WKRP in Cincinnati: Season 1, Episode 22

Preacher (4 Jun. 1979)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
8.0
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The Rev. Little Ed Pembrook's Sunday morning religious show is creating problems with the religious community. It seems the Rev (a former wrestler) is selling all sorts of religious ... See full summary »

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Title: Preacher (04 Jun 1979)

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Episode complete credited cast:
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Michael Keenan ...
Rev. Little Ed Pembrook
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Rev. Drinkwater
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Father Riley
Jeremiah Morris ...
Rabbi Fishbein
Suzanne Kent ...
Merciful Sister of Melody #3
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Merciful Sister of Melody #1
Cynthia Szigeti ...
Merciful Sister of Melody #2
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Storyline

The Rev. Little Ed Pembrook's Sunday morning religious show is creating problems with the religious community. It seems the Rev (a former wrestler) is selling all sorts of religious oriented merchandise. Even though everyone at WKRP is frightened of him, Andy & Carlson finally get him to move his show to 6AM on Sundays, shorten it, and stop selling stuff. How'd they do it? They threatened to call the IRS. Written by Jersey73

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4 June 1979 (USA)  »

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Quotes

Andy Travis: [Andy has finished putting the list of conditions for Little Ed to continue his broadcasts] ... no merchandise of any sort.
Rev. Little Ed Pembrook: But I got a whole warehouse full of that stuff! I have more than 600 units of "The World is Coming to an End" lawn furniture alone!
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We Can't Have Crazy People On The Air!
20 August 2011 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

The Cincinnati Inter-Religious Council has an issue with the station. More to the point it has an issue with Reverend "Little Ed" Pembroke (Michael Keenan), host of a hit broadcast. While he is one of the more popular broadcast personalities at WKRP, Reverend Pembroke is a polarizing figure and the station receives more complaints about him than anything else including other radio personalities and the change in format.

His Sunday morning evangelical revival hour is a holdover from before Travis got there. Pembroke's show doesn't fit with the new format but worst of all he is crassly vending his line of religious themed products over the air very much putting any kind of religious message in the context of a sales pitch.

Travis has been trying to get rid of Pembroke from the start but the Big Guy won't have it. He is afraid of Pembroke, an eccentric former pro wrestler of considerable size who is constantly making implied threats of physical violence against the devil and just about everybody else.

Travis is left to rein in Pembroke and get him to make changes to his show. He hopes the preacher won't get him in a "Bulgarian headlock" (Huh?) and throw him into a soda pop machine.

The compromise agreement they end up with leaves Travis with one of the most bizarre broadcast schedules in radio. His morning drive time with Fever is straight ahead album rock with cutting edge banter which is what his plan was. But it is a catch-22 when Fever shoots his mouth or leaves dead air which he does in this episode when he tries to put the moves on Jennifer deserting the broadcast booth.

Travis has Venus doing a kind of R&B/Soul show with a kind of romance banter generally reserved for broadcasts which feature acts like Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass i.e. acts which aren't rock, soft or otherwise. There are various failed attempts at talk radio. The newscasts feature solid agricultural reports with utterly weird attempts at current events coverage by Les. He also has this bogus religious broadcast with Pembroke.

WKRP, as a result, is a completely different radio station depending on when you tune in. The show makes statements on different kinds of radio in general by having such a mixed-bag format. The way it ties into the narrative is having it explained as Travis never having a full effect on the direction of the station. WKRP is a mutation between the vision Travis has and the reality that the situation will allow for.

What the viewer may eventually get an appreciation for is the acting of Gary Sandy in the role of Travis. Travis is almost never unlikeable during the entire run of the series and he plays perfect straight man to the insanity he encounters but the character has Machiavellian tendencies which we see play out in this episode.

When the Inter-Religious Council presents itself Travis seizes the moment, leading them past Jennifer, to confront the Big Guy about Pembroke when he knows that Carlson doesn't want to be bothered especially not about Pembroke.

Afterwards Travis looks through Pembroke's contract for a way to void it. His solution of threatening Pembroke with an IRS audit (Bailey's idea, though she scolds Travis for agreeing) is also pretty hardball.

Then there is how Travis handled the power structure at WKRP. He could go to Mama Carlson and she would likely see his side but he would rather keep her as far out of the loop as possible. He doesn't even threaten Carlson with bringing her into the dispute. Not necessarily because it would undercut Carlson but because his mother is that much of an x-factor on the show.

Written by Bill Dial who portrayed sound engineer Buck Dornster in two WKRP episodes.


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