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October 24, 2014

DVD Review: NewsRadio: The Complete Fifth Season

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 23rd 2007 6:06PM

NewsRadio season 5I think it can be universally agreed that the fifth season of NewsRadio - the final season - was by far the worst season of the series. Not only was Phil Hartman killed during the hiatus, but another cast member (Jon Lovitz) came on board and just didn't fit in to what the rest of the group had built over the previous four seasons.

The season kicks off with the "Bill Moves On" episode, where the gang has just returned from Bill's funeral (he died of a heart attack), and everyone mocks Dave's 2 hour eulogy. Matthew doesn't really believe Bill is dead, everyone thinks Lisa is drunk, and Catherine (Khandi Alexander) returns to the show for one episode. This is one of the better episodes of the last season, because it's important to the show's history and (as is revealed on one of the commentaries), they didn't really rehearse it or do any run throughs. It was hard enough getting through it once on tape night. The tears you see are real. It ends with everyone taking an item off Bill's desk to remember him. Jimmy takes the whole desk. A nice tribute.

Speaking of commentaries, the ones featured here are pretty good, though it's really too bad more of the cast wasn't available to do them. The only actors who appear with producers and writers are Stephen Root and Andy Dick. It would have been really great to have the entire cast gathered for "Bill Moves On," but maybe they couldn't all get together for it and they decided not to do one at all rather than have just a few cast members chatting (or maybe it would have been too hard). Though the "Lucky Burger" commentary does have a confirmation from producers and Stephen Root that Jon Lovitz's rhythm just didn't fit with everyone else's.

Episode-wise, their seems to be a weird vibe to this season (because of Lovitz and other factors), but there are some good episodes here and there. The episodes revolving around Matthew, the one where he is given a smart drink by Joe and becomes intelligent and the one where he becomes a punk rocker because he feels he's getting old, are classics. But that whole plot with Johnny (Patrick Warburton) taking over the company from Jimmy and romancing Lisa and then becoming homeless and then actually marrying Lisa...ugh. It infects the whole season and was a really bad decision.

Thankfully, for the final ep, they get away from that plot and focus on the retirement of Jimmy and his move to New Hampshire. He comes back to convince everyone to come with him, and they all agree and leave the station. All except Dave, of course, who thinks they're being ridiculous. The last show has Dave sitting in his office, and he suddenly sees Matthew hiding under his desk. Matthew is going to stay behind with Dave and the two of them can run the station together.

There was actually a chance that NBC was going to renew the series, and the next season would have had the gang (including Dave and Matthew) living in New Hampshire. Sort of a reboot for the show. I have no idea how that would have been, but it never happened.

NewsRadio is one of my favorite shows of all-time. I really didn't like the surreal bent the show took in the last two years though. I prefer the first three seasons, when it was more grounded in reality, with splashes of odd bits, and when it seemed to have a heart and it wasn't just all craziness. But even so-so NewsRadio is preferable to the best of many other sitcoms.

Other extras include a loooooong gag reel and those "One Man NewsRadio" spots.

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Adam

Are you Doobie Keebler????

March 25 2007 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

I loved Jon Lovitz on Newsradio. I think he added a bit of madness to the proceedings, much like Hartman did with his character. He's an instant foil to any character just as with Matthew. Beth was the only low point of this season for me. She was relegated to nothing more than just being on the sidelines in every story. Even those involving her, Lovitz overshadowed her completely.

March 24 2007 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I hate Jon Lovitz, that was a terrible choice for a new member. I don't see why they needed that in the first place. I don't remember watching any of the 5th season because I stopped watching after a few season 4 episodes.

I would have loved to see what they would have done with the "spinoff" thing.

March 23 2007 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BillS

Haven't got the last season yet on DVD, but thanks to A&E Daybreaks back in my college days, I pretty much remember every episode by heart.

I'm 50/50 on Johnny Johnson. I hated the Wino/Wedding set, but I liked the first three (Jail, The Lam, Clash of the Titans). "Are you Dooby Keebler?" is one of my favorite Newsradio lines ever). I also dug the two Matthew-centric ones you mentioned (Flowers for Matthew, Tower) plus another (Padded Suit, in which Dave Matthew gets beat up by a little girl at a Natalie Merchant concert, so Joe teaches Max and him to fight), and the last two (Retirement, New Hampshire). The rest were weak by Newsradio standards, but your second to last line, Bob, is dead on.

And while I agree that Jon Lovitz wasn't right for the show, I remain a fan. He was great in his two previous guest appearances, because he worked so well against Phil Hartman, but he never had that chemistry with the other cast members.

http://popculturejunk.blogspot.com/

March 23 2007 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Interesting, I find the whole Johnny Johnson story to be the only redeeming quality of season 5.

March 23 2007 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KP

You can have Seinfeld and Friends. Newsradio is probably my favorite sitcom of all time (Barney Miller is up there too). Sure, the last season was a let down after the genius of the first four, bit it's still better than just about anything else.

I can get a daily NR fix by PVR-ing the lunchtime run on TBS, but I'm going to pick up this last DVD set anyway (just in case they switch to all Raymond, all the time). Besides, I'm a completist.

March 23 2007 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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