Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's WKRP in Cincinnati

It is true. I'm getting old, atleast by TV standards. You see, I remember when Saturday Night Live was really funny, M*A*S*H was the show that really made you laugh and cry, Magnum P.I. was about the coolest guy ever and even more important Les Nesman showed the world how to believe in walls that weren't really there.

NapWarder over at "Chronicles of a SAHM" recently did her Thursday Thirteen about shows she wished would come back. Since OhCaptain is the clever type that just can't do an ordinary comment, I went and did some research into a show listed that I dearly miss and really think the youth of today should be forced to watch in retrospect. WKRP in Cincinnati.

If you are too young to remember the show, you really should put the episodes in your NetFlix cue and give them a watch. If you were bigger then a zygot back then and didn't watch it, its OK, you can start now. This show is that funny and for the most part, pretty timeless.

The story of WKRP chronicles the life and times of the 16th most popular radio station in Cincinnati. There are only 18 stations in the market. Here are the main characters:

  • Gary Sandy as Andy Travis, program director. You get the feeling that he is way too talented to be where he is.
  • Gordon Jump as Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson, general manager - yes, he later becomes the Maytag repair man. Rich and incredibly naive and clumsy but you find out that deep down he's a man of priniciples and has a heart of gold.
  • Loni Anderson as Jennifer Marlowe, receptionist. About the HOTTEST receptionist on the planet, well, before she had work done. She runs the show. Don't let anyone fool you.
  • Richard Sanders as Les Nessman, news director. Les is old school AM radio news. He's got the hog markets down pat. Too bad this is a Top 40/Rock station.
  • Tim Reid as Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims, nighttime disc jockey. Hip, cool and always lookin like, well, a pimp. I firmly believe that he is "The Lady's Man" from SNL.
  • Frank Bonner as Herbert R. "Herb" Tarlek Jr., sales manager. Bad suits, this used car sales man is always trying to have a affair. Too bad he's not much of a salesman.
  • Jan Smithers as Bailey Quarters, traffic and continuity director. Smart and beautiful, she just lacks confidence. It is true, I had a crush on her.
  • Howard Hesseman as Johnny "Dr. Johnny Fever" Caravella, morning disc jockey. When of the greatest characters in television history. He's right up there with the Reverend Jim Ignatowski. Anyone remember him too?

There is no single "Star" of the show. This is an ensamble cast. Each playing their part and playing it well. They struggle everyday to turn this two bit operation into something more. Luck is not on their side.

I'm a sucker for shows that can be both hilarious and moving in the same episode. Two episodes come to mind that demostrate this effectively. In one episode, a group of right wing religious zealots attempt to stifle the music selection on the radio station, this infuriates the DJ's and in the end the Big Guy puts his foot down and stands for his priniciples. The other episode that is really moving was based in a real life iniciden.

There was a time when big concerts at stadiums has "Festival Seating." When you bought your ticket, no seats were assigned, much like going to the park to see a concert. This works OK when no one is that excited to be in the front row. But when the who were touring in the late 70's, they were a big deal and EVERYONE wanted to be in the first row. 11 people died on 12/3/79 outside Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, OH trying to get into the concert. The mad rush for the front had caused a panic.

The best part of shows like this, isn't the gloom and doom of these things, but the never getting too stuck in a formula to mix it up once and while.

My second favorite episode and some dang funny stuff, is an episode called "Fish Story". The Big Guy decides to dress Herb up as the station mascot, a carp. Herb's not happy. But the funniest thing to watch is the other side of the day. To help the local law enforcement demonstrate the dangers of consuming alcohol, they decide to do an on air demonstration. A State Trooper comes in and the proceed to give alcohol to Johnny and Venus, on air. Little did anyone know that since Johnny was a chronic boozer, his reaction time just continues to IMPROVE throughout the entire demo. The more he drinks, the better he becomes. Funny stuff.

One of the funniest episodes in the history of all television is my last one for you. "Turkeys Away" is still one of the funniest bits I have ever seen, period, hands down. I don't think written words will do this justice. Just watch for yourself.

You got any memories of WKRP? Can you remember the Reverend Jim? Thanks for reading!


Robert said...

I was never a big WKRP fan. My wife was though. So I can't say much about that. But, I couldn't pass on Jim Ignatowsky. Reverend Jim, in my opinion, is one of the funniest tv characters ever. I literally cry out loud laughing whenever I see the episode of when he goes to get his driver's license.

He questions, "What does a yellow light mean?" and gets the reply, "Slow down." So with each repetition of question and answer, he sloooooows down. "Whaaaaaaaaat doeeeeeeeeeeeees a yelllllllloooowwwww liiiiiiiight meaaaaaaaaaan?"

I'm already smiling thinking about it. Thanks for that.

OhCaptain said...

My favorite scene with Reverend Jim is when he was taken to the party by, can't remember her name at the moment, the red head, and while there, he suddenly figures out that at some point in his life, he was a master classicaly trained pianist...but just can't remember much about that. And sits down and plays piano like a master...seriously funny stuff.

Sandy C. said...

I LOVED this show! Just reading about it brings me back, and now I have their song stuck in my head :) ..."W-K-R-P in Cin-ci-naaaaaaa-tiii"

BiggTree said...

"Thanks for the lid, Art"

Robert said...

FYE: Elaine Nardo = redhead, played by Marilu Henner. And yes, that was another great episode.