We got rid of all our non-basic cable and now ironically, I seem to be finding more stuff to watch on TV. There’s a channel that shows movies all day and a channel that shows sitcoms all day and what else do you need (as long as you still have Netflix, Redbox, your local library, a collection of your own and the ever expanding universe of YouTube)? I guess I’m not going to miss all of those cipher channels stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts after all.
Anyway, the other night I was flipping through my wonderfully limited choices and I came across an old episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI that I instantly remembered from my youth. In it, the crew of the radio station is hired to sing a jingle for a funeral home. I’m not sure if it was the first episode I ever saw but it was definitely the first one that struck me (the second one that struck me involved turkeys). Part of its ingraining power on me I’m sure is thanks to the fact that involves a jingle and jingles by design are meant to get under your skin.
More importantly though, the jingle in question mocks death and as a young person who had serious issues with the concept, I found it hilarious, as if some infallible bully of mine was being roasted. I tend to closely connect my appreciation for this type black humor to my love of horror. It’s always soothing to whistle past the graveyard and there’s something cathartic about minimalizing the second biggest thing that will ever happen to you. In any case, this ditty has been worming through my noggin all week…
Doesn’t that Henry Kane looking mo-fo mortician, the brilliantly named “Mr. Ferryman” (Don’t Pay The Ferryman!) look familiar to you? I looked him up and that guy, FRED STUTHMAN played the horrible dead ghoul dad who gets his face slashed in THE SENTINEL! What’s more, FRED started his acting career as Chicago TV horror host “Jeeper’s Creeper”!
This would not be a complete “The Horror of..” segment if I did not go through the WKRP cast’s contributions to our beloved genre so here goes…
GARY SANDY (Andy Travis) was in TROLL (1986)
GORDON JUMP (Arthur ‘Big Guy’ Carlson) was not only in the kindertraumiest episode of DIFF’RENT STROKES “The Bicycle Man,” he was also in the awesome TV-movie MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS (1981)
HOWARD HESSEMAN (Dr. Johnny Fever) was in ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN II (2009)
FRANK BONNER (Herb Tarlek)’s acting debut was in the cult classic EQUINOX (1970)
RICHARD SANDERS (Less Nessman) was in the ANNA FARIS post-SCREAM slasher LOVER’s LANE (2000)
TIM REID (Venus Flytrap) was of course, in the TV mini-Series IT (1990)
The ladies of WKRP sadly skipped the horror trail altogether but…JAN SMITHERS (Bailey Quarters) did star alongside P.J. SOLES in OUR WINNING SEASON the same year SOLES was in HALLOWEEN (1978) and LONI ANDERSON (Jennifer Marlowe) was married to BURT REYNOLDS star of the beyond horrifying RENT-A-COP (1987)!