Friday, June 05, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Circumstantial Evidence"

This season 4 episode, where Venus is framed for robbery, was written by Tim Reid and Peter Torokvei. (Torokvei was a law-school graduate, something you can hear in a lot of the lines given to Carlson's inept lawyer, played by Max Wright, whose dialogue is sort of a parody of law-school textbooks.) Hugh Wilson apparently let Reid handle some of the producing duties on this episode, which explains why the cast includes several people who were associated with Reid in some way, including his girlfriend and later wife Daphne Maxwell (whose character's name, "Jessica Langtre," is a great femme fatale name) and comedian John Witherspoon (an old friend of Reid's from his stand-up days). The guest cast also includes veterans Robert Hooks and Jack Kruschen, and, in a return appearance as a different character, Michael Pataki.

In "America's Favorite Radio Station," Tim Reid said that this was originally intended as a one-hour episode, and when CBS cut it back to half an hour, they had to cut out a lot of material. He also said that "the ending didn't suit me," which is probably an understatement; the deus ex machina ending is pretty ridiculous. Also, Reid apparently wanted the story to be more about race issues, but in the final version this is reduced to one line (when Venus says that everybody assumes that he looks like the thief because "it's a black man with a beard"), and the ending invalidates even that one line.

The episode was done without an audience, and a laugh track (or post-dubbed audience responses) was used instead. Music includes "Take My Heart" by Kool and the Gang and "We Belong Together" by Tom Scott.


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Anonymous said...

There is actually one other racially-tinged line in the episode: when the police officer assumes that an articulate African-American man praying to himself must be a black "Moozlim."