Friday, October 31, 2008

WKRP Episode: "Turkeys Away" (complete with Pink Floyd)

As Variety's Cynthia Littleton noted yesterday in her great piece on WKRP, yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the show's most famous episode, the seventh episode of its first season (the eighth in production order) and the one that probably saved the show from early cancellation. Yes, "Turkeys Away." So this is the right time to unearth the original version, complete with "Dogs" by Pink Floyd as well as the two songs Johnny plays in the climactic scene: "Fun Time" by Joe Cocker and (as an in-joke) "It Came Out of the Sky" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

I'm not saying the show falls apart completely without the Pink Floyd scene, but it works so much better with it. Partly because the first act shows us all the things that make Mr. Carlson feel uncomfortable and unwanted at his own station, and one of those things needs to be the way-out music being played. Without that, his reasons for wanting to take over and do something without consulting anyone are not as clear. And partly because without that scene intact, the first act seems kind of slow and the episode becomes a long slog toward the great ending; the Pink Floyd scene is so strong that it helps the first act hold its own.

And as I'm sure most of you are aware, everyone agrees that this episode is based on something that really happened at a radio station, but nobody agrees on which station it was or what exactly they tried to give away. I think it's best described as a radio urban legend.

Turkeys 2 - kewego
Thanksgiving turkey episode
Mots-clés : thanksgiving turkeys


Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I recently purchased the WKRP box set for season 1 (used, of course...I'm not giving Fox any money for this piece of crap they gave us, and I'm sure I'll sell it back when I'm done). I've watched the first few episodes, with the last one being the Turkey episode.

I am pretty hip to the music that was popular at that time, and so far I haven't recognized ANYTHING that's on these dvds, which is annoying. Is there a site somewhere that breaks down what songs are missing? I had no idea CCR's "It Came Out Of The Sky" was in the Turkey episode until I read it here!

BTW...I just tried watching the Turkey episode using your links, and there's no sound at all. Any tech support to tell me what I may be doing wrong?


Anonymous said...

Update...I found the SONN blog posting which pretty much confirms that almost NONE of the original music is intact. That's a crock, and anybody who claims that it's better than nothing is missing the point. Some of those scenes heavily rely on the music being played.

If I were a producer, director, etc. for this show, I'd be mad as all get out right now. The way these shows are edited makes it look sloppy.

I was mad about this before I even saw the dvd set. Now that I have it, I'm really steamed.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this! I love this episode and it was a great break today!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this episode. I am thrilled to be able to see the entire episode. It is one of my all time favorites and a Thanksgiving classic.

Paul W said...

It's turkey time again.

I remembered your links via MGK and that you were reviewing the WKRP series... I want to thank you for that... Probably the best sitcom from my early youth I still recall with fondness.

Also, totally agree with you about Betty Cooper being insane.

Anonymous said...

To the best of my knowledge, it's not an urban legend, but confirmed fact: it happened in Atlanta at WQXI-FM. The turkeys were indeed deployed on the I-75/I-85 connector just north of downtown Atlanta, and a lot of people lost their jobs over it. The creator of WKRP used to be an on-air jock in Atlanta, Georgia. He based the entire series on the day to day BS he saw there.

Anonymous said...

One more thing: I work now in television production in New York, and I'm puzzled by the decision not to include the original music. One of the things we do here at my studio, on a regular basis, is track down and obtain synch rights to the music we use in episodic programming. In most cases (Warner Chappelle excluded at present), the rights holders answer requests promptly and, most importantly, are willing to negotiate pricing. The rights should have been properly secured in the first place: i.e., MTM should have requested North American (and/or worldwide rights) in perpetuity. Perpetuity rights mean you can use the song forever, in whatever distributing form it happens to take. The typical going synch in perpetuity rate we're running into in New York is $3,000 per song.

Unfortunately, I think, judging from what I've seen and read here, MTM's music licensing reps did sloppy work and didn't secure rights fully or properly, and the new distributors, wanting to cut costs, don't see the value of taking the trouble to email a fricking synch in perpetuity release request to the proper rights holders. It takes only moments, the form is standard and easy to fill out, and no song is going to cost them more than $50,000. So what's causing the foot-dragging? Laziness? Corporate negligence and groupthink presuming music is unimportant and interchangeable, and that the audience "wouldn't care whether it's there or not"? Or general cheapness?

The rights are there, they're easy to track down, and distributors know how to obtain them properly. What's the real problem?