Scum of the Earth WKRP in Cincinnati


Arguably the second-funniest episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. In Hoodlum Rock, the station, looking to better promote its new rock & roll format, decides to promote a concert by an emerging punk band from England called Scum of the Earth. Real-life glam rocker (and later TV actor) Michael Des Barres portrays lead singer Dog.

At first, the plan was to portray them in typical punk garb: ripped clothes, safety pins, and odd haircuts. Understandable for the time but also a bit hackneyed and not very believable. According to Josh Weinstein, who directed a documentary about Des Barres, the singer suggested to the show's creator and executive producer Hugh Wilson that the band instead dress in suits. Wilson quickly agreed. It was then determined that the band was playing a new subgenre of punk called "hoodlum rock," which is, as one of the band members explains, "several cuts below punk rock."

It worked, as the band didn't look ridiculous or come off as just a trio of actors portraying a punk rock band. It also further added to the joke. Des Barres and the other band members (played by Peter Ebling and Jim Henderson, the latter a drummer in real life, not an actor) were well into their 30s, and it was subtly suggested when they were interviewed by Venus Flytrap that they just wanted to attract screaming young girls to their concerts and physically attack the audience. Venus wasn't sure if they were serious. “Come to the show and find out, Henderson ominously replies.

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