After Bill's funeral, the staff deals with their grief. Catherine comes back to read some private messages as part of Bill's last will. Matthew wants to believe Bill is still alive and traveling the ...
The workplace sitcom "NewsRadio" explores the office politics and interpersonal relationships among the staff of WNYX NewsRadio, New York's #2 news radio station. Beleaguered news director Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) tries his best to manage a staff that includes egotistical anchors Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman) and Catherine Duke (Khandi Alexander), ambitious supervising producer Lisa Miller (Maura Tierney), who also happens to be his on/off girlfriend, hapless reporter Matthew Brock (Andy Dick), sardonic secretary Beth (Vicki Lewis), and tech-happy electrician Joe (Joe Rogan), while also answering to the station's intimidating and eccentric owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root).Written by
Newsradio was a fish out of water. In a time of oversexed young white sitcoms, Newsradio relied on brilliant writing, expert character development, and excellent plots to drive it along. No gimmicks needed. Each character had a role to fill, and they filled it well. All of the cast members are excellent, with no misfires. Everyone has classic episodes they like to talk about.
Still, as excellent as this is, there are a few minor flaws. For one, Khandi Alexander never got as much screen time as she deserved, and this is no doubt why she left the show. She tried to be a Bill McNeal foil, but Dave served that function already. She seemed like an excellent actress, and her character seemed to be geniune, but nothing ever seemed to happen--in fact, I cannot readily recall any episode where the plot line was based on her save for her departure and maybe some of the Joe-Catherine romance episodes.
I like Jon Lovitz, and, unlike others, I found him to be just as capable as Phil Hartman to be in Newsradio. I believe that his performance did, in fact, grow as the last seasoned progressed (watch his hire date vs. some of the later shows--his character certainly changes). He did serve better playing off of other characters, such as Beth and (surprisingly) Lisa, and the few shows that center on him are indeed subpar. Still, some of the best episodes (in my opinion) are in the last season (the apartment hunt, Matthew's 30th birthday, Joe Jitzu), so Lovitz's appearance couldn't have changed the show that much.
Some shows just didn't work. Some of the very early ones are heavy on the Dave/Lisa romance, and did use just as many sex-related jokes as other sitcoms of the time. Some shows try to cram three plot lines in one episode, and Newsradio needs time to develop. Some rely way too heavily on Andy Dick's slapstick or Jimmy's over-the-top schemes. And some just don't make sense (the Dilbert episode did little for me).
All this, however, is little detriment to the show at large. I would much rather watch reruns of Newsradio than any new sitcoms out there right now. I can't say I blame NBC for cancelling it--pure business reasons; the show wasn't making money for them--but creatively, they blew it.
Newcomers may want to watch a few episodes before they cast judgement. It took me a few episodes to really enjoy it. It requires that you know the characters before it becomes interesting and funny.
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