3 January 2016 | keithgordonca
a mixed bag of good, bad and in between
Like almost everyone who tuned in, we were fans of the original show. Bill Dial (the original engineer, Bucky Dornster) was a major creative force behind the scenes in both, but was working in a different environment this time round.
The new WKRP had paid great attention to the physical details of the sets, and brought back 3 strong cast members. Unfortunately that was less than half of the original ensemble, and despite what other reviewers have said, few of them seemed to work. French Stewart as Razor and Nancy Braithwaite were the only standouts, as they were drawn as broadly comedic characters like most everyone in the original WKRP. Claire, Dana, Jack and even Art Jr. were just too boring and plain, forcing the best story lines to lean on Art, Herb and Les too much, or to bring in guests from the first series.
The 2 seasons were very different as well, since 4 main cast members from season 1 were replaced without explanation heading into season 2. This disjointed nature rose towards the end of season 2 with Donovan being killed off apparently in the second last episode, then zero mention in the final episode, while Mona just never appeared after the episode in LA with Johnny. So the overall story arc was a problem, along with the casting.
Now that said, there were still moments of strong TV here, particularly as Herb and Les still are the wacky nuts they always were. Nancy provides a great foil for Herb, showing the reverse of the Jennifer scenario. He gets a taste of his own medicine for a change. When Johnny guests it is always a compelling tale, and the Hollywood version of WKRP mimics the "Real Families" episode from the original to great effect.
Hopefully now that the show has finally appeared on the torrent and streaming sites it will be possible for more fans to rediscover this interesting, albeit flawed, bit of TV history.