Means I should get at least one more post in before June debuts.
Several topics abound in my brain. Where should I begin? The passing of Roger Moore, the first of the James Bonds to leave us?
My enjoyment of one of the best TV series ever, WKRP in Cincinnati? I got the entire series on DVD this past Christmas and had the pleasure of both introducing my child to it and seeing my wife laugh out loud at episodes we haven't seen in probably two decades.
My latest adventures in camping? (I'm taking some creative license with this one, as my recent trip didn't exactly constitute adventure but I did a heckuva lot of relaxing.)
Or what is occupying our time and energy these days? No, I'll leave that for later.
Back to television, I decided to treat my child to some of the best TV around, having her watch the "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode when MeTV aired six "Mary Tyler Moore" shows to acknowledge her passing. As if that wasn't good enough, I tapped into Netflix's streaming offerings and had her watch the "That's My Boy" episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show. Great examples of how comedy doesn't have to be based in partisan politics, sexuality, or laughing at someone's expense to be entertaining.
Of course I had to give her some of the flip side, showing her "The Star Wars Holiday Special" on YouTube. I think she fell asleep during part of it.
Since my fingers on the keyboard focused on television just now, why not choose WKRP?
When the show first aired I had full kitchen duty on Monday nights. While seemingly not a problem it did prevent me from enjoying much of the first season of WKRP.
I probably should back up here and explain that in my 'tweens Mom returned to the workforce and that meant the responsibility of the evening meal fell to one person each night Monday through Thursday. Monday was my night. Therefore I had to plan the meal, ensure the ingredients were either on hand or on the previous weekend's grocery shopping list, prepare the meal and clean up afterward. But then I was typically off KP for the rest of the week, when either my sister or one of the parents took their turn. By the way, I'm not bitter. This experience taught me how to cook (often from scratch) and as such I was well prepared when time came for me to leave home.
In the fall of 1978 I remember cleaning up the kitchen on Monday nights and hearing the rest of my family laugh (sometimes they were in hysterics) over some show called WKRP in Cincinnati. But whenever I ventured out of the kitchen to check out just what was so danged funny Mom verbally and promptly made sure I got back to my kitchen chores. By the time I finished the show was usually over. And younger readers, back in those days VCR's were a pricey luxury item that didn't exist in our household until many years in the future. But through summer reruns I got the chance to finally see what was behind all the laughter.
After its cancellation I continued to enjoy the show through the syndicated reruns. However I noticed around 2000 or so, when The Nashville Network was airing the series, something was amiss.
For example, in the episode "A Family Affair," Venus Flytrap showed Andy Travis' sister around Cincinnati. Venus did call in to let the station know he wouldn't be there for his air shift that evening but as Jennifer Marlowe had the day off Arthur Carlson handled all the incoming calls. Anyone familiar with the show would know Carlson wasn't up to the task and as such Andy (at literally the last second) had to go on the air and keep things running smooth. As Venus' program was established to be mainly soul and R&B, Andy did his best rendition of a hip, African-American announcer, failing miserably. The two songs he cued up in a hurry turned out to be Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" and Joan Baez's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
During that airing I noticed the songs were changed to a couple of generic tunes, neither of which carried the humor of the originals. I then learned that many of the rights to the songs expired after about ten years in the syndication market.
"No way!" I said and many others seemed to agree. Therefore I was happy to learn that the full series would be released on DVD by Shout Factory and almost all of the original songs were restored. However I soon popped various disks in my player to ensure the "right" songs were indeed there.
Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" playing in the background when Les gets ready for his date with Jennifer; Supertramp's "Goodbye Stranger" featured in the episode where they get the ratings book and Andy being the only one disappointed the station didn't fare better; and the two songs referenced above.
Yes, they are back!
The songs aren't the only thing that made the show enjoyable, or even contributed to its place in my collection. You can't mistake the formula: good writing, good casting; and the show lasting only four seasons, therefore it didn't have a chance to get stale or "jump the shark." It's an ensemble show, with no one character dominating to the point the other performers feel slighted. Even though radio is now more corporate-owned and many stations now sound the same regardless of their market the show still doesn't seem very dated. And "WKRP" was prophetic in some ways. One episode made reference to automation and the final show, "Up And Down The Dial," in which Mrs. Carlson intends to change the rock format to all-news (as music doesn't sound as good on AM) is precisely what happened to such heritage rock-and-roll stations such as WABC in New York, KHJ in Los Angeles and CKLW in Detroit.
And for those readers already familiar with the show, admit it. Just reading my entry made some of you laugh out loud.
That's how good of a show "WKRP" is.