memories of the ’70s – The Turkey drop episode of WKRP in Cincinnati

In the first season of 1970s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, the writers had many characters to get the laughs.

In the seventh episode, they wanted to focus on Mr. Carlson, who felt he wasn’t being included in the daily running of the radio station.

So to get the radio station front and centre, he decided to put together a marketing campaign focused on Thanksgiving – by dropping turkeys from a helicopter over the city of Cincinnati.

Based on an actual event that radio station WQXI did (the station the sitcom is based on) the Turkey Drop episode became almost infamous overnight, with its endless laughs at the expense of Mr. Carlson.

From the live reporting by newsman Les Nessman to the station manager Andy Travis’ stunned reactions to the event, the episode’s unseen promotion became the stuff of sitcom history.

Airing October 30, 1978, the episode helped the sitcom gain a larger share of the audience and insured success for the rest of the season.

And for pop culture history, TV Guide Magazine chose this episode as one of the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time at number 40. The quote from Mr. Carlson says it all – “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

 

memories of the ’80s – The Midnight Hour

For kids of the 1980s, they got to know the fear of zombies with the Halloween special The Midnight Hour, starring Levar Burton and Shari Belafonte.

This two hour tv movie, focusing on how a small New England town becomes overrun with witches, zombies, vampires and other horifying creatures also starred Lee Montgomery, Peter DeLuise and Deedee Pfeiffer.

Written by Bill Bleich and directed by Jack Bender, this 95 minute tv movie plotline was this: five highschool friends in Pitchford Cove want to make Halloween memorable.

They break into the local museum and steal clothing and artifacts, including a historic scroll which has ancient curse. As one of the friends recites the curse in the graveyard, it raises the dead, including Lucinda, the great,great,great grandmother of one of the girls, a woman put to death because she was a witch 300 years earlier.

As the friends crash a local costume party, Lucinda starts transforming guests into vampires and the undead. The friends soon realize they need to reverse the curse as the town battles the relentless actions of zombies on All Hallow’s Eve.

Airing on ABC TV in November 1985, the special also featured the music of Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Smiths and The Guess Who.

Although not a big hit when it aired, it was a fun romp and certainly an easy way to spend Halloween while the trick or treaters keep showing up at the door.

memories of the ’70s – Witch’s Night Out

Kids of the 1970s were treated to several Halloween specials, including this made in Canada gem: Witch’s Night Out. 

Produced, directed and written by John Leach, this animated kids’ Halloween special featured eight unique voices, including Gilda Radner, Catherine O’Hara and Fiona Reid.

The storyline is simple — a witch accompanies two kids, Small and Tender, with their babysitter Bazooey, to a Halloween party, who transforms them into a Frankenstein monster, a werewolf and a ghost.

The other party guests are scared and offended and try to capture these supernatural creatures, as Small, Tender and Bazooey at first enjoy their scary state and then want to become kids again.

Featuring the disco song “Witch Magic” this half hour Halloween Special debuted on CBC TV in Canada and NBC TV in the US on October 27, 1978. A fave of kids, the show kept airing on Disney Channel until the early 1990s.

And although it wasn’t the best animation or the most scariest show, its tale of Halloween night was a fave of the younger set for many years.