Friday, September 9, 2016

Show Notes for HMOTD 027: All The Men in Landersville Are Going Bald

For those of you who are new to HMOTD, this is where we explain some of the unexplained references from the actual podcast and expand upon stuff we didn't get a chance to go deeper into. You can read Show Notes for all our past episodes here.

2:40 and elsewhere The 1980 SAG/AFTRA Strike: We did a little further explanation of the timing and causes of the strike in our Monday post here.

5:03 "On the other hand...": It does pain us to have to be this cruel to a show we love. At least with "Young Master Carlson" we had the awful racial politics and unlikability of the Little Guy, both actor and character, to talk about. But this episode had nothing. What a way to start our big third season, huh? More on this later.

7:42 "Is this another one of these meta moments?" This will NOT be the last meta moment of the podcast, just sayin'.

8:10 Hammy Hamster: I first heard of the oeuvre of Hammy (short for "Hamilton," perhaps?) in the world of Red Dwarf. He's the rodent equivalent of Marlon Brando! The joke about Tales From the Riverbank: The Next Generation would have been particularly au courant in 1991.

8:40 "There's a Blackadder episode...": The otherwise genius "Private Plane" from Blackadder Goes Forth, featuring the memorable (if a bit hammy, ha ha) Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart.

10:10 "We're gonna need another Hammy!" Did you catch my Dinosaurs reference?

10:30 BBC rules on human voices for animal actors: Research on this odd policy of the BBC led down some weird cul-de-sacs: here's an obituary for the very first voice actor for Tales From the Riverbank in the 1960s, Johnny Morris, who dubbed the Canadian animal cruelty home videos into British English. In it, it's implied that a public outcry over excessive anthropomorphization of animals on television led to the policy being put in place. More fascinating is the tidbit at the end of the obituary where it's said that instead of leaving his vast Hammy Hamster and Animal Magic fortune to his family, he left it to his partner on Animal Magic, Terry Nutkins, who believe it or not is NOT an anthropomorphic squirrel.

11:30 More Hammy: META MOMENT NUMBER 2

13:43 Armistice Day to Veterans Day: Sorry for all the muddle on the alive/dead Veteran Holiday Venn Diagram in the episode, folks. It is all a bit confusing. But here's a quick prĂ©cis: Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day, and Rob was right, it began in order to celebrate Civil War veterans who died in battle (and I'd be remiss if I didn't link to podcast favorites The Drive-By Truckers' moving song "Decoration Day" here). Veterans Day, as discussed on the podcast, is for all veterans. The name change from Armistice Day happened in 1954, which is over a quarter-century before the WKRP episode, which... isn't all that recent, really, but I suppose old habits die hard.

15:05 1970s Holiday Inflation: I'm totally right on this. First, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971 made five holidays (including Veterans Day) into Monday holidays to provide government workers with guaranteed three-day weekends. As Linus tells us, Arbor Day was established in the 19th century, but only came into vogue in the 1970s as the ecology movement picked up steam. Flag Day is another 19th century holiday that got a new lease on life in the 1970s, probably due to the bicentennial.

17:35 The "Flying Mayor": Harold Johnson, the Flying Mayor of Moraine, Ohio, passed away in 2011. Moraine, Ohio was also the hometown to... WKRP's own Gary Sandy! One has to wonder if Gary suggested Harold to the producers as someone who could provide an airplane quickly enough to record some scenes during the strike.

19:10 Yet more Hammy: META MOMENT NUMBER 2A

22:21: "Who Shot J.R.": First of all... GREAT find, Rob. I thought this novelty song about the "Who Shot J.R.?" plotline was by Ray Stevens, but it's not! It's Gary Burbank, a radio DJ who ironically ended up in Cincinnati in 1981, where he spent nearly three decades on Cincinnati's biggest station, WLW! His own background is rife with WKRP-esque radio hijinks: in 1973, he was fired from his station in Louisville, Kentucky for staging his own assassination on the air!

23:54 The 1988 Writers' Guild Strike: If you love 1980s television as much as I do, the list of impacted shows during the March-August 1988 strike is TREMENDOUS. Johnny Carson got special dispensation to go back on the air with himself as chief writer in May because, of course, you never fuck with Johnny. Letterman, it turns out, was lying or at least exaggerating about his writers being absent during that summer of '88 when I was staying up late to watch Late Night; as part of Carson Productions, he also negotiated a separate settlement. Let's see, the strike of '88 also brought The Smothers Brothers back to TV in what was only the beginning of the late '80s' flood of late-'60s nostalgia. The 1988 revival of Mission: Impossible recycled scripts from the original version to avoid Writers' Guild interference, as did Britcom-to-U.S. import Dear John. And while animation writers were exempt from the strike, it still dealt a serious blow to Pee Wee's Playhouse, which only released a few episodes in 1988 and would be canceled in 1990.

(And speaking of Pee Wee's Playhouse, you MUST listen to this episode of the Netflakes Podcast about Pee Wee's Big Holiday on Netflix with regular hosts Dylan Clark-Moore and Caroline Diezyn featuring special guest... Rob MacDougall!)

24:55 New Media, VHS/Betamax/Videodisc: Oh God you guys, this hits me on both the retrotech level AND the '70s/'80s media levels. First things first; there is NOTHING better than the videocassette sales Top 10s from 1980s TV Guides, folks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). (Well, maybe the videocassette ads.) We've all been through the jokes about VHS vs. Beta, but whither the videodisc? I wanted a videodisc player SO badly growing up. They were huge! They cast a rainbow! They were super high-tech! And now the videodisc version of tons of movies are considered collectors' items. LaserDisc, the standard format from the '70s and '80s, itself is part of a messy, multiplicative set of formats and history.

25:55 Ed Asner and Powers Boothe: What a study in contrasts. And I really like both these actors! But I definitely respect Ed Asner more.

28:30 The history of the traffic helicopter/Francis Gary Powers: I realize in this episode I say "Some JFK assassination theorists..." just like the narrator of Ancient Aliens says, "Some ancient alien theorists believe..." I mean, this isn't a bad thing, per se. But if you want some deep paranoia about the rash of deaths around the House Special Committee on Assassinations in 1977, check out this page put together by JFK conspiracy authority Jim Marrs.

Regarding Francis Gary Powers and Lee Harvey Oswald, one thing that didn't make it into the podcast is that Oswald, while in the Marines, was stationed at Atsugi Air Base in Japan, where some (but not Powers's) U2 spy flights originated. Both Don DeLillo's Libra and Oliver Stone's JFK link the two men, DeLillo more symbolically and Stone more literally with the theory, put in the mouth of Assistant District Attorney Susie Cox, that Powers was allowed to be shot down to scuttle the planned May 1960 Eisenhower/Khrushchev summit.

(Also, Ed Asner played putative JFK assassination conspirator Guy Bannister in JFK. Moving on!)

32:02 "Les, let's turn this town on its ear." "Had Enough" appeared on The Who's Who Are You in 1978. Definitely part of, and perhaps even on the vanguard of, the Boomer rock generation slicking up their production and sound. Strings and synths! They should have let John Entwistle write more songs! Er, "Boris the Spider" notwithstanding. I have also been giving some thought to the idea of Buddy and Les as a possible metaphor for the actors' strike itself; two men, putting themselves in danger all on their own, to prove what seems ultimately like a minor point.

33:40 "Maybe do a little vaporwave with that." I'll just re-plug my reimagining of Vince DiCola's "Training Montage" from Rocky IV. A full album from omnicontinuum is coming! Someday. When I have time.

33:54 WKRP Music Google Spreadsheet: Mike Hernandez is the man! Here's a link to his spreadsheet, which has been by our side for every music discussion on HMOTD so far. Fantastic work, Mike, and thanks.

35:10 Improv/Michael Fairman: This entire discussion is about IMPROV, by the way. So don't use any other term in the comments, okay? So, about IMPROV. Going Clear is the name of the HBO documentary, which was apparently denied a chance at a Best Documentary Oscar by zealous IMPROV adherents. It did win three Emmys, though. As I said, I dallied in researching the occult and Weird origins of IMPROV back on Usenet in the '90s; here's a good link about that. Speaking of the occult and Weird origins of IMPROV, the story of IMPROV-founder-adjacent rocket scientist Jack Parsons is one that never gets old; this book is a fantastic introduction. And God bless Bojack Horseman for giving us one of the best code words to reasonably discuss IMPROV online yet. [Rob: Not just Bojack! This New Yorker article on the Upright Citizens Brigade makes exactly the same comparison, between IMPROV and a certain profitable Hollywoo religion. Weird, huh?]

39:29 "I'm Dottie Dahlquist, I live next door." Yeah, Ken and Dottie just never get over the way Wayne Craven and Mr. Furgood do. This episode could have been a classic, but there's just not enough of the main cast and the bits just fly past too fast to take real effect. We'll again talk more about this later.

41:08 Backdoor pilot spinoffs: Pretty fantastic list of backdoor pilots here on TVTropes, most of which never got made. Just a cavalcade of weird, ill-advised ideas for TV shows.

44:20 "Mr. Craven, I would like to ask you a question about the phone company..." Here's the ad I mention at 45:43. Not sure if there's much more to be said about the heights and the fall of AT&T but it's worth linking to the Wikipedia article about the breakup of Ma Bell (got the ill communication).

49:10 "If I remember my early '80s serial killer fiction correctly..." Francis Dolarhyde was indeed pretending to be a meter reader, not a phone company guy, but that's okay. We'll have more to say about the late '70s/early '80s Golden Age of Serial Killers later this season, stay tuned.

52:35 "The regulars outside of Jennifer don't have a lot to do..." You can see Frank Bonner's disheveled self up at the top of these Show Notes. One thing that didn't make it into the podcast was Gordon Jump's earnest line read of "I'm the guard" as he escorts Jennifer's bank boxes full of jewelry into the house, all while wearing a CLASSIC 1980s barracuda jacket. Such an '80s dad jacket, folks; before Members Only, there was the mighty barracuda. Made famous by Elvis and Steve Fuckin' McQueen!

52:50 et subseq. Jumping the Shark: God, the sense of loss and disillusionment in Ron Howard's voice as he talks about Fonzie jumping the shark! So sad!

So. Let's talk about WKRP jumping the shark in Season 3. It's funny, but before we got into recording Season 3, I thought all the WKRP cognoscenti's lukewarm reactions to Season 3 were outsized overreactions... yes, even those of Friend of the Podcast Tommy Krasker in his excellent paean to the new and interesting directions WKRP was headed in Season 4 before its cancelation. I remembered "Real Families" and "Hotel Oceanview" specifically as being fantastic, and upon rewatch they were. But now, having recorded a handful of Season 3 podcast episodes... yes. It is a bit unnerving how distant from the concerns of radio that WKRP gets in this first third or so of Season 3. Now, the middle and back thirds of Season 3, I think, return to the concerns of a radio station exceptionally well; a lot of the plots are character-based but they're at least based at WKRP the station.

Regarding early internet pop culture stalwarts, the owners sold the term and domain to TV Guide of all people, and so the old site's archives are now on a site called "Bone the Fish." Quite clever. Here's WKRP's entry on "Bone the Fish." [Edit: Turns out these are not the original JTS archives.] Interesting the episodes that people think made the show "jump the shark."

55:15 Funny Girl and Still Yet More Meta: Funny Girl is sadly still sitting on my to-read pile a month or so later.

Here's the link to The Whole Shebang, by the way. And yes, Rob's Canadian politeness is exceptionally good at cloaking how well he busts balls.

59:16 "What will we do, baby, without us?" The guys at the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast weighed in on my question on whether Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams' rendition of the Family Ties theme should be considered Yacht Rock:
So there you have it.

1:02:06 America II: Richard Louv's 1983 book was really a mindblower for me; I wish that people had listened to his warnings about social atomization in the aftermath of the urban turbulence of the '60s and '70s. And yes, that original first printing cover was something else.

1:04:10 "The Fifties are the haunted house of the American century." From this Greil Marcus piece on Pleasantville and the two versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Marcus is, as usual, genius; his analysis of the 1978 Snatchers as an indictment of New Age/human potential groupthink is fucking on point, and now I need to rewatch it with that in mind. "Leonard Nimoy's turtlenecked pod psychiatrist," indeed.

1:05:11 et subseq. "This is Hawkins."/Spielberg's Suburbs. Boy, the release of Stranger Things couldn't have come at a better time for this podcast episode, huh? (I'm going to see awesome millennials-who-love-the-80s electronic band S U R V I V E, who did the killer Stranger Things score, in concert this winter, by the way. Be jealous.) But here is the story that we mention about Steven Spielberg in Rolling Stone magazine, and it is a treat. Take some time and settle in to read it, with the additional knowledge from this quaintly naive 1982 New York Times article that "Pervasive Use of Cocaine is Reported in Hollywood" that "some people have attested to the large quantity of drugs on the location of the critically acclaimed 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'"

1:10:44 Ed and Lorraine Warren/Ghostbusters: Yes, even though we're going to lose the Cincinnati Triangle quotient in Seasons 3 and 4, it's worth it for this discussion of the difference between '70s and '80s weird and our shared love of Ghostbusters. (No, not The Ghost Busters.)

Ed and Lorraine Warren were amazing real-life paranormal investigators, and The Conjuring series has brought them back to prominence, with Lorraine Warren even appearing at recent Comic-Cons! (Ed passed away in 2006.) Their involvement with the Amityville case was after the fact and not reflected in the 1979 film (erratum from podcast episode), but we cannot ignore their contributions to the "possessed Raggedy Ann doll" case of "Annabelle" or the famous UK haunting in Enfield in the late '70s.

Dan Aykroyd's love of and respect for the paranormal is well-known. The care that's given in the first 15 minutes of Ghostbusters to what a paranormal research lab in a university in 1984 would look like is evident and just lovely.


  1. Gentlemen! Thank you very much for the shout-out and I'm humbled that the WKRP song spreadsheet (my labor of love/lust) is playing such a prominent part of your viewing. You're doing a great job with the podcast and I'm eagerly looking forward to future episodes.

    1. Hey Mike! Glad you found us! Yes, your spreadsheet has been an invaluable aid through these seasons of the podcast (and for our mixlr live DJ set at the beginning of Season 2 last year). Thanks again so much for doing the hard work!