Wednesday, July 02, 2008

WKRP Episode: "Filthy Pictures"

I usually don't post these till Friday, but I may not be able to post then (and I've never quite gotten the hang of delayed-timing posting), so I'll do it early. This was a special one-hour episode made near the end of the second season, when WKRP had already been moved out of the Monday 9:30 slot and back to 8:00 on Mondays, where it never really fit in. (The biggest problem WKRP had was not that it was moved, but that CBS saw it as an "8:00 show" while Hugh Wilson saw it as a "9:00 show," back when that distinction really meant something.) The premise of this episode -- a photographer gets nude pictures of Jennifer -- is a bit wackier than usual and seems almost designed to make for attention-getting network promos.

The first 60% of the episode always strikes me as a lot stronger than the last part, where the plotting seems to get kind of lazy. However, I have to admit that ever since I saw this at a young age, I have found it hard not to imitate Johnny and Bailey's "Philippe and Ginger" dialogue any time I imagine a scene between a sophisticated bickering couple.

One thing I would call attention to is that producer-director Rod Daniel makes the burglary scene more effective by being shot in actual darkness -- as opposed to "stage" darkness where we can see everybody and the actors have to pretend it's dark. It's funny and unusual to see the actors mulling around in the darkness with only an occasional glimpse of their silhouettes or faces. Also, MTM studio audience alert: the audience is forbidden from whooping or hollering when Loni Anderson appears in a bathing suit. MTM had, as a matter of policy, the most restrictions on what kind of reactions they would accept from a studio audience (no clapping for regular characters, no whistling, no cheering, no "aww"-ing).

If you want to know why the first part of this episode is logo-free and the second half has a bunch of logos and such, the reason is that while this episode was released on a commercial videotape, only the first half was complete; the second half was from a cut syndication version. To reconstruct the original one-hour version I had to edit together several other syndicated versions till all the scenes were complete. Reconstructing WKRP is like a very debased version of archaeology.

Music: "Runaway" by Bonnie Raitt.

WKRP s02e21-22 Filthy Pictures by carpalton


Anonymous said...

One (two?) of their very best episodes. The funniest line in this 2-parter is after the flubbed break-in one of the WKRP staff wonders if they'll go to hell for not confessing about the attempted burglary and Venus answers, "I can handle going to hell a lot better than going to jail."

And Jennifer's capper expression at the end of the second part is wonderful.

MJ said...

Oh goody; now I'll finally be able to get the quote I haven't ever quite been able to remember, but have been quoting (probably incorrectly) since this first aired: "You're not the first Kewpie doll to have his cupcake sat on."

I mean, it's not like it hasn't been around, or like I haven't seen this episode several dozen times, but for some reason I always seem to miss Bailey's quote. This time I will watch and write it down.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! Haven't seen this episode in eons.

annalisa said...

Love, love, love this episode. Especially love Bailey and Johnny as Philippe and Ginger. Jennifer's "perfect" is the perfect ending.