Monday, August 17, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Tornado"

By request, here's an uncut version of a season 1 episode. The Hulu/DVD version cuts the sequence with Elvis Costello's "Goon Squad" (and by doing so, cuts one great throwaway gag: when Mr. Carlson brings the visitors into the booth, he waves his hand to clear away any smoke that might be surrounding Johnny). And all versions since the '90s have inexplicably dubbed over Les playing "The Star Spangled Banner" and replaced it with a synth version of "America the Beautiful." Since both songs are in the public domain, I assume that the recording he played of "Star Spangled Banner" was from some music library that MTM no longer had a deal with. The copy is from a CBS broadcast, so you can hear the announcer hyping up Lou Grant over the closing credits.

The key moments in the episode are well-known enough: Johnny's speech about mobile homes, René Enríquez (whom MTM would use on Hill Street Blues a few years later) looking like he's on the verge of cracking up while playing an interpreter mis-assigned to a group of Japanese executives, and Les's "godless tornadoes" speech. Mr. Carlson's phone call to the little girl is based on one of those radio urban legends that WKRP used from time to time.

Jan Smithers and Tim Reid don't appear in the episode. The original idea was that some of the characters would not appear in every episode, that they'd be recurring semi-regulars like Mr. Carlin on Bob Newhart. Eventually Hugh Wilson decided that everybody should be in every episode, so this is the last episode without Reid, and there was only one more episode ("Bad Risk") without Smithers.

Cold Open and Act 1

Act 2 and Tag


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

This was shown over here in the UK when I was a kid - so thanks for this.

Andy Rose said...

That's interesting... where Carlson is waving away the fumes, I had previously assumed he was trying to subtly tap Fever on the head to get him to sit up and pay attention. Your explanation makes more sense.

Also, I believe this is the only time that the wire machine is ever shown actually making any noise.

Mr. Z said...

something enteresting dowh

EJK said...

Again, wonderful stuff. What a collection you've given us!

Any chance for "Who is Gordon Sims?" The scene with Venus and Mister Carlson on the army base is one of my favorites from the whole WKRP run -- very funny and very moving.

Anonymous said...

I remember this was one of the best episodes of WKRP, with lots of action and laughs. This is a good vehicle for the characters of Andy and Mr. Carlston, the show was centered around them most of the time. Thanks for posting this show!