Today I am going to take a look at one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes. Sitcoms have given us a LOT of Thanksgiving episodes, some are flat out classics (see WKRP and Cheers). I figured that since I did a whole bunch of Halloween episodes, and will be doing my top 8 Christmas episodes starting in a week or two, that it was only fitting to look at least one Thanksgiving show. Which did I choose? I decided to discuss an episode of a series I have discussed a lot this year:
Cliff’s Wet Adventure
This episode first aired on Nov 16, 1989. Yes my friends this episode is 25 years old as of Monday! Wow!!!!
Plot Synopsis:The entire Huxtable family has gathered for Thanksgiving. Denise invites Martin’s ex-wife for dinner while Cliff is forced to go out for errands in the rain.
Best Line:”Hi mommy, do you wanna hear my Thanksgiving song? Its Thanksgiving Time, it turkey time, his name is Tom, he’s a bird, that’s the word, Tom’s a bird.”….Olivia being adorable
Nitpick of the Episode:I guess the obvious, how come Clair didn’t plan ahead a little better? None of the things Cliff goes out for are things she couldn’t have planned on. Canned pumpkin? How could you not get that in advance, and if you have five pies people wont miss pumpkin pie. Eggs for the corn bread? Really? Nice of you to think of asking the neighbors aftr Clifd has been in the rain all day. The worst is the Nutmeg for the eggnog, she throws out an old nutmeg and tells Cliff they are going to grind fresh nutmeg. Yeah, you can buy Eggnog in cartons Clair! It doesn’t have to all be fresh and hand made! And why not have one of the men who were doing nothing go with him in the bad weather? Then Francine made a huge salad and forgot Tomatoes? How is that even possible? Then finally they all get mad at him for not wanting to get soaked or drive in the rain! Yeah Clair was a little over the line here. I would have told her to take a hike, but this is The Cosby Show after all. Besides Cliff isn’t totally innocent, he really should have made a list the first time. And why did he enter through the front door that last time??
Standout Character:Cliff, he’s barely in the episode but is hysterical every time is being just plain miserable. Thank goodness because as I noted, his beings sent back to the store over and over in the thunder and lightning made the women seem a little mean.
Syndication Edit:The top of the second act where Kenny has a conversation with Martin and Denise regarding Martin’s ex-wife. This was a good edit since Kenny appears later and the scene, honestly, is kind of pointless; just to make sure we know the back story for Paula that’s already been established.
Episode Fun Fact:Bill Cosby has said this was his favorite episode, I love that he loved being so miserable. I think he said it was dedicated to Buster Keaton.
Final Thoughts-So while I did a little griping the truth is this one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes of any show. I love it for a couple reasons. One, Thanksgiving is all about families coming together and that’s what the whole show is about. Two, every character gets a few lines which believe it or not was rare for this show. Seems like every episode we’d get a few characters but others would be missing (and of course Kenny gets more lines than Rudy, someone explain that to me). And third, it’s just plain funny.
The stories all work, if you can call them stories. Vanessa complains about sitting at the kids table, that seems logical. Theo was supposed to be skiing but the flight was delayed. Kenny has another one of his stories that his brother told him. Sondra and Elvin have a quick spat, Russell says the prayer, even Theo’s friends manage to sneak in a few decent lines.But the main focus of the episode is Martin’s ex, Paula, who makes a few more appearances after this. The series turned the character into someone nice and we understand her back story. A lot of series would just leave the unseen ex as a witch who causes nothing but hassles. This series makes her a real person who gave up Martin & Olivia for a real reason.
You would imagine an episode with this many characters would be heavy in plot, but it isn’t.Â It’s just a well balance show with of course Olivia stealing every scene she’s in. I guess because by now we know these characters so well we can just sit back and watch them bounce off each other without all sorts of pointless exposition explaining who these people are. If you never watched the series before this episode could be confusing (though they all do introduce themselves in one very silly moment).
I already went on about Cliff’s story so will not get into it again. It was the highlight of the episode and makes me laugh every time I see it. The final gag where Cliff goes out to take his wet clothes off only to have the sun come out seemed a little mean to me when I first saw this, but I guess it had to end with that. I always wondered what happened later, did he get changed, relax, and enjoy the meal? Knowing Cliff he probably did.
After Thanksgiving I will begin my countdown of my favorite Christmas episodes. And I promise The Cosby Show will not be one of them.