View Full Version : Buyer beware on new WKRP DVD's

Eric in IL
04-01-2007, 03:41 AM
I was very excited when I learned that WKRP in Cincinnati was going to be released on DVD on 4/24/07. However, my excitement changed to worry about how many original songs would be substituted. I just got an email from tvshowsondvd.com and the news isn't good.

Most of the songs have been replaced, including all the music from the episode "The Contest Nobody Could Win". Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" has been replaced, thus ruining the episode with the Russian immigrant. Even the "Patton" trumpet with Arthur Carlson's son has been axed.

I usually lurk at these boards, just posting when I can add something to the conversation. I'm sure there are many huge WKRP fans here and I just wanted to give the fine folks at Redszone a heads up. Again, I'm crushed by this news and maybe I'll look around the internet for a bootleg copy of original episodes.

I can't figure out how to get the link to work, but you can get the story from tvshowsondvd.com's front page and you don't have to be a member to access the news stories.

04-01-2007, 04:08 AM
I'm assuming, as the blog article states, that it may be due to skyrocketing music licensing costs, budget, and that previously released MTM properties have not sold well to date. It's still a shame.

Here's the blog article....


I got a copy of the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati and the news is not good. Which is disappointing to say, because I was lobbying for this release and believed – and still believe – that it would have been possible to reduce music costs without damaging the integrity of the show. That’s not what’s happened here.

Below I have compiled a list of music changes on the new DVD. As you can see, it’s pretty similar to the list of music changes from the late ‘90s syndication package; some of the generic music and overdubbing is the same in both versions. But I was prepared to be OK with this set if it was better, or no worse, than that syndication version. Unfortunately, it’s worse in two ways. One, there were a number of songs that were retained in that syndication package (which ran on Nick at Nite and elsewhere) that are replaced here. Songs like “Dogs” by Pink Floyd and “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley are now gone. And second, because most of these episodes don’t allow the music to be separated from the dialogue track, they’ve dealt with this problem by cutting footage from several episodes.

I’m not making Fox out to be a mustache-twirling villain here. WKRP is a tough property to bring to DVD. First, the original elements may no longer exist, so the copies they were working from were probably the same copies created for the late-‘90s syndication package; that’s why some of the generic music from that package is heard here. (On the other hand, while the original elements may not exist, the original soundtracks certainly do, for the most part. All you have to do to put a song back is take the same scene out of the older syndication versions, which are easily available. So if Fox had had the budget to put back these songs, they could have done so.) Second, music licensing costs are just insane these days. Third, other MTM properties have not sold well for Fox of late, which probably made them unable to justify much of a budget for WKRP.

But ultimately, this isn’t a good way of dealing with the music problem. I felt, and still feel, that you can create a legitimate DVD release of WKRP by changing songs at the margins (songs played only in ten-second snippets; songs that aren’t identified by name or timed to the scene) and leaving in the “essential” songs. But in this DVD release, there's little more half-a-dozen real musical recordings left in. There's the songs performed on the show by Detective and Hoyt Axton, and two or three songs played by Venus, and that's about it.

It's possible that Fox meant well. They’d been getting requests from fans to release it, so they did. And many of the songs that were cut are just incredibly expensive, like Pink Floyd. But ultimately, if they couldn’t afford to release the show with more music than they've included here, this might be one of those cases when they should have turned a deaf ear to fan requests. After all, they knew they couldn't afford to keep the music; we fans didn't. Or perhaps it would have been better to start with a best-of disc, focusing on episodes without much music (good sales of that disc could have justified a bigger budget for the first season).

There are two positive things to be said for this set: There are some extras (two audio commentaries by cast members and creator, and two featurettes), and the episodes look pretty good for videotaped late ‘70s episodes. Since it's cheaply priced, it might be worth buying if you want DVD-quality copies of some of your favorite scenes. Most of the best-known scenes didn’t have rock music in them, so the turkey drop, the Chi Chi Rodriguez report, the Ferryman’s Funeral Home commercial, etc, are here, and if you haven’t seen them in a while, you can see them here.

But still, this isn’t exactly “WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete First Season” as it says on the box. It’s more like “WKRP in Cincinnati: Extended Highlights from the First Season.” To get the complete first season, we’ll need to wait for the copyrights to expire, or for Fox to give up and license the show out to a smaller company.

04-01-2007, 05:21 PM
I'm surprised they released it at all. If people stay away from it because of the music changes, it doesn't bode well for studios responding to public demand in the future.

To me, the music in that show was secondary to the comedy.

04-01-2007, 05:57 PM
Hope they're charging less for the CDs because of the music changes. And the fact that many were changed should have been displayed on the case.

04-01-2007, 10:01 PM
They've been delaying the release for years to try to figure out a solution to the music problem. Apparently shows these days are writing these things into their contracts with musicians, which was obviously not the case in the 70's. I agree that the music was secondary to the comedy, but to hear Johnny Fever spinning a fake classic might just be a little disturbing.