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Turkey TV: Forget Macy’s 2015 Thanksgiving Parade

Written By | Nov 25, 2015

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2015 – If you’re thinking about watching Macy’s 89th annual Thanksgiving Day Parade tomorrow, we’d like to offer you a very New York word of advice: FUHGEDDABOUDIT!! Let us count the ways.

NBC's Matt Lauer, master of smugness and boredom. (Wikipedia)

NBC’s Matt Lauer, master of smugness and boredom (Wikipedia)

But first, for the incorrigible and untrainable: TV viewers who choose to reject our sage advice can tune into NBC’s alleged broadcast of the parade on Thursday by choosing their local NBC station on broadcast or cable TV. The time of the broadcast, as usual, is from 9 a.m. to noon in all time zones. NBC flacks promise us we’ll be regaled this year with the wit and wisdumb of this year’s parade hosts, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker. Oh, joy.

NBC’s PR flacks are enticing us to view the broadcast with the following fusillade of fun fax and flapdoodle:

As millions celebrate the holiday with family and friends, more than 8,000 participants — including clowns, balloon handlers and marching bands — will travel through Manhattan to the sound of the iconic catchphrase “Let’s Have a Parade.” With more than 3.5 million spectators and over 50 million television viewers nationwide, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the nation’s most celebrated and anticipated holiday treat.

“Iconic catchphrase?” What in Hades isn’t iconic these days? Hell, this column is soon to be iconic. “Most celebrated and anticipated holiday treat?” Wouldn’t that that be turkey with all the trimmings and maybe an afternoon and evening of TV football games and leftovers all washed down with a keg of brewski? Now we’re talking iconic.

Savannah Guthrie, NBC's designated eye candy. But at 40-something, is she still attracting the only demographic (18-49) that apparently buys stuff?

Savannah Guthrie, NBC’s designated eye candy. But at 40-something, is she still attracting the only demographic (18-49) that apparently buys stuff? (Wikipedia)

As for the stars featured in this year’s parade? Like Roger Rabbit once said, we can do stars:

Stars of film, television, stage, sports and music will provide the nation with first-class performances. Joining the festivities this year are Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Mariah Carey, Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, Cirque du Soleil, Daughtry, Andra Day, Andy Grammer, Sandra Lee, Shawn Mendes, MercyMe, Mipso, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, Jennifer Nettles, NHL legends Mark and Marty Howe, Jake Owen, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, Rachel Platten, Questlove with the cast and the Muppets of “Sesame Street,” Prince Royce, the cast of Broadway’s “School of Rock,” Trey Songz, Jordin Sparks, Chica and the gang from Sprout and Train.”

Who in the Sam Hill are these people? Aside, maybe, from Pat Benetar, Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil. But Trey Songz? Chica and the gang from Sprout and Train? Aren’t gangs now a real problem in America?

BTW, have you ever noticed in past parades—none of these stars ever actually sing. It’s all lip-synch on this broadcast, blasted out on powerful but tinny speakers.

Sometimes the featured stars even lip-synch into a dead mike (not mic), apparently for the sake of verisimilitude. Doesn’t anybody remember Milli Vanilli? How lazy and inauthentic can you get?

But wait! There’s more! “In addition, spectators will get a sneak preview performance from NBC’s ‘The Wiz Live!,’ which premieres Thursday, December 3 (8 p.m. ET/PT).”

Evilene sez: "Don't give me no bad news." Is she referring to NBC's ad-burdened broadcast of Macy's annual parade?

Evilene sez: “Don’t give me no bad news.” Is she referring to NBC’s ad-burdened broadcast of Macy’s annual parade? (PR image)

How about that clever advance commercial for “The Wiz Live!,” the latest annual NBC live theater broadcast, complete with date and time? Can’t miss that self-promo op! Like Evilene says, “Don’t give me no bad news!”

But what exactly this upcoming show has to do with the parade eludes this reporter. It’s just another thing to sell.

At least NBC’s incoming avalanche of ads for expensive toys might help out Macy’s bottom line—if savvy consumers don’t order them first from one of those those margin-devouring Amazonian warehouses run by Jeff Bezos and crew.

Read also: No bid for oil, no break for Macy’s in Thursday morning trading

Over the past decade, the commercial element inherent in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade has slowly, inexorably devoured the entertainment content of this broadcast, much as the Blob once engulfed and devoured hapless high school students.

NBC's Al Roker, usually a nice guy. But whatever happened to our favorite old huckster, Willard Scott?

NBC’s Al Roker, usually a nice guy. But whatever happened to our favorite old huckster, Willard Scott?

Every year, we get more gasbagging from Matt and his bloviating associates, more interviews with stars promoting their movies, TV series and Broadway roles, more strident advertisements—but less and less of the parade.

We’re given on average less than 20 seconds now to Ooh! and Aah! over those spectacular signature Macy’s balloon figures.

We catch an occasional glimpse of crackerjack college bands, but entirely miss seeing and hearing many of them, disappointing countless viewers who’d tuned in just to see their kid make good.

Most insulting of all, the parade’s grand finale—the arrival of Santa, his magnificent sleigh and his SEIU-represented elves and worker bees—has become NBC’s cue to roll those credits right over that jolly old elf. We laugh when we see this in spite of ourselves.

I’ve been watching this parade since the day my old man brought our first cathode ray color TV into the house somewhere back in the 1960s.

Read also: Pre-holiday trading facing, Russia-Turkey feud simmers

Every year thereafter, that bright and colorful Macy’s Parade was TV nirvana for us kids. We never missed a minute.

But no more.

Kris Kringle, Macy's REAL Santa Claus, according to the film "Miracle on 34th Street." That's Natalie Wood Kris is snuggling, BTW.

Kris Kringle, Macy’s REAL Santa Claus, according to the film “Miracle on 34th Street.” That’s Natalie Wood Kris is snuggling, BTW.

Today’s broadcasts of the Macy’s Parade are one massive infomercial, with occasional dashes of parade content just long enough to make the remaining TV audience stick around after the next five-minute commercial break hoping for a little bit more.

The Macy’s Parade broadcast has become a symbol of today’s hollowed-out America. It’s all surface glitter, hype, lies and bafflegab disguising the greed and mendacity that systematically sucks out this country’s once happy and generous spirit like some amoral, soul-devouring black hole.

Macy’s is telling Wall Street that this year’s sales figures aren’t going to look so hot.

If they want to improve those numbers and bring the joy back to Christmas, they could start by engaging a network partner that actually broadcasts their still fairly swell parade instead of wave after wave of purely commercial effluvia.

Ask Kris Kringle, Macy’s. He knows all about this.

As for us, we’re done.

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Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17