Before I had cable, I invested in Netflix's streaming video service. It continues to be the best $7 I spend each month, despite the service's recent, public misadventures. And anyway, Netflix is where the new episodes of Arrested Development will eventually air, and that news more or less made up for all that Qwikster nonsense (Qwickster? Quixster? Who knows...).
One of the reasons I love Netflix so much is the ability to queue up my favorite old shows and watch them at any time (hey, Netflix, can I get that endorsement check now?). An embarrassingly large portion of my downtime is spent reliving old episodes of The Cosby Show, 30 Rock and Little Britain. In fact, I'll be doing that very thing today on Thanksgiving after the food coma and the meat sweats start to set in.
To celebrate, I pulled together some of the best food-centric episodes from non-food-related TV shows over the years. Some are Thanksgiving episodes, some aren't. But all are classics, and all are streaming on Netflix.
10. Red Dwarf: "Tikka To Ride"
Food was kind of a big deal in the Red Dwarf universe anyway; Lister was a bit of a pig, after all. And this episode plays off his obsession with old English take-away favorites like chicken tikka masala. As an added absurd bonus, when the Starbug is damaged and its on-board supply of Indian food decimated in the attack, Lister's journey to find more curries leads the crew straight to Dallas just in time for the Kennedy assassination.
9. Wings: "Insanity Claus"
Say what you will, but Wings was a clever little show. And this was one of its funniest episodes: Tom Nevers Field is shut down after the air traffic controller completely loses his shit and takes Tony Shalhoub's memorable taxi-driving character, Antonio, hostage after Antonio eats the last jelly donut in the entire airport.
8. That 70's Show: "Thanksgiving"
Remember when That 70's Show was truly funny and charming? Before the dumb spinoffs and Wilmer Valderrama having sex with Lindsay Lohan and the whole inexplicable national obsession with Ashton Kutcher? "Thanksgiving" is a great reminder of those happier days, featuring some of the best verbal sparring from the hilarious Debra Jo Rupp as Kitty.
7. Frasier: "The Impossible Dream"
"The Innkeepers" isn't available online (WTF, Netflix?) and neither is the second best episode, "The Perfect Guy." So we'll have to make do with the third best food-centric episode. Long before South Park skewered the weird ways in which food has become sexualized in "Creme Fraiche," Frasier featured Kelsey Grammar's lead character trying to understand the meaning of a recurring sex dream featuring his food critic peer at the radio station, Gil Chesterton.
6. Roseanne: "Thanksgiving '93"
The Connors' kitchen was always my favorite set on Roseanne; like the rest of the show, its look and feel was so realistic that it made for more genuine scenes, interactions and comedy. In this Season 6 episode, Becky is left to prepare Thanksgiving dinner while -- in true Roseanne fashion -- some dark secrets are revealed during the course of dinner.
5. 30 Rock: "Sandwich Day"
Liz Lemon has food issues; this is a woman who dreamed about being pregnant with Meat Cat and who has problems with sleep-eating and late-night cheese binges. So you don't take her sandwich on the one day a year when the Teamsters bring in special subs from a secret Italian hoagie shop in Brooklyn for the writing staff. Weirdly, this gem was the episode with the lowest ratings for the season.
4. Futurama: "The Problem With Popplers"
The title of the episode is a nod to the Star Trek classic, "The Trouble With Tribbles," just one of the ways in which Futurama always makes its sci-fi fans feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Fry's steady diet of Bachelor Chow and Slurm is interrupted by his discovery (with Leela) of a tasty new lifeform: Popplers. But it turns out that Popplers aren't exactly the delicious little treats humans think they are...
3. The Wonder Years: "The Ties That Bind"
Parents used to be people, The Wonder Years reminds us, showing Jack Arnold -- Kevin's dad -- as the kind of man that had to grow into it, but ultimately took the utmost pride in being a provider to his family. Even if it means missing Thanksgiving for the first time. Remember when men were actually portrayed as kind, loving, intelligent husbands and fathers in TV shows instead of lumbering, half-lobotomized goons? Amazing, wasn't it? And the scene in which Norma Arnold twists her apron while desperately reciting the ingredients and recipes for their father-less Thanksgiving dinner is gut-wrenching.
2. Wallace & Gromit: "A Matter of Loaf & Death"
Not "cake or death." Loaf and death. In this classic episode -- which is perfect for the kids, too -- animated heroes Wallace and his dog Gromit start a bakery, only to discover that murder is in the mix. The puns contained throughout the show are reason enough to watch: "Dough to Door" delivery service, the Top Bun bakery, the baker's dozen murders, et cetera.
1. The Cosby Show: "Cliff's Wet Adventure"
Ignore the title, which meant nothing 30 years ago but now has unpleasant connotations thanks to the pervy Internet: This is a very Cosby Thanksgiving, and it brings all the joy and laughter and warmth you'd expect from one of the best TV shows in history.
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