36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Season 5: worth buying if you are a fan of the show? Of course. Hartman was a hard act to follow. Lovitz is a very funny man but probably was not the best fit for this show. He doesn't really have a full character other than just being "Jon Lovitz". Is that the writers' fault, Lovitz' fault, or both?
Is is at funny as previous seasons? No. But many of the faults with Season 5 have nothing to do with Lovitz, so we can't place all the blame on him. As with most sitcoms, there are going to be some seasons that are better than the others. Season 5 of "NewsRadio" featured some new writers and producers, and they don't really do much worse than the original writers did in the early years.
As with any long-running sitcom, not every episode is a classic, and not every season is the show's best. It just happens that Season 5 of "NewsRadio" happened to be the show's last. Even at its worst it was far better than many of the shows that DIDN'T get cancelled at the end of that year, and shows usually get renewals based on profitability and ratings, not quality. And we already know that even during its best seasons "NewsRadio" was never a ratings juggernaut. So again, we probably shouldn't blame the show's demise on Lovitz or a sub-par (but still very funny) season.
Had "Frasier" been cancelled after its 8th or 9th season, seasons generally regarded as the weakest of the series, we might not look back so fondly on it. Or we might remember it for having gone out with a whimper. It had a chance to rebound and ended on a high note. The powers-that-be killed "NewsRadio", not the writers and not Lovitz.
I was initially reluctant to buy Season 5 because for a long time I'd allowed myself to believe that the entire season was unfunny because Lovitz stepped in to fill the void Hartman left. Eventually I got over that and bought the DVDs.
Glad I did. The show is still funny in Season 5. And bringing in Patrick Warburton or Tiffany-Amber Thiessen to see if it could add an extra spark to the show is no more egregious a crime than when countless other sitcoms did any one of a number of things late in the show's run -- "Mad About You" and "Family Ties" added a baby, "The Brady Bunch" introduced Oliver, "Moonlighting" saw Maddie and David hook up, "Cheers" diffused the sexual tension between Sam and Diane by allowing them to hook up, "Happy Days" introduced a slew of new characters and got really saccharine and boring, etc etc etc etc etc.
"NewsRadio" tried something new and it didn't always work perfectly. Welcome to the world of network television. No one has a crystal ball.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2007
While S5 of NEWSRADIO is still better than most sitcoms, it falls well short of the standard set by previous seasons. Obviously, the loss of Phil Hartman was a big reason for that, but the show could've survived without him and S5 gets off to a good start. The farewell to Bill/Phil found the right mix of humor and sentiment. It was hilarious while still getting you choked up. The following ep was also a treat, with Joe's Year 2000 mishaps(he claims to have a birth certificate with Jesus' real birthdate).
NEWSRADIO was always weird, but S5 crossed over into the realm of ridiculous and absurd. Jimmy's irrational fear of hippies leading to Joe hypnotizing him; Matthew turning 30 and going punk; redecorating the men's room; Jimmy's imposter security expert; the "Freaky Friday" parody; everyone nonsensically moving to New Hampshire; Lisa's wedding to homeless Johnny(ugh!); and the 3-part D.B. Cooper saga...this was either the "Jump the Shark" moment, or it was the ramp and the actual jump was Johnny Johnson returning to marry Lisa. The whole story was crazy, and lazy when you consider how it's resolved(it's like the writer's got tired and used the first insane thing that came to mind), but it also suffered from too much Johnny Johnson and the story went on too long(since when does this show need a 3-parter?).
Johnny Johnson wasn't a bad character so much as he was overdone...unlike Andrea the efficiency expert and Jimmy's nephew Walt, who were around for multiple episodes but weren't featured too much. Also, the first 2 parts exemplified the way almost everyone was written out-of-character...these aren't the same characters that made the show so great.
Jon Lovitz wasn't a good choice to replace Phil Hartman because Lovitz can't act...he just does his "Jon Lovitz" schtick, which is fine for 1 or 2 eps but begins to grate on you. And it doesn't help that Max Lewis is too much like Matthew, and in some cases even weirder.
Other things...Beth stops dressing like The Gap and The Salvation Army had teamed up to create a clothing line, and that's disappointing; there are TWO different "b**ch-slapping" jokes; a litle too much self-awareness on the part of the characters; Tiffany Amber-Thiessen isn't funny; the cinematography is different, with the episodes looking dimmer/darker(although I think this was an NBC thing); and maybe it's just me but there are times where the actors seem ineffectual or exasperated, almost like they realize just how absurd the material is.
Of course there's a lot to like, even eps like "Towers" and "Freaky Friday" that are excessively weird and contrived but have plenty of laughs and tons of energy, but this isn't the same NEWSRADIO as seasons 1-4. I'm sure I'll buy it someday to complete the collection, but it just doesn't seem worth it right now.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
NewsRadio's fifth and final season features Jon Lovitz as Max Louis. He was a replacement, NOT A RECAST, for Phil Hartman. Developing his character's weirdness was the forefront of the beginning of a season that just wilted out.
The characters changed, but failed to fully evolve. Beth's look and attitude changed, but only on the surface. They could have grown her further and turned her into what Catherine had been, but they didn't. Lisa inexplicably fell for Johnny Johnson while Jimmy was on the lam, and far too much of the midseason focused on his character. The end of the season came near the series' original stride (perhaps just by comparison with the disappointing earlier episodes), but ended mid-air as the series waited to be cancelled. No finality, no closure, no revamp.
In short, I'll be buying this DVD on release day because I love NewsRadio, and I want to complete my collexion. It has some excellent episodes and the touching send-off for Bill McNeal. However, if you are a casual NewsRadio fan, or haven't heard of the show or seen the DVDs, you should pick up Season 3 or 4 first.
As a hardcore NewsRadio fan, this was a disappointing package overall. There was no commentary for "Bill Moves On," and it seemed as though the producers and writers had run out of things to say. I actually stopped listening to the commentaries, which had been extremely informative and funny for the first, second, and third seasons.
In short-the Season is 4 Stars, the extras are 1 star. Overall: 3 stars, still worth the buy if you've enjoyed any earlier seasons.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
In this 5th and what is the somewhat dismal final season of NewsRadio, The season premiere deals with the death of Phil Hartman who died on May 24, 1998 at his Hollywood, CA home in a murder suicide. The season premiere deals with his reflections on his life as well as what he did for the series. The replacement, Max Louis Jon Lovitz, who played as Fred and Mike Johnson in seasons 3 and 4 takes over the duties as newsman. there were some great episodes standout I might say, "Flowers for Matthew",
Max: Well then, Do you forgive me?
Beth: Not a chance in hell you LOSER!
Lisa: So how did that go?
Max: That's OK, Beth doesn't usually stay mad for long so...
Beth: I HATE YOU AND I HOPE YOU GET RUN OVER BY A BUS!
The other episode that was good this last year was Freaky Friday where Matthew and Mr. James switch places for a day and he gets in trouble causing Mr. James to go bankrupt. Bt otherwise, the seasons episodes were so-so at best which included Johnny Johnson, D.B. Cooper (Adam West from Batman). The episodes were really dumbed down from past seasons and that's why it probably lead to the shows premature cancellation on May 4th, 1999. But this seasons episodes still has laughs but not the way it was with Phil Hartman.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
Much has been sad about the fifth and final season of Newsradio. At the time I think Phil Hartman's tragic death may have overshadowed the season and caused people to look down upon Jon Lovitz as he attempted to fill Hartman's large shoes. Of course Hartman could never be replaced and the Newsradio writers did not try to. They just let Lovitz be Lovitz and it worked.
In retrospect, season five is quite good. It had been a while since I last saw the season when I purchased this set. I actually now believe that it might be Newsradio's second best season behind #3, though time might change my opinion. I've seen the others more recently and may be more weary of them. Still, season 5 has the very funny DB Cooper storyline and several other hilarious episodes. "Freaky Friday" is actually one of my favorite Newsradio eps as Stephen Root really shines in his pursuit of Matthew.
If you can get over Hartman's absence Newsradio Season 5 is excellent. Every season of Newsradio is excellent. Buy them all and be sure not to neglect this final season. It's a shame that we never got to see how the staff of WNYX did in New Hampshire because the producers have said that season 6 would have taken place there. Too bad. I guess I should just be thankful that NBC gave this show as much time as it did because they could have cancelled it at the end of any of the previous seasons; it was never a ratings hit.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2007
Im a big fan a Newsradio (got hooked back in 1998) and to me its by FAR the best show I have ever seen. Season 5, while not as good as the past seasons, had some GREAT episodes....BUT overall it REALY hurts to say I have to give 3 out of 5 stars....my thoughts below...
John levitz as a regular was alittle bit of a turn off since you already have Matthew (Andy Dick) as the show clown. You dont need two...
Last min of the first episode in Season five with jimmy and the desk was quite powerful!! Watch it!
Noise is the one where Joe makes the noise machine for Dave. GREAT episode!
Flowers for Mathew with the "Smart drink" was FANTASTIC.
Things went down from there when Johnny Johnson (Patrick Warburton) entered the picture. It just got way too weird and out of the "news radio norm". After he finally left the next 6 or 7 episodes were OK but were still too strange to really enjoy as much as the previous seasons mostly because the lack of Phil and Levitz just seems alittle annoying.
Then in 16th episode of season 5 Johnny Johnson (Patrick Warburton) comes BACK....WHY???? Why would they do this???? The next two episodes with him just sucked. Im talking about "wino" and "Wedding".
Anyway once he left things got back to normal finally the writers spit out the last few GOOD episodes in the NewsRadio legacy which were "the padded suit", "freaky friday".
After that things just went DOWN HILL and the final episodes were just depressing. Truly truly depressing...
Everyone but mat and Dave move to New Hampshire? What happens to everyone? Why depress Newsradio fans buy splitting everyone up? The last words in the final episode (from Dave) were "I know". SOOO depressing. WHY would the writers end such a good show with such a depressing ending?? It's a shame IMO.
If the stupid Johnny Johnson (Patrick Warburton)episodes were never made I would have given 4 out of 5 stars and if the ending wasnt so depressing I would have given it 5 out of 5 despit John Levits annoying character.
One last note, its amazing how Beth (Vicky Lewis) transforms from average good looks in season one to smoking HOT in season four/five. Amazing. Go Vicky!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2007
I am very pleased with this DVD set. The episodes themselves are fantastic; these are some of the best characters ever created. Jon Lovitz is funny no matter what he does and was the best replacement they could have gotten for Phil Hartman. The commentary tracks are some of the best yet. Paul Simms answers questions emailed to him by fans, and Andy Dick and Stephen Root show up for a few. I'm very sad that the book is now closed on one of the best TV shows ever, but this is a fantastic DVD set to end it with.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Newsradio is one the greatest shows they have ever put on TV. It is up there with Seinfeld and Arrested Development. The last season without Phil Hartman just wasn't the same. I still enjoyed the fifth season but it just didn't measure up to the previous four.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2007
Despite the tragedy of Phil Hartman's death, the 5th and final season of NewsRadio is still very good. Max Louis (Jon Lovitz) is not a great addition to the show, but he has his moments and decent chemistry with the rest of the cast. "Flowers for Matthew," the episode with "Smatthew" (Smart Matthew) is one of my all-time favorites and worth the price of admission alone. A must have for any NewsRadio fan.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Newsradio's fifth season is a very different beast from the four years of comedic gold that preceded it. Shattered to the core by the untimely death of Phil Hartman, it isn't until near the end of the season that the well-oiled comedy machine that was Newsradio's original cast recovers. Unfortunately by this time, the scripts themselves were showing signs of fatigue, and the show as a whole had quite frankly lost its touch. Despite intermittently great episodes, like "Apartment", "Freaky Friday" and "Padded Suit", the fifth season disappoints more often than not and can really only be recommended to the fans.