A show that would probably fare better today, "NewsRadio" to me is a classic sitcom, one that bridged the gap between the era of "Frasier," "Seinfeld" and the other great three-camera, laugh-track sitcoms and today's comedy series like "The Office" and "Arrested Development." "NewsRadio" combined elements of all of these shows and delivered five seasons of smart, zany, roll on the floor laughing comedy.
"NewsRadio" felt like a show written by, starring and made for all of the kids who weren't sitting at the "cool kids" table in school. The zany physical humor combined with smart references to pop culture was like manna from heaven for nerds and geeks everywhere. Of course, it also helped having a great cast deliver that dialogue and act out those situations.
Dave Foley - the Kids in the Hall veteran who was straight man and ringmaster of the circus.
Maura Tierney - then (and now) drop dead gorgeous, the slightly neurotic news producer anxious to climb the ladder.
Andy Dick - the class clown, the sweetly innocent (but creepy) manchild.
Vicki Lewis - a character so funny Kathy Griffin tried to ape her on "Suddenly Susan" (she failed).
Joe Rogan - the funniest this guy will ever be.
Khandi Alexander - regal, sassy...sorely underused.
Stephen Root - the brilliant, motormouth eccentric...even he didn't know sometimes if he was crazy or not.
And, last and certainly not least, the incomparable genius that was Phil Hartman.
Obviously, the death of Hartman after Season 4 was a blow to the cast and to the series. However, I think that people who say "NewsRadio" jumped the shark with Hartman's death are mistaken. Granted, it wasn't the same going forward, but it wasn't as if "NewsRadio" turned into crap in Season 5 either. Jon Lovitz came on and created a character that did not replace Bill McNeil, but filled the void caused by his death. The show was still madcap, still fast and furious, when NBC pulled the plug.
Watching the show again on DVD is a treat; you get to see a terrific ensemble working with great scripts and clearly having a ball. My vote for funniest sitcom of the 1990s, "NewsRadio" is a gem.