Friday, August 25, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 044: Nice Teeth And Good Hair

1:50 "He's playing Solid Gold, that's crazy." An interesting way to put Johnny's roots-of-rock-and-roll playlist, but in the increasingly regimented radio formats at the dawn of the '80s, this was an established station format. "Solid Gold" or "Oldies" stations got their start in the early '70s as late Silents and early Boomers started entering early middle age and DJs like Johnny would mix in classics from the '50s and first half of the '60s. It's the American Graffiti/Happy Days nostalgia phenomenon again. In Boston, we had WROR, which has a fascinating history involving both this Solid Gold format and an early form of playlist automation in 1966 with a DJ using a "robot" voice to hype the computer-programmed Top 40!

[Rob: We tend to think of Johnny as a "Sixties" character, but Norris is right that Johnny's musical taste is not rooted in the "High Sixties" (which we could delineate as, roughly, 1966-1974) but, really, in the "Long Fifties" (let's say, 1950-1965).]

2:38 Norris Breeze: The actor who plays Norris Breeze, David Clennon, has another one of those great "That Guy" careers. We had to cut a bit on Clennon from this episode for time, but we both celebrated his role as Palmer in John Carpenter's The Thing as well as went into a long digression about the show thirtysomething and how much it baffled both of us back in the late '80s (Clennon played the evil ad exec). Also, Clennon's IMDB biography says he's a committed political activist who turned down roles on shows like 24 because of their politics. You go, Dave.

[Rob: The Thing is one of my all-time, top-ten, desert island movies, and Clennon has at least two of the movie's great moments: first, reacting to the spectacle of Norris' head growing legs and eyestalks to escape MacReady's flamethrower, and second, the jump scare in the blood-test scene. I guess it's really a petri dish of his blood that gets the latter moment, but still.]

6:18 Wine: You can tell I edited this episode because I included gratutious clips from both Red Dwarf and classic Doctor Who, but Lister's rant about wine-drinkers just begged to be used here.

7:03 That hotel room: Yeah, I admit, this was also pretty self-indulgent on my part, but goddamn, that hotel room (and the art on the walls) was pure VAPOR. Compare the angular modern grey hotel room with the cover of vaporwave albums like Initiation Tape: Isle of Avalon Edition or that abstract cloud-filled art on the wall with any PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises release.

10:20 "Andy gets everybody to act the opposite of what they are." I really should've used a clip from Seinfeld here.

12:13 Phyllis: That episode is "The First Date" from 1975. Blink in the first couple of minutes and you'll miss Loni; she looks near-unrecognizable!

14:20 Dunning-Kruger Effect: Boy, we have covered a lot of business history in this here podcast, haven't we? Conflict management, two episodes touching on labor unions, the Peter Principle, Rolodexes, and now the Dunning-Kruger Effect and sexual harassment in the same episode.

17:06 Stoned Bailey: What else can we say? Next to Sex Hair Bailey, Stoned Bailey might be my favorite development of Season 4. You get the feeling that Hugh Wilson et al. were gaining more confidence in Jan Smithers's ability to carry a scene comedically by this point in the series, maybe? The "When?" line-read is a killer.

19:00 The old Nestle's jingle: In my googling for the old '50s Nestle's Quik commercials (more on those in the next entry), I re-discovered a commercial from the '80s that repurposed the Nestle's jingle and combined it with some sweet aspirational '80s soft-focus Maxfield Parrish-iana. Naturally, I had to slow that shit down by 20% and slap an even softer-focus filter on it.

19:55 Farfel, Jimmy Nelson, and Danny O'Day: Okay, hang on to your hats, Gen-Xers and younger, because I'm about to enter the wild and woolly world of 1950s ventriloquism. As far as creepy puppets and puppeteers we've got: Senor Wences, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and finally Jimmy Nelson, Danny O'Day (his humanoid ventriloquial figure) and yes, Farfel the Dog. The story of how Farfel got his characteristic mouth-snap at the end of "chooooooc'laaaate" is kind of cute, but yeah, I'm with Rob. All these '50s ventriloquial figures are creepy as hell. But here's a couple of the old Nestle's commercials for you: the boxing one I sampled in this episode and one where Jimmy, Danny, and Farfel join the Space Race.

Zippy the Pinhead's creator Bill Griffith pretty much swam in this kind of Boomer-era kitsch, but the dog that Rob remembers is actually based on the giant dog head outside the Doggie Diner restaurant chain in the Bay Area. Griffith did explicitly mention Farfel at least once, though.

A few other links to help put ventriloquism to bed: this classic Mr. Show sketch (yeah, yeah, I know), and two bits from Mystery Science Theater 3000, a show that owes a lot of its DNA to Boomer-era ventriloquism: Tom Servo and Crow take a ventriloquism quiz at the beginning of 318 Fugitive Alien 2, and Tom Servo gets a new disturbing head at the beginning of 610 The Violent Years.

21:38 "I'm not saying that she and Johnny never burned one." Eh, not much to say about this comment, other than I do very much want to read Rob's Johnny-and-Bailey-get-high-and-order-pizza fanfic.

22:30 "I think you should know that Venus Flytrap is armed." Yeah, this kind of left a bad taste in my mouth when I got to it in the episode, because again, I literally did not see the racial angle until Norris Breeze spelled it out.

25:28 Office Space, the Bobs: When capitalism collapses and we all embrace our inevitable future of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism, artifacts like Office Space will be carefully preserved as the prescient political warnings they should have been viewed as in the first place.

31:00 "Just how big is the TARDIS?" Finally, a real excuse to get a classic Doctor Who clip into the podcast. From the first episode of "The Masque of Mandragora" serial, a classic example of Robert Holmes/Tom Baker-era Doctor Who. The Doctor goes to late medieval Italy to stop an evil living energy helix bent on creating a cult to rule the Earth... yeah, you could say this is Extremely My Shit.

But yes, the secondary TARDIS control room! It's a beauty and it lasted through probably the best period of Doctor Who for my money: Season 14, from start to finish is probably the best Doctor Who ever was or would be.

33:25 Neo-Victorian fashion: I tried forever to find a good article online that explained the early-'80s tendency towards flounces, puffy shirts, and the like, but couldn't. Some fashionistas note the New Romantic movement that was breaking big into the mainstream in '81, '82, led by the club kids at Blitz and the post-punk era of Vivienne Westwood, but that's a bit too swashbuckle-y. Here's a piece on the rise of the prairie dress in the late '70s and early '80s, but again, that's a bit too homespun. I guess I have the whole "fern bars investing in Tiffany-style lamps" thing... I may need to write this early-'80s neo-Victoriana up for We Are The Mutants.

35:05 Dingy 1970s sitcoms: You can hear us talk the grungy sets of '70s sitcoms in the first 10 minutes of HMOTD 032, but you should really listen to the whole episode, it's definitely one of my favorites.

37:06 The Love Boat theme: Undeniably catchy, the subject of send-ups pretty much ever since The Love Boat debuted, and all anchored (ha, a pun) by the silky-smooth vocal chops of Jack Jones. It might be a perfect TV theme song.

40:52 Cincinnati Opera: I really shouldn't have harshed on the Cincinnati cultural scene; not only do I discover that Cincinnati has one of the oldest civic operas in the U.S., but the nearby Kentucky Symphony Orchestra is ending its summer season this Labor Day weekend with... yes, a concert featuring music from WKRP! I wish I could go.

42:18 "I mean, all you've got is Hirsch." I hope we faked out at least a few of you into thinking we weren't going to talk about Hirsch this episode. But yeah, this repartee is nothing new; I googled "butler and dowager" and found some similar schtick from the 1800s... there's also this dark take on the trope, Dinner For One, where a butler gets progressively more drunk as he impersonates all of the dowager's now-dead friends. This play has become an inexplicable New Year's tradition on German television, of all places, proving once again that you can never account for the Teutonic sense of humor.

44:53 Ian Wolfe: We discussed Ian Wolfe's tenure as Wizard Traquil on Rob's favorite limited-run, early-'80s, D&D-inspired, mid-season replacement Wizards and Warriors in HMOTD 036, and originally discussed it way back in our Season 2 premiere, so now Rob's managed to squeeze Wizards and Warriors in during each of the last three seasons of the podcast. Well done, Rob. :)

In all seriousness, Ian Wolfe worked right up until his 93rd year, playing the old forger in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy! And take a look at this career!

48:18 "The Story of Everest": My Mr. Show stanning has gotten kind of out of hand lately, but this might be one of the show's finest achievements in terms of pure hostility towards the audience. The people in the live studio audience had to sit there as they re-set the thimble wall each of the more than half-dozen times Jay Johnston took a tumble into it.

49:15 Sexual harassment: This capsule history on Wikipedia was quite illuminating. I note with interest, speaking of conflict resolution, that the author of the 1973 MIT report on sexual harassment, Mary Rowe, has been professor of Negotation and Conflict Management at MIT's Sloan School since 1985.

53:03 "Until you can name it... you can't get at it." Sometimes I think this is at the root of all so-called "political incorrectness." If our linguistic tools to combat injustice are taken away or mocked or belittled as an "overreaction," all of a sudden, as Rob so expertly puts it, we don't have the "technology" to fix the problem. It's theft, basically, a re-colonizing force meant to steal something of value from the oppressed. A fantastic observation from Rob here.

53:18 Microaggressions: The term "microaggressions" has actually been around since earlier than "sexual harassment"! It was introduced by Harvard's Chester Pierce, an African-American professor at Harvard Medical School (seriously, check that link; what a fascinating life and career) who tracked the physical and medical implications of suppressed anger. And Mary Rowe again helped bring this term into the parlance of business literature and conflict resolution.

55:33 Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings: The hearings were incredibly omnipresent in the fall of 1991. CNN had really come into its own as a 24-hour news channel given the recent Gulf War. I had just turned 16 years old and at the time, I felt profoundly angry and uncomfortable with the ramifications of Hill's testimony. You can imagine what the reaction of the student body of an all-boys Catholic high school was to these revelations. Between these hearings and the aforementioned Gulf War, 1991 was the beginning of a political awakening for me in a lot of ways. Pop culture at the time had its fun with the ordeal as well (at the expense of those white male Senators, thank goodness, though that is a tough needle to thread, even in '91).

[Rob: I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Anita Hill a few years ago when we brought her to Western to talk about her book, Reimagining Equality. Not much to say about that other than how smart, generous, and passionate about equality and the law she was--and that pretty much every woman in the audience over the age of 45 came up afterward to tell her what an impact the Thomas hearings had had on them and their lives.]

1:08:04 Colleen Camp/They All Laughed: Okay, hold onto your hats, because I delved deep into IMDB to try to find out the reason for this odd scene and cameo from Colleen Camp. In the IMDB entry for "Love, Exciting and New," the "Trivia" section states: "The incongruous cameo by Colleen Camp as herself may be explained by the fact that Camp and Richard Sanders both appeared in the movie Valley Girl (1983) around the same time." But around the same time isn't exactly the same time, and Valley Girl, given its subject matter, wouldn't have begun filming until at earliest the summer of '82, well after WKRP had finished taping. I don't think this theory holds water, ultimately, but I present it in the spirit of completeness. (Also, I can't find any proof one way or the other if there's any familial relation between Colleen Camp and two-time WKRP guest Hamilton Camp, as suggested on Facebook by Leah Biel, but it's doubtful considering Hamilton was born in the UK and Colleen comes from California.)

1:11:40 Dorothy Stratten: Wanted to pass along a couple of links to help expand on the Dorothy Stratten story: first, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Village Voice piece (RIP to the print edition of the Village Voice, by the way) that told Stratten's story first, and the recent You Must Remember This episode on Stratten. I highly recommend checking both out.

1:13:00 EPK: The electronic press kit as an artifact is an invention of the Entertainment Tonight era (which we're just entering here in 1981) but the term itself wasn't coined until the CD-ROM/early web era of the mid-'90s.

1:15:08 Fleetwood Mac: Was I too harsh on competent drummer, wacky face puller, and noted Star Trek: The Next Generation guest star Mick Fleetwood? I mean, The Visitor shows he was dipping his toe into so-called "world music" probably earlier than everyone except maybe Talking Heads. One thing I will not apologize for is my devotion to Mirage; read this Pitchfork review of the recent reissue to see why I love it so much.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

HMOTD 044: Nice Teeth And Good Hair

Rob & Mike focus on the fine dentition and flowing mane of Andy Travis, watching him take on "The Consultant," and take out Mama in "Love, Exciting And New."
(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 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, and! And Luke can be found at 98.3 FM/ 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!