(Sung to the theme song from WKRP In Cincinnati)
“Baby, if you’ve ever wondered. Wondered whatever happened to all the great music on WKRP In Cincinnati that you remember the first time you heard it but not when it was released on home video or DVD.”
I know. That didn’t really fit, but you get the idea. One of the funniest shows which was already out on DVD is BACK out on DVD. Except this time, it’s out on Shout! Factory DVD and that makes this the most rocking and rollest DVD release EVER!
Many fans of the show know that when WKRP first aired, the show featured plenty of top 40 rock ‘n roll music of the era. However, due to restrictive music licensing issues, most of that music was lost when the series was released on home video. At that time, the artists and publishers didn’t grant rights to home video (what was home video?), so getting all that music cleared again was big bucks.
For those who have seen either the 20th Century Release or even the syndicated versions of the show, you’ll notice that when Dr. Johnny Fever or Venus Flytrap drop the needle, the music playing sounds familiar, yet not like anything you truly recognize. That’s because when the show was re-edited after the music licenses expired, all the rock music was substituted with “sound alikes” – a term used to describe a piece of music that sounds like something popular, but isn’t the real thing. In some cases, where Johnny or Travis would have lines OVER the music, they too were replaced with sound alikes for their voices. I’ve seen the pilot with these replacements and it certainly ruined the spirit of the show. Watching Johnny rock out to a fake tune is just silly.
Shout! Factory to the rescue! Because they love us, the good people at S!F have spent their time and money getting as much of the music back as humanly possible. Now, I am NOT a WKRP expert, but in doing some digging on the Amazon reviews, there are a few fans who have commented on what’s back and what’s still missing. It looks like Shout! Factory put more than enough effort to finally give the fans a GREAT release. (Note, one of the Amazon reviewers REALLY knows his stuff as he was able to not only identify missing music, but also completely reedited scenes that had not been available on any previous releases! I LOVE that dedication.)
I watched the pilot episodes off the new releases and they look amazing. I’m guessing we are seeing a transfer from the best master tapes possible, because this looks clean. You have to remember, this video is from the late 70s. In video tape years, that’s ANCIENT. Video back in those days did not hold nearly the amount of information you would find in film and certainly not the video we shoot today. So to see these shows look this crisp tells me that whoever held on to these master tapes was keeping them for their triumphant return. And hearing the closing theme song with those totally nonsensical lyrics really brings me back to when I was a kid hearing that play on the downstairs TV when my dad watched the show. Comforting memories.
Speaking of my dad, he worked in rock and roll radio at WLS Chicago in the 70s. WKRP still holds as one of his favorite shows of all time and I know he’s excited to see them again. Thanks for that Shout! Factory. You made an old radio exec very happy.
Shout! Factory released the whole series last fall as a box set. However, if you just want Seasons 1 and 2, they are available now! So grab your flying turkey and order yours today! Mother will be proud of you.