Friday, November 14, 2008

WKRP Episode - "Out To Lunch"

Another episode from that strange run of dour, downbeat episodes toward the end of the third season. The idea that Herb's use of alcohol as a sales tool (to get potential clients in the mood and to improve his sales technique) amounted to a drinking problem was foreshadowed in several earlier episodes, including one just a couple of weeks before this one, and would be referred to in several episodes after this one (so we can see that Herb didn't actually solve his problem). And culturally it's an interesting bridge between the Mad Men era of constant business-related drinking and the modern era. But while not a "very special" episode, it really is a downer, and I go back and forth on whether I like it or not. The credited writer of the episode, Peter Torokvei, said in the book America's Favorite Radio Station that he liked how it turned out: "Rather than really heavily preaching, rather than using a hammer-over-the-head type message, we kind of let it play as comedy. Even in that sort of obligatory, serious wrapping-up scene, we still tried to avoid any direct-line preaching." (I think he may be have been referring to the fact that even though Mr. Carlson is delivering the moral, he's getting steadily more drunk throughout the scene.)

There's a lot of music in this episode, but all of it is under dialogue at a low volume level. The song playing at the beginning of Act 2 is the hugely expensive "Here Comes the Sun" (one of only three Beatles songs used in the entire series), but the first time I saw the episode I didn't even notice it was there.

Cold Open and Act 1

Act 2 and Tag


Stacia said...

The problem I had with the ethics in this episode was the inconsistency with how they dealt with Johnny's drug use and Herb's alcoholism. Andy even says that the problem is Johnny does drugs on his own time so it's none of WKRP's business, but Herb drinks on station time so that's different. Yet the show clearly had Johnny hung over and/or stoned while at work many times.

It's really more of a continuity thing than anything, and for sitcoms it's not a particularly egregious example, but I've always been a bit irked by it.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Good point, but to be fair, Andy's saying that what he cares about is whether drug/alcohol use affects "the quality of their work" -- so Johnny's drug use doesn't prevent him from doing his job well, while Herb's drinking is causing him to screw up his job.

Anonymous said...

Can you post the episode, "Dear Liar?"I've heard interesting things about it. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi! My Christopher Is Song Look At Music WKRP What Bar Drink Drunk A Friend Herb, Love That Song The Bee Gees - Jive Talkin' & Everynight - Paul McCartney & Wings & Giving It Up Your Lovin' - Delbert McClinton & Here Comes The Sun - George Harrison (The Beatles) And One More I Will Follow - U2 Band & The End Music Unknown Artists Out Door Herb, Says: You Las Come On Harry Up Let's Takin' For Lunch! Thanks Christopher!