Friday, April 7, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 039: Hold My New Order Terrible New Dresser

0:00: "In Philadelphia, thousands remain terribly confused." Good to see Bill Dial maintaining the "horrible things happening in Philly" non-sequitur from the original WKRP.

Also, I'm a little sad we didn't get around to talking about New WKRP evening DJ Mona Loveland, played by Tawny Kitaen. Kitaen was a prominent '80s erotic thriller/video vixen-turned-internet, er, personality in the aftermath of her separation from major leaguer Chuck Finley. Ms. Kitaen's Twitter is also something special.

0:40 "Baby if you ever wondered..." Yes, another pop culture fly trapped in amber, the commercial for The New WKRP in Cincinnati that referenced the video for U2's first single off of 1993's Zooropa, "Numb." This commercial (for the VH1 run of the show, I was right!) subjected Les to a variety of distractions from either side of the screen, just like The Edge. We also posited that this is where the rumor came about that Richard Sanders sang the original WKRP theme song.

4:00 "The loud guy in Dilbert": It was Loud Howard, actually. And if you don't know why Dilbert is crappy now, boy, have I got a longform piece for you to read. I'm probably gonna get sued for even sayin' that name.

7:45 The remixed opening theme song. Gah, puke. When the original WKRP theme song is so bloody perfect, why make it all angular and early '90s like that? Disgraceful. Probably the thing I'm most angry about with respect to watching these two New WKRP episodes.

10:36 The Burt Reynolds-directed episode: The Season 1 New WKRP episode "Jennifer and the Prince." The Wikipedia summary: "Jennifer Marlowe returns to announce her engagement to a prince, and invites the staff to the party. However, a coup by her fiancé's brother and the suspicions of Herb and Les give her a lot to deal with." Whoof.

12:20: Early '90s sampling and remixing. Maybe one day Rob and I will do a track-by-track podcast about Paul's Boutique, another mutual favorite of ours (along with WKRP and The Invisibles). "Car Thief" is still the best track on that album, Rob, sorry.

[Rob: Hmm.]

13:11 Northern Exposure: The first of many gratuitous early '90s references in this episode. So wonderfully meta, that sequence from Season 2's "War and Peace." I watched a ton of Northern Exposure in high school and probably didn't "get" it as much as I would as a grown-up.

[Rob: Not gratuitous, necessary. I'm pretty pleased that every clip used in this episode comes from within a few months of 1992 or references 1992 directly.]

20:20 Rodney King/The LAPD/The LA riots: A tragic story, and one that prefigured so much of what is happening with policing in the United States today with respect to racist killings of black citizens and the continuing militarization of police.

22:32 "It's not a riot, it's civil unrest." [Rob: This audio is from the film adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith's remarkable docu-play, "Twilight: Los Angeles." The stage play was a one-woman tour-de-force where Smith (known to middle-brow TV addicts like Mike and I as an actor on shows like The West Wing and Nurse Jackie, but also an award-winning playwright, oral historian and professor) played more than 40 real-life individuals involved in the L.A. uprising. The film version also includes conversations like this one, where the actual people Smith portrays in the show respond to her performance. In this clip, the voices you hear are: activist Paul Parker, former L.A. chief of police Daryl Gates, Smith herself, and journalist Ruben Martinez.

24:20 Howard Stern and Snapple: I'm not going to link to any old WOR Channel 9 Howard Stern Shows from the early '90s here, out of sheer embarrassment, but trust me, Snapple was unavoidable on those. Back in high school, if you were cool you stayed up late to watch Myers/Carvey/Hartman-era SNL, but if you were really cool, you watched the very blue Stern show.

Also, my official power rankings of trendy early '90s soft drinks: Clearly Canadian > OK Soda > Fruitopia > Jolt > Snapple > any transparent cola >>>>>>>>>> Orbitz (a.k.a. Skittlebräu).

[Rob: I can't argue with that. Was there anything more precisely "1992" than clear cola?]

25:55 The connections between Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, and the President: I swear, I didn't know this video existed before I said that on the podcast. Now that's eerie.

27:30 Article in The Baffler: It's called "Outsmarted," and it's by old favorite of the podcast Rick Perlstein.

28:20 The mythology of Steve Bannon: I think I broke Rob in this Twitter thread.

[Rob: I know Mike has already burned away all his nostalgia in the purifying flames of political pessimism and self-loathing, but some of us are at different points in that journey. "You'll always have Frightenstein," he says...]

30:34 et subseq. Ice-T/"Cop Killer"/Ice-T on Arsenio: I'd be remiss if I didn't link to Charlton Heston's portentous recital of the lyrics to "Cop Killer" ("Catchy number, isn't it."), which was memorably parodied in yet another early '90s SNL sketch. Also, here's a link to Detective Fin's Twitter. And speaking of hip late night things to watch when you're in high school in the early '90s, we all loved Arsenio back then. I think Ice-T's answer on Arsenio very deftly threads the needle.

[Rob: Everything 1992 is new again: Ice-T and Bodycount came out with a new album last week!]

32:32 Hoodlum Hip-Hop: Mentioned in our Season 1 wrap-up episode. Please listen to it; it's pretty good!

37:40 Ned's Atomic Dustbin: Another Twitter thread. So many memories. Seriously, though, check out God Fodder; I listened to it this past weekend and it holds up really well!

39:00 et. subseq. The 1992 Presidential Election: Ross Perot got pretty much 19% of the vote, I was spot-on! (Perot won my hometown in Massachusetts, btw. I bet a lot of those folks, the ones who are still alive, voted for the President in 2016...) I was a bit of a politics nerd back in high school; in fact, I matriculated at Harvard with the full intention of being a Gov major (bleh) until a class on Dante seduced me into the medieval humanities.

Also, if you can BEAR it, watch Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant sing their heartfelt song to Mr. President Bill Clinton. The biggest shocker of that clip? The realization that future archconservative DENNIS MILLER hosted the MTV Inaugural Ball. Yikes. And Dave Mustaine confessing he was a Perot voter. 1993 was another country, man.

41:46 Rock the Vote: Another opportunity to reference this fantastic episode of 99% Invisible on the CD longbox and its part in helping MTV's lobbying for the Motor Voter Bill.

43:55 Studs: Oh man, that show was SO naughty by 1992 standards. Studs also perfectly overlaps with The New WKRP in Cincinnati (1991-1993). Fascinating.

45:20 "Makin' bacon on the beach": [Rob: This episode of The Simpsons (Season 4's "New Kid on the Block") aired November 12, 1992, one month after "Studs of the Airwaves," which contained the very same euphemism. Did The New WKRP actually beat The Simpsons to a joke?]

45:57 Available on YouTube: Sadly, between our prepping for the recording of this episode and today, The New WKRP has been taken down from YouTube.

[Rob: It looks like you can still find episodes, just not this particular two. The two-part pilot is available, which features, I kid you not, a C-plot where Mama Carlson gets interested in virtual reality.]

46:36 Buddy, not Bucky, Dornster: [Rob: Buddy was played by John Chappell, who had actually appeared on one episode of the original WKRP, in "Preacher," as one of the ministers who came to the station to complain about Reverend Little Ed. He also had a recurring role on AfterMASH, so there's a track record there of ill-advised reboots.]

49:50 Far And Away: Not much to say about this film other than the lovely Enya theme tune, confusingly titled "Book of Days."

50:26 "Locked in the Trunk of a Car" Another perfectly timed and appropriate clip from Rob with the Tragically Hip; fantastic job. I had to listen to the entirety of Fully Completely after listening to this episode.

[Rob: Yeah, how perfect is it, for our purposes, that "Locked in the Trunk of a Car" came out in 1992?]

52:32 "It is now 1992!" That montage, well, 1992 wasn't all wine and roses. Kris Kross and House of Pain will both make you jump.

[Rob: Why was it so imperative that we jump around? I know I don't need to tell you, Mike, but for the kids at home, that montage features: Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Ross Perot talking NAFTA, Kris Kross's "Jump," House of Pain's "Jump Around," Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart," and much-quoted lines from A Few Good Men and Reservoir Dogs, all from the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Two.]

55:25 The receptionist from Twin Peaks: So sad I forgot the name of Lucy from Twin Peaks (1990-1991, which is close enough for government work). VERY excited for the new episodes to begin airing on Showtime, though.

56:08 Mike and Rob in the '90s: Behold. It is an Early '90s Dudes Delight.

58:52 "Get the whiteboard out." [Rob: One more wrinkle in this "perfect crime" just occurred to me. How could Les see the screen at the drive-in from a peephole in the trunk of his car? Did he somehow shoot a hole forward through the car? Or did Les' kidnapper park the car backwards? Wheels within wheels.]

1:00:10 "The Crying Game" [Rob: If you're talking transgender representation in 1992, you're talking The Crying Game. I dunno how people feel about that movie now, but it's safe to say Neil Jordan handled the subject with a bit more gravitas than Bill Dial. The theme song was a post-Culture Club hit for Boy George.]

1:01:19 "I Will Always Love You" [Rob: Originally written and recorded in 1973 by Dolly Parton, but it was of course Whitney Houston's 1992 version, from the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, that became the best-selling single of 1993 and the seventh best-selling song of all time.]

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Let's all have a Banapple!"

Oh, hi everybody. Belated April Fools' from our usual Monday Post! This time around, the Monday post comes after the release of a new episode, because this was our special surprise April Fools', 2nd Podcast Anniversary, Happy Gordon Jump's Birthday episode of Hold My New Order Terrible New Dresser!

We've actually gotten a fair number of emails asking us if we were going to take on The New WKRP In Cincinnati after we finish up with original recipe WKRP. I think you all can figure out after our decidedly mixed reaction, no, we're not going to be doing an actual full-on New WKRP In Cincinnati podcast. But this podcast episode definitely was a fun April Fools' lark!

I'm not sure what originally gave us the crackpot idea to do an episode as if we'd been doing a podcast about The New WKRP In Cincinnati all along... obviously, since the election, we've been thinking a lot about other timelines and alternate histories. From my perspective, I mostly wanted to have an excuse to have Season 3 of HMOTD match Seasons 1 and 2 at 13 podcasts long! But also, there's something to be said about the assertion that we would've given the history of WKRP as a whole short shrift if we hadn't at least somewhat covered this syndicated oddity from 1991-1993.

You can hear our deeper thoughts on the podcast, obviously, but I was most struck at how... different the nostalgia for all the signifiers of 1992 felt to me. All the memories of the late '70s/early '80s for me so far in this podcast have been... bittersweet, rich, deep, often moving. But the thing about the early '90s is that they feel just a little bit... tacky? Obvious? I'm not really sure of the best way to put it. While I can definitely enjoy recounting my own favorite media from 1992, they're so mixed up in the other stuff that was going on in my life at the time, being 16, 17 years old. And let's be honest, that's a pretty damn intense time in a young man's life.

My feelings and opinions about Ice-T and "Cop Killer" and the L.A. riots and the first Gulf War and George Bush vs. the Simpsons and Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown are so much less... incisive? Because unlike Carter and Reagan and so forth, I can consciously remember those events. Moreover, I remember them mostly through the politically-uncomplicated eyes of a naive teenager.

[Rob: Geez, you just had to mention one more time that you were just a teenager in 1992, while I was a venerable 21-year-old... Anyway, I've heard for years that The New WKRP was awful, a travesty, a desecration of the original. I gotta say: watching it in 2017, I didn't think it was that bad? I'm not saying it was good, and I understand how, back in 1992, it must have seemed blasphemous to reanimate the original in this way. But from the distance of 25 years, with expectations lower than low, it was fascinating to see this weird simulacrum of the show I know and love, so familiar and yet so strange. I will probably end up watching a few more, and if any of you HMOTD listeners feel like doing the same, I'd be very curious to hear your reactions.]

Yeah, I admit: it made me cringe no more or no less than any other middling sitcom of the very early '90s, before Seinfeld truly changed the landscape. These two episodes were as obvious and as corny as any other show I can think of from the era, but there were still weird glimmers of the talent and thoughtfulness that Wilson et al. brought to the original WKRP.

Show Notes of some kind will be coming on Friday! And while our exact kickoff date for Season 4 is still up in the air, you'll be hearing from us again before too long.

Now, what you've really come here to see: embarrassing photos of Rob and Mike in the early 1990s! The first two photos were from my friend Mark and I prepping for a road trip to Lollapalooza '93 in the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. That's me in the red hat. I think the button on the cap is not from one of my favorite bands but indeed a souvenir button from my senior government trip to Washington, D.C. ("Why do you have a fake ID?" "So I can vote.") The final picture in this row is my senior yearbook photo from 1993. Like Roast Beef Kazenzakis, I have Emotions Hair. And oh, that Stephen Crane quote! *barf*

[Rob: And here's me in 1992, 1993, and 1994: with my brother J and my beloved Queen's University jacket (Super Mario Bros hand-painted by yours truly); with my buddy Chris and I evoking a definite Bill & Ted vibe; and transformation into neo-hippy complete. I know you want to punch that guy, but as I often say when looking at old photographs: he meant no harm.]

Saturday, April 1, 2017

HMOTD 039: Hold My New Order Terrible New Dresser

1992 is in the house as Money Mike G and Easy Rob MacD dive into the NEW WKRP in Cincinnati!

(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!