Friday, November 07, 2008

WKRP Episode: "Ask Jennifer"

The fifteenth episode of season 3 kicked off the weirdest cycle of episodes in WKRP's run: almost every episode from this one through the end of the season was kind of downbeat and even depressing in spots. This episode, where Jennifer takes over as the host of a radio call-in show after the person Herb hires turns out (as always) to be a disaster, is particularly strange because it's light comedy for most of its length, then suddenly becomes really dark and depressing near the end, only to turn back into light comedy in the very last scene. I've never really been comfortable with the shift, though Loni Anderson does well with everything she's given to do in this episode.

Hugh Wilson has said that part of the reason for the downbeat mood of the show in this run of episodes was that it reflected his own mood:

I was so in control of that show, wrote every word regardless of the credits, that around that time, the third year, I began to get sort of blue and also pretentious, I think... I was a control freak, but one that wanted to run away. This is why those SNL people kill themselves, you know, they fear that they cannot top themselves. In TV, you create an expectation and then the expectation becomes a horror. And so you begin to lose confidence in comedy -- which is extremely difficult -- and go to drama, which is easier.

Though there's no music in this episode, the currently-circulated version still has changes: "Joan," Jennifer's pathetic caller, has the wrong voice in some versions. I've uploaded it with the correct voice.

1 comment:

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Ask Arlene is like Loveline, without Adam Carolla, or Dr. Drew.