Friday, December 12, 2008

WKRP Episode: "Dear Liar"

I got a request for this episode, the 18th episode of the fourth and final season. Bailey is assigned to do a story on an underfunded children's hospital and, a la Janet Cooke, makes up a composite kid as the focal point of the story.

I'm not that fond of this episode, for two reasons. One, almost everybody seems out of character. (Even Mama Carlson seems out of character and she's not even in the episode -- but since when is she concerned with children's hospitals?) According to the book America's Favorite Radio Station, Hugh Wilson didn't always do a final rewrite on fourth season episodes the way he'd done for the first three seasons; this feels like one of the episodes that doesn't quite have the show's house style.

Second, it cops out every which way in order to keep Bailey or anyone else at the station from actually, intentionally airing a fake story. (And the issue her story is about is pretty innocuous, too.) There's not much point in doing a Janet Cooke episode when the issue is so watered down. The episode does have some good moments, mostly involving Les, but I think it's one of two episodes from the fourth season that feel like they wandered in from Embassy Television or someplace. (The other is "Pills.") This copy is taken from a tape of an original 1982 broadcast.

Cold Open and Act 1 (music: "Mustang Sally" by Wilson Pickett)

Act 2:


Albert Giesbrecht said...

One of their best episodes. Do you have a clip of Baker's Dozen?

Anonymous said...

I personally like this episode. Come on, it is worth it just to see Les walking back in the room with the dictionary.

Anonymous said...

The recent news about THIS AMERICAN LIFE having to retract a story made me think of this episode, and harold the little razorback hog.

Chicago Pinot said...

One of my favorite scenes in all WKRP is the one here with Andy and Bailey. Very well-written and acted.

Something occurred to me when watching it again: Would it have been cool or creepy to have Andy and Bailey admit some feelings for each other? Could have made for some intriguing Season Five storylines!