WKRP In Cincinnati was allegedly a vehicle for Gary Sandy to rise to stardom. That’s what the credits for the show indicate, as it says,”Starring Gary Sandy,” right up front, and after a few seconds it changes to, “And Gordon Jump.”
Jump was Mr. Carlson. Carlson didn’t understand the younger generation that was brought into his radio station to manage the switch to a rock format. Sandy’s character, Travis, was the conduit between Carlson’s old-school ways and the wild and wacky DJs of WKRP.
Sandy had top billing on the show, his character was central to the long-term storyline of the show, and he appeared in every single episode… of the show. So why then, when I think back to WKRP in Cincinnati, is it usually a case of…
Hmm, WKRP characters? Ok, Herb, Jennifer, Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap, Les Nesman, Bailey, and that other guy with the hair. What was his name?
Unfortunately for Sandy, his character was weak in personality compared to the other characters on the show. He also never got to deliver the good jokes. Howard Hessman, Richard Sanders, Frank Bonner, or even Jump, got all the funny lines.
Kind of sad when you think about it.
Not sad, that he had a starring role on tv, but sad his starring role was overshadowed by characters with more dominant personalities. Sandy’s role didn’t call for him to be that guy, and he paid the price for it in the eyes of the public in my opinion. Nobody loves a straight man. It might have been Abbott and Costello, but Costello was the one everybody loved and remembers most vividly.
The only reason I thought about Sandy was because I watched one of my favorite holiday episodes of a television show just a few minutes ago. The episode is from the first season of WKRP, and you get a good look at the dynamic that played out early in the series between Carlson and the new crew. You get a real good look at what Sandy’s role was to be on the show when everyone came to him complaining of Carlson’s meddling.
Before the end of the episode, per usual, one of the quirky radio personalities steals the show. Les Nesman’s blow-by-blow description of the melee that ensued after a radio station promotion goes horribly wrong. His call of the action is priceless. It’s pure comedy gold. It’s the kind of comedy gold Sandy, the alleged star of the show, seemingly never got to mine for himself.
I watch the Turkey’s Away episode every Thanksgiving, and I just watched it a few minutes ago. The big payoff at the end is never not howlingly funny to me, no matter how many times I watch it.
Now all I need to do is listen to Arlo Guthrie’s song Alice’s Restaurant, and my Thanksgiving Day will be two-thirds complete. It will be officially complete when the pumpkin pie sends me into a coma this afternoon.
This is funny. I swear it. I think it’s funny enough to watch on Hulu with the commercials and everything. I still haven’t broken down and bought the series on disc, because I have a hard time justifying it for one episode. So Hulu always has to do the job for me.
So here’s some Hulu love for you and yours this Thanksgiving.