Plus: a reviled NFL concert and, of course, that Macy's parade
Whether you like your dinner with a side of flying pumpkins, a knife-wielding Lady Gaga or Snoopy-served jelly beans, you're sure to find something digestible with TheWrap's Top 10 Thanksgiving-Themed Shows. Here they are:
"The Middle" (Wednesday, 8 p.m., ABC)
Marsha Mason and Jerry Van Dyke guest star as Frankie's parents, while Molly Shannon guests as her sister Janet, who clashes with Frankie (Patricia Heaton) over their differing parenting styles when everyone gathers for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Mike tries to teach Axl how to pick up girls, while Sue thinks it's an honor to be included in her female relatives' gossip session.
"Modern Family" (Wednesday, 9 p.m., ABC)
Cameron wigs out after Mitchell suggests his charming childhood stories are not believable, Jay thinks he needs to share some constructive criticism with Manny, and Phil wonders if he took a wrong turn when a former neighbor reveals Phil inspired him to become a billionaire. The uniting theme of tonight's Thanksgiving ep? The Pritchetts can sometimes be giant buzzkills. It takes a spirited round of punkin chunkin' (see below) to lift their spirits.
"85th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" (Thursday, 9 a.m., NBC)
Daniel Radcliffe, Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, the Muppets and the Rockettes are among the stars who'll participate in the NYC parade, hosted by Matt Lauer and his "Today Show" cohorts and featuring new balloons like Tim Burton's B. Boy and Paul Frank's Julius the monkey. It will also include 11 marching bands, 1,600 cheerleaders and dancers, and 800 clowns. Oh, and while an estimated 50 million people watch the parade at home, nearly three million line the Manhattan parade route to see it in person each year.
"NFL: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions" (Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
Defending Super Bowl champs the Green Bay Packers travel to Detroit to take on the Lions, but the biggest battle of the Turkey Day game has been between Lions fans and halftime performers Nickelback. The Detroit fans, it seems, think the Canadian rockers are too uncool to represent them in the nationally-televised game, and took to the Interwebs to gather more than 50,000 signatures on a petition to get the band replaced. Nickelback responded with a FunnyorDie.com video. Oh look, a link:
"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (Thursday, 8 p.m., ABC)
It's been an annual tradition since 1973 for a reason: there's nothing better to get you in the holiday mood than a few good friends and Snoopy's Thanksgiving feast menu: popcorn, toast, jelly beans and pretzel sticks. The pooch clearly never met a carb he didn't like.
"Punkin Chunkin 2011" (Thursday, 8 p.m., Discovery and Science Channel)
Punkin Chunkin, for the uninitated, is an annual competition in which people use various mechanical devices — think giant slingshot-type contraptions — to toss pumpkins as far as they can. Why? Why not. This year's punkin chunkin world championships took place in Delaware, and "MythBusters" stars Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara host as we find out which one of the 120 teams of competitors managed the day's best chunkin.
"Cake Boss: Family Feast" (Thursday, 9 p.m., TLC)
While the rest of the Valastro clan tries to outdo each other with their dishes for the family's Thanksgiving dinner, Buddy gives thanks to his bakery crew with a special lunch and a giant, turkey-shaped cake.
"Radio City Holiday" (Thursday, 9 p.m., HGTV)
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" interior designer Thom Filicia performs an incredible holiday makeover on the Grand Foyer of Radio City Music Hall in New York. A crystal tree suspended from the 60-foot gold leaf ceiling, silver draperies and special diamond-shaped wreaths are among the winter wonderland goodies Filicia installs just in time for the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular shows.
"The 85th Anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" (Thursday, 10 p.m., NBC)
Matt Lauer's back on NBC in primetime to host this look back at 85 years of Macy's parades, from the performers to the balloons and floats. Trivia: The first-ever Macy's parade took place in 1920, but the first balloon appeared in 1927 and featured Felix the Cat.
"A Very Gaga Thanksgiving" (Thursday, 10 p.m., ABC)
Lady Gaga does something truly surprising to celebrate Thanksgiving: She goes the traditional route, with music, reminiscing and a turkey feast. Of course, there is a "Gaga-fied" spin on the special's events, as her eight performances in the show include a duet of "The Lady Is a Tramp" with guest Tony Bennett, her walk down memory lane comes in the form of an interview with Katie Couric, and her turkey dinner comes from chef Art Smith, who teaches her how to make deep-fried turkey and waffles.
Wait, turkey and waffles? We were okay with the meat dress, but that's just weird.