Folks who can’t rouse themselves out of bed early enough to watch the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (9 a.m., CBS and NBC) can catch the prime-time retrospective “The 85th Anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” (9 p.m., NBC), hosted by Matt Lauer.
The special looks back on the parade’s origins in 1924 and the pop icons who have been immortalized by giant balloons over the decades. “Anniversary” uses footage of parades past to recall morning show personalities and guest stars, from Brooke Shields and Betty White to Donald Trump and Pat Sajak, who have helped provide color commentary about the celebration or appeared in parade floats.
• Among the NBC personalities of the past featured on “Anniversary” include Katie Couric, who has since left “Today” to be an anchor for CBS News and who now is working her way into ABC’s good graces. Last Thursday she interviewed Regis Philbin for “20/20.” Tonight she interviews the star of the holiday special “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving” (8:30 p.m., ABC).
Lady Gaga performs some of her hits and sings a duet with Tony Bennett. She shares stories about the holidays and her family with Couric and even deep-fries a turkey with chef Art Smith. Let’s just hope she doesn’t turn that meat into a dress!
• Another Thanksgiving tradition returns with “Punkin Chunkin 2011” (7 p.m., Science). Hosted by Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci of “MythBusters,” ‘‘Chunkin” chronicles the efforts of more than 120 teams of competitors trying to propel a large orange gourd as far as possible. While hardly as venerable as the Macy’s parade, this is the 26th year of the Punkin Chunkin event.
• For some viewers, Thanksgiving dinner is just something to get through before starting with the Christmas decorations. “Radio City Holiday” (8 p.m., HGTV) follows designer Thom Filicia as he transforms the Grand Lobby and Grand Lounge of Radio City Music Hall into a Christmas wonderland. Along the way, we’re shown glimpses of this season’s “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”
• Thanksgiving has inspired a night of animation favorites, including a rare night of television featuring two competing “Peanuts” specials. ABC repeats “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (7 p.m.) from 1973. There’s also “Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown” (7:30 p.m., Fox), a new special released directly to DVD earlier this year.
• If Charles Schulz had ever written a book called “What’s an Anachronism, Charlie Brown?” he might have lampooned offerings like the new cartoon “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas” (7 p.m., Fox), featuring the voice of Ray Romano.
Tonight’s other highlights
• Reese infiltrates a gang of thieves on “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).
• Mike’s brother (Norm MacDonald) needs a leg up on “The Middle” (8 p.m., ABC).
• Martha Stewart helps Marge around the holidays on “The Simpsons” (8:30 p.m., Fox).