A lot of people have wanted to do this for a long time, and now Jon Lovitz has done it. It also brings up something from the past I wasn't aware of.
At L.A.'s Laugh Factory the other night, Lovitz and Andy Dick got into an argument about Phil Hartman's death and Andy Dick's drug use. Five months before Brynn Hartman shot Phil and herself to death, Dick allegedly gave her cocaine at a house party that Lovitz also attended. Brynn Hartman had been sober for ten years, and now Lovitz blames Dick giving her the cocaine as the reason why she got hooked again and killed Hartman and herself five months later.
I 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.
New TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow (a whole bunch!).
- Batman Beyond - Season 3
- Christy - Complete Series
- Deadliest Catch - Season 1
- Garfield and Friends - An Ode To Odie
- JAG - Season 3
- Justice League Unlimited - Season 2
- Kong: The Animated Series - Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and gift set
- Masters of Horror - Pro Life
- Maude - Season 1
- McHale's Navy - Season 1
- Miami Vice - Season 3 and Season 4
- Mythbusters - Mega Movie Myths
- Newsradio - Final Season
- Run's House - Season 1 and Season 2
- Sleeper Cell - Season 2
- The Wild, Wild West - Season 2
For two reasons. The obvious reason is because Phil Hartman isn't in the picture. Instead, we get Jon Lovitz, who pretty much made the last season of the show unwatchable (except for a couple of episodes). He was really out of place as a regular cast member on the show (though he was great in the guest roles he had earlier in the series), and his character was completely unlikable.
But the second reason I'm not thrilled with the pic is that the original artwork on the box actually had Phil Hartman on it (you can see it here). The cast was standing in front of a picture of Hartman. In the new version, the cast is standing in front of a picture of New York City. Yeah, Hartman wasn't in the last season, but wouldn't that have been a nice nod to Hartman in the final set? The first episode of the season is about Bill McNeal's death, after all.
The fifth season set will be released on March 20.
I have to admit, I didn't watch NewsRadio too much when it originally aired. Sure, I'd catch an episode now and again, and always thought the show was very smart and very funny, but it wasn't until recently that I've been able to go back and catch up on the show through repeats. I do recall, however, that after Phil Hartman's death in 1998 I watched the show even less. It was hard to imagine the show without him, and while I like Jon Lovitz just fine, for me the series ended with Hartman's death.
The fifth and final season, which comes out on DVD March 20, begins with the episode "Bill Moves On" in which the team mourns the death of Bill McNeal, the arrogant radio personality portrayed by Hartman. I think many fans consider this the worst season, which is understandable. Still, if you're like me you hate to have any kind of gap in your DVDs, and you'll probably purchase it anyway. The set will retail for $39.95.
Last year I introduced the term "fanesia" on this blog. It's a word that means "fan amnesia," those moments of a TV show that you simply forget ever happened, because they're illogical, hurt the show, or just make you feel bad and/or angry. I think it's time for another five:
1. Toby was the leak (The West Wing): I don't know what happened here. Whether the character was written off because actor Richard Schiff wanted to leave or NBC wanted to cut some payroll, the way it happened was a real kick in the stomach to longtime fans of the show. Not only that Toby would leak info about a secret military plane (he wouldn't), but that President Bartlet would just fire him so coldly and bring up their history in such a nasty way. Sure, these two butted heads many times, but it was always out of caring and love for each other. Great to see Bartlet pardon him as his last act as President and invite him to the opening of the library, but still. Aaron Sorkin must have thrown something at his TV when this happened.
In my mind, Toby just quit the White House to go teach at Columbia.
It's Halloween, and even though I'm going to be handing out Halloween candy all night (translation: I haven't gotten a trick or treater in 10 years so I'll be eating all the candy myself as I sit on the couch), I'm going to find some time for TV watching.
I think I'll start off with something funny, so I'll put in that NewsRadio episode where Jimmy doesn't want to invite the WNYX gang to the annual Halloween party because nobody (except Matthew, of course) gets into the spirit. Then after that I'm thinking of watching either Fright Night or the original Night Stalker movie with Darren McGavin. Oh, and there's a new Criss Angel Mindfreak that might be worth checking out.
Of course, I have to squeeze in Standoff in there (new time, 8pm), since I'm reviewing it, but am I the only one who is losing patience with this show?
What is everyone else watching tonight?
Oh, I wish I had this on tape.
Andy Dick was the guest on Martha Stewart's show today, and it was...surreal. When she announced that he was on the show, the first thing I thought of was, who booked him? She's actually going to have a conversation with Andy Dick? They're actually going to let him handle sharp knives and glue guns? This was going to be some interesting daytime television.
I was going to say that "everyone is entitled to their own opinion" about this roundup of the best TV show DVD sets that The Onion's AV Club has up today. But then I took a look at a couple of the sets they picked (and the many that they left out) and I want to change my line to "this is a rather stupid column."
First off, they have the balls to say that the fourth season of NewsRadio is the best the show ever had. Um, are they crazy? The season that they had Dave and Lisa switch jobs? The season they had that new young guy come on the show? The year that Khandi Alexander left? That's ridiculous. The third season is the best season of NewsRadio.
They also picked "Man In A Hurry" as the best Andy Griffith Show episode? A fine episode, but the best in the whole series? Bah.
And where is The Dick Van Dyke Show? Those are damn good sets.
There's always something great to read at Ken Levine's blog, and this past week was no exception. He has a really funny (and really useful) list of situations and scenes that aspiring writers should never include in their TV scripts. My favorite:
Don't hinge your show on stunt casting. I read a "Becker" where former President Jimmy Carter came in for a check-up and offered dating advice. Yeah, President Carter gets his physicals in the Bronx. And yeah, President Carter is always available to guest on a sitcom and advise a character to say whatever is necessary to get laid.
Of course, we've all seen even worse things actually make it on the air, but this is a great list.
I couldn't have been more wrong. Turns out Maura's getting a divorce from her husband of 13 years, actor Billy Morrissette. The reason is the old favorite, irreconcilable differences. This means that Maura has been married since before she started NewsRadio, which was when my (and likely Bob's) crush on her started. Actually, now that I think about it, I do recall something about a husband somewhere down the line. I guess I just wanted to block it out.
(S01E07) Along with Mary Tyler Moore and Amy Sedaris, I've always had a crush on Janeane Garofalo. I remember being happy when this episode came on, since I had loved her standup and her work on The Ben Stiller Show (with Andy Dick). She plays Nancy, Dave's ex-girlfriend who seems nice on the outside but is really kind of a nut. She comes to New York City to be with Dave, who never quite told her that they were officially broken up.
Meanwhile, Jimmy meets a business and technology "visionary" named Tom at a conference and arranges for him to be interviewed by Bill, but that doesn't turn out quite as Jimmy or Dave had hoped...
Meanwhile, Dave discovers that the station is $6000 overbudget, and he does some investigating to figure out what's going on.
(S01E05) This episode has one of my favorite scenes of any sitcom ever. It's a scene that probably wasn't even that funny on paper, but Phil Hartman makes hysterical.
The plot: while Jimmy gives Dave the task of deciding who gets what bonus this year (and who gets "the shaft" - nothing), Bill has to contend with fellow employees leaving food and drink on his desk.
(S01E04) For some reason, I think this might have been the first episode of NewsRadio that I ever watched. That seems right to me, and I think I've seen it more times than any other NewsRadio episode, except maybe the episode where Matthew tries to get Dave to let him do a story about Dilbert.
This is the episode where we really see Dave getting in over his head as news director and his employees trying to take advantage of him. During a subway crisis, Dave wants the whole team to snap into action and cover the incident, but everyone is too obsessed with the new desk that Dave got Matthew.
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