NewsRadio Forums

NBC (ended 1999)

Season 5

  • Avatar of tubalcane420


    [1]Jun 30, 2006
    • member since: 11/05/05
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    All in all I think it was a good season, even though Phil Hartman was gone.  I like Jon Lovitz a lot and I don't think they could have gotten anyone better to replace Phil.

    Just wondering what other people think of season 5.  Also wondering if anyone knows if/when it will come out on DVD.

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  • Avatar of TVAdam


    [2]Jul 1, 2006
    • member since: 07/04/05
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    In it's original run, I wasn't too crazy about the fifth season. However now I enjoy watching that season. It was definitly missing something without the great Bill McNeal. But I think Joe is his funniest in season five. I think Matthew has a lot of great moments from season five. Dave was at the height of his insanity (which was caused by being around that staff for four years, prior).

    I loved the Johnny Johnson episodes. I also loved how the series ended. Even though it wasn't meant to be the series finale, I still love the episode. It kind of reminded me of the pilot. How Dave is nervous, running around the station talking to the characters individually. In the finale, Dave was nervous (once again) running around the station talking to the characters individually, trying to get them to stay.

    I didn't like the Max Louis character at first but he was starting to get good right before the show ended.

    In retrospect, I like season five more than season three, which I know puts me in the minority. But that's the way it is.

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  • Avatar of pursuedbybear


    [3]Jul 16, 2006
    • member since: 06/14/05
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    In Season 5 the series was definitely hurting for the loss of Phil Hartman and the show took a while to find its footing again. Max Louis was never quite a successful fit and the decision to have Lisa marry seemed more like an idea from the NBC boardroom rather than something that grew organically from the show, hijacking the the fire in the Dave/Lisa relationship. And sadly Matthew almost becomes a parody of himself.

    All that said, there is a lot to recommend about Season 5. I loved the Johnny Johnson episodes and his three episode showdown with Jimmy James ended up being a great showcase for all the characters. I especially liked Jimmy characterizing WNYX as "the heart of the beast", Jimmy hiding out in Dave's old bedroom and Jimmy's masterful defeat of Johnny. "Lucky Burger" features some of Lisa's most characteristically neurotic moments and "Stinkbutt" is one of Dave Foley's best episodes. "Spooky Rapping Crypt" is a wonderful Jimmy and Beth showcase, with Jimmy's tearful confession that Beth is like a daughter to him, but as a boss he has no choice but to crush her in negotiations is one of my most vivid NewsRadio memories. Tiffani Theissen's guest role as Foxy Jackson was truly memorable and Dave becoming entranced by Joe's white noise machine in "Noise" is simply delightful. "Retirement" and "New Hampshire" are not only very funny, but remarkable in the way they turn viewers' expectations on their ears. Some amazing writing here. Beth and Joe really have opportunities to shine in this season, whereas Jimmy, Lisa and Dave continue to grow stronger in new ways. There is real comedy gold here.

    However, I believe that bringing Jon Lovitz aboard was a mistake. Jon is a very talented and funny comedian, but his comedy is broad and visceral. He is always going to be playing overbearing losers and poseurs, people with low self esteem and little power. With the combined loss of Bill and Catherine, the void that needed to be filled was a high status, self empowered opponent for Dave and the rest of the staff. With Bill and Catherine gone there was no one to wrest power away from Jimmy or Dave, deflate Lisa, manipulate Matthew or challenge Joe. The power politics of the office were no longer in doubt and everybody ended up comfortably settling into their professional roles. This is why Johnny Johnson was successful, he shook the placidity of the office power structure. So maybe what Season 5 really needed was not the introduction of Max Louis, but the return of Catherine Duke.


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  • Avatar of uk6strings


    [4]May 26, 2009
    • member since: 05/21/09
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    Phil Hartman was a huge part of the success of NewsRadio and I would argue that the show hit a serious dive in quality after he tragically could not continue on with the series. It seems like there are a lot of people who can't stand Season 5 - but I think that much of what worked for NewsRadio in its first four seasons continued to work for it in Season 5.

    Alright so there are some painfully unfunny gags, Vicki Lewis is underused, and (as I mentioned earlier) there is a noticeable dip in overall quality. Plus, the biggest problem with Season 5, in my opinion, is the terrible Max Lewis character and the unfunny Jon Lovitz. Unfortunately, Hartman played a character vital to the station. Because Bill was the station's #1 talent, he had to be replaced - unlike when Katherine left the show and Lisa just got to go on air more often. Why they chose to fill the vacancy with Lovitz, friend of Hartman's or not (he had more friends than Lovitz I'm sure), I'll never know. Lovitz is just not funny.

    BUT I think there are plenty of things to like about Season 5. Season 5 sees some great storyarcs & storylines: Jimmy James vs. Johnny Johnson, Lisa & Johnny's romance, Dave vs. Joe for the affections of Foxy, "Smatthew," Jimmy's hypnosis (and Matthew's chicken transformations), and Matthew's mid-life crisis are particularly enjoyable. Also, the majority of the film's cast is great (although I think Lewis is underused) - Dave Foley, Stephen Root, and Joe Rogan especially carry the series in Hartman's absence (something that I think they had been doing with Hartman). I think Foley is especially good in all of the episodes dealing with the staff's love-affair with Johnny, despite his evilness. Plus, I would argue that although Season 5 is probably the worst season of NewsRadio, there are some series-defining episodes:

    "Bill Moves On" is the first episode without Phil Hartman and is unforgettable simply for that. The entire episode is very emotional and the cast manages good performances too, despite being depressed and risking sappy performances amidst an episode about grief. Plus, Katherine comes back for a while.

    "Lucky Burger" shows Lisa trading her job as a reporter to work in fast food. 'Nuff said.

    "Flowers for Matthew" has Smatthew and his byplay with Dave, it's my pick for the best episode of Season 5 - hilarious stuff.

    "Spooky Rapping Crypt" sees Matthew screwing around with Lisa after thinking she ritualistically abused him. One of my favorite quips from the series is Lisa's "I curse you - and your domain" while following up with putting a ketchup handprint on his door.

    I don't know, anyone can hate Season 5 all they want if they must - but I think that, despite it's lower quality when comparing to seasons 1-4, Season 5 is funny overall and a nice piece of NewsRadio history.
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  • Avatar of Slash_out


    [5]Aug 2, 2010
    • member since: 10/10/05
    • level: 5
    • rank: Caveman Lawyer
    • posts: 99
    pursuedbybear wrote:
    So maybe what Season 5 really needed was not the introduction of Max Louis, but the return of Catherine Duke.


    I agree about the loss of Bill needing an empowered person to fill the void. Someone to challenge things, not afraid to put a different spin on what was happening.
    But I don't think Catherine would have done the trick, she was more a sarcatisc person, but didn't make things move much and was content being left alone or not getting too involved. She didn't do much for the show as a character. I actually didn't see the episode where she left the station, and didn't even notice she was gone for a few episodes when I finally said to myself "Wait... I haven't seen here lately... right?". Even on the tribute for Phil I didn't even notice she was back until mid episode :p.
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  • Avatar of mrjimmyjames


    [6]Mar 16, 2011
    • member since: 05/13/10
    • level: 7
    • rank: Talk Show Host
    • posts: 424

    I've never understood why everyone has to hate on this season. Don't get me wrong, Phil Hartman was amazing and without a doubt the best person on the show. But he was never the only good actor on the show. People act as if he was it and once he died, the show did. Are you kidding me? This show had Dave, Maura, Andy, Stephen, and even Joe Rogan was pretty funny. Lovitz is no Phil but he definetely worked as a stellar replacement. Even without Phil, season 5 was top notch and by far the best show (creatively) on the NBC schedule that year. That's a testament to the great cast and writing staff. Matthew seemed to really step it up in the place of Bill with his episodes involving a smart drink and dressing up as a punk rocker. Along with those I would include the episode where Dave gets addicted to a white noise machine among my favorites. Johnny Johnson was terrific; they should have added him to the cast if not during the season then in a possible season 6. The wedding to Johnny was a bit disappointing however, it was obvious that NBC wanted it.

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