Friday, March 30, 2007

WKRP DVD Not OK

I got a copy of the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati and the news is not good. Which is disappointing to say, because I was lobbying for this release and believed – and still believe – that it would have been possible to reduce music costs without damaging the integrity of the show. That’s not what’s happened here.

Below I have compiled a list of music changes on the new DVD. As you can see, it’s pretty similar to the list of music changes from the late ‘90s syndication package; some of the generic music and overdubbing is the same in both versions. But I was prepared to be OK with this set if it was better, or no worse, than that syndication version. Unfortunately, it’s worse in two ways. One, there were a number of songs that were retained in that syndication package (which ran on Nick at Nite and elsewhere) that are replaced here. Songs like “Dogs” by Pink Floyd and “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley are now gone. And second, because most of these episodes don’t allow the music to be separated from the dialogue track, they’ve dealt with this problem by cutting footage from several episodes.

I’m not making Fox out to be a mustache-twirling villain here. WKRP is a tough property to bring to DVD. First, the original elements may no longer exist, so the copies they were working from were probably the same copies created for the late-‘90s syndication package; that’s why some of the generic music from that package is heard here. (On the other hand, while the original elements may not exist, the original soundtracks certainly do, for the most part. All you have to do to put a song back is take the same scene out of the older syndication versions, which are easily available. So if Fox had had the budget to put back these songs, they could have done so.) Second, music licensing costs are just insane these days. Third, other MTM properties have not sold well for Fox of late, which probably made them unable to justify much of a budget for WKRP.

But ultimately, this isn’t a good way of dealing with the music problem. I felt, and still feel, that you can create a legitimate DVD release of WKRP by changing songs at the margins (songs played only in ten-second snippets; songs that aren’t identified by name or timed to the scene) and leaving in the “essential” songs. But in this DVD release, there's little more half-a-dozen real musical recordings left in. There's the songs performed on the show by Detective and Hoyt Axton, and two or three songs played by Venus, and that's about it.

It's possible that Fox meant well. They’d been getting requests from fans to release it, so they did. And many of the songs that were cut are just incredibly expensive, like Pink Floyd. But ultimately, if they couldn’t afford to release the show with more music than they've included here, this might be one of those cases when they should have turned a deaf ear to fan requests. After all, they knew they couldn't afford to keep the music; we fans didn't. Or perhaps it would have been better to start with a best-of disc, focusing on episodes without much music (good sales of that disc could have justified a bigger budget for the first season).

There are two positive things to be said for this set: There are some extras (two audio commentaries by cast members and creator, and two featurettes), and the episodes look pretty good for videotaped late ‘70s episodes. Since it's cheaply priced, it might be worth buying if you want DVD-quality copies of some of your favorite scenes. Most of the best-known scenes didn’t have rock music in them, so the turkey drop, the Chi Chi Rodriguez report, the Ferryman’s Funeral Home commercial, etc, are here, and if you haven’t seen them in a while, you can see them here.

But still, this isn’t exactly “WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season” as it says on the box. It’s more like “WKRP in Cincinnati: Extended Highlights from the First Season.” To get the complete first season, we’ll need to wait for the copyrights to expire, or for Fox to give up and license the show out to a smaller company.

-----

WKRP in Cincinnati, Season 1 DVD
List of Music Replacements and Cuts


Pilot
“Queen of the Forest" by Ted Nugent replaced with generic music.

Pilot Part 2
“That Old Time Rock n’ Roll” by Bob Seger replaced with generic music.

Les on a Ledge
Song at the beginning replaced.

Hoodlum Rock
The songs (by the band Detective) are intact, but the episode is a cut 22-minute syndication version. The original full-length version is available at the Museum of Television and Radio.

Hold-Up
All songs replaced.

Bailey’s Show
All but one song replaced. Footage is cut from two scenes.

Turkeys Away
“Dogs” by Pink Floyd replaced. Much of the scene has been cut out entirely.

Love Returns
Rock songs replaced. Part of a scene has been cut.

Mama’s Review
The clip of Venus in the booth, which was the only "cutaway" clip taped especially for this episode (this is a clip show) is cut and replaced with a clip from the pilot.

A Date With Jennifer
“Hot Blooded” by Foreigner replaced. 22-minute cut syndication version.

The Contest Nobody Could Win
All songs replaced. Someone has re-dubbed the people calling in about the song identification contest, so that they're now identifying fake songs and groups.

Tornado
Elvis Costello song "Goon Squad" replaced. Some footage cut.

Goodbye, Johnny
“Surfin’ U.S.A.” by the Beach Boys replaced.

Johnny Comes Back
All songs replaced with generic music.

Never Leave Me, Lucille
“Everybody Rock n’ Roll the Place” by Eddie Money replaced, with some dialogue cut. The episode originally started with Les singing “Heartbreak Hotel”; that scene has been cut.

I Want to Keep My Baby
All songs replaced except one Bob Marley song. Some footage cut from several scenes.

A Commercial Break
All rock songs replaced. Johnny singing "So Long for a While" has been cut.

Who is Gordon Sims?
One song replaced.

I Do… I Do… For Now
Jennifer’s doorbell, which played “Fly Me to the Moon,” is replaced with a public-domain song.

Young Master Carlson
All songs replaced, even the theme from Patton, a Fox film. Some footage cut from one scene.

Fish Story
All songs replaced. A scene of Venus singing is cut.

Preacher
All songs replaced.

-----
Update: I wasn't clear about how many episodes in this set are from 22-minute syndication masters (not counting the episodes that have had some footage cut from the full-length 25-minute masters.) There are two: "Hoodlum Rock" and "A Date With Jennifer."

Update 2: A couple of people in comments have wondered how I got a copy this early, which is a fair question. The answer is that Fox sent out advance review copies this week. I believe other writers/reviewers got their copies of this set at the same time I did; I was just the first to write a review.

Update, April 13: - I added a few music changes and cuts to the list that I didn't catch before.

289 comments:

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Anonymous said...

When I first heard about the changes, I was really mad. I'm the sort of guy that listens to the original audio of a movie, even if there is a 5.1 mix..for nostalgia's sake. That, and I don't have a 5.1 setup. I have always said that WKRP wasn't about the music and that you could replace all the music, for all I care. And I don't care....as odd as that is for me seeing as I refuse to see movies that change characters' costumes/ages/look. Transformers is a huge crap of a movie. I think that the main reason that I don't care about the music changes in WKRP is that it's been something like 27 years since the original airings and I don't really remember the original songs. I wouldn't have noticed any changes if I hadn't read this changes list. Watching the set, there were only something like two or three instances where I could tell that it wasn't the original music. If we had had the real music all along and been used to that for years, then the changes might have been a really huge problem. But having mostly the syndication airings for the past 15 years or so, I couldn't really tell there were changes. Of course, if a full original music set came out, I'd snap it up....just to say I had the true series.

Ron said...

I can't believe that the band members of Foreigner wouldn't step up to the plate and demand that their music be restored to the "Les" scene. It remains the best music video ever produced.

The same applies to numerous other unkind clips. If the members of Pink Floyd made a call to EMI headquarters and requested that the scene be reinserted with their music, staff at EMI would fall all over themselves to get the job done.

Wouldn't it be interesting to include an extra on the set that includes interviews with band members talking about their "appearance" on the show? Andy posting the KISS poster, Elvis Costello talking about Goon Squad. Elton John talking about the use of Tiny Dancer. I gotta believe they loved the show as much as "regular" viewers..and laughed just as hard...

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jkfan87 said...

I love hte idiots complaining about Fox for doing this. Point blank for hte morons...if htey were to keep the music, they would have to charge several THOUSAND dollars per DVD to recoup the costs.

The show was a SIT COM. It was not MTV. If you do not enjoy the writing, then you are not fans of WKRP, or of good comedy writing.

jkfan87 said...

Oh, and to the EXTREME idiots suggesting that the bands call up and demand that their music be restore...hey idiots.. Who do you think are CHRAGING so much for the rights to the music? THE BANDS! (Actually the record labels..but by association, the bands.)

This is not big evil Fox going against the wieshes of the copyright holders. This is the copyright holders making OBSCENE financial demands to license the music for DVD.

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Johanna said...

I did buy the DVD set. It’s been many years since I’ve seen an episode of the show. And for all I really knew, because of that maybe the cuts wouldn’t seem to be that noticeable. Well, to be frank… some things I really can’t tell, but yes there are some cuts that are obvious even to me, and I haven’t even seen the show in a good ten years at least (well maybe I couldn’t identify what was supposed to go where, but I can definitely feel that something was changed in certain places)
I also bought the DVD set debating about how bad sales could hinder future seasons from ever being released. I didn’t want to contribute to that being the case. I already know of some other shows I enjoyed growing up that won’t be getting their second season releases due to poor sales of the first one. I couldn’t let that happen here. I’ve just missed Johnny, Herb, Les, Jennifer and all the rest of the gang at WKRP too much.
I know it sucks not having all the content intact, but I guess sometimes you have to take what you can get or you may get nothing at all.

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Anonymous said...

Nothing can compare to the chills I got when I first saw the Russian Defector episode where the guy says to Les: "Hold me closer, tiny dancer." Its so cool at the end of the story when they play "Tiny Dancer" as the actors leave a darkened WKRP lobby. Just freakin gold, man.

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Anonymous said...

what an insult to the acting and comedic timing this show was known for. Ted Nugent albums are available. I didn't know original episodes of WKRP were a source for classic rock. Sure, it added a nice touch. But get real...Q

Anonymous said...

It is not OK to chop the hell out of the episodes just b/c of so-called permission for the songs. Here's my point: the producers had to get permission the first time around back in the '70's, correct? So I don't understand what the issue is now, just because it's thirty years later. I would think the musical artists could care less b/c with their songs in the shows, they're getting free publicity. Where's the argument? The songs make the episodes, period. I will not be purchasing chopped versions of the shows, plain and simple. I'll just hold on to my copies from Nick at Nite, which sadly has chosen not to run them anymore.

Jenny Cothern said...

It is not OK to chop the hell out of the episodes just b/c of so-called permission for the songs. Here's my point: the producers had to get permission the first time around back in the '70's, correct? So I don't understand what the issue is now, just because it's thirty years later. I would think the musical artists could care less b/c with their songs in the shows, they're getting free publicity. Where's the argument? The songs make the episodes, period. I will not be purchasing chopped versions of the shows, plain and simple. I'll just hold on to my copies from Nick at Nite, which sadly has chosen not to run them anymore.

STARWARZ said...

I have to say.... I am truly a purist and would like to have the original uncut original music episodes. But, being a child when this was a new show every Monday night, I didn't watch the show for the music. This is one program that I want in DVD quality with or without the original music. I watch it for the ensemble acting, which I thought was great! I loved watching Johnny, Les, Jen, Andy, Carlson, Travis, Venus and Bailey, plus Mrs. Carlson always yelling for "HERSH"... This was a great show for the show, not the music.

The music was secondary and the only reason the Recording industry is so difficult is because they are greedy.... This is also the reason that Malcolm in the Middle remaining seasons has never and may never be released.... Greedy Jerks!! Take care all and forever WKRP!!!!

Anonymous said...

I Will NOT waste My Money on this set.... If it ever comes to releasing the set with all original content intact, then I will pick up a set.
I am a coniseur of Original material as it was aired when first releasrd. Not some dimwits version that has been shortened to save time and money. I am now looking for complete un-cut episodes of the "Honeymooners" and "I Love Lucy"
Fat chance of that happening, Eh??

jkfan87 said...

knownote..for someone in hte industry you sure don't have a clue how it works. Obviously someone like you is going to get a better deal for music rights...because no one listens to your crap. It would cost FAR more for Fox to get hte rights to put this on DVD.

And coulkd they afford it? Sure...but they are not in the business to LOSE money just to plase some anal fans. They have a responsibility to their stockholders notto lose money on a DVD just before a few hundreds thousand (if that) fans are dmemanding that they spend tens of millions of dollars to earn a few million.

jkfan87 said...

Oh, and seriously...please stop actig like you are BETTER than others for saying that you can't enjoy the show now. If you watched a SIT-COM TV show for hte music, then your life is EXTREMELY sad. And if you say that you can't enjoy the great comedy writing of the show due to the fact that less than 2% of the show has been changed, then thank GOD I don't have your miserable lives. And to the one who called himself a "music connoisseur"...honestly...kill yourself now. End your misery.

Anonymous said...

You can watch the First Season of WKRP for free (with some commercials) on Hulu.com. The episodes there seem to be the same as on the DVD.

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Shon said...

I didn't know about the Music Change until I bought the DVD's. I should have expected it, since the same thing was done to Tour Of Duty. In a time of Disco and British punk, WKRP exposed a whole generation to Real Good Rock and Roll. This is how they're repaid by the industry!
I discovered Forigner after watching the Les Nessman put on his wig to "Hot Blooded", now any kid discovering music that watches WKRP will not be turned on to the Tunes they're so Jealously Guarding. Is Herb Tarleck running the Industry?

andrewsmomma said...

WGN America is showing a four episode block tonight. Right now Turkeys Away is on, and they appear to be airing the original episode. "Dogs" was used, with the entire scene between Johnny and Mr. Carlson. Thank you, DVR!

andrewsmomma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If I can't get the shows as aired originally, then I don't want them at all; and when it came to shows that I was waiting for to come out on DVD, WKRP was at the top of my list. Failing that (due to the record companies and/or artists being such butts that they can't see their music being played on a show like WKRP as *free* advertising for them) I'd like the "problem" music wiped from the show and replaced with a super or banner that explains why a piece of music was removed (Pink Floyd wanted an additional 30 million dollars for 15 seconds of music from 'Animals')--I'd rather have the silence with all of the original dialog than have any of the dialog cut (and, yes, digital editing allows for such precision). I want to know which artists are such complete butts so that I can never ever buy or even listen to their music again.

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about the allmyfavoriteshows.com WKRP dvds is the lack of idiot logos on the screen.

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of WKRP. I wasn't born until 1980; therefore I don't remember the show in its original run.

I first saw the show when it was first run in syndication at a very yound age. Sad to say, I can't remember all the original music played in the show, but I do remember Pink Floyd's "Dogs".

I saw the episode "Turkeys Away" on WGN last night, and I was surprised that the song "Dogs" was there. I was very happy to say the least. Does anyone know if the recent runs on WGN are the 80s syndicated versions, 90s syndicated versions, or the full uncut originals?

Thanks

David Matthews said...

I was so disheartened to hear about the butcher job performed on the WKRP DVD "official" DVD release. I came across a package of all the episodes in the syndicated version and while the video quality is sub-par compared to DVD (it looks like a multi-generation VHS copy) I would still rather have most of the music and scenes intact. I buy most every DVD set of my favorite tv shows, even when the price was excessive by most comparisons. I would have happily paid a premium to get the original, UNCUT and UNEDITED programs instead of a hack job. Needless to say I won't be buying their chop job!

Anonymous said...

The band they used most of on WKRP was The Rolling Stones. I believe they were on many episodes (I remember hearing "Lies" and "Shattered" from Some Girls on the Pilot Part 2 episode and their music frequented on many episodes). Also on the new WKRP DVDs, they badly edited out evrytime that Johnny Fever would mention either a well known artist or a lyric or whatever ("The Swords" instead of The Doors, "The Kings" instead of The Kinks, "terrible dresser" instead of "Tiny Dancer", f*ck FOX) as FOX those "CONSERVATIVE" (and I use that term loosely) b*stards are cheap and jackasses.

The guy who played Herb either has amnesia or Alzheimers as Turkey's Away was the only episode to my knowledge that used a Pink Floyd track ("Dogs"). I didn't hear no other PF tracks on either the original versions of the episodes or 1980s or 1990s edits.

Some of the bands own the rights to their music and not labels as the record labels are just releasing their music but the artist that owns the copyright get a tad bit more than the label (artists that were on WKRP that own the rights to their catalog are The Rolling Stones (from 1971 forward), The Kinks (post 1971 material), AC/DC, Queen, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd are examples).

If it weren't for "The Airplane Show" episode I may not have heard "Had Enough" by The Who for the first time as a kid and "Fish Story" was my first intro to some of The Doors' music and Jerry Lee Lewis' post-1950s work.

The four big labels (Sony, EMI, Warner Music and Universal) should just accept the changes and grin and bear it and try to work with (and not against) the movie and TV studios to release things as people remember and not bastardize.

Anonymous said...

Damn. there are a Llllllllottttttt of posts here. i was surprised. i was checking to see if there would ever be a release of season two and i came across this blog. i already knew about the problems with season one. so i went out and ordered a bootleg copy from some Canadian company. i paid $60 on July third and finally got the set yesterday. 12 discs. Yes!!!!! of course, 5 of the discs didn't work at all in any of my 6 DVD, PC PS3 players, and another one seems to glitch after the second episode as if it's dirty when it isn't. So i am pissed. i thought i could show FOX that i would go elsewhere and mostly they showed me they are still in control. some guy, i forget his name, in this blog says that he is going to add the songs himself and make his own deluxe version. Dude i will pay you for that shit and no questions asked!!!!

Anonymous said...

Ive posted about this before, but now i rented the WKRP season one form a store and found that i was even MORE dissapointed than i thought i'd be. And it may or may not be as simple as "if we dont buy it, they'll never release the other seasons..." there is NO WAY that they'll release season two. the backlash alone dictates that Fox will not waste their time. there are too many other shows that are newer that they're releasing already. there are people on this posting who are outraged and wont spend the money for the dvd, and there are people here who are pissed that the music's gone but will buy it anyway because then Fox will see that people are buying it and continue releases. i love you both but i have to say that after seeing the cuts, im out. and while im sure it was cost prohibitive and some artists said "NO" and some are dead, there had to have been a way. the simple fact (that has already been mentioned) that hearing some of these songs would increase revenue for the songs themselves and announcing that WKRP will have most or all of its original songs would have made more money than not. and yes, fans would have paid 40$ for a DVD season, such as the Miami Vice series that has NEVER gone down in price and they have been out for four years. it just shows that nobody made the REAL EFFORT to go and talk to Pink Floyd, show them the episode, go past their label and management and show them that this is for the greater good. I bet the artists themselves would have jumped at the chance to be included in WKRP. i swear, it seems like it would cost more to hire actors to re-dub lines and hide all the incontinuities by paying someone to scour the episodes for problems and then getting rid of those problems than by just aggressively liscencing the friggin songs!!!

Anonymous said...

I know this was posted quite some time ago but I wanted to chime in since I just bought the season one DVD. All in all it was great to see, most of the original material is there, and most of the humor and relevance of the original show is still there. It is weird though since I was such a nerd for this show that you notice the differences right away in music and scene changes. I'm still glad they released it in some form, but I will probably try to find the bootleg copies as well. It's too bad Fox wouldn't spring for the extra cash to release WKRP in it's original form, they could certainly afford to. Either way, I didn't think it was a total waste, and it is great to watch these shows again. There are some crucial scenes that are just weird to watch, like the scene with Johnny sleeping and Pink Floyd's "Dogs" playing in the background. I'm still enjoying watching it either way. Let's hope Fox turns it around if enough WKRP nerds like ourselves complain loud and long enough!
ROCK & ROLL from THE ORIGINAL JOE DESTRUCTION ! ! ! !

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the VHS collection that MTM home video released in the 90's? Those were uncut. Hey FOX take a hint People arn't stupid they would be willing to pay 40 dollars for 7 uncut episodes instead of 22 shish-kabobed episodes. But no, We have to release everything in season packs. Next time don't even bother.

freqazoidiac said...

I was looking forward to finding this on DVD..but am dismayed by the legalities and policies imposed upon this classic show.

They play these songs (except pink floyd dogs) on am/fm radio day in day out..have these people not made ENOUGH money yet? It's part of the show and should be kept integral..but is instead just pulled into the abyss.

You can find all 4 seasons, as DIVX avi's Torrent on piratebay.org from an early VHS box set, that has all music intact! It's a 6gig download..but you won't be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Just Maybe WKRP was SUPPOSED to be more about the comedy and the actors on the show than a 3 second Eddie Money sound clip or 5 seconds of Pink Floyd in the backgroud of a scene. Seriously people, the show is hilarious and if you are spending this much time "investigating" where the tiny snipits of music went on the DVD and not concentrating on how gut-bustingly funny it is, find a real hobby.

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Anonymous said...

MUSIC LICENSES TOO EXPENSIVE??!!!? OK Gimmie a BREAK!!! That 70's Show used TON"S of original artist's music and they were on the tube for 8 years and SOMEONE musta paid for the rights.. Often the music on WKRP was like 10secs of music while on That 70's Show you could hear stuff in the back ground for quite a while. Saying that the licensing would cost 1000's of $ and would be prohibitive is just ridiculous! There is plenty of demand. The money could easily be recouped . Its just that someone got lazy and stupid.

An easy compromise said...

Why don't they just come up with a joint deal that requires you to BUY the MP3s of every song used in order to buy the DVD set. Some kinda thing where the you give a credit card and the first time you watch an episode it "buys" those songs via the net or something like that. Make you watch it on you net attached PC the first time, songs are BOUGHT and code is unlocked. If they use 3 songs in an episode it costs you approx 3 dollars for the music when you watch tath episode. From that moment on you get to watch the episode as often as you want, even on a regular DVD player since as a home consumer you have already paid for the rights to enjoy the music. If walmart can sell the songs for 89cents then something can be worked out that is affordable for true fans. Throwback pepsi, Old Coke marketting. The music arisits should INSIST on it.

Anonymous said...

If The Simpsons can do it, why not WKRP? The Simpsons have regularly featured knock off versions of certain songs, especially Disney, that are so close to the original that you can easily tell what the song is supposed to be. If licensing is such an issue, couldn't they find a couple of bands to play knock off versions of some of the songs? And I would certainly be willing to spring the extra bucks for original songs that are key to the episodes (Surfin' USA, Hot Blooded, among others).

dvd shelfs said...

I agree with "Daniel" too.

Baylink said...

I'm amused by the people who post here saying "Well, maybe the music isn't that important, folks."

I just can't even come up with a good snarky ironic comment to expose the stupidity in that assertion; it's just right up there on the surface.

That said, WGN's 2009 Outtasight Retro Nights run of the series belies the idea that the original elements aren't around, which didn't surprise me much.

So clearly, Fox *could* do this, if they wanted to invest the money. And, y'know, *hire a full time employee for a year to go clear all the music*.

This is entertainment, not rocket science.

Track down the actual artists, talk to them about it first, see what rights have reverted, yada yada...

(and this thread is still a reference at WP, in case you're wondering why it still gets traffic, Jamie. I encourage you to continue to leave it up (and open).)

jkfan87 said...

Jenny Cothern - just because YOU dont understand why the rights holders would not agree to allow hte use now when they did in the 70s doesn't mean a thing. There are MANY reasons why this might be. First of all, WKRP was a decent success on TV. FAR more people watched it than will buy a DVD set. (DVD sets of old shows do not sell well.) Right holders may very well have wanted the publicity back then, but now it is just not worth it.

Regardless...it doesn't matter...you are all throwing out numbers despite the fact that NONE of you have actual facts and figures to back up your guesses. For all you know, just to BREAK EVEN, the DVDs would have to be priced at far MORE than $150 per seasons. Actually, it is very likely that that would be the case. Becuase as the price would go up,sales would go down. You can all sa you would be willing to pay that much for the original...but most people wouldn't. Sorry, but most people move on from a show after 25-30 years.

Foix wanted to make money. If they could have made money by buying as many songs' rights as they could, they would have. But the fact of hte matter it, there is a VERY good chance that there simply WAS no "break-even" point for buying the rights. And sorry to tell you, no company is going to lose money just to please some people who can't let go of the past.

Not to mention..the show was a SIT-COM people. If you were watching it for the music, then you simply did not get the point of the show.

bobby Gmish said...

jfkfan87

it is you, who does not get the point, as you're clearly in minority on this forum.

give the REAL WKRP fans what we want:

the show AS IT WAS INTENDED BY THE ORIGINAL PRODUCERS.

Stop speaking for me and go wind up your fake rolex.

Anonymous said...

You would think that they could obtain waivers for most of the music. A lot of this music really doesn't sell well anymore. Maybe if people heard it again on the dvd, the just might buy some of it.

trisha S. said...

I have seen season one, I didn't realize at first the songs were missing or dubbed, until the episode where Les is putting on his wig and I remembered Hot Blodded was playing originally. I was disappointed. I went back and watched the other episodes and soon discovered the dub overs and missings songs. Funny as the show was/is, it is still missing a very important element. The original songs...

Anonymous said...

I took this out from my local library.Im glad i did not buy this.you lose alot without the proper music.many parts cut out as well.

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