of Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey, creating a buffoonish lead character who’s just grounded enough to root for, particularly when he plays off series standout Andre Braugher, delivering a master class in deadpan. It’s about a police precinct in Brooklyn. And it’s funny. For all the empty calories you’re set to consume Thanksgiving weekend (we’re not just talking about food—the Kardashians and Real Housewives are bound to be airing on TV at some point), why not spend some time catching up on a series that’s actually good for you. (Laughing’s good for you, right?)

Catch up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu,, and iTunes