29 January 2001 | Mr Mauve
The Tastiest Sitcom Ever?
Lets look at this as a recipe... (please forgive the gimmick)
Start with a premise: A radio show. OK, so it's been done. But this isn't WKRP. This is WNYX, an all-news station. So, it's far from original; an amalgam of different sitcoms which take place in media outlets. This is our main protein source, where we get our main plotlines.
Here's where it gets interesting. Add a former member of one of the most popular Sketch comedy shows in the world, The Kids In The Hall: Dave Foley. A gifted comedian and a very good actor as well. Probably the most versatile player out of the 5 "Kids", Foley is the base flavor that keeps the show balanced, like a carefully prepared stock.
Add another former Sketch player from the award winning Ben Stiller Show: Andy Dick. Dick plays probably the most ridiculous character to ever be employed in any capacity. Picture a 30 year old man with the mind of a 15 year old girl. A great physical comedian, Andy Dick is an acquired taste akin to cilantro- strong, sometimes overpowering, but improves almost anything to which its added.
What?! Another gifted comedian straight from a great sketch comedy show? Of course I refer to Phil Hartman, without question the most consistent and versatile actor ever to be featured on the uneven series Saturday Night Live. Mr. Hartman, who left the show abruptly due to his untimely demise, was the potato in this dish- so consistent you sometimes forget how amazing he could be.
Maura Tierney and Khandi Alexander were given what were probably the most "straight" roles, usually only involved in storylines which involved sex or relationships with the men on the show. Both are very talented actresses but neither contributed nearly as many laughs as the three men above. Their roles were essentially sauces, breaking up the flavor and adding different sweet, rich notes.
Vicky Lewis, on the other hand, was quite like the female version of Andy Dick. Instead of cilantro, however, she was the hot pepper- and not just because of her red hair. She was a foil for every character, taking no one seriously while doing as little work as possible. Again, not a favorite character for most because of her caustic screen presence. Hmmm... this tastes pretty good so far, but it needs something more... Perhaps some vegetables... well, kids don't like their vegetables and immature adults don't like to be told what to do. So Stephen Root, the hilarious Billionaire/Owner of WNYX, is the bitter vegetable- unyielding and necessary for good health.
OK, we have our meat, our potatoes, our vegetables and our sauce as well as the important herbs and spices. But... this doesn't taste good. It tastes flat. We need something which improves every flavor it comes in contact with. Salt!
Joe Rogan, the station electrician/conspiracy theorist, is the icing on the cake- a theoretically irrelevant yet logically important character who just happens to be funny every time he appears on screen. Possibly my favorite character.
There... delicious! A heady mix of flavors which would conflict without the sturdy base it's built upon. I love Newsradio and although I do like Jon Lovitz, the show was never the same after Hartman's departure. Watch for reruns, as the show has been canceled, whenever possible.