Friday, September 05, 2008

WKRP Episode: "Bah, Humbug"

This is the season 3 Christmas episode, accurately described within the episode itself as "Another one of those Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol things." (Hugh Wilson did virtually the same episode on The Famous Teddy Z, where Alex Rocco's character said that the best part of this kind of dream is "You get to rip off the story for nothing!") This was actually the only episode that won an Emmy for anything; Andy Ackerman, who later became director of Seinfeld, won for best editing.

One thing I realized upon watching it again is that this episode is actually about three different stages in the radio business. The WKRP of Christmas past is an old-fashioned family-run radio station. The WKRP of Christmas present shows the family atmosphere being threatened by bottom-line considerations. And the WKRP of Christmas future is basically what radio stations are now and what they were already becoming in 1980 -- fully-automated and run by the sales department.

The music over the end credits is a vocal version of "Sleigh Ride"; there's another song playing in the Christmas past scene but I don't recognize it.

Cold Opening and Act 1

Act 2


Anonymous said...

The song playing during the Christmas Past scene is "Wanted," by Perry Como. One of his biggest hits.

Haven't seen this episode in years. I remember being disappointed in it when it first aired, not because of how it turned out, but because it seems like nearly every sitcom on the air was ripping off either "A Christmas Carol" or "It's a Wonderful Life" in those days, and I hated to see WKRP doing it, too. WKRP does a very good take on the too-familiar, though. I admire the way they were able to find an appropriately Scrooge-like element in Mr. Carlson that was consistent with the character. Consistent, well-rounded characters was one of the things that made this such a great series. How many other shows would have treated Les or Herb as human beings instead of as one-note boobs to be thrown into a scene for a quick laugh.

Anonymous said...

This is my own admittedly indulgent hobby, but I have been making a short-list of the episodes in which Jan Smithers/Bailey looks espcecially cute or gorgeous, and this must be in the top 5. I love the enormous plaid skirts of that period, and here she is not wearing glasses. Other top picks, if you're still reading, "The Painting" (adorable red sweater-set with grey flannel skirt), Mike Fright (gorgeous close up when talking to johnny in the booth), and "Jennifer&the Will" (classic early 80's preppy look that she did so well).