Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Bailey's Show"

The musical portions of this episode suffered pretty heavily on DVD/Hulu (though "Boogie Oogie Oogie" is one of only three or four real recordings that weren't eliminated in those versions), so here is the original.

This was the sixth episode of WKRP in Cincinnati in production and airing order. The writers, Joyce Armor and Judie Neer, were writers' assistants at MTM who sold their first script to The Tony Randall Show (produced by Hugh Wilson) and became staff writers that season on a short-lived CBS show called "Flying High."

The episode was the first and only episode in the first season to focus on Bailey. It picks up some themes that were set up in this character's scenes in the pilot: that she was supposed to be a bright but very shy person, without the confidence to assert herself with the "suits" (Mr. Carlson, who doesn't know who she is, and Herb and Les, who resent her getting any more duties). Hugh Wilson was said to have based the character of Bailey partly on his wife, and he saw Bailey as standing for women in the workplace who have the talent and intelligence, but don't have the extreme aggressiveness of the stereotypical working woman, and can't always stand up for themselves with the people who are trying to keep them down.

Those themes are all there in this episode, and they're interestingly dealt with, but the reason why Bailey had almost nothing to do in the rest of the season becomes pretty clear: the episode seems to be more than Jan Smithers -- who had never acted in front of a live audience before she got this role, and was really more of a model-turned-actor anyway -- can fully handle. She got better by the second season. Still, because she seems so obviously nervous and struggling with a difficult job, it sort of parallels the plot of the episode, which may explain why the audience (at home and in the studio) is so clearly on her side.

The comedy strength of the episode comes mostly from guest stars: Kathryn Ish as the crazy woman in act 1, and Woodrow Parfrey as Dr. Hyman ("Hi, Hy!") in act 2.

Act 1

Act 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The great part in this episode is seeing Johnny Fever's reaction to someone (Dr. Hyman) who is crazier than he is!