Thursday, December 24, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

This is not in any way Christmas-related, but I got a request for the original version of this episode. (Considering how prematurely WKRP was canceled and how few episodes there really are, it's amazing I haven't completely run out of episodes yet. But there are like three or four more that I haven't gotten to.)

This was the last episode produced in the season 1 production cycle, but the idea for it must have been hatched pretty early, because before the show even started, Hugh Wilson told an interviewer that Venus would turn out to be a deserter from the Army. What seems to have happened is that when CBS put the show in the 8:00 time slot, they were reluctant to approve that story idea, so it wasn't made as part of the initial order of 13. When they came back from hiatus in the post-M*A*S*H slot, Wilson was able (still with some struggles) to get CBS to approve it. He told Newsday that he "wouldn't have touched it in the earlier time period."

It's a pretty important episode in the series' development, mostly because of the way it established the Venus Flytrap character as someone whose whole jive-talking, over-dressing persona is basically fake, the creation of someone who literally wants to hide his identity. This would be incorporated into the character from that point on, making him the opposite of the stereotype he originally appeared to be.

The DVD/Hulu version is less butchered than most, largely because there is no licensed music in the long second act. But this version restores one song that was cut, plus the original voice-over for Les's news sign-off.

Act 1 and Tag

Act 2 and Tag


EJK said...

My favorite episode. The scene among "Gordon," Carlson and the officer is very funny and very moving.

Thanks for the holiday present!

jason said...

I'd forgotten about this one... great episode, with some really good performances. Gordon's story about what happened in Vietnam is chilling, and Venus' relief is palpable.

Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what the song Venus is playing before Andy comes into the booth.

Anonymous said...

The music played by Venus at the end of Act 1 are actually two songs. He starts with Donald Byrd's "First Flight", and after Andy has entered, he fades right into the rather beautiful "Last Dance" by Chuck Mangione, one of many great jazz instrumentals of that period. Strangely enough, that track made it to the DVD release.

Anonymous said...

...that should have been Donald Byrd's "Flight Time", sorry. The track was replaced on the DVD by generic, Love Boat-type 70s disco, but the airplane noise and beep sounds from the beginning of "Flight Time" can still be heard. Maybe because of Venus' announcement on top of it, or because Fox assumed that the airplane noise wasn't part of the original Donald Byrd-track.