Friday, April 10, 2009

WKRP Episode: "A Commercial Break"

This is the famous season 1 episode about the commercial for "Ferryman's Funeral Homes"; Richard Sanders and Michael Fairman wrote it very fast when Hugh Wilson didn't have a script for that week.

The '90s syndication version stripped out the music, and the DVD/Hulu version took out two music-related gags in Act 1. The music in Act 2 is "Young Blood" by the Coasters and "Heart of Glass" by Blondie; though only a few bars of "Heart of Glass" are played, this episode apparently helped make the song a hit because Johnny announces the title and artist, like a real DJ does. CBS was initially reluctant to allow the characters to mention the names of the songs and groups; you'll notice that in most of the earliest episodes, the DJs never identify the songs they're playing. (Networks back then were reluctant to do anything that smacked of free product placement; it was like giving away advertising time for nothing.) Finally the DJs were allowed to announce or back-announce the songs, and that sometimes helped songs to become more popular.

Cold Opening

Act 1

Act 2 and Tag


J Lee said...

Nowadays, a funeral home advertising on a rock station doesn't sound as odd as it did 30 years ago, given the demographics of today's rock audience.

Geoff said...

Is Johnny's "So long for a while" a reference to something?

Andy said...

Another possible reason CBS didn't want to have them name the artists early on: lawyers may have been nervous that it could open the door for payola, which is just as illegal on TV as it is on the radio.