Friday, February 15, 2008

WKRP Episode: "The Americanization of Ivan"

By request, an episode from the second season where a Ukrainian hog expert (Michael Pataki) wants to defect and seeks asylum at the station. Hugh Wilson directed and wrote the outline; the script was credited to the team of Dan Guntzelman and Steve Marshall. (They later created the quite good family sitcom "Just the Ten of Us.") This is also one of the few WKRP episodes that has big scene-stealing roles for guest stars; because the cast was so huge, most episodes did not have room for much guest work, but this episode is more or less dominated by Pataki as the defector and Sam Anderson as the sad-faced immigration officer.

Weirdly enough, The White Shadow, which was produced by the same company and aired on the same network on the same night, also did a Russian defector episode which aired the week before or after this one.

Of course the most infamous thing about this episode is that in the recent syndication package, the running gag involving Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" was not only eliminated, but redubbed with lines like "Hold my order, terrible dresser." This version here has all the "Tiny Dancer" references intact. (As Bailey mentions, the basis for this joke is that Elton John had then-recently toured the Soviet Union.)

Cold opening and act 1:

Act 2:


Jason said...

Ah, what a great episode, one of the ones that has remained strong and fresh in my memory even though I've not seen it all the way through in years.

Also the very epitome of everything that's wrong with the music substitution debacle. The ep simply doesn't make sense without "Tiny Dancer" (not to mention that great final scene of Bailey looking wistfully out the window), and there's no sense in even trying to make it work without that song. Better to just pony up the cash to pay for the damn music rights and trust that the show's real fans will be willing to pay for it. I know I would...

Christopher Mills said...

One of my favorites. Thanks for posting this.

Requests – "Fish Story," "Dr. Fever & Mr. Tide," and "An Explosive Affair."