Friday, January 16, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Till Debt Do Us Part"

Not a strong episode, but the backstory is fairly interesting. The episode has Johnny meeting his first ex-wife (Ruth Silveira) and her obnoxious husband-to-be Buddy (Hamilton Camp). Howard Hesseman co-wrote the script with writer-producer Steven Kampmann (his last script before leaving the show, eventually turning up as Kirk on Newhart, and he wrote it for Silveira, one of his colleagues from The Committee, and his friend John Matuszak, the pro football player turned actor. In the book America's Favorite Radio Station Hesseman recalls that Matuszak bombed out at the table read and and had to be replaced; he and Hugh Wilson decided that the best person to take over the part on short notice was Hamilton Camp, a familiar TV face and another Committee guy.

But you can see how the original casting idea would have made this a less depressing episode. Buddy, the guy Johnny's ex-wife is going to marry, was intended to be a big, strong, athletic, good-looking guy whose bad qualities aren't instantly clear (and Paula, the ex-wife, was to bring him around to show off his apparent superiority to Johnny). With Hamilton Camp in the part, the guy has no redeeming qualities, and Paula becomes a pathetic character. Also, Ruth Silveira demonstrates why she's not one of the better-known Committee alumni; she doesn't do that well. With the miscasting, the downbeat story and the downbeat tone of the last part of the third season, this is probably the most depressing episode of the whole series, and there's something a little "off" about a lot of it.

Les has some good lines, though; I think it was Kampmann who got the idea to write him as a total psycopath who semi-deliberately messes with Johnny's mind (here and in "Frog Story" and a few other episodes). There's also one line, "I make money, you make money and no one knows the difference," that's lifted from the SCTV Cisco Kid redub that Kampmann and Peter Torokvei made with Martin Short.

The music in the opening scene is "Book of Love" by the Monotones; I've forgotten what song is playing in the closing scene.


Albert Giesbrecht said...
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Albert Giesbrecht said...
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Albert Giesbrecht said...

The song at the end of the episode is "We Just Disagree" by Dave Mason -1977

Anonymous said...

it is so great to see these INTACT. i've been watching the first season on hulu and the music replacement and voice dubbing is distracting and awful.

mstove said...

Thanks for continuing to post these. I look forward to watching them as they come up.