This is my entry to A Shroud of Thought's Favourite TV Show Blogathon.
The late 70's presented some of the most memorable shows in sitcom history for a young adult growing up in the 70's. Two of these were the classic ensemble cast show of Taxi and WKRP in Cincinnati.
Taxi: Jim: A Space Odyssey [Orignal airdate: Sept. 25, 1979]
Important Characters in this Episode:
Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd)
Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito)
Alex Rieger (Judd Hirsch)
Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner)
(the rest of the cast did appear in this episode, but were mostly there in support of the main story.)
(This episode ranked #63 in the 1997 edition of TV Guide/Nick at Nite's 100 Greatest TV Episodes. The list includes dramas and comedies.)
The gang goes to the local bar/restaurant to celebrate after Tony (Tony Danza) wins a fight. They encounter Rev. Jim, (played by Christopher Lloyd, who had previously appeared as the character in an episode in the first season). Jim is a spaced out dope fiend who is only barely aware of reality. If you are familiar with some of the characters that Christopher Lloyd has essayed over the years, you will see bits and pieces of Jim in them.
Lloyd got his start in film by playing one of the patients in the psychiatric hospital in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He continued that trend on many occasions: cast as the "not entirely there" Doc Brown in Back to the Future, playing an obsessive/compulsive patient in The Dream Team, and as the titular character in The Pagemaster.
Before Jim's addition to the already ensemble cast, the show was doing well, but many people, myself included, came to the show because of the nutty antics of Jim. On several occasions his wackiness was the center of the story of the episode. This one has Jim reintroduced from an episode in season 1. The gang, egged on by Elaine and Alex, decide to get Jim a job as a cab driver. The hard part will be getting Louie, the cantankerous boss of the cab company to agree.
Louie initially refuses, in his own inimitable way. "Get rid of him, Nardo. He's a flake." But a surreptitiously dropped drug in his coffee cup. This makes Louie very mellow, and he serenades the garage with his rendition of "Moonlight Bay" and then climbs up on the hood of a cab to sleep it off, shortly after agreeing to let Jim come to work at the cab company, because "everybody works on Moonlight Bay."
The ultimate test of the greatness comes at the end of the episode, where Jim and the gang go to help Jim take his driver's test to get his hack license. Rather than go into detail, I present you with this scene in it's entirety:
Jim would go on, as I said, to be a regular cast member of the show, essaying many great performances. Check out some others, at least the season one episode "Paper Marriage" which introduced us to the Rev. Jim.
WKRP in Cincinnati: Turkey's Away! [Original airdate: October 30, 1978]
Important Characters in this Episode:
Mr. Carlson (Gordon Jump)
Les Nessman (Richard Sanders)
Andy Travis (Gary Sandy)
Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner)
Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman)
(the rest of the cast did appear in this episode, but were mostly in support of the major story line)
(This episode ranked #40 in the previously mentioned listing.)
Mr. Carlson, the eternally befuddled manager of the radio station WKRP, is, in this episode trying desperately to prove his usefulness and stroke his own power trip ego. Jennifer (Loni Anderson) , the secretary will only let him have one paltry piece of mail, claiming that the rest does not need his attention. He also converses with Herb and Les, both of which are put off guard by his exuberant interest in their ongoing jobs.
He moves on to look in on Johnny, as he is the on-air DJ at the time. (Speaking of another character who is not entirely "all there"...) Here's an interesting note: When the show was on the air, the music was genuine real songs by real artists, but when it went to DVD, for some reason the DVD version contains a different track in many of the scenes. Not entirely sure why that is. This one always gets to me because this scene is shorter on the DVD. And I'll explain. Carlson wanders in looks about and leaves on the DVD. But in the original airing, Johnny is playing the track "Dogs" from the Pink Floyd Animals LP. Carlson asks Johnny "Do I hear dogs barking?" To which Johnny responds "I do."
Everyone ends up approaching Andy since he is the one sane head in the group, complaining of Carlson's interference. Andy tries to be the mediator telling them that whatever Carlson is planning it's for the good of the station.
Carlson gets into high gear by creating a promotion plan that he will only reveal some of the details to Les and Herb. Andy, as programming director is left out in the dark. As is Johnny and the rest of the staff. But you can feel the exuberance that Mr. Carlson has for his pet project. The show really takes off with Les Nessman giving a live man on the street report.
The plan, as it unfolds, is to drop live turkeys from a helicopter. Of course, this being a comedy, things don't go exactly as planned... Once again, I present the last 5 minutes of the show which always has me rolling on the floor.
This is a special exclusive for the blogathon. I hope to get a movie review on this weekend too, but don't count on it kiddies. Old man winter snuck up on me and hit me in the back of the head with a bowling ball.