This is one of my all time favorite shows, and I would have happily paid more for the original versions of the shows, with the original music. It's a show about a radio station - OF COURSE the original music is important. I will not pay, however, for truncated versions of the shows with altered music. WKRP is one of the classic shows of TV, deeply influential and smartly written and directed and excellently acted. It's a shame Fox doesn't have the sense to treat one of its finest moments with even an ounce of care or respect. I don't buy the argument that by not buying this substandard product I'm guaranteeing I won't see a better release of WKRP in the future. Why not just release a GOOD product first, and I'll buy that right away? What happened to that business model? And if the RIAA shares blame, too, well, their business model is clearly outmoded, anyway. Instead of guaranteeing renewed revenue from these shows for the artists it represents, it now guarantees them nothing at all from this DVD release. Nice work!
This DVD is an insult to the people behind WKRP and its many devoted fans.
on April 16, 2007
If it were possible, I would have rated this set 0 stars! I am saddened & dismayed that I must negatively rate this set. I loved WKRP. It was the only TV show that I would never miss when I was young.
I understand about the enormous expense with the music rights. I can even see where some editing had to be done due to music editing. In other words, I was ready to forgive a lot, just to view these episodes again.
Well, I have a friend who has got a hold of a copy of the advance DVD set. We watched it over the last few nights.
Since this was a copy of the DVD, I cannot comment on the picture quality with any authority. What I CAN comment on, was what has been done to the shows.
It is WORSE, WAY WORSE than you can imagine from reading these reviews. I had read the reviews, and I thought I was mentally prepared, but I still came away with a sick feeling in my stomach. I can imagine some first time viewers of this set actually having a hard time following the plot due to cut scenes & music changes.
PLEASE DO NOT ORDER THIS SET. It is a travesty, & Fox should NOT be rewarded for this effort!
FOX: Charge $150 per season, if you have to, but release this set intact! You should be ashamed & embarrassed over this shambles!
on March 31, 2007
After reading the news about what is actually on these DVDs, I had to cancel the pre-order. I was so excited when I heard this was coming out. The early info said that Hugh Wilson was involved, and I had hoped it would be the same quality effort as was put into the short lived Sledge Hammer! series when it came to DVD.
I can live with the music changes to get the DVD's out, but I cannot justify spending money for episodes that are just 22-minute syndication cuts. I can hardly watch them on TV-Land or wherever they show up now and then because of that the cut scenes.
Can't get Pink Floyd "dogs"? Don't cut the scene! Go get some audio of some freak'n dogs barking and dub it in!
Sorry Fox, you will have to do MUCH better for me to spend money on this.
Just to make sure there is no confusion; I *LOVE* WKRP, but not enough to spend money on crappy DVDs.
It was a tough decision but I purchased Northern Exposure. I knew the show had been altered and much of the original music had been changed. The music was important but not crucial, or at least that's what I told myself. I wanted the show. And Northern Exposure retains 30-40% of the original music. But WKRP is different. The music IS the show! It is about a radio station that plays rock. Much of the comedy flows from the songs. The mood of many scenes is determined by them. Dialog and music are often interwoven. The plot sometimes depends on a particular song. Tiny Dancer, Dogs.... Every real fan of this show knows exactly what I mean! To remove ALL the songs....ALL of them! To change dialog or to remove whole sections of the show because there's no easy way to excise dialog interwoven with music. To re-dub new dialog to cover-up this radical surgery. To utilize cut, awful syndicated prints because there is no other way to cover the damage. This is NOT the Complete WKRP as advertised. This is an Opera with the music removed. What are you watching when you see this? I am old enough to have loved this show in its original run. Part of the fun was the shock of hearing rock in a sitcom. And how it was so cleverly, even lovingly utilized! This bowdlerized DVD collection is NOT the complete WKRP. It is a travesty that should disappear quickly and without a trace. I canceled my pre-order, as painful as that was. I will not be a party to this constant lowering of standards. I strongly urge you to think carefully before purchasing this set.
on July 10, 2007
I don't know if there's anything left to be said about this dvd release, but having recently rented and viewed all three discs (including the extras), I thought I'd reluctantly add my voice to the disgruntled chorus. Here's the breakdown:
The show: It's hard to be completely objective about a show that one grew to love during adolescence, but I'd have to say, all in all, it's still pretty great after all these years. In an admirable inverse of what usually happens with a sitcom, where characters become caricatures as mannerisms and formulas crystallize, the characters on WKRP actually acquired dimension and depth over time. Not all of the attempts at seriousness worked -- the episode where Andy reconnects with an old flame was unintentionally laughable -- but many of them did, with special kudos going to "Never Leave Me Lucille" and the episode where one of Johnny's fans leaves him her baby. In addition to a reliable reservoir of gags, these stories were genuinely (and surprisingly) moving. As for the show's most famous episode, I found "Turkeys Away" a little lackluster... there was a lengthy and relatively unfunny buildup to the punchline, but the last five minutes or so (with Les Nessman's riotous play-by-play) pretty well make up for it. "A Date with Jennifer" would probably get my vote for best episode on this set.
The dvd: The two commentaries featuring Loni Anderson, Frank Bonner and creator Hugh Wilson were enjoyable and reflected the easy-going camaraderie that seemed to exist between the cast members and crew during the show's run. The featurettes on Loni Anderson and "The Fish Story" were entertaining, but at a total of 10 minutes, a little flimsy. As others have noted, the image is, like many shows from the era shot on video, a little soft... occasionally VERY soft. The last episode on disc three almost looks like a dream sequence! (There's a problem with shifting color tones on that episode, as well.) Not sure what kind of restoration is possible with the format, but overall, it's certainly watchable, though far from spectacular. The audio is likewise adequate, although the levels from show to show could have been matched a little better.
The music: Here's where the set seriously falters, and not always for the most obvious reasons. The note on the back of this and many other television dvd sets is absurd and misleading: "SOME of the original music content has been changed for this dvd release." What they mean to say is: "Nearly every song originally used has been replaced with music that has no resemblance whatsoever to the music of the era. Furthermore, scenes have been cut, and actors' voices have occasionally been dubbed by ineffectual celebrity impersonators." THAT disclaimer, however, would take up a quarter of the back cover and probably dissuade many prospective buyers. Incidentally, I counted four songs that remained from the original episodes: one each from Aretha Franklin and Bob Marley, a full minute or so of "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by Taste of Honey (cool!), and Chuck Mangione. (To paraphrase Triumph the Insult Comic Dog: "Chuck Mangione... what a freakin' coup!") The most glaring substitutions have been mentioned elsewhere, but are so egregious that they're worth repeating:
1) Van Morrison "Caravan" -- Johnny Fever is holding a copy of "Moondance" and singing enthusiastically and pounding his chest to this track on the original show.
2) "Dogs" Pink Floyd -- This is probably the one that suffers the worst: not only is the song gone, but so is 2/3 of the scene!
3) "Old Fashioned Rock and Roll" Bob Seger -- On the original version, Johnny is doing one of his extended pre-song raps and after he concludes with "What do you take?", the famous line "Just take those old records off the shelf..." kicks in.
4) "Your Smiling Face" James Taylor -- Again, a copy of "JT" is clearly visible, but the song is replaced by a repugnant "sound-a-like"... sabotaging a very poignant moment.
5) "Hot Blooded" Foreigner -- A classic Les moment ruined by the substitution.
(If you haven't viewed the scenes with the original music, clips are widely available on the internet... check 'em out before The Man pulls the plug.)
There are other, slightly less injurious, substitutions. Johnny makes references to "Brother Ray" and "Jerry Lee" after playing Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis in the original episodes. On the dvd, the references remain, but the music has been replaced -- not by an incredible simulation, mind you, or even a reasonable facsimile... and that's what adds insult to injury, here. There was no attempt, as others have noticed, to replace the original songs with comparable (but cheaper) songs of the era or even have a competent studio band do a respectable knock-off. The songs have instead been replaced with completely anachronous tracks, replete with drum machines and cheesy late 80s synths or wildly off-the-mark hair metal replications... just awful.
Even worse, in those instances where the original actors were unavailable to dub their voices over the new music tracks, celebrity impersonators have been used -- it was glaringly conspicuous on several occasions. And even worse than THAT were those instances where parts of the scene had been removed (to facilitate a music change, presumably). I didn't keep a scorecard of how many awkward edits there were, but it was not insubstantial. I did take note of the running times on most of the episodes: many hovered around the 24 or 25 minute mark; there were more than a few, however, that fell in the 22 to 23 minute range, suggesting that numerous edits had been done.
(The story that had been circulating about creator Hugh Wilson participating in the music substitutions seems to have been largely bogus. In an interview I found online, Wilson indicated that the studio assured him they would attempt to keep as much music as possible, but he expressed genuine shock when the reporter informed him that "Hot Blooded" had been replaced!)
A previous reviewer mentioned what a lose-lose situation this is for everyone: the makers of the show lose because their original vision is corrupted; the owners of the recordings lose because they don't receive royalties OR have their music promoted; the producers of the dvd lose because many will boycott the release; consumers lose because they have to content themselves with an inferior product or else not buy the set at all. And after watching the episodes, I've reluctantly chosen the latter option. There are plenty of good folks who won't mind the substitutions or the edits and I can understand that for many, having an altered version is better than none at all. The bottom line is this: if the music is irrelevant to your enjoyment, I'd recommend buying the set, with some reservations; edits and other quibbles aside, you'll likely enjoy it. If you feel the music was an intrinsic part of the show, I strongly recommend renting first -- especially if your local store is generous enough to include the entire set as one rental. For WKRP devotees, you'll probably want to rent the set to check out the extras, even if you already possess the truly "complete" bootleg version (which, um, incidentally, is now priced to compete with the "legitimate" release).
As a final note, let me add that while I am sympathetic to the notion that "this is JUST a tv show", I also believe that this program, like ANY program, was not created in a vacuum. Part of the charm and historical value of the show is the manner in which it incorporated facets of the zeitgeist which prevailed at the time: the clothes, the political references, and yes, the music. So whether it's the result of greed on the part of 20th Century Fox or the owners of the copyrights... or for any other reason, removing the music is not simply a matter of tampering with people's memories; it represents a significant alteration of an important and compelling document of late 70s/early 80s American culture and on that count, it stands as a minor tragedy.
on April 17, 2007
...unless you don't care about heavily altered music and scenes cut out of the episodes. That is exactly what you will be getting if you spend your money on this lackluster effort by Fox Home Entertainment.
I will wait this one out, and hope that the extremely negative attitudes from the buying public towards this set will make Fox realize that if they intend to do this, they had best do it RIGHT. Down with shoddy efforts like this!
on January 1, 2008
Much, and I do mean much, has been written about the artistic alterations to this set. In a nutshell, the licenses for the music that was played in the originally aired episodes of WKRP expired long ago, prompting subsequent changes in the music soundtrack. This DVD release is accordingly, sadly incomplete, with 95% of its original music soundtrack now cut and replaced with positively horrid generic music that most often does not at all suit its respective scene. This is not even to mention the resulting altered and expurgated scenes. As funny and sharp as the writing and acting remains, one can't help but feel cheated without the original tunes, as if missing an essential piece of what helped make the show unique.
These unfortunate changes shouldn't be blamed entirely on Fox or the show's producers. First, it's likely some artists did not want their music to be included this time around. Second, the DVD release of an almost 30 year old show that ran only for four seasons is unlikely to sell in large enough numbers to justify astronomical music licensing costs. The alternative would be to raise the list price of the set, a similarly risky move for a title of this nature. Third, from what I've read, the RIAA has made it virtually impossible to broker affordable licensing deals these days. It's not as if anyone is going to record and build their classic rock libraries with music snippets from this show, particularly since the songs are nowhere near complete and always contain dialogue or audience reaction as part of the soundtrack. It seems a compromise and/or solution could be reached that would satisfy both the RIAA and all interested publishing parties, making the licensing deals more probable and profitable. The RIAA, with their unwillingness to be reasonable and hypocritical claims of the defense of recorded art, should be ashamed at how they so effectively help to destroy it. (Don't even get me started on the CD loudness wars.)
Finally, for those who question whether the missing music is really essential to the enjoyment of the show, I submit the following: In "Turkeys Away", undoubtedly WKRP's best known episode, Johnny is asleep in the control booth while playing Pink Floyd's opus "Dogs", when Mr. Carlson strolls in to check out his work. As Carlson looks through a stack of records, he is amusingly distracted by the sound of the barking dogs in the song. He repeatedly stares at the control room monitor, attempting to determine the source of the barking. Confounded, he walks over to and stares at the revolving turntable. With Carlson about to lift the tonearm from the record, an awakened Johnny instructs, "Don't touch that." Mr. Carlson: "Do I hear dogs barking on that thing?" Johnny: "I do." In the DVD version, there is no Pink Floyd and no barking dog sounds, leaving Carlson's reactions curious and without context, and the hilarious exchange between he and Johnny is completely excised, leaving the scene butchered and intended humor neutered.
Without reservation, it is great to see these shows again and I didn't mind giving up some cash to support...well, whoever is reaping the rewards from sales. And Jan Smithers was just hot. Rarely on TV has there been a better set of jeans with a nicer figure to fill them out. It just hurts to have to suffer through these episodes without "Dogs", "Into the Mystic", "Hot Blooded", etc. And what other primetime TV show from 1978 featured music from Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Bob Marley? Sigh.
ADDENDUM: Perhaps more blame than I originally gave credit should go to the producers of the altered version of WKRP contained in this DVD set. Those keen of ear and memory will recall that the first rock song played in the series (and on the fictitious WKRP) was Ted Nugent's "Queen of the Forest". In the "Pilot" episode, the song has predictably been replaced with generic music. However, in the clip show episode "Mama's Review", the same scene from the pilot appears with the song mercifully intact! This curiosity demonstrates that perhaps some hasty work and research went into this set. It does make one wonder how much more original music could have made it through, had more care been taken to preserve the show as originally aired, in turn bolstering the set's appeal.
Finally, the following is a list of songs that were not substituted in this set, followed by episode title:
"Queen of the Forest" by Ted Nugent (as detailed above), Mama's Review
"Dynamite", "Got Enough Love", "Betcha Won't Dance" all by Detective, Hoodlum Rock (Detective's lead singer Michael Des Barres plays Dog from Scum of the Earth)
"Jealous Man", "Della and the Dealer" both by Hoyt Axton, I Do I Do...For Now (Hoyt plays singer/songwriter T.J. Watson)
"Boogie Oogie Oogie" by Taste of Honey, Bailey's Show
"Lively Up Yourself" by Bob Marley, I Want to Keep My Baby
"Last Dance" by Chuck Mangione, Who Is Gordon Sims?
on March 30, 2007
The first reviews for this set are in, and here's what we've got:
1) Even less original music than the infamous late-90's syndication package
2) All original music that has been replaced has been replaced with generic background music - most of it the same as in the aforementioned, much-hated late-90's syndication package
3) Several episodes are the 22-minute syndication versions instead of the network originals
4) Whenever a song needed to be replaced in a network original, and the song could not be un-intertwined from the dialogue of a scene, the scene is simply very sloppily cut out altogether
So, there you have it! Pretty much all of our worst fears confirmed - and then some. Buyer beware.
on April 1, 2007
Very distresing that the music has been replaced, scenes have been cut, etc. Some would say that something is better than nothing. Can't argue with that for those so inclined. But revisionist history is not for me. I'll stick with my memories.
It is a true disgrace that shows get butchered because of rights. This has happened before. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was cancelled because it was getting too popular and the rights to movies became too expensive. Now WKRP in Cincinnati is being altered because of music rights. I'm surprised certain clothing lines haven't demanded money for the rights to Beverly Hills 90210. (Quick, airbrush their clothes!!!!)
Here's an idea for Fox. Instead of charging the $39.98 market price for the DVD set, charge $54.98. That would add $15 per sale extra into the budget. If you sell a meer 100,000 copies of the DVD (which I believe the city of Cincinnati, itself, would purchase) you then have $1.5 million to put towards the rights of the original songs. Just think if you sell a million copies or more. I personally would spend more money to get the original versions of the episodes instead of these blasphemous shells of a great show. I am certain I'm not alone.
I know people complain about the price of DVDs, but at the same time, most people are willing to spend a little extra to the get the real thing rather than a cheap rip-off. Count me out until I can get the true episodes