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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > NewsRadio - The Complete Fourth Season

NewsRadio – The Complete Fourth Season


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Episodes: C+



Phil Hartman was a great comic actor and beyond his brilliance in skit TV, he was amazing on The Simpsons and amusing on NewsRadio, a good show that still straight jacketed his talents, but showed his unique ability to underplay his energy.  Though the show was never an all-time ratings champ, NBC was wise to stick by it and The Complete Fourth Season (1997 – 1998) is as good as the show got.


Taking place at the fictional WNYX radio station, Hartman was anchorman Bill McNeal, or what would happen if Ted Knight’s Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was unscrupulous.  Dave Foley is his sincere but gullible broadcast director, Andy Dick plays the office oaf, Maura Tierney is a producer tying to climb the corporate ladder and Joe Rogan is the goofball handyman who breaks much more than he ever fixes.  Though the show never hit a home run with me, I always enjoyed how watchable it was.  Some of it is leave-your-brain-at-the-door comedy, but not to the point (like most such shows) where it feels more like a quasi-lobotomy.  This set has 22 shows, including a show where they reenact the Titanic’s sinking, an air balloon fiasco and even an Ultimate Fighting match!


The 1.33 X 1 image looks like it might have been shot on film, then (over-)processed on older analog video, the seemingly secondary sources for these transfers except the case claims HD remastering.  Something is wrong then, because the detail issues are odd and problematic throughout.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no surrounds and does not claim such.  Extras include a gag reel, short film and audio commentary tracks on about half of the 22 episodes.  These are usually with behind-the-scenes talent.  The show always has a few laughs and was as good as just about any comedy Sony or NBC had in the 1990s.  It is worth a look.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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