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RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 482 min.
• Cast & crew commentaries
• Blooper reel
• One-Man Newsradio
• One-man Newsradio: The Lost Episode
Baby, have you ever wondered? Wondered whatever became of me?
Dave Foley (Thank God You’re Here), Maura Tierney (Scotland, PA), Stephen Root (From the Earth to the Moon), Vicki Lewis (Pushing Tin), Joe Rogan (The Man Show), Andy Dick (The Ben Stiller Show), Jon Lovitz (Jumpin’ Jack Flash)
Season 5 opens with the WNYX gang returning from Bill McNeal’s funeral: apparently, their irrascible anchorman died of a heart attack over the summer. The stunned staffers gamely go through the motions for one more year: Dave’s exasperation with Matthew (Dick) gives way to true hatred, a villain with designs on Jimmy’s empire steals Lisa’s heart, and Beth (Lewis) wears swimsuits to work. The station is threatened with closure yet again, and Jimmy (Root) contemplates a move to New Hampshire.
"Fight the power!"
Key episodes: in Lucky Burger Lisa’s competitive streak disrupts her work on an undercover story; Noise, Dave lowers his blood pressure and becomes an ineffectual boss; Flowers For Matthew, the titular office idiot acquires wit and intelligence, but only temporarily. Boston finds Lisa receiving questionable diction advice, and guest star Tiffani-Amber Theissen drives the guys crazy in Assistant. Multi-episode arcs, often a symptom of writer fatigue, show an increase from previous years. Episodes named after objects that happened to be lying around the writers’ room, a longtime Newsradio staple, experience a decline.
Generally speaking, the people we work with aren’t our friends. Or family. And yet, most of us spend more time with them, and get to know them better, than anyone else. This might also be said of the ‘people’ we watch on TV—maybe that’s why there are so many workplace sitcoms.
Maura just couldn’t stay mad at the Hollow Elephant Man.
Newsradio (1994-1999) was one of the better ones, and I think that’s due not only to its talented cast but also to its view of office relationships. The show made its point early on when, having introduced us to a stock mismatched couple in Dave (Foley) and Lisa (Tierney), the writers opted out of playing a Moonstruck-style will-they-or-won’t-they game and just had them hook up in episode 2. By Season 4, said relationship was long dead, leaving in its place the unavoidable awkwardness of ex-lovers who have everything in common but a future together. Even as the tone of the show edged ever further towards out-and-out slapstick, that cold pill of realism remained.
Nobody would have blamed the Newsradio team if they’d just decided to call it quits after the 1997-98 season. Following costar Phil Hartman’s senseless death, their choice to soldier on is largely a tribute to him, and the show addresses his passing with taste and humor. There are some inevitable changes to the group dynamic: Dave must look to guest stars to challenge his authority; Matthew transfers his hero-worshipping tendencies from character to character; and despite the introduction of replacement newsreader Max (Lovitz), the show seems to have less to do with the actual workings of a radio station than ever. When Johnny Johnson (Patrick Warburton) arrives, brandishing silver tongue and evil plan, one can sense the writers dusting off the grandiose turns of phrase they had previously cultivated for Hartman.
A sneak peek at my Shanghai Surprise review
Anyone else sense that the sun is setting on the Age of Bonus Commentary? If you’ve heard the tracks on previous Newsradio sets, expect more of the same: writers forgetting which episode is which, actors talking about their careers instead of the onscreen action, readings from fan mail filling the dead spots. Would it kill them to focus?
As a guest commentarian, Stephen Root is the exception. His observations, particularly regarding the end of the show, are thoughtful and perceptive but we don’t hear from him enough.
One-Man Newsradio is an off-hours goof in which staff writer Brian Kelly portrays the Season 5 characters in a True lampoon; The Lost Episode is the original version, which got left off of the Season 1&2 box set. Although the case advertises ‘deleted scenes’, there are none to be found.
"Welcome to Rear Factor."