(Un)happy birthday, WKRP in Cincinnati!
On a Monday night exactly twenty-eight years ago today, the first episode of WKRP in Cincinnati aired on CBS. We still don’t have a DVD for the series, and if you’ve been watching reruns you may have noticed that the classic rock which Johnny Fever raves about is being replaced by generic rock music.
If we still had a reasonable copyright law, 20th Century Fox would, today, be able to release the original series on DVD with the original music.
I suspect that part of the problem isn’t even the after-the-fact extensions of the copyright terms, but that Fox feels it necessary to license every little snippet of music, regardless of whether enough of the song is played to constitute an infringing use.
- May 13, 2007: WKRP DVD cuts music, scenes
I was down at Target this afternoon looking for some movies to watch next weekend and I noticed, to my surprise, the first season of WKRP on the new DVDs rack. “That can’t be good,” I thought, and sure enough, “some musical scenes have been modified”. Obviously I didn’t buy it without doing some research, but I didn’t realize how mangled it was until I came home and looked it up.
They’re calling it “The Complete First Season”, but not only are much of the original songs replaced with bland ones that don’t make sense, but they’ve also cut complete scenes out. This is apparently the syndication cut of the shows, not the originals. Apparently even some scenes left in the syndication cut are chopped out of this release?
Jaime J. Weinman calls it WKRP in Cincinnati: Extended Highlights from the First Season.
Classic scenes such as Tiny Dancer are either gone or redubbed with lesser music. Les Nesman singing Heartbreak Hotel has been cut. That needed to go? Even Jennifer’s doorbell is changed? Fox even cut out music that came from their own movies!
When callers reference the music, they redub the callers. And when they couldn’t separate the music from the dialogue, they just chopped the scene. At some point you have to wonder if the studio understands that it’s the plot, dialogue, and music that make WKRP the well-loved series it is, or if they just think people are buying it to display it on their DVD shelf. What’s the point of watching something like this?