What to Watch: Your Guide to 30 Must-See Thanksgiving Marathons and Specials

Thanksgiving week TV is like the best kind of holiday turkey: stuffed to overflowing. To help you navigate the dial, TVLine has singled out 30 marathons and specials that should be on your radar. From good ol’ USA Network’s time-honored series to a couple new syndie entries (welcome, Fringe and Castle!) to a brand-new SpongeBob special, here’s plenty to keep your TV remote busy this holiday.

THURSDAY, NOV. 22

Midnight — 5:30 am (Saturday) James Bond Marathon (Syfy) | Still on a high from Skyfall? Catch some classic Bond, starting with For Your Eyes Only and concluding with Thunderball.

6 am – 5 pm Dark Shadows (Chiller) | Before the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp film, before Twilight, before The Vampire Diaries, before True Blood, before even Buffy, there was this gothic soap about vamps.

6 am – 6 am (Friday) NCIS (USA Network) | The cable net continues its tradition of mixing crime and holidays.

9 am Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (NBC) | Among the celebs participating in this year’s festivities: Colbie Caillat, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Muppets, the cast of Sesame Street (awkward!) and the U.S. Women’s Gymnatstic team, in addition to performances from the Broadway musicals Annie, Bring It On, Rodger + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Elf and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

10 am – 11 pm Castle (TNT) | We’re loving Rick and Kate as a couple, but if you’re missing the will they/won’t they sexual tension, this marathon of mostly Season 2 and 3 episodes should do the trick.

11 am – 9 pm Breaking Amish (TLC) | DUIs, exile, crushes — it’s all in there!

11 am – 6 pm Friends (TBS) | Spend some quality time with your pals during a marathon featuring “The One With the Late Thanksgiving.”

12 pm The National Dog Show (NBC) | John O’Hurley (Seinfeld) hosts the celebration of pooch perfection.

7 pm — midnight General Hospital (SoapNet) | Our very own Kimberly Roots is giving thanks for the ABC soap, so why not check out a marathon of select episodes from 1995 to 2011?

8 pm A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (ABC) | The annual animated feast is accompanied by the bonus cartoon This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers.

FRIDAY, NOV. 23

10 am – 10 pm Awkward (MTV) | We can’t think of a better way to spend Black Friday than catching up on the entire first two seasons of the charming MTV comedy. (It’s much more productive than almost getting killed at Best Buy over a fridge.)

FNL10:30 am – 11 pm Fringe (Science) | As the Fox series prepares for its swan song on Jan. 18, relive the simpler days of Season 1 when the baldies were just photo-bombing fringe events. (Also airs Saturday, Nov. 24, from 11:30 am — 11 pm.)

1 — 11 pm Friday Night Lights (ESPN Classic) | Oh crap, they’re airing the series finale. Where are the tissues?

8 pm Beverly Hills, 90210 (SoapNet) | The five-hour “Kelly & Dylan: Heating Up the Holidays” marathon kicks off with the twosome getting flirty while Brenda’s in Paris and ends at Donna and David’s wedding.

8 pm Frosty the Snowman & Frosty Returns (CBS) | Frosty would melt if we overlooked these two classics.

8 pm Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (The CW) | Grandma, remember to always look both ways before crossing the street.

8 pm Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (Fox) | Charlie Brown sure is one busy guy around the holidays, isn’t he?

9 pm The Happy Elf (The CW) | Harry Connick, Jr. sings and narrates the special about Eubie the Elf’s attempts to bring Christmas joy to Bluesville. Which canceled series are they bumming over?

Hoops & Yoyo9 pm hoops & yoyo Ruin Christmas (CBS) | We’ll forgive them because they’re so cute.

9:30 pm It’s a SpongeBob Christmas! (CBS) | Mr. Krabs’ nemesis, Plankton, tries to get his Christmas wish by turning everyone bad in Bikini Bottom with the help of his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake. And in perfect casting, Roseanne‘s John Goodman voices Santa Claus.

SATURDAY, NOV. 24

9 am — 10:45 pm Star Wars (Spike) | Now that Disney’s bought the empire, prepare to see a lot more of it on TV, starting with back-to-back airings of Episodes I-IV. (Episode V airs Sunday at 7:30 pm and Monday at 1:30 pm, followed by Episode VI.)

12 – 4 pm Boy Meets World (MTV2) | We know it’s Season 5 (aka the not-as-great college years), but with our excitement building over the potential sequel Girl Meets World, we don’t care. Plus, you can catch Jennifer Love Hewitt (The Client List) in a guest spot.

12 pm – 2 am (Sunday) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (USA Network) | For the marathon traditionalists.

SUNDAY, NOV. 25

9 am — noon I Found the Gown! (TLC) | Like Say Yes  to the Dress, but better because these designer wedding gowns are way discounted. And Thanksgiving weekend is all about the bargains…

2 – 10 pm Oprah’s Next Chapter (OWN) | The talk show queen chats up Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Usher, Fergie, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Hudson (Smash) before a new installment with Justin Bieber at 9 pm. (What, no Rihanna repeat?)

10 am — 1pm Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) | Get your laughs with gabfest guests Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Michael Cera (Arrested Development) and Seth Rogen (Knocked Up).

5 pm — 2 am (Monday) Sex and the City (Style) | Consider this your homework before the prequel The Carrie Diaries premieres on Jan. 14, but feel free to sip liberally from that cosmo as you watch, because Ms. Bradshaw’s Sex backstory doesn’t exactly line up to what Diaries has planned.

8 pm Christmas Crazier (Travel Channel) | Think your neighbors’ holiday decorations are obnoxious? That’s nothing compared to the Christmas lights in one Brooklyn neighborhood. To top it off, this special features a huge ugly-Christmas-sweater party!

9 pm Christmas Rush (Travel Channel) | Check out how FedEx, aka the real Christmas elves, get your gifts where they need to be during the busiest time of the year.

Hit the comments: What will you tune into?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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33 Comments
  1. Templar says:

    With 14 family members staying over until Sunday, I’ll be lucky to catch the weather forecast.

    • Sara says:

      lol wow, good luck! Hope you have plenty of alcohol handy! :D

      • Templar says:

        Stocked up on Grey Goose in advance of the coming price hike and have plenty of Harvey’s Bristol Cream and Glenmorangie. Five of the guests are underage, but any adults with special prefs will bring their own.

        • MujerdeFuego says:

          While you are at it, download the ditty “Drunk On Christmas” by Jimmy Fallon and John Rich on iTunes. This song is a holiday staple in my house and every time they sing “drinking”. Take a drink. Good Luck!

  2. Spike TV shows Star Wars all the time. It has nothing to do with being bought by Disney.

  3. mike says:

    The Chiller Dark Shadows marathon is the 1991 series, not the original series. I am highly disappointed.

  4. Corinne says:

    What would a holiday be without an NCIS marathon?! :D

  5. bkwrm says:

    No Twilight Zone or Mythbusters marathons? How lame. Netflix for me.

  6. Neicy says:

    Wait…I thought SOAPnet didn’t exist anymore and was replaced with Disney Jr.

  7. Mindy says:

    I thought I saw my DVR pick up on a Downton Abbey marathon?

    • sarah says:

      That’s what I’ll be watching….I think it depends on your local public tv station, so it may not be available to everyone

  8. Babybop says:

    A Friends marathon on Thanksgiving? Thank God, something to entertain me!

  9. Britta Unfiltered says:

    AMC is playing Gone With the Wind today as part of their Thanksgiving weekend movie marathon thing. Great movie! Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone. Safe travels to all.

  10. John says:

    They had the first couple of episodes of Fringe on the science channel last night starting at 8:00 PM EST.

  11. Renee says:

    It’s football for me.

  12. ESPN detester says:

    HTTR. Go RGIII. Dallas Cowboys will bore the sports world with their mundane story lines, win or lose.

  13. Mary says:

    Think I’ll do my own marathon with episodes of Once Upon a Time, up until the new episode on Sunday night.

  14. ATXtall says:

    Re: FNL the station is ESPN Classic, not ESPN Encore

  15. b. says:

    Man! How dare you forget about The Psych Thanksgiving Marathon! All DAY THURSDAY! That’s what I’m talking about!

  16. GeoDiva says:

    Where the mothership of L&O? It’s not a holiday without watching Brisco, Curtis, & Green on TNT

  17. Mark says:

    I really enjoy the college years of boy meets world.

  18. nick1372 says:

    I’m debating whether or not to watch Fringe. I recently discovered it and like it. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of season 1, though. I want to catch up. It’s too heavy a show to just marathon, so watching the marathon live and getting the DVD out from the library is a no-no. I would record it so I can watch it in my own time, but my DVR is packed. What should I do???

  19. Jamie says:

    Castle on TNT for SURE!!!

  20. Midori004 says:

    Wasn’t the college years of Boy Meets World seasons 6 and 7?

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