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WKRP in Cincinnati - The Complete First Season



DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 532 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English; English and Spanish subtitles
Special Features: Commentary on “Pilot (Part 1)” and “Turkeys Away”; “Do My Eyes Say Yes?” and “A ‘Fish Story’ Story Featurette”


Baby, if you’ve ever wondered where the WKRP DVDs, they’re here now! The Complete First Season of WKRP in Cincinnati (the show that we all thought would never see on DVD) is finally coming to DVD... though maybe not in the way that we remember it. Nearly all of the funny moments that we remember from the series can be found in this three disc set from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

WKRP in Cincinnati was, for those that don’t know, a sitcom from the late 70s/early 80s about the life of those that work at an under-performing AM radio station in Cincinnati. The station is run by a general manager that is afraid of his mama, Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump), and programming director Andy Travis (Gary Sandy). The employees at the radio station are all crazy in their own distinct way but all come together to make for one crazy show, from secretary Jennifer Marlowe (Loni Anderson), who somehow makes more money than anybody else at the station, news report Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), the (ineffective) sales manager Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner), producer Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers), and disc jockeys Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) and Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid).

Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

The series begins with the two part “Pilot,” where the station decides to make some changes and go to a rock-and-roll format... and the fans of the old format aren’t going to be happy! Nedra Volz (Diff'rent Strokes) guest stars in Part 2. Les’ sexuality is on the line when he is accused of being gay in “Les on the Ledge.” WKRP gets to sponsor their first concert--a concert by the Scum of the Earth--in “Hoodlum Rock.” WKRP has a promotional giveaway--free turkeys--in “Turkeys Away,” but it could just become a national disaster in this episode!

Johnny announces a contest where the winner can get $5000--except actually the winner only gets $50--in “The Contest Nobody Could Win.” A tornado hits Cincinnati (while WKRP conveniently has Japanese visitors that nobody can interpret) in “Tornado.” Johnny Fever leaves WKRP for a MUCH better paying job in Los Angeles, but for how long? Find out in the two parter “Goodbye Johnny” and “Johnny Comes Back.”

In “A Commercial Break,” WKRP has hit the jackpot with a new advertising account—but it is for a funeral parlor! Can advertising really sell funeral plans to WKRP’s youthful listeners? Hoyt Axton guest stars in “I Do, I Do... for Now,” where one of Jennifer’s childhood friends comes to Cincinnati to marry her, but Jennifer doesn’t want to marry him, so how can she get out of it? Pretend to be married to Johnny. It is the battle of the WKRP carp and WPIG pig in “Fish Story,” and we also get to see what happens to Dr. Johnny Fever when he gets drunk—it is definitely an improvement.


The packaging is really not the kind of packaging I would have expected from a WKRP set, but it is by all means effective. The outer box is in a black color scheme with a cast photo on the front, with some very basic show information on the back. There are lots of rainbow color schemes on the set too, which in a way I found to be a bit annoying, but I guess it doesn’t matter that much. Inside, we have two slim-cases, with the first one containing the first two discs and the second one containing Disc 3. The slim case for Disc 1 and 2 is yellow and has a picture of a microphone on the front, while the slim case for Disc 3 is pink with a picture of headphones on it. Obviously, they didn’t get too carried away with artwork on the slim cases. The back of each slim-case has each episode listed with an episode description and the original air-date. The artwork on the discs varies on each disc. Disc 1 is designed to look like a record, but the rest are just basic designs. I think it would have been nicer if every disc looked like a record really.

Disc 1 contains episodes 1-8, Disc 2 contains episodes 9-16, and Disc 3 contains episodes 17-22. Additionally, Disc 3 contains the non-commentary bonus features.

Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are typical of any Fox DVD, with the main menu listing all of the episodes and an option for special features at the bottom of the list. There isn’t any music or anything like that, just a basic menu with the episodes. Once you select an episode, you go to another menu that gives you an option to play the episode, go to Language Selection (lets you turn on subtitles), and on the two episodes with a commentary track, an option to turn that on. Chapters are placed within each episode at all of the appropriate places, but unlike many DVD sets from Fox, there is no scene selection menu.

Video and Audio Quality:

The video looks good for the most part, though it does show its age and there are some minor glitches here and there in the video. The picture is almost blurry at times, but you almost come to expect that from videotaped shows that are 30 years old. Likewise, the audio is mostly decent, though there is a problem on the episodes with inconsistent audio levels (some episodes were very low and others were much higher). The audio is presented in Dolby Digital mono with closed captioning as well as English and Spanish subtitles being available.

So, everything sounds good so far... but Fox has dropped a HUGE bomb on this set. First of all, there is music replaced on the set--LOTS of it. When I first heard about this set, there were reports that the music replacement wouldn’t be as harsh as the music replacement on the syndicated episodes, but that was wrong. In fact, there seems to be more replaced music on these DVDs than there were in the syndicated episodes. Nearly everything is gone, including the music (and even more) from this scene in the “Turkeys Away” episode and even Jennifer’s “Fly Me to the Moon” doorbell was replaced with “Beautiful Dreamer.” The “Fly Me to the Moon” doorbell is almost a trademark of the series and was even included on the previous butchered syndicated versions! It would be too much work for me to report every music change (because it is almost completely gone) so you can go here if you want to see all of the music replacements.

But things can’t get any worse, right? WRONG! Some episodes are directly from the syndicated versions, so we’re talking about 22 minute episodes. Even worse, some episodes don’t have music replacements, but instead go so far as to simply remove entire scenes with music. So how many episodes are truly complete? I can’t tell you, but here are the run-times for all of the episodes:

Disc 1: 1. Pilot, Part 1 (24:53)
2. Pilot, Part 2 (25:10)
3. Les on a Ledge (25:04)
4. Hoodlum Rock (22:18)
5. Hold-Up (24:17)
6. Bailey’s Show (24:35)
7. Turkeys Away (24:18)
8. Love Returns (24:46)

Disc 2:
9. Mama’s Review (24:48)
10. A Date With Jennifer (21:03)
11. The Contest Nobody Could Win (23:42)
12. Tornado (24:46)
13. Goodbye, Johnny (23:53)
14. Johnny Comes Back (24:50)
15. Never Leave Me, Lucille (23:53)
16. I Want to Keep My Baby (23:58)

Disc 3:
17. A Commercial Break (24:24)
18. Who Is Gordon Sims? (24:46)
19. I Do, I Do... For Now (24:49)
20. Young Master Carlson (24:05)
21. Fish Story (23:21)
22. Preacher (24:19)

Special Features:

The special features, while not totally impressive, are rather decent. Disc 1 contains commentaries on two episodes: “Pilot (Part 1)” and “Turkeys Away.” The commentaries are by Frank Bonner, Loni Anderson, and Hugh Wilson. They are kind of interesting and give some insight into the show, but there was one thing in the commentaries that REALLY bothered me. Hugh Wilson, in the “Turkeys Away” episode, commented on the fact that the Pink Floyd song “Dogs” was replaced on the “Turkeys Away” episode, and commented on how he thought that the replaced music was a “good replacement.” While this has nothing to do with the quality of the special features, I can’t help but to say this... Hugh Wilson’s willingness to not only tolerate this but to claim that it was “better” than the original music is almost appalling.

There are two additional bonus features that are in the form of interviews, but we have the same few commentators: Frank Bonner, Loni Anderson, and Hugh Wilson. They are, however, joined by Tim Reid for these bonus features. They include “Do My Eyes Say Yes?,” (6:28) a segment that talks about the show in general, and “A Fish Story Story,” (3:43) where they talk about one of the great episodes of the series, “A Fish Story.”

Final Comments:

I can only recommend this set with caution. The most important thing about the episodes on any DVD set is that we all remember are there, BUT the question is, ARE these REALLY the episodes we all remember? Personally, I tolerate quite a bit when it comes to minor edits on DVD sets, and can even tolerate an “accidental” syndicated episode, but everything here seems to have edits of some fashion. Then again, much of what we remember about the episodes can be found on the set and we really probably wouldn’t even care about the music replacements if we weren’t aware of the original music that was in place on the episodes. So, with that knowledge, only you can make the best choice as to whether or not you’d want to get this DVD, but it would be nice if we could have gotten better DVDs with at least a LITTLE bit more of the original music and unedited episodes.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
Overall: 3/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 04/07/07

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