Lateline - The Complete Series
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The gimmick of Lateline--later used in the HBO drama series K Street--is the inclusion of real-life movers and shakers from politics, news media, and Hollywood--a long list of cameo appearances lending an unpredictable edge of satirical spontaneity. Most of these power players add to the fun when the writing occasionally slumps into familiar sitcom territory, and the show's fullest potential is triumphantly displayed in "The Seventh Plague," an classic episode in which Freundlich, in a stubborn quest for "verisimilitude," single-handedly ruins an epic-scale disaster film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Martin Sheen as (you guessed it), the U.S. President. Office politics and hot-button issues fuel the humor (the Christian right, social security reform, etc.), but despite the noble efforts of its writers, directors, and superb ensemble cast, Lateline suffered in the ratings, was briefly rebroadcast on Showtime after cancellation (including NBC's unaired episodes, also included here), and then died prematurely. As a prescient farewell, future presidential candidate John F. Kerry appears at the end of the final episode, suggesting that Lateline was slightly ahead of its time. --Jeff Shannon
- All 19 episodes from 1998-99 season including 4 never-before-aired episodes
Top Customer Reviews
The incredible cast includes Al Franken ("Saturday Night Live") as lovable goofball Al Freundlich, the chief correspondent; Robert Foxworth ("Falcon Crest") as the hilariously vain and pompous Pearce McKenzie, anchorperson; Catherine Lloyd Burns ("Partners") as Mona, Pearce's doting assistant; Miguel Ferrer ("Robocop") as Vic Karp, the gung ho executive producer; Megyn Price ("Grounded For Life") as Gale, the sensible segment producer; Sanaa Lathan ("Love & Basketball") as Briana, the booker; and Ajay Naidu as scene-stealing Raji, the production assistant.
With all 19 episodes from the series (including 4 never-before-aired episodes), maximize fun with this politically-charged sitcom released in time for the 2004 Presidential elections.
Guest stars include Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader, Martin Sheen (The West Wing), Rob Reiner, Vanessa Williams, Conan O'Brien, and many more! This 3-disc collection has a running time of about 7 hours. Full-screen video, Dolby Digital Stereo, and closed captioning for the hearing impaired.
On the whole that's what I got. "Lateline" is a smart comedy with a strong cast, clever storylines and spoofs and satire on news reporting.
The cast is led by Al Frankin as Al Freundlich, the browbeaten, clumsy chief correspondent for the show who somehow manages to report on the big stories. Al is joined by Falcon Crest star Robert Foxworth as the arrogant Pearce McKenzie, Miguel Ferrer as Vic Karp the show's producer and Megan Price as Gale, Al's producer. My favorite character is Catherine Lloyd Burns as Mona, Pearce's smitten mousey assistant.
There's some gems in here - the best episode probably being the one where vain Lateline anchorman Pearce McKenzie becomes a little too keen on appearing on the Conan show (this episode features hilarious guest spots from Conan O'Brian), but there's also lots of other moments and episodes that are almost as good including; Al meeting a besotted fan, Al and Vic going to prison for refusing to name a source and Ajay being held hostage in a sexual relationship with Pearce's latest beauty queen pick up.
However, like most comedies it takes a while for the characters, actors and writers to settle into their roles. The first few episodes are where everybody was finding their feet and this quite clearly shows, as these are of a much lower quality, and ironically considering it's Al's show, there's too much emphasis on his character, Al Freundlich.Read more ›
I've never been much of a fan of TV "situation comedies." This is not to say that I haven't enjoyed my fair share of such mindless time-wasting offerings, but in the end they all quickly sank into the abyss of mental obscurity. Even the supposed 'bests-of-the-best' like "Cosby" and "Seinfeld" left barely a blip of an imprint on my memory -- they were watched; they were fun & entertaining; they were over; they were forgotten. Not one of all of the 'sitcoms' I was aware of was imaginative or innovative enough to prevent it from becoming almost completely unmemorable to me -- and certainly not anything that would cause me to even "consider" purchasing any of them to become part of my own personal viewing library.
So it comes as more-than a bit of a surprise that I would indeed single out ONE sitcom series to find a spot for among my personal DVD collection. What makes this even more significant is the fact that the purchase was of a sitcom series I HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF until very, very recently!
Former "Saturday Night Live" comedy writer and current "Air America Radio" talk show host Al Franken was apparently something of a visionary when he helped create a very short-lived sitcom called "LateLine," which satirized late-night "news magazine" programs (e.g. "Nightline").Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lateline is funny and well written. All the famous people appear as themselves.Published 3 months ago by Joseph B Tanizawa
I didn't know this show existed until I came across the DVD recently. Franken is at his best and the show features a great ensemble cast. The episodes co-starring G. Read morePublished on December 3, 2011 by Drew Julian
Alas, it pains me to write this review, as I am a tremendous Franken fan who has followed him since his early SNL days. Read morePublished on March 12, 2010 by Michael L. Grifka
Just saw the complete series and although I did enjoy it I'd have to say it's just better than average. Read morePublished on June 14, 2006 by wizbang
One thing which should be obvious to anyone who reads these reviews: people who love a show will review it and people who don't generally do not. Read morePublished on October 12, 2005 by G. Kukis
I'm a fan of Ajay Naidu, so when I knew he was on "Lateline", I just had to watch this comedy tv series every chance I could. I had known Mr. Read morePublished on March 11, 2005 by James P. McDonald