WKRP in Cincinnati: Season 1, Episode 4

Hoodlum Rock (9 Oct. 1978)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
8.2
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WKRP promotes a concert for the well dressed and spoken, and gleefully violent, rock band, Scum of the Earth.

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Title: Hoodlum Rock (09 Oct 1978)

Hoodlum Rock (09 Oct 1978) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Steve Pievy
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Sir Charles 'Dog' Weatherbee
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Blood
Jim Henderson ...
Sir Nigel Weatherbee
Chuck Waters ...
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Storyline

In an attempt to relate to the new rock audience, WKRP books an up and coming British hoodlum rock band called "Scum of the Earth" to play in Cincinnati. Things get crazy when the staff discovers the band members are out-of-control on and off the air and eventually threaten to not perform. Incidentally, the difference between hoodlum rock and punk rock??? Punk rockers dress deplorably and don't physically attack their audience. Written by Jersey73

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Comedy

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9 October 1978 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real-life rock group Detective performed the music for the fictional band "Scum of the Earth" in the episode "Hoodlum Rock". See more »

Goofs

There are no sounds for most of the instruments seen on stage. See more »

Quotes

Blood: [the three members of Scum of the Earth have entered the dressing room, where Andy, Johnny and Venus are waiting for them] I suppose you've heard that the three of us have decided that we're not going on this evening.
Andy Travis: [going toe to toe with the band] Right. The three of us have decided that the three of you ARE going on this evening.
[Everyone looks at Johnny]
Johnny 'Dr. Fever' Caravella: [sighing] Rock and Roll.
[joins Andy and Venus]
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User Reviews

 
The Scum Of The Earth
18 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Ever mindful of the need to publicize WKRP's format shift from easy-listening to album rock, program director Andy Travis is sceptical when Mr.Carlson's old concert promoter friend Steve Pievie shows up to talk about a possible cross-promotion. Pievie, a nerdy little man Mr.Carlson's age couldn't possibly know any of the contemporary bands whose music WKRP plays now, could he?

But as luck (good or the other kind) would have it Pievie has an arrangement with a new band out of England called "The Scum Of The Earth" ("Scum" for short) which is causing a stir so significant that any well-informed, hardworking music industry insider, Travis included has heard of them. Pievie, who books dancing bears and a Dixieland band that plays on horseback insists he can get Scum cheap.

Scum's American tour needs a cross-promotion for mid-western dates including Cincinnati, and Travis is game to take it on despite hearing about their reputation for goonery. Travis, an industry professional has met countless bands in his time who project an aloof, playfully mischievous anti-establishment persona as an aspect of showmanship which bears no resemblance to how they really are.

Travis feels lucky but doesn't ponder what the catch might be or the obvious question - why would any popular band be available to work with WKRP (the 16th ranked station in an 18 station market)? "It's gonna be just the thing we've been looking for!" He declares.

What he, and everyone else at the station, except evidently Dr.Johnny Fever, doesn't realize is that Scum really are thugs and are hiding their impudently violent tendencies behind precisely the notion that people will think it is a cynical affectation. Dr.Fever has been around Rock N' Roll long enough to diagnose the difference but here he was not consulted for a second opinion until the show was booked.

Other local radio stations and promoters are quite possibly on to the antics (And probable criminal records) of Scum frontmen Dog, Blood and Nigel via second-hand gossip from seasoned and dependable music industry contacts that a washed up radio veteran like Fever might also have.

When Scum finally arrive in three-piece suits and conservative ties with the deceptively polite and aristocratic demeanour of English gentry, the staff at WKRP heave a sigh of relief not knowing what a mistake they have made. The non-threatening outward appearance these young tune-smiths have adopted is part of their affectation. Quite possibly it is so they can more effectively attack by surprise. More probably they are simply perpetually prepared for an arraignment.

One of the most side-splittingly funny episodes of what may well have been the best sitcom ever made.

In keeping with the general consistency of the character development in the series Travis is determined to stick to the gameplan and make things come out right never losing sight of his goal of turning WKRP into the most popular radio station in town. His eyes remain fixed upon his objective even if he has to do it with a skeleton crew of incompetent and downright flaky employees as well as contingencies of the most comedically unexpected kind like those offered here.

In this, the fourth episode of the series we see him ready to resort to violence if necessary to further his objective. The series would go on to touch upon some very darkly humorous plot lines like airing a commercial for a funeral home with the slogan "Some day you're gonna buy it" or bombing a shopping mall parking lot with live turkeys.

Here we have a band of goons who will attack an audience of hundreds of their fans as well as throw a little old man out of a moving car and shoot heroin in a DJ booth during a break from an interview. This is the caricature of rock bands and the actors (Michael Des Barres, Peter Elbling and Jim Henderson) portraying Scum milk it for all its worth.

Michael Des Barres fronted L.A. band Detective (Their posters and presskit are seen in Andy's office at the beginning) whom we see performing at the end as Scum. There can never be enough footage of Michael Des Barres, an exceptionally charismatic and distinctive rock vocalist, in live performance and here it very much serves the narrative.

Up until they rock out at the end there is nothing that we have seen which suggests Scum are actually a band beyond the expositional dialogue. In fact up until they take the stage they might as well be three impeccably styled aristocrats who got together so they could attack as a group and back up each others denials afterwards, a cohesive unit made more so by the simple fact that each can incriminate the other two or that two can double-team one.

Some compare this episode to This Is Spinal Tap (1983) but there is no real comparison beyond the spoof view of a hard rock band. Spinal Tap were just a bunch of lovably garish and self-absorbed dummies on a voyage of comeuppance. Scum were evil incarnate looking to foment chaos wherever they went causing maximum physical harm to others whilst avoiding criminal prosecution by cultivating plausible deniability.

Each is an excellent comedic avenue to explore, but the two bands are very different as characters and it is a very different kind of humour.

Actor Peter Elbling who portrayed Scum member Blood has claimed that during rehearsals for the show they originally had Scum dressed like a typical punk band but the humour was not going over so they came up with the idea of having them be upper-class thugs in three-piece suits.

This episode also features Fever's on air musings about the so-called "Cincinnati Triangle".


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