Monday, August 21, 2017

"Let's run away together. To Los Angeles! They'll understand there!"


We've had this pop up a couple times before in our podcast history: two adjacent episodes in WKRP's run that provide us with a more-or-less themed podcast episode around one of the characters in WKRP's ensemble. In early Season 2 it was "Baseball" and "Bad Risk," which allowed us to delve deeply into Les Nessman's psychology, and later in Season 2 we had "Herb's Dad" and "Put Up or Shut Up," which gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk about Herb's upbringing, male role models, and masculinity in crisis in WKRP-era America more generally. "Huggable Herb" has fast become one of my personal favorite episodes of the podcast.

This week, we get a pair of Andy Travis-centric episodes. We see a dark "path-not-taken" version of Andy in "The Consultant" and the trials and tribulations of Andy as a piece of, well, beefcake in "Love, Exciting And New."

We've said it again and again; we were super harsh on Gary Sandy in Season 1 of Hold My Order, and maybe unfairly so. By this point, we know a lot more about Andy as a character and Sandy has slipped into the role much more comfortably. And these two episodes might be him at his finest. There's a great scene in "The Consultant" where Andy meets with Norris Breeze, his old friend, now a radio consultant, where Andy has to essentially complete the process that "Baby, If You Ever Wondered" back in Season 2 started. He's no longer That Guy who comes in from out of town to upset the applecart; Andy by now is one of the inmates in the asylum that is WKRP, and he wants to help save his friends' jobs. And Andy comes up with an ingenious plan to save the station, which he takes great delight in springing on Mrs. Carlson.

And speaking of Andy and Lillian... wow. "Love, Exciting And New" takes the transgressive idea of Mama and Andy dating and does some incredible gymnastics around that sitcom-y plotline, the then-very relevant issue of workplace sexual harassment, and somehow still manages to make it funny, at least to the two of us in 2017. Once again, Put-upon Andy is Best Andy.

A couple of solid episodes of WKRP, some great early-'80s history and culture to talk about... all this and a double-shot of HIRSCH! Coming your way in a couple of days!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 043: High Heels and a Whole Lot of Leather


0:00 "Three Days of the Condo(r)": Many props to Rob for this ingenious open, which not only references the 1975 conspiracy thriller of the same name, but also our long-documented love of over-the-top three-minute-long 1970s movie trailers.

Also, can I say? I'm a little upset; I typed "Three Days of the Condo" into Wikipedia, and it brought me to the Frasier episode guide where I find out that they used the WKRP writers' very clever title! Dirty pool, Frasier writers.

1:15 Sean Cranbury and Luke Meat: Here's all the links you'll need to find Sean and Luke online: Sean can be found at seancranbury.com, booksontheradio.org and realvancouver.org! And Luke can be found at 98.3 FM/Roundhouseradio.com and his band störc (GREAT name) is on Bandcamp here. And here's the website for the Storm Crow Tavern; I really want to go there!

1:40 "Like that Flaming Lips album!" That Zaireeka joke may have been a bit of an obscure reference; if you don't know the story, the 33⅓ series book on it is a good read. Also a bit poignant considering the problems Rob had with editing this episode; sorry, Rob.

[Rob: Yeah, this exchange is ironic, because we did have some technical difficulties in recording this episode. Instead of a quadrophonic soundscape with each of us in a different speaker, we all got lumped into one channel, which podcasters will know is a bear to edit. I don't wanna be all  "Area Podcaster Makes Solemn Promise to Improve Sound Quality Next Episode," but...]

4:35 63 CHED: An AM station that was rock and roll in the '70s and early '80s but since has gone to talk and sports radio. It's a little WKRP on the central Alberta prairie!

6:28 "..and obviously, the 'Baseball' episode." THANK YOU, Sean. Les in right field, thou art avenged.

6:48 "Soap... you can SEE through!" One of Johnny's many coked-up purchases was a couple of bars of see-through soap, which he puts up to his eyes in a suitably comic manner. I remember one of the many aspirational lifestyle purchases my family made in the 1980s was Neutrogena soap, which today kind of feels like a yuppie affectation. Neutrogena had been around since 1930 but really only became a lifestyle product in the '80s, as its brand was built marketing to "dermatologists and luxury hotels." Those are definitely two places where it pays to market to upscale yuppies. In fact, Neutrogena is one of the many facial care products that Patrick Bateman uses in American Psycho. And that's my 10 minutes of material on Neutrogena.

8:02 Another reason to plug the Shout Factory DVDs: Never a bad time to send Shout! Factory (and presumably, the cast and crew of WKRP) a little of your hard-earned cash!

9:22 "It's an outrage, Jennifer!" So yes, the 1981 baseball strike and subsequent frankly bizarre "split-season" playoff format did screw over the Reds, who had the best record in the NL West, royally. But my point about the Big Red Machine being gone at this point still stands: this really was the Reds' last chance at playoff glory for the rest of the '80s.

9:36 "That soft drink machine... break again?" Such a weird line read but it makes me laugh every time.

15:50 "There's the suits and dungarees. Venus is definitely neither of those." As expertly explained in our alignment chart from way back in HMOTD 005.

17:10 "It just takes a little bit of success to turn Johnny into a jerk." As seen in both "Most Improved Station" and "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide."

21:15 "Land. The only thing worth fighting for." So people on our Facebook including Rob and friend of the podcast Leah Biel seem to think the voice doing this ad for Gone With The Wind Estates sounds familiar. Is it perhaps Hugh Wilson doing his best Rhett Butler?

22:00 America II: Sadly long out of print, but both stunningly prescient in so many ways and a lovely reflection of where America's well-to-do were headed on the cusp of the yuppie Eighties. Louv talks a little bit about its prescience in the aftermath of the 2016 election here.

27:55 Plantation weddings: Here's a piece from Salon in 2014 about the "disturbing" trend, but it's kept going over the intervening years.

29:23 "Sometimes it's the straights who are the weirdest ones..." It was quite perceptive of both our guests to detect this undertone in both these episodes. While we can overstate the "suits vs. dungarees" thing sometimes, I think back to the early part of Season 1, when this conflict was entirely internal to the station, and Herb, Les, and sometimes the Big Guy were the antagonists. I think it was probably around the Ferriman episode where the weirdness of the straights was externalized, and the wacky zany WKRP family became the ones who were actually sane.

30:18 "If Georgia fights, I go with her." Speaking of William Tecumseh Sherman, Rhett Butler's observations of the South's industrial and economic paucity at the outbreak of the Civil War are taken almost word-for-word from Sherman's famous warning to his friend David Boyd.

31:50 Ms. Archer as Nurse Ratched: Another very perceptive observation, this time by Rob. As Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was very clearly meant to evoke a postwar matriarchal domesticity being enforced on ostensibly free, wild men, Ms. Archer takes a great deal of relish in promising that Johnny will learn to conform, by hook or by crook.

33:00 Tommy Krasker: Again, we'll link to Tommy's great Season 4 piece which is pertinent to "Three Days of the Condo" and yes, a piece on Blake Hunter which becomes a celebration of the elegance of the script for "Jennifer and the Will."

35:10 Crab puffs and scampi and quiche: Correction from Twitter! Real Men Don't Eat Quiche (1982) was intended as a parodic riposte to those who decried the new sensitivity in males. But the problem with parody, as we've seen in the past year or so, is that it can backfire and normalize the behavior it was meant to parody. I remember the "real men don't eat quiche" line being trotted out as a kid in the mid-'80s with absolutely no irony but that just might have been my family. People who don't read the book but love the title... a better summary of our problems in 2017 couldn't possibly be concocted.

[Rob: I actually gave a copy of Real Men Don't Eat Quiche to my Dad one 1980s Christmas, along with its sequel Real Men Don't Cook Quiche--a cookbook! As with so many things from that era, I could not tell you precisely how sincere/parodic this purchase was. Real Men Don't Eat Quiche was inevitably followed, in classic flogging-the-joke / diminishing-returns style, by Real Women Don't Pump Gas, Real Kids Don't Say Please, and Real Dogs Don't Eat Leftovers.]

39:10 "Top of the day... Deathwatch!" A shoving match with Spiro Agnew? You go, Colonel! This feels like it was based on a real-life incident, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

41:12 Violins in the dark restaurant: What a find here by WKRP music man Mike Hernandez. I'll quote his Facebook comment directly: "The violin player at the beginning, Shony Alex Braun, was a composer and musician, as well as a Holocaust survivor. Here's a bit of his story. The piece he's playing for Jennifer and the Colonel, "Fascination," is a waltz composed by Fermo Dante Marchetti and Maurice de Féraudy. Daytime TV fans of the day would likely have recognized the melody from a number of Luke and Laura scenes from General Hospital. Or maybe you recognize it from The Karate Kid." Amazing! Thanks, Mike.

44:20 Jennifer marrying the Colonel: Rob's source for the Jennifer marrying the Colonel plotline is WKRP lore-keeper Jaime Weinman.

47:20 Henri: Played by the recently-departed George "Commandant Lassard" Gaynes in "Jennifer's Home For Christmas"; I'm still bummed we had to cut our 2-3 minutes on Gaynes from our Christmas episode, his life really is fascinating. He was Hollywood's Frenchman! And most importantly, he was married to WKRP's sweetheart, Carmen Carlson herself, Allyn Ann McLerie!

49:51 "Hey look, she's with another old coot!" "Cootster" is another one of those Gordon Jump line reads that is alternately baffling and adorable.

52:25 "Hey Jenny." Yeah, Frank Bonner gets just a couple of things to do in this episode but just kills them both. Again, check out Tommy Krasker's Blake Hunter post for some thoughts on Herb's "way with words."

54:10 Les and his dictionary: Les's last journey through the pages of the dictionary to look up "obtuse" and "addle-minded" occurred in the otherwise moribund "Young Master Carlson."

57:05 Video will: So pleased to see TV Tropes has us covered for this very definite trope and trend at the outset of the home video era.

1:00:15 Tontine: Couldn't find much on WWII officers leaving bequests to their enlisted men, but here's the fascinating history of the tontine with a giant section on tontines in pop culture, including M*A*S*H, Barney Miller, and of course The Simpsons.

1:01:40 Pat O'Brien: Here's his Wikipedia entry; I note he came from the same Wisconsin Irish conservative milieu as Joseph McCarthy. O'Brien died not too long after recording this episode of WKRP, in 1983.

1:02:38 Milkshake Duck Moment: For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter account "pixelated boat" (a.k.a. cartoonist Ben Ward) and his addition to our social media vocabulary, here's the story of the lovely duck who drinks milkshakes.

1:03:55 Johnny's date ideas: Specialty comic stores in the '70s! This is exactly when the "direct market" for comics began; another fascinating piece of hidden history and one I wish we'd gone into in more detail on the podcast. Bailey's right; one of the innovations that specialty direct market comic stores brought to the world was the ability to pick up back issues in the increasingly continuity-conscious titles of the '70s and '80s. Personally, in the mid-'80s I bought my first comics in a local convenience store on a wire rack, like my parents' generation did, but pretty soon I was checking out local chains like New England Comics and Newbury Comics for those all-important back issues.

1:05:40 Night Court: I will gladly take the copyright hit for excerpting this classic TV theme in its entirety. Night Court kind of kept the flame alive for grungy '70s sitcoms well into the '80s.

1:10:16 "All right, we finally made it to BAAAAAHSTON!" Aw, come on, how can you not love Bob Seger's amazing stage presence. He feels funky tonight and is going to let you know about it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

HMOTD 043: High Heels and a Whole Lot of Leather


Special guests Sean Cranbury & Luke Meat join Mike and Rob to discuss and dissect the WKRP episodes "3 Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will."

(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)


Check out this episode!

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Lord knows, I do want to be a good... Gone With the Winder."


From the very beginning of this podcast (okay, to be fair, from the second episode of this podcast), we've had to deal with the fact that WKRP In Cincinnati is a product of a very different time. In "Les on a Ledge," we had to deal with a double dose of "well-meaning" 1978 sensitivity towards homosexuality that looks quite unfortunate to modern eyes, to say nothing of the crude use of the possibility of Jennifer being trans as a punchline.

This week, in our look at "Three Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will," we get that same push and pull of WKRP in one moment trying so hard to be progressive, and the next indulging in the worst kind of stereotyping. In "Jennifer and the Will," we finally see Jennifer confront the gold-digger innuendo that has floated around her throughout the series as an attractive young woman who dates older men, thanks in large part to a powerful and understated performance by Loni Anderson. But in "Three Days of the Condo," we have the well-known denouement in which Johnny pretends he and Venus are lovers to get out of Johnny's condo contract.

Rob makes an excellent point in this week's podcast that surely the writers of WKRP thought they were the hip ones, puncturing the absurdity of homophobia in episodes like "Les on a Ledge" and "Three Days of the Condo." After all, the evil condo board at "Gone With the Wind Estates" can't countenance a gay interracial couple, and they're clearly the bad guys! But regardless, Johnny's performance for the condo board is of a piece with other camp portrayals of homosexuality from this period: broad, full of stereotypes, and uncomfortable to watch in 2017. I remember reading in more than one source that the Monty Python troupe regretted their use of camp over the course of their series in the late '60s and early '70s. Even having Graham Chapman (an out gay man who definitely could and did play around with characters who were alternately butch and camp) in the group didn't let the straight Pythons off the hook for what they felt were repeated insensitive portrayals of homosexuality for cheap laughs.

And I think that's the key to Johnny's (and Howard Hesseman's) performance. Those with privilege sometimes can't see that whatever their good intentions, using broad comic signifiers to signal a kind of hipness to a "straight" crowd (here meaning "straight" in all senses of the word) perpetuates the same hurtful stereotypes as outright mockery. It's of a piece with stuff we've discussed in the past about the "love and theft" at the center of the collision of dominant white and oppressed black cultures in terms of things like popular music and the history of rock and roll. It's still an issue that hits home hard today in terms of things like cultural appropriation.

I'll point you again to Tommy Krasker's excellent summary of Season 4 which in part discusses WKRP's returning to unfortunate gay jokes over and over throughout the series' run. We'll be discussing this part of Tommy's piece in detail in this week's podcast. (You should also check out Tommy's piece on Blake Hunter and "Jennifer and the Will" while you're there: it's magnificent.)

Putting these serious issues aside, this is a funny (and moving!) pair of WKRP episodes, so join us on Wednesday as we take a look at both "Three Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will" with a pair of special guests!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 042: From Porn To Corn


2:45 "Ah, Greeta." "Dieter." Whoever got to record the German-language clips for this putative West German 3D porn movie must have had a blast. I'm no German language expert, but it doesn't sound super authentic, right down to pronouncing "Greta" in a way that it rhymes with "Dieter."

3:55 "The old-school red-blue 3D glasses." I remember them well! And their history goes back a long way, all the way to the 1850s! Or, if you believe Alan Moore, to Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World.

5:20 Herb and Les's friendship: We've talked about Herb and Les's weird friendship before; it was definitely more prominent in Season 1 when they were the Suit Axis aligned against the Dungarees in episodes like "Turkeys Away" and of course "The Contest Nobody Could Win."

7:25 Fragile masculinity: For the definitive take on Herb and his fears about his masculinity, check out HMOTD 021: Huggable Herb, which has, over time, become one of my favorite episodes of the podcast.

8:25 "Isn't that how Houdini died?" Snopes takes on the story and deems it a "legend" but in any event history does tell us Houdini died of acute peritonitis brought on by appendicitis which worsened by... not heeding the warning of his wife to get the hospital sooner, which fits this episode so perfectly anyway!

10:15 "You're just... whipped!" I don't think Google ngramming "pussywhipped" would produce much useful data, given the term's likeliness not to be in printed media, but here's the episode capsule of the SNL episode with the "P-Whipped" sketch from December 1990. Check out this murderer's row of classic sketches: Tom Hanks joins the Five-Timers Club, Carl Sagan's Global Warming Christmas Special, Sabra Shopping Network, and musical guest Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians! Those are some intense high school feels for yours truly there.

14:35 "Whooee, that's good bacon!" I giggle every time I hear that misplaced cart with the Porkers' Paradise ad.

15:30 The porn theater: We went into a lot of the topics in this portion of the episode in our Monday Post, so check that out. Keep in mind that many of the links in the section of Show Notes below may be considered NSFW depending on your particular place of W.

16:30 "Porno chic": Here's the 1973 New York Times article that introduced the concept of couples going to the porn theater together. In an era rocked by extreme cinematic experiences like The Exorcist and the opening up of the movies to outlaw cinema (remember, Midnight Cowboy had won Oscars with a brand-spanking-new X-rating from the new MPAA just a few years before), the idea of hip couples going communally to porn theaters for a good time didn't seem so outrageous! Good to see that the Times has been doing trendy urbanite thinkpieces for going on four-and-a-half decades now, by the way. Also, please don't judge my deep knowledge of the titles of early '70s artsy porn; we all contain multitudes, and I'm just as God made me.

18:10 Auto Focus: Greg Kinnear is, I feel, definitely the weak link in a strong cast, and it does suffer from the prototypical Scorsese/Schrader rise-and-tragic-fall plot structure.

18:50 "You talked about the Pee-wee Herman arrest on Netflakes!" Rob appeared with our friends Dylan Clark-Moore and Caroline Diezyn on the Netflakes Podcast to talk about the Netflix original film Pee-wee's Big Holiday and I highly recommend checking it out as soon as you've finished listening to this HMOTD episode. It's fantastic not just for Rob explaining the impact of Pee-wee's '80s output but also covering Pee-wee's (and Paul Reubens's) deeply and classically queer aesthetic.

Here's a Rolling Stone article from 1991 on the theater arrest and its aftermath. Reubens also got into trouble with the law in 2001 over his collection of vintage queer erotic art, which was seized by the LA city attorney because it was deemed to include obscene images of children. This article in the Village Voice takes a look at the "physique" and "photography" magazines of the '50s and '60s, their appeal to a gay man of Reubens's age, and why Reubens got into trouble over his collection.

22:18 "This is the point in Boogie Nights where everything's going to videotape..." Boogie Nights more or less perfectly tracks to the WKRP era, by the way: 1977-1984, and covers many of the same issues we've discussed: "mom-and-pop" operations facing off against big money, the enervating hangover of the '70s turning into a faster-paced '80s, and so on.

23:21 "I've seen better." What, I wasn't going to include the bit near the end of Bachelor Party where Tom Hanks has a climactic fistfight with Tawny Kitaen's rich evil boyfriend in a 3D theater?

24:00 The early-'80s 3D fad: 1983 was PEAK '80s 3D. Aside from that reference in Bachelor Party (1984), in 1983 there were Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and the immortal Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.

25:00 The guy in Mallrats who couldn't see the sailboat: I, too, am stereographically impaired, so I always identified with Ethan Suplee in Mallrats.

25:30 William Castle: The King of B-Movie Gimmicks! By 1975, those gimmicks were definitely looking a little long in the tooth, though... a million-dollar life insurance policy for a cockroach?

25:45 IMAX: IMAX debuted at the 1970 Osaka World's Fair, and the first permanent IMAX theater was indeed in Toronto at Ontario Place the following year.

27:37 The Combat Zone in Boston: A fairly detailed Wikipedia entry about the part of town that, as a child, it was clear I was Never, Ever to Go To, and a piece from a web exhibit on gay life in Boston that talks about the drag queen par excellence of Boston in the postwar period, Sylvia Sidney (!!!). (In case anyone's forgotten, Sylvia Sidney was the old-time Hollywood star who played Mama Carlson in the pilot episode of WKRP.) The story of how Boston's Sylvia got her drag name is amazing.

28:10 "Even Cincinnati had its own vice district": [Rob: Here's a short piece in Cincinnati Magazine about Cincinnati's dedicated vice district, which had its heyday between the 1880s and the First World War. And here's a story about the Cincinnati police's attempt to ban prostitutes on bicycles--complete with high-speed velocipede chase.]

30:00 "It's so much a Kate Beaton cartoon!" Specifically, this wonderful one.

33:10 Times Square: Here are some comparison shots between Times Square in the early '80s and in 2016.

36:22 Times Square Red, Times Square Blue: Here is Samuel R. Delany's memoir of gay Times Square in the '80s.

37:30 Mom and Pop Porn Theaters: Another classic Mr. Show sketch. I tried to pick the least lewd bits of the sketch, but they also fit well in our discussions of urban renewal in the person of Tom Kenny's "Mr. Tink" and the fall of old-timey porn in "one of those X-rated CD-ROMs."

39:05 We Got It Made: Correction, Bonnie Urseth was not the maid but one of the bachelors' girlfriends, Beth.

44:03 Earl "Madman" Muntz: Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair. And here's a clip from the Madman Muntz documentary.

51:50 "Come on, Gil!" Gil Gunderson is one of the few late-season Simpsons introductions that I unabashedly love. [Rob: Does Season 9 still count as "late-season" Simpsons?] I've sure by this point he's married Selma, been revealed as alien, and was in Homer's '00s EDM band when he was a teenager or something.

53:05 "Here's our Big Guy!" God, I still lose my shit at "Yes! I'll sit here because it's my chair." Richard Sanders is the underrated MVP of "Who's On First?"

57:25 Mickey Morton: Here's his IMDB. And I feel appropriately chastened by the dozens of you who were like, "Mike hasn't heard about Legends of the Superheroes?" It was a chance for Adam West and Burt Ward to reprise their roles in 1979 as Batman and Robin along with a bunch of actors from the Batman '66 series and DC heroes who'd never appeared on screen before in a combination comedy live action special and, wait for it... celebrity roast (!!!) hosted by Ed McMahon (!!!!!). It's the kind of cultural blind spot I get for being born in 1975, because you know this thing never got re-broadcast.

1:00:25 "I'm Andy Travis, this is my brother Randy, and this is ol' Venus of course." Very Larry, Darryl, Darryl of Howard Hesseman here.

[Rob: Eagle-eared Friend Of The Podcast Leah Biel points out that Andy's brother would be named Randy Travis, as in country music legend Randy Travis. This doesn't seem to be an intentional joke: the singer Randy Travis was born Randy Traywick and adopted the stage name Randy Travis... right around 1981! Is it possible he was inspired by Andy Travis? Seems a funny coincidence, like a musical act named Rob Newhart or Ralex P. Keaton...]

1:05:30 "A Mile In My Shoes": Remember, the defendant in the case that Herb is on jury duty for was thought to be Italian, which made everyone think he must be guilty.

1:06:55 The Sopranos: I actually confused two episodes of The Sopranos that are both universally deemed the worst in the show's run: "Christopher" from the fourth season about the crew's interactions with the Columbus Day controversy and Indian casinos, and "Johnny Cakes" from Season 6, where Patsy and Burt try to shake down a Starbucks-like chain coffee shop.

1:08:22 Twitter account of Italians angry over food: It's actually "italians mad at food" at @ItalianComments on Twitter, and speaking as an Italian-American who eats Sunday gravy and other bastardized American versions of Italian cuisine, I find it endlessly hilarious.

[Rob: Is it OK if I find it hilarious too, or is it an in-group only thing? I also love Scottish Twitter for what it's worth.]

1:15:15 Jersey Shore: Speaking of minstrelsy... but I'm sad to say, I actually love Jersey Shore. It's the only dumb "reality" show I ever got into because yeah, I grew up around guys like Pauly and Vinny and The Situation. It feels like coming home.

1:18:40 E.F. Hutton: Here's the classic form of the E.F. Hutton commercial, and here's the story of their rise and fall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

HMOTD 042: From Porn To Corn


Rob and Mike delicately tiptoe through the porn theaters of yesteryear in "Straight From The Heart," and rejoice at our possibly final "zany" WKRP episode, "Who's On First?"
(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)

Check out this episode!

Monday, July 24, 2017

"All purveyors of obscenity will be exposed for what they really are."


This week's HMOTD episode covers the Herb Tarlek brush-with-mortality tale "Straight From The Heart," and WKRP's second bite at the zany mistaken identity sitcom plot apple, "Who's On First?" Both episodes are solid, with "Who's On First?" providing a lot of laughs. But we spend a lot of time talking about the setting of "Straight From The Heart"'s final act, Herb's final sanctuary as he hides from the reality of impending heart tests at the hospital: a 3D porn theater.

Rob and I are well-equipped to talk about all the myriad ways in which neoliberal, corporate consolidation in the early '80s hit the mom and pop businesses of America, be they funeral homes, wrestling circuits, or indeed radio stations. But we maybe don't provide the same righteous oomph defending America's down-home purveyors of smut.

We have talked local Cincinnati porn magnate Larry Flynt and his taking on the titans of the print porn industry in HMOTD 024, but in this episode we go deep into porn theaters: their brief flirtation with respectability during the Deep Throat early '70s, their slow decline back into sleaze as depicted in media like Taxi Driver, and their eventual purge from the centers of major cities in the sanitized 1990s. In the midst of our standard HMOTD tale about corporate consolidation wiping out small businesses, we discuss their value (and other businesses like dirty bookstores) to marginalized communities like urban gay men. We also touch on perhaps our generation's first encounter with the concept of the porn theater, the arrest of Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman.

Given that most of these theaters were operated or extorted by organized crime, our brief discussion of depictions of Italian-Americans in media during "Who's On First" can be considered a nice unintentional coda to our porn theater discussion. But mostly it's just funny to hear us stumble, hem and haw as we try to understand the appeal of the sticky-floored XXX theaters of yore. Be sure to join us in a couple of days for a look at WKRP's entrance into the world of vice when HMOTD 042 drops!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 041: Spraying For Lizards


0:29 "There is, indeed, power in a union." Kick off our union-focused episode with a couple of modern alternate takes using the title of Joe Hill's classic labor anthem: Billy Bragg and the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle.

1:39 "Don't worry! I can be 'cool,' as you say." I've been noticing in Season 4 that Gordon Jump is just continuing to (still!) surprise and delight me with his line reads and facial expressions. This little sequence is a particular favorite; that little "as you say" just feels so Simpsons-y, like something Principal Skinner or indeed Mr. Burns might say.

5:18 "Mr. Carlson says that he's planning on giving everybody a raise." Excellent observation here by Rob.

11:00 "Unions are as American as apple pie." I regret we didn't talk about agrarian populism on the podcast with respect to Les and his distrust of unions. I wonder how Les would feel about Bailey quoting, say, someone like William Jennings Bryan. The failure of the Populists provides a lot of lessons for today; their shift to expressly racist and nativist rhetoric in the aftermath of the failure of the Democratic/Populist fusion movement of the late 1890s was perhaps inevitable. One has to believe a fusion of rural white (and black) Populists and urban immigrant Socialists would have been a tough ticket to beat in 1896 or 1900. But maybe Rob's a better person to talk about this, given his Gilded Age bona fides.

[Rob: No, I think you've got it. How much we should / should not romanticize the original Populists has been one of the ur-questions for United States historians, with no consensus and every historiographical generation flipping one way or the other.]

13:28 "Look for the union label!" This is the commercial Rob used for the podcast. It's from 1981, the year of this WKRP episode, and as Rob says, the campaign began in 1975, the year I was born. I pretty much wept when I heard it used in the podcast, and I wept again when I finally saw the commercial itself. Of course I love TV commercials from this period, and I love when labor unapologetically uses emotion and patriotism to appeal to the vast middle's better nature, so this is pretty much Mike-bait. I'm a total mark for this stuff.

And this is a great little media culture tidbit (thanks to @Oda_CM on Twitter for this fun fact):

(They've of course done a YouTube commercial compilation for the ads that appeared during the Star Wars Holiday Special. Of course. The ILGWU commercial appears at 2:45.)

[Rob: That is outstanding! I considered using that version of the song but went with the peppier 1981 remix. I had no idea it was from the Holiday Special.]

14:20 The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: America's great urban industrial tragedy. The Wikipedia page is very good; lots of primary sources way down at the bottom of the page. Reading the Italian and Jewish names of the victims (and realizing that many of the women in my own Italian family were factory workers 70 or 80 years ago) makes me realize again that there was a time that non-WASP ethnic immigrants were at the center of left-wing agitation in this country. And I sigh once more.

17:35 "The NPCs of WKRP": I did love how Johnny lampshades this. Here's a few images of the "...and the rest" at the station.


22:10 The International Sisterhood of Blonde Receptionists: Someone really needs to mock up that INWO card. The UFOs were always my conspiracy of choice. Schwa forever!

23:22 Reagan and the air traffic controllers: Some detail on that. Also going on in 1981 were a Major League Baseball strike (many thanks to listener Hank Wellman on Facebook for reminding us; we will be making mention of the strike later this season on the podcast) and in '82 an NFL strike, both of which would scuttle large parts of their respective seasons.

28:28 "Yeah, but Satan is awesome!" Our extended Eden/serpent metaphor for labor organizing: I was also especially proud of spinning this out into larger themes of Western capitalist patriarchy. It is better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.

29:29 Mike's struggle session. As I may have suggested, I don't really beat myself up too much about my past as a stooge. If anything, it gives me an insider's view as to how capitalism actively works to alienate us from solidarity and our own power as workers. But I am an effete cultural critic, and when the tankies take over I absolutely expect to be either publicly shamed and crowned with a dunce cap, or indeed, sent off on a boat somewhere.

Rob's later comments about wanting a wide tent for unions is something I absolutely agree with. White collar unions, especially in IT, would solve a lot of our social problems right now.

[Rob: The Ken we mention briefly here is of course the brilliant and awesome game designer, writer, podcaster, alternate historian Kenneth Hite, of Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, Pelgrane Press, and many other cool things.]

34:38 "God's up in his country club with his polo shirt on." I thought this was a pretty clever détournement of "God's in his heaven..." but did you notice my Mr. Show reference there? "All TV must be NICE! For the NICE people!"

36:07 "It's just like his fantasy sequence in the 'Daydreams' episode!" I have a theory that the daydreams in "Daydreams" were all somehow prophetic of what would happen to the characters in Season 4, like the "Restless" episode of Buffy. I'll try to bring this crackpot theory back over the course of this season.

38:15 "The workplace sitcom is ideological body armor for capitalism." YES. This is extremely my shit.

40:15 "Johnny's into Pat Benatar." He wasn't the only one. The boys at Ridgemont High were, and so, oddly, was my dad. I can remember my mom teasing him back in the '80s for his little crush. Sure, she was a pre-Madonna sex symbol in late '70s/early '80s America, but goddamn her discography is full of solid jams and really interesting cover choices! The Beatles' "Helter Skelter"?? "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush???

41:45 Tattoo You: What a mishmash; I had no idea it was basically an odds and ends compilation.

[Rob: I misspoke when I said "Start Me Up" was just the same two chords as "Brown Sugar." "Start Me Up" is just the same two chords as the opening lick to "Brown Sugar." "Brown Sugar" has a verse-chorus structure, a bridge, horns and piano, Muscle Shoals production, a sweet alternate version with Eric Clapton on slide guitar, and a dank stew of messed-up lyrics that a dozen earnest podcasts couldn't de-problematize. "Start Me Up" is basically just that riff, over and over and over again. Which is why the clip following our discussion is "Brown Sugar," not "Start Me Up." Don't @ me, fellow Dad-rockers. :)]

49:24 Bailey in Johnny's t-shirt: Here's your fanservice, folks. Also, does it seem like Frank Bonner flubs his line here, perhaps confronted with the raw sex appeal of Jan Smithers in mom jeans?



51:30 "It's Early Cute, but I like it." Yeah, I fell in love with all the little set decoration choices they made in this scene (see below). And here's some info on the Sea Shepherd.



54:00 Black Death Malt Liquor T-Shirt: [Rob: You too can have your very own! But I must warn you, after ordering mine, I don't just get WKRP- and malt liquor-themed spam from Etsy (including Colt '45 mirrors, just as Mike surmised), I also get Black Death-themed spam, as in, the actual Black Death, the 14th-century pandemic: Plague Doctor crow masks and the like. Hipsters, amiright?]

58:37 "You remember, uh, a couple of years ago?" Clever clip use by Rob here to introduce this discussion. Continuity is so important! You can go back to our Monday Post to see what we had to say about this, but it's very interesting to see them mining past continuity in this episode as well, between Johnny and Bailey and this little interchange between Johnny and Herb at the episode's outset.

1:05:47 Sam Anderson: Sam Anderson is so great in all his WKRP appearances. I still have a soft spot for Immigration Agent Anderson, but Rex is pretty great. I kind of wish he would've been a returning occasional guest throughout the last bit of Season 4. I think he would've fit perfectly in the cast; an unctuous DJ is the missing character on the staff. Rowr. *pours Perrier*

You can also go back to our Monday Post to see our four-quadrant Sam Anderson political compass.

[Rob: Full kudos to Mike both for the idea (demented) and the execution (perfect) of the Sam Anderson political compass. I also like all the left-wing slang he rattles off here: "tankies," "Ancoms" ... not bad for a former crypto-fascist puppet of the managerial elite.]

1:10:00 "Please check out my episode of Netflakes on Room 237!" Seriously! Please check it out! :)

1:10:42 Lazarus Lizards: I appreciate that this explanation appeared in the advice column of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Any Cincinnati natives have any experience with the local Lazarus Lizard?

Kudzu was officially declared an invasive weed in the 1970s but was introduced with the best of intentions back at America's centennial in 1876, part of an exchange with Meiji Japan. I remember being obsessed with the 3-2-1 Contact episode that discussed kudzu as a kid. The last word in killer, or Africanized, bees is definitely the breathless In Search Of... episode about them from 1977.

1:15:15 Alternative 3 and the Ian Thomas Band's "Pilot": Definitely a special thrill when I discovered all this stuff about Ian Thomas's love of Alternative 3 the night we recorded this episode. Alternative 3 was a mockumentary intended to be broadcast (or "transmitted" as the Brits would say) on April 1 as an episode of a fictional East Anglia TV series called Science Report. In it, it was theorized that a recent British "brain drain" of engineers and scientists was due to this secret program to evacuate the Earth due to impending climate collapse. (This idea of an alternate society being constructed by abducted earthlings on another planet is of course an old idea, being at the center of Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan from 1959, and one that's gained purchase in the rise of the anthropocene and the theorizing over a "plutocratic exit strategy.")

It's no surprise that Ian "Tranquility Base" Thomas would dig this idea, and he's talked about it on his discussion forums and in this video! Amazing. Here's the link to the Ian Thomas Band's doubleshot on SCTV, with short cameos from the McKenzie Brothers and I think Johnny LaRue? Love that jazz flute, man.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

HMOTD 041: Spraying For Lizards


Mike confesses to being a management stooge while Rob borrows Johnny's Black Death t-shirt, as Mike & Rob discuss the WKRP In Cincinnati episodes "The Union" and "Rumors."
(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)

Check out this episode!

Monday, July 10, 2017

"Continuity is so important."


So in our season premiere podcast episode, Rob and I discussed the fact that Season 4 of WKRP in Cincinnati has quite a bit of continuity and even an overall plot arc! In this week's podcast, we go a little deeper into that topic, with a look at the third and fourth episodes of Season 4, "The Union" and "Rumors."

In "The Union" we get a look at what WKRP's success has meant for its employees. Non-management are all asked to weigh in on joining a labor union and their responses to the proposal (as well as the Big Guy's and Andy's as management) provide a glimpse at what the station's new success means to the characters. And in "Rumors," we get a final chapter to the ongoing "will they/won't they" saga of Johnny and Bailey.

In last Friday's Show Notes, we linked to friend of the podcast Tommy Krasker's incisive essay on what makes Season 4 of WKRP so special (please note: lots of spoilers for future Season 4 episodes if you've never watched the show before). Tommy talks about the maturity of the writing, the deepening of the characters' personalities, and a little bit about this de facto story arc. He also discusses the trend in Season 3 that we identified where the plotlines often are, well, a real bummer.

Season-long and even series-long story arcs are de rigueur in the New Golden Age of Television. For many series, this kind of continuity is now their bread and butter. But back in 1978-1982, this wasn't nearly as common, especially on sitcoms. It is a little strange to realize that maybe one of the reasons why WKRP has stuck with Rob and me over all these decades is because the show was often working in an idiom (the weekly sitcom) that seemed to strain at the expansiveness of the creators' and actors' ambitions. We've talked about it before in terms of the worldbuilding and background that Wilson et al. spent so much time constructing. It's doubly strange to think that this unwavering dedication to character and immersion is a meta-reflection of the overall plot arc of Season 4: that all of a sudden, WKRP the station is running like a finely-tuned machine, despite the incompetence and various zany schemes of both staff and management.

And of course all of this is made all the more sad by the fact that WKRP the show was canceled right as it was hitting this confident stride. Our old friend Michael Kassel in his America's Favorite Radio Station gets his chapter title about the fourth season from a Hugh Wilson quote: "I'm exhausted," as Wilson discusses CBS's continuous scuttling of WKRP's attempt to find a regular home, a dedicated audience, and most importantly, ratings.

Again embracing the meta- that we've embraced all throughout the podcast, it's a bummer that we'll also be ending our podcast just as we feel like we're hitting a stride and becoming a hit. All of you who asked us, "Is the podcast really going to end?" on Facebook in the past few weeks, well, the answer is yes. We will be ending the podcast with HMOTD 052 in December. But like WKRP, we're going to try our best to go out on a high note.

Oh, one more thing: in honor of our Season 1 Law vs. Chaos/Dungaree vs. Suit alignment chart, a new alignment chart that's more in keeping with what the kids today are into. More when the new episode drops Wednesday!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 040: The Phone Cops!


1:48 "Here to kick off Season 4 as she kicked off Season 2!" And both two-part episodes revolve around old flames of one kind or another coming back into someone's life!

3:00 "I could've been a contender." Johnny not only quotes On The Waterfront in this scene, but also earlier references Hattie McDaniel's famous line about "birthing babies" from Gone With The Wind. As much as we enjoyed this episode, there were still these little artifacts of blithe insensitivity, between Venus and Johnny's goofing on Wing's accent and this reference to a motion picture role that has been cloaked in controversy since Gone With The Wind was released in 1939.

Foreigner's "Urgent" was off their breakout hit album 4, released in the summer of 1981. 10 weeks at #1! One of the things I've remained stunned at as we've looked back at late-'70s/early-'80s music since starting the podcast is how dominant most #1 albums were back in the day. I remember hearing somewhere (it may have even been the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast) that Men At Work's Business As Usual LP spent nearly four months at the top of the charts in the winter of 1982-83.

5:20 "The transmitter... asplodes": Come on back to 2004 when the very hottest memes (before we even called them that) were being created by The Brothers Chaps.

5:55 "The Last Temptation of Arthur Carlson": I was tickled to find out that WKRP superfan authority and former guest Leah Biel has also used this phrase to refer to this episode.

7:35 Continuity in Season 4: We will speak more of this in HMOTD 041 (and 042 for that matter), but Season 4 is, without doubt, a fully-serialized season of television, in an era where, as we note, that didn't happen much. It's never too early to refer to this piece on Season 4 of WKRP by Tommy Krasker, but we expect to analyze it in much more detail in the Monday Post for HMOTD 041.

8:05 Cringing at Arthur and Joyce: I'm with Lenore on this one; while this isn't the most cringey I've been so far watching WKRP (that still has to go to Les in blackface in "A Mile In My Shoes"), watching Arthur misunderstand Joyce and then, fully believing Joyce is hitting on him, proceed to go up to her hotel room, is definitely in my Top 3 Cringey Moments of WKRP all told.

10:25 Arms race with Three's Company: As I've been dipping my toe more into Media Studies and television history academically, one of the things I have the most fun with is reading contemporary reviews of old TV shows and films. And the reviews for Three's Company when it debuted in 1977 were atrocious. I particularly like the 1983 TV Guide cover subhead featured in that article: "Three's Company: What Is It Really Trying to Tell Us?"

11:43 "Good grrrravy." I just love Gordon Jump's line read of this exclamation. I'm going to try to work this back into the vernacular.

12:58 Melanie Carlson: Melanie was the 60th-most popular name of girls born in the United States in 1980 (click on "See the next 50 names" for the full top 100). For the record, Michael was the most popular name in 1975 in the U.S. There are a lot of us.

13:50 The Perry Como poster: Other stuff on display at the transmitter/old station studios: an old WKRP-branded wireframe microphone, which is again just a beautiful, historically-accurate detail (I just found out these are called "call letter flags" when they take the more familiar, solid "banner" form), and a Hit Parader magazine, presumably from the '50s. [Edit: Michael Hernandez, Keeper of the WKRP Music Spreadsheet, pinpoints this issue to 1952.] Hit Parader later became a heavy rock/hair metal magazine in the '70s and '80s respectively.

14:42 "And I moved to Cleveland!" Obligatory and NSFW: 1 2

16:35 The John Davidson Show! Discovering that this daytime show even existed was kind of a mindblower. Like The Mike Douglas ShowThe John Davidson Show had guest co-hosts (in fact, John Davidson replaced the canceled Mike Douglas in many syndicated markets in 1980). Here's the video of that episode promo (from 1981!) so you can see '81 luminaries such as Robert Guillaume, Ted Shackelford, Gallagher (man, he has been at it for a LONG time, huh?) and Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo (whom former guest host My Mom tells us were the featured performers on a cruise my parents took in the '80s). I literally can't stop looking at Davidson singing and dancing with that 97% female audience.

20:45 "Why is Johnny on the air at 3 in the afternoon?" We had the opportunity to ask a real radio DJ on Twitter about possible inaccuracies in WKRP insofar as the radio business is concerned and his quick answer is here. "Morning guy not out the door at 10:01 am." Heh. Thanks, JB. I always thought Johnny was too sleepy and lazy to go home, personally, hence his sacking out on Andy's couch or under his desk.

21:05 Rob and Mike Co-DJing: If you'd like to listen to our two-hour DJ set on mixlr from back in Season 2, which was a ton of fun, listen here. Apologies for the sound mix issues.

22:15 "A two-for-one coupon at Bounty Burger": I've been watching a lot of YouTube compilations of early '80s TV ads lately, and one thing I notice is how many coupon offers there were on national, prime-time television! Ridiculous to our modern eyes. But in the early '80s, before Reagan's turbocharged hypercapitalist economy spun into gear, people were still living in the midst of recession. There are a few mentions of the economy this season, and I'll be sure to point them out.

25:20 Horse races on the radio: I've been reliably informed by My Dad that while horse races on the radio were not too common by 1981, they definitely used to be aired live, and the big races and racetracks even more so.

29:43 Hostage negotiator in Best in Show: The great Larry Miller playing hostage negotiator and one of Cookie Fleck's many old flames, Max Berman. "Let me tell you, a little secret from the trade: they all jump."

29:53 Black Sunday and Black September: Thomas Harris, before he became our master of Southern serial crime horror, wrote this little terrorism thriller in the middle of the first Golden Age of Terror. In terms of pop-lit paths not taken, Harris becoming a Tom Clancy instead of the guy who gave us Hannibal Lecter is a fascinating thought experiment. The film version in '77 used the actual Goodyear blimp and was partially filmed at Super Bowl X in Miami.

Black September was the PLO/Fatah-affiliated organization that held hostage and killed several Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

31:17 Lou Richards: Here's Lou Richards' IMDB, including, yes, "Leader-One" of the Go-Bots. Rob's "Optimus Sub-Prime" riff killed me, by the way.

33:15 "I'll play the Carpenters, I'll play Barry Manilow, just hide me!" I can't imagine Andy would ever really ask Johnny to play the Carpenters on WKRP. Manilow in '81? Well, maybe, but mostly I just think Johnny's Phone Cop-addled mind reached out for the two most odious artists he could think of.

37:00 et subseq. Rob's book: Let me give my totally unbiased capsule review of the Albert B. Corey Prize-winning The People's Network: The Political Economy of the Telephone in the Gilded Age. It'll reveal to you how truly nothing ever changes, how we keep making the same mistakes more than a century later with respect to utilities and, specifically, telecommunication utilities, and it's full of little details about the early social and economic life of the telephone in actual people's lives in its first few decades of existence. Seriously, it's really good. Pick it up. [Rob: Aw, shucks. Thanks, Mike!]

39:13 Phone Phreaks: This page has a great array of documents that not only detail how Phreaks were able to hack Ma Bell, but also how the wider culture viewed these mysterious blue boxes and Cap'n Crunch whistles.

[Rob: That page includes a link to the famous 1971 Esquire article by Ron Rosenbaum that introduced phone phreaking to the world (including Jobs & Wozniak I think) and is sometimes cited as the genesis of hacker culture. Check out Esquire's cheesecake cover and headline: "Welcome back to the 40's, the last time America was happy." If that doesn't satiate your desire for phone phreak history, the definitive book on that topic is Phil Lapsley's Exploding the Phone.)]

39:47 The President's Analyst: I haven't had the chance yet to view this fascinating "mod" document from 1967. But the bits I have seen, the trailer and this clip (with Pat Harrington a.k.a. Schneider from One Day At A Time as the TPC executive!) really whet my appetite. You can see the roots of so much here, from conspiratorial fodder from the Phone Cops to the Telephone Avatar from Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol. Also, the writer/director of The President's Analyst, Ted Flicker, co-created Barney Miller and was part of the Compass Players! More HMOTD bingo.

42:57 The Crying of Lot 49: We Await Silent Tristero's Empire.

43:55 The episode with Johnny's acid flashback: [Rob: It's "Put Up or Shut Up": Johnny thinks he's relapsing at the end when he sees Herb & Jennifer singing "Just the Way You Are."]

46:35 "This is a hot proposition." Yeah, Joyce's breathy voice is necessary for the misunderstanding comedy to work but also does strike me as a little weird. Speaking of breathy-voiced '70s and '80s actresses...

49:55 "It's almost like he's seeing how far he can go." I hated saying it, but it's true. This episode actually suddenly strikes me as of a piece with The Simpsons' "The Last Temptation of Homer."

50:40 "What are we talking about?" Rep firms were a radio industry staple throughout the postwar period; they allowed packages of advertising to be sold en masse to radio stations. Like many of the other businesses we've talked about throughout the course of the podcast, they started off small and regional and then, in the merger-happy '80s, turned into national media buying groups. Here's a typical firm's history, one that started out in Ohio, no less! I also suppose this would mean Joyce might put Herb out of a job, eventually!

52:03 "That is not how account executives work." Lenore's observation that there were no models for women to do business in a way that isn't laden with these remnants of the Mad Men era is a really astute one.

53:40 The real Joyce Armor: Here's her IMDB. Joyce Armor started off in the MTM family, doing The Bob Newhart Show, and stepping-stone-to-WKRP, the Hugh Wilson-created Tony Randall Show. She then wrote four Love Boats and a Remington Steele. What a poker hand!

56:19 "This is the Doctor, Johnny Fever": Dig my embarrassed Les-style titter through this section. *holds bridge of nose* Also, I have shamelessly laughed at "I'm sure it would come right up" every time I've listened to this episode. Because! The actual full-length trailer for the WKRP porn parody is rife with really awful double-entendres, several orders of magnitude worse than anything in "An Explosive Affair." I'm not linking to the trailer (or heaven forbid, the actual movie) here, but the title of the film is officially WKRP in Cincinnati: A (sic) XXX Parody if you wish to watch either. Lenore's right, though, the sets and costumes and props are pretty good.

1:01:10 "Black Cow"/Purple Cow: How could I not use the chorus from "Black Cow" by Steely Dan here, I ask you. And the lyrics are actually appropriate for Arthur's dilemma, both with the Purple Cow and with Joyce! Drink your big Purple Cow, Arthur, and get outta here!

The Purple Cow cocktail is real, however, and so is poet and critic Gelett Burgess, who strikes me as one in a long line of literary curmudgeons of the late 19th/early 20th century. Lots of interesting facts on both those Wikipedia pages, including the fact that President Truman used the poem "Purple Cow" as a response to whether he'd ever seen a UFO (!!!), and the fact that Burgess helped introduce cubism, futurism and what we'd now call modern art to America in the 1910s.

1:04:25 Sitcom characters in jeopardy: I know we wandered a bit off sitcom territory into sci-fi drama with Quantum Leap and Sandy Frank-adapted anime with Battle of the Planets, but all of a sudden at the end of this segment, the memory of Steven Keaton, probably my favorite '80s sitcom patriarch of them all, in the hospital bed hit me really hard. Family Ties had just enough Very Special Episodes (Uncle Ned, who we've talked about before, and Alex's friend who died in a car accident who visited Alex from beyond the grave) to think, hey, maybe they'd kill off Steven Keaton!

[Rob: Leah Biel mentioned a bunch more sitcom characters in jeopardy on the HMOTD Facebook.]

1:12:50 "The character they pulled out of the fiction universe in Planetary": "Planet Fiction," one of the most frustrating issues of Warren Ellis's awesome series Planetary, which if I remember correctly was one of the very first pieces of media Rob and I bonded over on Livejournal back in the oughts.

[Rob:
]

1:13:03 "Slow Hand": Possibly my favorite part of the episode. I love that song, I love the warped proto-vaporwave version we hear, I love Venus's patter that uses the lyrics from the chorus, I love the callback to Les's use of primal scream therapy, and I fucking LOVE Yacht-era Pointer Sisters. The Pointers' ability to straddle genres is amazing; "Slow Hand" just sounds like a country song, and indeed, the Pointers' early career is full of all kinds of fascinating stylistic diversions, including an album of covers where they do a quite country-fied version of Steely Dan's "Dirty Work," turning it into a feminist anthem! Also, did you know they sang the "Pinball Number Count" song on Sesame Street well before they broke big?

Conway Twitty's version of "Slow Hand" is magnificent, too (here's a stage performance, too). Ever since becoming reacquainted with Twitty thanks to the appearance of the Lynchian Twitty impersonator in True Detective Season 2 singing "The Rose," I've been marveling at his unlikely status as late-'70s/early-'80s country music romantic balladeer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

HMOTD 040: The Phone Cops!


Rob & Mike kick off the fourth and final season of the podcast with a classic pair of episodes ("An Explosive Affair," Parts 1 and 2) and the return of guest host Lenore MacAdam!
(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)

Check out this episode!

Monday, June 26, 2017

"Ample evidence of a once proud civilization."


Well, here we are. About to begin our final journey into the world of WKRP In Cincinnati! Rob and I are so excited to be back on the air this coming Wednesday to take you through the excellent Season 4 two-part premiere, "An Explosive Affair." We've brought back our guest host from our Season 2 premiere, Lenore MacAdam, to cover this tale of urgent emergencies, Purple Cows, and, of course, the Phone Cops.

I think we'll have a bit more to say about what makes Season 4 of WKRP so special in two weeks when we cover "The Union" and "Rumors," but near the end of this week's podcast we do give a tiny preview of the upcoming season. We don't want to spoil either conversation, but suffice to say there's a lot that makes Season 4 of WKRP quite unique, and not just because this is our final opportunity to spend some time with this cast and these characters.

In the meantime, "An Explosive Affair" acts as a solid place-setter for the season. We go off on some fun tangents about the dual plots of the two-parter. Fittingly for our purposes, it's also quite a nostalgic pair of episodes. We have Johnny and Venus going to the transmitter to broadcast and encountering layer after layer of in-universe WKRP station history. And we also have the Big Guy seeing his old receptionist Joyce and engaging in a little "seems like old times" woolgathering with her. We've also got some very fine comedic performances, careful continuity, and even a bit of true danger (Johnny and Venus trying to survive a terrorist bomb at the transmitter and the Big Guy trying to resist the temptation to cheat on Carmen). So join us on Wednesday for HMOTD 040: The Phone Cops!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

On Hold No More! HMOTD Season 4 Premiere Date Announced!


Been sitting patiently by your phone, wondering where the fourth and final season of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser is? Well, wonder no more!

Our fourth and final season of the podcast will kick off two weeks from today, Wednesday, June 28, with a look at WKRP In Cincinnati's memorable two-part Season 4 premiere, "An Explosive Affair, Parts 1 and 2." This is a pair of episodes we've been anxiously awaiting since basically the podcast started, and we had a great time looking at The Last Temptation of Arthur, Black Monday, Purple Cows, and of course the immortal Phone Cops.

Barring the unforeseen, we'll continue with our biweekly release schedule for Season 4, which means this fourth and final season of HMOTD will end right around the end of 2017!

As usual, we'll do a Monday Post before each new podcast with some thoughts on the upcoming podcast episode, and on Fridays at noon Eastern after new episodes drop, you'll get, as always, our detailed Show Notes.

We have some very special guests lined up for Season 4, including one for our look at "An Explosive Affair," and we're looking at some very cool features for our final two wrap-up podcasts after we've finished covering all of Season 4's WKRP episodes.

Until then! Add us on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Android, Stitcher, and Google Play!