Monday, June 23, 2014

Classic TV: WKRP in Cincinnati (1978)

A moribound radio station changes its format to rock music, which has its former target audience up in arms, but television viewers are left in stitches.

WKRP in Cincinnati was hailed by real-life DJ's as the first show to accurately depict life at a radio station. It was not the first show set in a radio station, though---that distinction went to Good Morning, World a decade earlier, and that was on the same network that was home to WKRP---CBS.

Gary Sandy starred as station manager Andy Travis, brought in to give WKRP a much-needed facelift, if you will. Sandy fronted an outstanding ensemble that was right up there with some of the better sitcoms of the day. Gordon Jump was Andy's boss, Art Carlson. Howard Hesseman and Tim Reid played trouble-prone DJ's Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, respectively, and became icons in their own right. And, then, there was Loni Anderson, lighting up the screen as receptionist Jennifer Marlowe.

WKRP lasted 4 seasons, then was brought back for a syndicated revival in 1991 that lasted two more years. However, by then, Hesseman & Reid had moved on to other series (i.e. Hesseman on Head of the Class), and would return as special guests. Former Odd Couple announcer Bill Woodson handled those same chores for both incarnations of WKRP, the revival being one of his last known jobs.

Hulu brings us the 1st season episode, "I Do, I Do....For Now", in which Jennifer pretends to be Johnny's wife to fend off an old boyfriend, played by actor-singer Hoyt Axton, who performs his hit, "Della & the Dealer".

I'm waiting for Me-TV to pick this one up. Aren't you?

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

The original and still the best!

I always enjoyed this show - perhaps more so in adulthood. When it debuted, I was too young to "get" certain things. As an adult, (and working in the media industry) it makes a lot more sense. Almost timeless!

Way back in the 80s I had the pleasure of seeing Gary Sandy on stage in the leading role in the musical hit, "Barnum". He was quite good, and the part couldn't be further from Andy Travis! Truly an underrated actor.

Funny, I had a roomie in college who was from Cincy. She told me the first day we met, "No, life is NOT anything like on WKRP!".

hobbyfan said...

Until WKRP, Cincinnati only meant the Reds & Bengals to me.

They did an episode that addressed the infamous Who concert in Cincy. I wish I'd thought of that one to put up, but Hulu only has so many eps...