Friday, November 06, 2009

WKRP Episode: "Hold-Up"

Most of the usual cuts in this season 1 episode occurred in act 2 (there is one bit of music in act 1). There's the sequence with "Mercedes Benz" and "Like a Rolling Stone," and there's also a scene just after the beginning of act 2 that -- for reasons I don't understand -- is always cut; it wasn't even on the commercial VHS tape MTM released in the early '90s. The version of the scene here is taken from a copy of the original CBS broadcast.

This episode, the seventh produced and the fifth aired, is atypical in a few ways. It has the fewest regular characters in it, missing Venus, Bailey, and Jennifer (the only episode she's not in). Much of the episode is really a showcase for members of the Committee comedy troupe: Hesseman, Hamilton Camp, and Garry Goodrow. Hugh Wilson was a fan of improv comedy and once said that his dream was to do an unscripted show with a cast of actors who could do improv -- anticipating Curb Your Enthusiasm by many years. It seems like this episode was the closest he came to that feel. Camp, a ubiquitous presence on sitcoms, gets one of his best parts in this episode.

A couple of minor controversies came from the episode. The entire writing staff at the time made cameos: Wilson (as the cop), Bill Dial (as Bucky Dornster the engineer) and Blake Hunter and the writer of the episode, Tom Chehak (as the two non-speaking cops). Apparently it caused some trouble with SAG that so much of the episode's cast consisted of non-SAG people.

Also, MTM and CBS were sued by writers who had submitted a spec script the year before (not for WKRP, obviously; it didn't exist then) with a similar theme -- a remote radio broadcast gets hijacked. The case made it to court, where the judge ruled that even if someone at MTM had read that script, there was no "substantial similarity" between the two scripts except for that one idea.

Act 1

Act 2


Steve said...

This was always my favorite episode second only to the "Turkey Drop." It's a very true-to-life story every DJ who ever did a remote can relate to. The DJ is out of his comfort zone, the sales rep is blowing sunshine, the client is a demanding weasel, and the engineer doesn't care. Being held up is about the only thing that didn't go wrong at any of my remotes.

This episode also shows the irony of the that period: AM radio stations running commercials for stores that sold the technology that was overtaking AM radio.

mike s said...

When Del turns on the stereo he's showing Herb, you can hear Atomic Punk by Van Halen

Anonymous said...

Agree with stevef, next to the "Turkey Drop" this episode clearly shows all why WKRP has become a cult classic of TV comedy. "Hold Up" is a laugh-a-minute, they certainly don't make them like they did these days. I am one of the fortunate generation who actually saw the original episodes when it was shown in the late 70s, and I would literally rush to the TV when KRP was on the air. Great!