WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete First Season

WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete First Season
WKRP began in 1979 as an underdog in the golden age of the modern television sitcom -- on the air at the time were M*A*S*H, Soap, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, All in the Family... the list goes on. Yet despite its sitcom shell (featuring "wacky” employees at an underdog rock’n’roll radio station), WKRP was unusually committed to doing character-driven, occasionally issue-oriented storytelling (addressing the Vietnam War-deserting Venus Flytrap, for example). It also took pains to reflect real-life ’70s radio station wackiness in a time when regional influence was at its peak and national, corporate control was unheard of. In fact, the famous "Turkeys Away” episode was based on a true-life Texas radio station promotion gone awry. The delay in bringing this much-requested show to DVD came from music rights issues; in fact, some of the show’s music has been replaced, generally by sound-alike instrumental tracks rather than other famous songs, which grates only slightly. (The producers’ penchant for Pink Floyd has disappeared.) Two cheerful commentary tracks by creator Hugh Wilson and actors Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek) and Loni Anderson (Jennifer Marlowe) reveal giggles and Anderson’s constant "wardrobe issues” ("it was cold in that studio,” she insists) that were eventually solved by band-aids. Of two featurettes, the one on Jennifer’s appeal is silly but the other reveals an episode written under protest by Hugh Wilson from network notes seeking more slapstick and less story-orientation. The featurette reveals that, unfortunately for Wilson, who wouldn’t even put his name on it, the resulting episode (which featured Venus Flytrap and Johnny Fever testing alcohol effects on air, and Herb Tarlek in a fish costume) turned out to be one of the show’s most popular. The first season establishes these beloved characters and features some early favourite episodes but it’s in its next three seasons that WKRP truly achieved legendary TV status. (Fox)