Friday, December 25, 2015

Show Notes for HMOTD 019: The Year WKRP Saved Christmas

0:00 Our intro: Rob believes doing comedy does not "play to our strengths," but I dunno... I like any opportunity to be goofy on this podcast. I'm looking at you, Matt Grasso.

3:00 "Bah, Humbug": Our podcast for Season 3 episode "Bah, Humbug" will likely be airing sometime in summer, so that'll be a nice Christmas-in-July type event for you all to look forward to.

7:48 1980s Christmas Albums: I think if you are a child of the 80s, you will know what I mean here. The CD that spun constantly in the late 80s in my house? A Very Special Christmas, with the Keith Haring art on the front.

8:08 British Christmas #1s: Okay, here's how Wikipedia tries to explain the "Christmas Number One" phenomenon. My wife is desperate to find a Top of the Pops 2 Christmas compilation that can be viewed in the States, so if you have a lead on that, let me know!

Speaking of which, here's a sampling of what you can expect from these Top of the Pops 2 retro compilation Christmas episodes: "The episode featured previously lost footage of David Bowie performing 'The Jean Genie' from Top of the Pops in 1973, some rarely seen footage of Ringo Starr romping in the snow performing his solo hit 'It Don't Come Easy' as well as classic festive songs by Slade, Shakin' Stevens and the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl."

By the way, I was wrong about the irony (yes, they do authentically love 1970s Christmas glam) and I did get yelled at for getting the title of Wizzard's 1974 classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (sic)" wrong. You can view the video here to see what I'm talking about. It's weird, right?

Um, merry Christmas, Jenny!

10:50 John Hughes movie with Jan Smithers: Can we fantasy-cast this one? Jan Smithers as the protagonist coming home for Christmas, John Candy as the uncle, maybe Paul Dooley and Beverly d'Angelo as the nosey parents, Alan Ruck as the depressed younger brother and Anthony Michael Hall as the geeky younger brother, Joan Cusack as Jan's old high school friend... title can be "Sweet Home Chicago" or something. Boom. Yes, I realize realistically all those actors' ages might be wrong for a mid-80s Jan Smithers vehicle, but hey, it's my fantasy all-star John Hughes movie cast.

18:45 A Christmas Story: Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon, what a lovely final scene with them switching on the big console radio and sitting in the glow of the Old Man's carefully-selected tree. I'm so glad I've come back around on A Christmas Story.

22:45 A Charlie Brown Christmas: I also hadn't rewatched A Charlie Brown Christmas in ages before this podcast and yeah... I read those little Peanuts collections religiously in my youth and I wonder why I was always such a gloomy depressed kid. Jeez, Chuck, cheer up for Christ's sake.

24:00 Heat Miser: That song is WAY too earwormy. But yes, the Rankiverse is presented here in the Wikipedia entry. And Heat Miser's song about a green Christmas is particularly fitting in our 21st century global warming-inflicted holiday season; the forecast says Boston is getting a 70° Christmas Day. Remember kids, Carl Sagan says in a greenhouse climate, the chief precipitant would be rain, not snow. That's not right!

26:35 Horsin' Around: Bojack Horseman incisively reminding us why Christmas episodes are awful. *coff coff*

30:54 Bing Crosby and David Bowie: Oh god the awkwardness it burns

32:55 A Very Murray Christmas: I'm resisting the Bill Murray special out of sheer cussedness. Y'all should let me know if it's a must-watch.

33:35 Festivus: Here's Dan O'Keefe the Elder's Wikipedia page, and a little background on the holiday's history.

36:15 "A level of seriousness applied to a sitcom which is by definition something to joke about..." LAMPSHADE ALERT

38:00 Santa at NORAD: The department store was a Sears!

[Edit: Aw man, I hate to be the guy to ruin Christmas, but The Atlantic takes a blowtorch to the undoubtedly CIA-directed mid-50s PR push of Colonel Shoup and the NORAD Santa Phone story.]

39:20 The Singing Dogs: Who's your favorite Singing Dog, guys? Also, excuse my out-of-nowhere dis of cats.

This mention of "Jingle Cats" would be a bad place to mention 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher's "cat organ" and the Monty Python sketch based on it, right?

40:45 Winning Through Intimidation: Hey, this was a real book! The author, Robert Ringer, wrote books espousing that "liberty must be given a higher priority than all other objectives and that a laissez-faire free market is the clear solution to America's economic troubles." Yep, right on for Les.

44:00 "Sparky": There's an ongoing joke making fun of Sparky's (nick)name throughout this episode, which I have to wonder how he took. Also, much like "Bad Risk," I think "Sparky" ended up getting partially rehabilitated in my eyes, especially as I listened to this episode with my parents on the way back from our Christmas luncheon and they cracked up at EVERY clip from the episode. Sparky is pretty funny for an amateur in this episode, I will give him that.

48:25 The Cisco Kid: You can watch the entire episode of "Cisco Kid" here. We should also mention that Kampmann and Torokvei were assisted by an up-and-comer named Martin Short in this endeavor. I'm wondering who was the first person to do a re-dub like this; was it indeed Woody Allen's What's Up Tiger Lily?, or is there an earlier example? I remember there was an L.A. comedy troupe in the 80s who did something called "Mad Movies" as well.

50:10 PJ Torokvei: You know, I'm sure we'll talk more about the late PJ Torokvei and her story, especially when we get to "Hotel Oceanview" (which was co-written by Steve Kampmann), but I'd really like to point out this touching remembrance of her from her friend Stan Brooks, a TV writer and producer.

51:27 "The Bullpen": Jaime Weinman lets us know that two of these callers were, in fact, Steven Kampmann and Peter Torokvei. Hilarious.

55:28 Derek Dougal and the Cincinnati Skids: Hey, they used a version of the name of the real indoor soccer team in Cincinnati; they were actually called the Cincinnati Kids, which somehow manages to be even worse than the "Skids." They were owned by none other than Pete Rose. The Cincinnati Kids lasted for exactly one season, 1978-79.

Sparky's line read of "What are the rules?!" in this scene kills me, by the way. He's so excited to have something to talk about!

57:38 British sitcoms/American game shows: Had a random Facebook conversation this week about the UK sitcom/U.S. game show thing, using Blockbusters as an example. This game show lasted only a couple of years in the U.S. but became a veritable institution in the UK.

1:00:15 Breakfast foods equivalents for the WKRP cast: The only things we were able to come up with on our family drive is that Jennifer is a grapefruit half with a cherry, and Bailey is granola.

1:01:25 Wingy Manone's "Tar Paper Stomp": Weird fact: it was one of New Orleans's famed streetcars that took Wingy's arm.

1:03:50 Jerry Vale/Gary U.S. Bonds: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the odd confluence between this episode of HMOTD and our talk about Jerry Vale and the Goodfellas Minute podcast's recent look at the Jerry Vale performance in Goodfellas. He does sing like an angel.

1:06:14 Miller Lite commercials: I fell down a HUGE rabbit hole when I was trying to find Miller Lite commercials for this episode; I remember them faintly from childhood, but man, much like the Rankiverse, there was a whole series of these things with the same star-studded cast! Bob Uecker! Bubba "Hightower" Smith! Dick Butkus! John Madden! MICKEY SPILLANE?! This minute-long one set at the "Miller Lite open" is, I feel, the Woodstock of these Miller Lite ads. Watch for Rodney Dangerfield's arrival in the second half as a meta-commentary on his outsized 1985 career peak.


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  2. Netflix's 2015 Bill Murray Christmas Special: Yes, it is worth watching, but set your expectations low going in. I find it is the perfect thing ON Christmas Eve, after everybody else has retired for the evening.