- Audio commentary by creator and cast
- Exclusive DVD featurettes that include all-new cast interviews: "Do My Eyes Say Yes?," "A 'Fish Story' Story"
WKRP In Cincinnati was a sitcom that managed to survive being moved through at least six different timeslots in four seasons, and lasted long enough to make it into syndication and to get revived a decade after its original run. It won its set of awards for content, and was, indeed, one of the more rewarding network sitcoms of its period, recalling aspects of The Dick Van Dyke Show in some respects. This reviewer hadn't seen it often in syndication, mostly because many of the episodes were cut so severely that they weren't worth watching. This DVD package should be an answer to that problem where the first season is concerned, but, in fact, is only a partial solution. The running times of the shows have been restored, but not the source music -- that's an important caveat for those who are wedded to the original rock 'n' roll numbers depicted as being played on the air at the station; to this reviewer, it wasn't a particular problem, as the source music was only incidental to the program's appeal; other viewers feel differently, however, and there have been lots of complaints from fans about the producers' inability to re-license a lot of the music played at the series' WKRP. But there has been other music lost from the soundtrack, most notably a three-second quotation from Jerry Goldsmith's score for Patton, in the episode "Master Arthur Carlson", that made for one of the funniest moments in the entire run of the series, in an episode that was, otherwise, one of its more serious shows. But if one can get past problems such as that, it is a pleasure to see the show reasonably intact once again -- and as an added bonus, the first half of the pilot episode comes with a commentary track by series creator Hugh Wilson and cast members Frank Bonner and Loni Anderson. They speak with great warmth and affection about the show and their fellow cast members -- especially the late Gordon Jump -- and recall elements of the production that weren't always obvious at the time.
The other major bonus feature are a pair of short films, which include Tim Reid, Bonner, and Anderson as well as Wilson, which focus on different aspects of the series' production. "Do My Eyes Say Yes?" is devoted to Anderson's character Jennifer Marlowe; and "A Fish Story" has to do with Wilson's effort at giving the network the kind of zany, silly humor that they requested -- ironically enough, the resulting episode earned huge ratings, which was not the result that Wilson had in mind. These aren't much more than montages with a few wraparound quotations, but the shots excerpted are so funny that they're worth seeing and they do reveal some aspects of the performers', producer's, and writers' approach to the series. Otherwise, the program has been treated well, with chapter-breaks mostly positioned conveniently -- though why the producers couldn't consistently allow us to jump from the pre-credit teaser over the opening credits, instead of breaking in on the opening as happens on some episodes, is beyond this reviewer's understanding; it's as though someone wasn't paying attention to this basic element of disc programming. On the positive side, the sound is mastered at a decent volume and is clear and sharp, which helps a great deal in appreciating the episode "Commercial Break", in which the station personnel record an upbeat jingle for a chain of funeral homes. The full-screen (1.33-to-1) image is consistent throughout and, indeed, superior to anything seen in the heavily cut syndicated version of the series. The three discs each open automatically to a simple, easy-to-use multi-layered menu in which the special features are separated from the episode lists. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Cast & Crew
Gary Sandy - Andy Travis
Gordon Jump - Arthur Carlson
Howard Hesseman - Johnny `Dr. Johnny Fever' Caravella
Loni Anderson - Jennifer Marlowe
Richard Sanders - Les Nessman