Friday, February 20, 2009

WKRP Episode: "To Err Is Human"

A reader requested this episode; it was the next-to-last episode of the fourth (and final season) in production and airing order, but by some accounts it was the last to actually be taped. Tom Sullivan guest stars as the blind business tycoon. Written by Lissa Levin.

I've also heard it suggested, but never confirmed, that if the show had been picked up for a fifth season, it would have been held over for that season -- the regular season had already ended when this and other episodes were burned off, so I guess that could be true. In any case, it does give a sense of what a fifth season of WKRP might have been about. The station spends the fourth season becoming more and more successful until it was the # 6 station in town and Johnny was the # 1 morning man. If they had gone on for another season, the premise would have had to evolve, because this is no longer a struggling station. This episode asks the question: what happens when a station that was set up to fail becomes successful? What you have in this case is Herb, someone who kept his job primarily because the owner wanted the station to fail, working with deals and clients that he's completely unqualified to handle. He should be fired, as everyone including him acknowledges in the episode, but Jennifer doesn't want him fired because she kind of likes him, and because she doesn't want Mr. Carlson turning into a typical "prudent businessman." It's sad that there wasn't a fifth season, because there was a lot of material to be gotten from watching these mostly incompetent employees deal with success (and one of the problems of "The New WKRP" was that they brought the station back to square one as a failure, which made it feel like a rehash of the first season of the original).

Music: "Do You Believe In Love" by Huey Lewis and the News; "Shotgun" by Junior Walker and the All-Stars.

Cold Open and Act 1

Act 2 and Tag


J Lee said...

One of my all-time favorite cold openings, with Herb's photo pose and the balloon caption over it. Season 4 was a step up from Season 3, and it would have been interesting to see if the show could have kept things going with a modified plot line for Season 5.

mstove said...

I've always loved this episode. Thanks again for all the postings.