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WKRP In Cincinnati's Infamous Turkey Drop Episode

  • You see it circulate on social media every Thanksgiving — the infamous "turkey drop" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati

    In Season 1's "Turkeys Away," which first aired on October 30, 1978, the radio station is advertising a special turkey giveaway in the spirit of the holiday. What's not known is that bumbling station manager Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) is planning to give them away by throwing live turkeys out of a helicopter. 

    This leads to the legendary Hindenburg-eque live-on-air play-by-play from increasingly more horrified Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) as the disaster most people would expect from such an idea unfolds.

    In the post-mortem, Carlson reveals the fatal flaw in his thinking. "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

    WKRP in Cincinnati aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982. Tragically the series isn't currently available in its entirety on any streaming platform, but there are a few VOD options for Season 1 episodes. You can purchase "Turkeys Away" (and/or the rest of Season 1's episodes) on Vudu, Apple TV+, and the Apple TV channel on Roku. If you're a bit more, say, adventurous, you can comb through clips of the episode on YouTube. The entire episode is also streaming for free on the Internet Archive, complete with the Pink Floyd song "Dogs," which was cut from all subsequent airings, DVDs, and VOD (music rights for classic TV shows are often a quagmire). 

    "Turkeys Away" is widely regarded as one of the best TV episodes ever made, maybe even the greatest Thanksgiving episode ever (sorry, Gossip Girl). The episode was incredibly popular during the show's original run — so much so that CBS reaired "Turkeys Away" in the midst of Season 3. As Gary Sandy, who played program director Andy Travis, notes in the intro to the reair, "Not one show ever generated the amount of mail, the amount of interest, as a show we did our very first season." 

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: WKRP in Cincinnati, Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Richard Sanders, Thanksgiving