"We're not going be here forever together," billionaire and WNYX station owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root) says at one point to the cracked NewsRadio
team. "Eventually, we're going to have to move on with our lives." That time came too soon for this endearingly goofy series, which could not overcome the shocking and tragic murder of perhaps its most beloved ensemble member, nor network indifference and low ratings. The fifth was News Radio
's last and least season, but only by this series' own high loopy standards. In fact, many years on, these episodes have aged surprisingly well. The heartbreaking season opener, which takes place following the funeral of news anchor Bill McNeal (said to be felled by a heart attack), honors the memory of the irreplaceable Phil Hartman with genuine affection and humor. Andy Dick, in particular, is movingly understated as Matthew, who idolized Bill and is in denial about his death. The second episode introduces Jon Lovitz, who costarred with Hartman on Saturday Night Live
, as the hapless Max Lewis, who has been fired from 37 different stations, but was a friend of McNeal's. "It's not about qualifications, it's about chemistry," James advises news director Dave (Dave Foley). "Maybe hiring a friend of [Bill's] will help us ease over this rough patch." It's true, as one character states, that "no one can replace Bill," but after a few episodes, Lovitz becomes a seamless member of the ensemble.
Some of this season's most memorable episodes subvert these singularly weird characters. In "Flowers for Matthew," a new "smart drink" transforms Matthew, the office's "silly little monkey," into "Smart Matthew" (or "Smathhew"). In "Noise," high-strung Dave mellows out after Joe (Joe Rogan) builds him a white-noise machine. A story arc that will reverberate throughout the season finds Jimmy James on the lam after the FBI accuses him of being the legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper. Patrick Warburton, who like Lovitz simply sounds funny, guest stars as James' arch nemesis, Johnny Johnson, who has designs on his business empire, and later, on reporter Lisa (Maura Tierney). Another memorable guest star is Tiffani-Amber Thiessen as Lisa's bombshell new assistant, who devastates brainy Dave and brawny Joe. NewsRadio deftly melded physical comedy, out-of-left-field situations, sparkling dialogue, and bizarre grace notes (the wacky outfits of Vicki Lewis's "red-haired temptress," Beth). What makes this set especially News-worthy are the extras, including 10 entertaining commentaries with cast and crew members and a generous gag reel. To quote Bill McNeal: "Salut!" --Donald Liebenson
Tune in for another sidesplitting look behind the scenes at radio station WNYX. In the final season of the series, on-air newsman Max Louis joins the staff after the unexpected death of beloved anchor Bill McNeal. Regulars Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis and Joe Rogan welcome Jon Lovitz to the wackiest news team in New York and deliver all the on-the-air/off-the-wall hilarity you've come to expect! Includes every episode from the hysterical fifth and final season, featuring very special guest appearances by Patrick Warburton (TV's "Seinfeld"), Adam West (TV's "Batman") and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (TV's "Beverly Hills 90210").