Saturday, May 12, 2007

Kent Kotal of The 60s Shop is sending out the Hall of Fame e-mails again

The recently did a series on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that was insightful and revealing on how the process goes to induct preformers into the hall. Now they will start sending it out again to any who missed it. The newest mailings will start this Wednesday. If you want to see why your favorites have not made it into the Hall of Fame then e-mail them at Tell Kent Kotal that Rick Phillips from On My Mind sent you. E-mail them soon so you don't miss a thing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

WKRP in CIncinnati: The Complete First Season on DVD

WKRP in Cincinnati is so funny that it is hard to believe that so much controversy has surrounded it since it began in 1978. When you view the DVD of its first season you are completely won over by the charm of the cast. This is the show that made stars out of Loni Anderson, Howard Hesseman, Tim Reid, Gary Sandy, etc. The show had a rough start as it was almost never made when they figured in the cost to play current pop rock hits on TV. To cut corners they video taped the episodes instead of filming them. This move allowed them to pay for the rights to the music so they appeal to the demographics that they wanted to show to reach. While this show was a bridge between music and television audiences a few years before MTV became the video music juggernaught that it is to this day you must remember that first and foremost it is a sit-com. Its main thing was to make you laugh. I found myself laughing out loud on every episode of this DVD set. It was like a reunion with old friends from college or a station I use to work at.
Yes I did work for a brief time in radio. I got my degree in radio, television and film production and part of my inspiration was from WKRP in Cincinnati. If you have ever wondered what it was like to work at a radio station no matter what decade then you should see this show. WKRP is very close. I remember my Dad asking me when the series was on the air if this was what it was like at a radio station. When I told him it was he said that there must never be a dull moment there.

The show is well packaged with a full cast photo on the cover. The two cases that house the three DVDs have all 22 first season episodes and are packaged in two bright and colorful cases. Both have one of two items that will forever be identified with radio broadcasting...a microphone and a headset. The artwork on the DVDs is colorful as well. Disc one is made up to look like an old record album. Disc two is that of a yellow sunburst and disc three is black with a rainbow of colors behind the shows logo. While all three are eye catching and make some nostalgic for the late 70’s and early 80’s I think they should have made all three look like record albums. It would keep more in tune with the radio station theme.

The controversy over the music rights hits here with the DVD sets as some jokes fell flat, at least to someone who saw it originally on CBS, as they could not afford the video rights for the songs. For example, two of my favorite episodes are “A Date with Jennifer” and “I Want to Keep My Baby.” In “A Date with Jennifer” Les Nessman (Richard Sanders) ask Jennifer ( Loni Anderson) out and she says yes. When Les finally works up the nerve to go through with it he starts getting dressed and, on network TV, you heard the song “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner. On this DVD set the song is replaced by a generic band singing a similar song that is in the same key. In a recent interview Hugh Wilson, creator of the show, thought that was a shame as they had that song in mind when they wrote that scene. However, he also said he hope that the show could stand without the music as just a good sit-com. It does.
In “I Want to Keep My Baby” Dr. Fever (Howard Hesseman) finds a baby left on the stations doorstep. He tries his best to take care of the baby while trying to get the Mother to come and take it back. Finally, he does give it to family services to find it a good home. On CBS the end of the show had him say that he had a bundle of joy that brought a smile to his face and he passed it on to others to bring a smile to their faces. Then Dr. Fever, who was known to not play current hit records, took out James Taylor’s newest album and played his hit song “Your Smiling Face.” Program Manager Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) gets so excited about it that he runs down the hall shouting “He’s playing a hit record! He’s playing a hit record!” Not only is that song replaced but Andy’s scene is edited out. It makes sense in a way. How would it look to have him say it’s a hit when the audience knows it isn’t? Still it is a show about a fictional radio station so perhaps in WKRP’s world the replacement song could have been a hit in their world. Those two songs aside the show is charming and well written and so funny you don’t care that they could not include your favorite songs. Even with the replacement songs you still get the emotion that was meant to be conveyed in the scene.
The good thing about this was that many episodes that were edited to make room for local commercials when it went into syndication are now back to include all the scenes that were edited out. With the exception of editing Andy's scene out in the previous mentioned episode.

Here is an example of a scene that was edited back into the show. In the episode “Hold Up” a remote from a stereo store is being hijacked by an out of work DJ. Mr. Carlson and Andy started to drive there to help Dr. Fever. When Andy reminds Mr. Carlson that the man has a gun they do a U-turn in the middle of a four lane street. I remember laughing at that when it was on CBS. When I saw it in syndication that scene was edited out. I was happy to see that this set had put it back in the episode so that it was now complete.
One reason I buy old shows on DVD is for the special features. While there aren’t as many as I would like on this one I still was not let down. The featurettes “Do My Eyes Say Yes?” and “A ‘Fish Story’ Story” are priceless as they tell what happened behind the scenes of certain episodes. “A ‘Fish Story’ Story” validated what I had heard before. The episode “Fish Story” was written by Hugh Wilson as a way of getting back at the network for asking him to do more slapstick.
Here is a list of the episodes and the special features on this boxed set.
Disc One
- “Pilot (1)”o Commentary with Creator Hugh Wilson and Cast Members Loni Anderson and Frank Bonner
- “Pilot (2)”
- “Les On A Ledge”
- “Hoodlum Rock”
- “Hold-Up”
- “Bailey’s Show”
- “Turkeys Away”o Commentary with Creator Hugh Wilson and Cast Members Loni Anderson and Frank Bonner
- “Love Returns”
Disc Two
- “Mama’s Review”
- “A Date With Jennifer”
- “The Contest Nobody Could Win”
- “Tornado”
- “Goodbye, Johnny”
- “Johnny Comes Back”
- “Never Leave Me, Lucille”
- “I Want To Keep My Baby”
Disc Three –
- “A Commercial Break”
- “Who Is Gordon Sims?”
- “I Do, I Do… For Now”
- “Young Master Carlson”
- “Fish Story”
- “The Preacher”
- “Do My Eyes Say Yes?” Featurette
- “A ‘Fish Story’ Story” Featurette

The show was very funny. It made stars of the entire cast. While Howard Hesseman and Tim Reid went on to other hit shows like Head of the Class, Simon & Simon and Sister, Sister, Loni Anderson, WKRP in Cincinnati’s biggest star didn’t. Her shows like Easy Street and Partners in Crime came and went very fast. She was in a modest hit movie with her then boyfriend and now Ex-husband Burt Reynolds when she was cast in “Stroker Ace.” Her other movies didn’t fare as well. Finally she did wind up on a cable show playing Tori Spellings mother on “So NoTORIus.”
WKRP in Cincinnati is a charming show. This DVD is very well put together and done so with a lot of care. It accomplished its goal in making me laugh. Not many shows do that nowadays.

So yes the old gang is back. Andy is always worried about the ratings. Bailey is being her sweet self. Johnny is entertaining his "fellow babies." Venus is watching his "children." Les is stil trying to win his coveted Silver Sow and the Buckeye Newshawk awards. Beautiful Jennifer is the voice of reason and always being hit on by married Herb. Mr. Carlson is still trying to figure out what is going on and they are all afraid of Mama. I could go on about how wonderful the cast, this show and this DVD set is. I loved every minute of watching it. I can’t wait for season two and hopefully this will make enough money to have them put out the first run syndication series they did with WKRP nine years after it left CBS.

You can get the set if you click on the banner below.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This Day in Music History: West End Girls by Pet Shop Boys

On May 10th, 1986 the song West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys was the #1 song in the USA on the Billboard charts. Its rise to the top started when Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in a stereo store in London, England in 1981. Neil was there because they were making a lead to plug his synthesizer in to his hi-fi system. Chris was there to get a stylus for his record player. They started talking about keyboards and synthesizers and met again a couple of days later at Neil’s house and started writing songs.
Neil had a degree in history, played Cello, had been in a theater group and was part of a rock band called Dust. He had also been an editor for Marvel Comics in their London office. His job with Marvel was to anglicize the dialogue.
Chris had studied architecture and played trombone and piano. He had also been a member of a band called One Under the Eight.
They did some early recordings at Neil’s apartment and at a friend’s studio in Camden. Neil at the time had a day job as editor of the British magazine Smash Hits. In 1983 he was sent to New York to interview the Police. While there he met his favorite producer Bobby Orlando. Mr. Orlando was impressed with him and agreed to produce a session with him and Chris. The session resulted in the first version of West End Girls in 1984. It was a big hit in France and Belgium. While not released in the US, some LA DJ’s got an import and it became a local hit in Los Angeles.
Their relationship with Bobby Orlando went bad. However, due to contract obligations they could not record for another producer for a year. In 1985 they signed with the Parlophone label in Britain. They released a single called Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money). It didn’t.
Next they went into record a new version of West End Girls with producer Stephen Hague. Since most people outside of France and Belgium had not heard it the song would be new to them. It was released in October of 1985 in England and went to #1. Later in May of 1986 it held the same position in America.
At that time they were the third British male duo to top the American Billboard charts in and 18 month period.
The duo had a hard time with the name they chose as they were told it was a New York slang for some sexual innuendo. Neil Tennant said they named themselves after some friends who worked in a pet shop. He said “If it has got that slightly dubious connotation then it’s quite amusing but it’s certainly not deliberate.”

Secrets of Isis On DVD

Yes the Saturday morning series from the 1970's will be on DVD July 24th. If you can't wait to see what it will look like then here is the cover art for the DVD Package.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Fugitive On DVD

For fans of the old TV Show The Fugitive your wait for it to come to DVD is soon to end. It comes out on August 14th. The only problem is that it will be a split season. However, Dr. Richard Kimble is on the run again. This show began other types of shows like "Run For Your Life" and "The Incredible Hulk" being the most successful of the post Fugitive shows where the main character is wanted for a crime he did not commit. Click here to pre-order The Fugitive season one Volume One. If anyone wants to send me a DVD of this to review I will give a review.