WKRP in Cincinnati: Season 1, Episode 17

Commercial Break (26 Mar. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
7.8
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The biggest account in years just signed with WKRP..."Ferryman's Funerals". The staff creates a jingle and runs commercials for the $600/day account. However, Carlson has second thoughts ... See full summary »

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Title: Commercial Break (26 Mar 1979)

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Storyline

The biggest account in years just signed with WKRP..."Ferryman's Funerals". The staff creates a jingle and runs commercials for the $600/day account. However, Carlson has second thoughts about selling upbeat commercial time to a company trying to sell funeral services to young rock music fans. Written by Jersey73

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Comedy

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26 March 1979 (USA)  »

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Trivia

When it was a new show, WKRP was famous for its inclusion of rock music. It is also infamous for having most of it changed in later airings. One of the songs that Johnny plays in this episode is "Heart of Glass" by Blondie. Its inclusion helped it became a US #1 hit. To thank the production team of WKRP, Chrysalis Records (Blondie's label) sent them a framed gold LP of the album 'Parallel Lines', which contains "Heart of Glass." It can be seen in the bullpen starting from season two. See more »

Quotes

Andy Travis: OK, let me ask you this. Can't we do a cheap-o commercial? I mean, hire professional musicans, but maybe, sing the jingle ourselves?
Venus Flytrap: Can anyone around here sing?
Herbert 'Herb' Tarlek: Any jerk can sing. These are the copy points that you gotta work in to it. OK, now: A: All weather floral arrangements.
Venus Flytrap: What does that mean?
Johnny 'Dr. Fever' Caravella: That's a plastic flowers.
Herbert 'Herb' Tarlek: B: Maintenance-free artificial turf.
Johnny 'Dr. Fever' Caravella: Plastic Grass.
Herbert 'Herb' Tarlek: C: They accept all major credit cards.
Johnny 'Dr. Fever' Caravella: That would be your plastic money.
Herbert 'Herb' Tarlek: Plus, six convenient locations, open weekends...
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Soundtracks

Heart of Glass
Written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein
Performed by Blondie
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User Reviews

Some day you're gonna buy it!
22 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Bailey and Les get up in Tarlek's mix when he makes one unsuccessful sales phone call then tries to head out to a porn theatre to watch a 3-D bondage film - at 11 AM!

They are able to detain him long enough for him to be at his desk to accept a fateful call. A funeral home chain wants to do business with WKRP. Tarlek invites the owner Randall Ferryman - a man who looks like the Grim Reaper without the robe or scythe - to the station to talk details. Ferryman wants a saturation buy i.e. (in this case) thirty commercials (set to a limp rock jingle) aired every single day.

How do you tastefully market funerals? How do you do it without it seeming as though your business depends upon the morbid prospect of mass mortality? Ferryman does it like a burger franchise including drive-thru mourning. If the crowd looks a little sparse at your deceased loved ones eulogy you can rent mourners. There is even a group discount package.

Resident physician Dr.Fever, ever the expert on normalcy, diagnoses it as "deeply weird". Nevertheless all the regular employees get roped into the insanity of making this jingle written and produced by Venus which Bailey, Jennifer and Les sing on with Fever doing the voice-over. The slogan is "Some day you're gonna buy it" - catchy given the proposition i.e. buy your funeral plot now to hedge inflation, a financially sound idea when pondering what is an inevitable purchase. It ends with Bailey, Jennifer and Les cheerfully singing "Bye, bye!".

Travis, usually the voice of reason has evidently taken a big ol' swig of the WKRP Kool-Aid and beams with pride at the job his team has done. Fever muses that he can finally bail his dog out of the pound and buy drapes with his expected pay-raise.

This is an instance on the show where the Big Guy lets positive traits in his personality get in the way of whatever success he or the station might have. He cares about how he plays the game more than if he loses.

He takes Travis aside and tells him that where he is from the commercial is in bad taste (I'm not altogether sure where it would be in GOOD taste) and announces he has cancelled the $18,000 a month account. Herb, who for once has performed admirably and to the satisfaction of all of his colleagues is dumbfounded. But the Big Guy stands by the decision even when Ferryman threatens to sue.

How choosy can WKRP afford to be when it comes to sponsors? They have been dropped by clients like Rolling Thunder European Regulatory Tonic and Little Bo Peep Safety Shoes. The station's main sponsor is Red Wigglers - "The Cadillac of Worms" which employs the alternate slogan "We're Hooked!".

In the pilot episode the station's main sponsor was Shady Acres Rest Home "Call Today Because There Might Not Be A Tomorrow" clues us in on what WKRP's listenership is i.e. senior citizens so decrepit they are awaiting death.

I think that seeing Les singing in this episode is what led to online rumours that Richard Sanders who played him is the one who really sings the title theme heard at the beginning of each episode.


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