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STUDIO: Sony Pictures
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 482 minutes
Commentaries on select episodes
with cast and crew
One Man NewsRadio Season 5
and “The Lost Episode”
It’s news on the radio by way of TV.
Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, Jon Lovitz.
Season 5 picks up after the tragic death of Phil Hartman. Considering that the show had been bounced around on the schedule like a pinball and was always teetering on the brink of cancellation, that seems like a minor miracle today. I must admit that I was never a regular viewer. But from what I did see, although the show was a true ensemble cast, we all know that Hartman’s Bill McNeal was the petty, egocentric, and comedic backbone of the show. This fifth season without him was different, but in many ways, still the same. For one thing, the zaniness of some of the stories didn’t change. The show’s atmosphere remained the same, with the chief change being the replacement of Bill’s acidity with Max Lewis’ weak-willed ineptitude, self confidence deficit and lack of professionalism.
Episodes of Season 5 included “Bill Moves On”, where the characters deal with Bill’s loss, which is attributed to a heart attack. Lovitz came on in the following episode, “Meet The Max Lewis,” where it’s revealed that he’s been fired from 37 broadcasting jobs in 20 years and only got the job because he was a friend of Bill’s. “Stinkbutt” has Dave fighting to hang a strange painting in the lobby from Joe and Beth, and Matthew starts to dress like Lisa. There are a trilogy of episodes, “Jail,” “The Lam,” and “Clash of the Titans,” where Jimmy is accused of being hijacker D.B. Cooper and arrested. Meanwhile, his slick corporate nemesis, Johnny Jonnson (Patrick Warburton, only a half a step a way from Puddyness), swoops in to help convict him and take over his empire. Everyone is eventually put off by Johnny’s evilness, except for Max, who becomes his lapdog, and Lisa, to whom he proposes. In the two-part series finale, Jimmy retires, sells the station and tries to convince a member of the station to come to New Hampshire with him.
NewsRadio is a likeable enough sitcom, although the writing style and portrayed reality was more than a little juvenile. However, there’s no doubt that the loss of Hartman was a serious blow to the show’s tenuous viability, as well as its creative process. I’ve never been the biggest Jon Lovitz fan, but I respect that he came on the show to fill in for his friend and try to help keep it going.
The episodes look fine, although they’re in TV standard, with English Dolby Stereo. Strangely enough, the only subtitles are in Portuguese. There are commentaries on several episodes by Stephen Root, Andy Dick and creator Paul Samms and various crew. There’s also a couple of quickie bizarre features where Brian Kelley, one of the show’s writers does a one-man version of Season 5 and another of “The Lost Episode,” that were production in-jokes they used to stick on the end of season gag reels. If they were in-jokes, they should have stayed that way, because these are beyond lame. Finally, there’s a 20-minute gag reel to round out the offerings.