If you're the programmer at the Animal Planet channel and the calendar rolls around to November, it can only mean one thing: It's time to trot out the annual turkey special.
But since most people's interest in this most feast-worthy of fowl doesn't go much beyond the "light meat or dark" question, getting folks to sit still for an hourlong program promising to "uncover the mysteries of America's favorite holiday bird" would seem a tough sell.
Yet "Turkey Secrets," tonight's bill of fare airing at 8, manages to provide a diverting and, dare one say, even entertaining hour by exploring our fine feathered friend from just about every conceivable angle.
Now, this being Animal Planet and not the Food Channel, references to the fate of millions of these turkeys each Thanksgiving are fleeting. The focus is squarely on the bird's quirky lifestyle in the wild as well as the amazing preservation efforts that saved the turkey from nearly being hunted out of existence in the U.S. by the 1920s.
After watching the show, you may hesitate a bit ruefully, if only for a moment or two, before revving up the carving knife at next Thursday's dinner table.
You'll learn facts (Abe Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863), unlearn urban myths (turkeys are not stupid and will not drown if left out in the rain), and witness firsthand the terror experienced by a mailman who was chased off his route for two weeks by a turf-protecting tom.
And just in case you're looking for a rather exotic indoor pet to make you the envy of the neighborhood, you'll get instructions on how to diaper a turkey from the proud owner of Mr. Puff.
Perhaps Ben Franklin, who lobbied for the indigenous turkey over the bald eagle as America's symbol of freedom, was backing the right candidate after all.