Shout! Factory // 2002 // 480 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 13th, 2011
It's the last dance at NYC's City Hall.
The sixth and final season of Spin City takes to the polls as deputy mayor Charlie Crawford (Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men) tries to wrangle the craziness of his office coworkers while wooing women and keeping the batty Mayor of New York City (Barry Bostwick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) in check. The office is filled with all kinds of zany characters including the attractive and whip smart Caitlin (Heather Locklear, Melrose Place), the affable but dimwitted Paul (Richard Kind, A Serious Man), the uptight Carter (Michael Boatman, The Good Wife) and offensive chauvinist Stuart (Alan Ruck, Ferris Bueller's Day Off). Along the way viewers are treated to the Mayor's doting girlfriend (guest star Farrah Fawcett) as well as the return of Michael Flaherty (Michael J. Fox) in a multi-episode arc to finish off the series that he started.
The episodes included on this four disc set:
* "The Arrival"
* "A Tree Falls In Manhattan"
* "Wife With Mikey"
* "The Apartment"
* "Yet Another Stakeout"
* "Sleeping With The Enemy"
* "The Wedding Scammer"
* "Flight Flub"
* "An Officer And A Gentleman"
* "O Mother, Where Art Thou?"
* "Rags To Riches"
* "Sex, Lies And Video Date"
* "Wyes Wide Open"
* "Age Against The Machine"
* "An Affair Not To Remember"
* "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About"
* "Look Who's Not Talking"
* "A Tale Of Four Cities"
* "A Friend In Need"
Here we are at the final season of Spin City, a show that started out with a lot of promise in the mid 1990s (my sophomore year in college, no less) and, due to the departure of its popular and highly likable leading actor, lost its way. Maybe the show naturally had finished its cycle or maybe viewers just didn't care what happened to the Mayor and his staff after six years of political nonsense. Either way, the final season of Spin City ends on a low note.
I was very excited when Spin City first hit the airwaves. I've made no attempt to hide the fact that Michael J. Fox may be my all-time favorite comedic actor; the guy just has so much charisma and a likable personality. Even in his lesser film efforts (of which there are many), Fox was always worth watching. When it was touted that Fox would return to network television after his run on Family Ties and a multitude of box office failures, fans worldwide were excited and rewarded with a very amusing show. The first few seasons of Spin City featured Fox doing what he does best: getting flustered, flirting with the ladies and throwing out one-liners as if he was a verbal major league pitcher. Then he left, and so did the spirit of the show.
While I don't recall a lot about the show -- I hadn't seen it in many years -- I remember with heartbreak when Fox announced his diagnosis of Parkinson's and decided to leave the show. The producers filled in the gap with Charlie Sheen (well before he became the highest paid actor on television) as deputy mayor Charlie Crawford, but to little effect. The show's run came to an end soon after his arrival and with good reason: the sixth and final season of the show just isn't very good. By no means is it terrible television -- it's just mediocre time killer that isn't worth revisiting.
One of the largest failings with Spin City's sixth season is that it's not as wildly funny or as unpredictably uproarious as the writers want you to believe. Many of the jokes feel phoned in or soft, although I'll admit that time could be the show's biggest enemy. Only a decade has passed since the show shut down and yet it feels like some archaic relic from a time long, long ago. Even worse is the one element I have groused about in many a TV on DVD review: canned laugh tracks. These truly were the scourge of the sitcom world and need to be burned in a barrel with copies of Small Wonder and The Charmings. In the faint praise department, I give mild props to the series for including an episode that offers up a funny and loose homage to Billy Wilder's classic workplace comedy The Apartment.
More so than in the previous seasons, sexual innuendo seems to be the crutch the writers use to get their gags across; when you have Barry Bostwick in drag (yet again), you know someone in the writer's room was running out of ideas. The byplay between Stuart and Carter -- it's nice to see a show explore the friendship between a gay man and a straight man -- ends up being the highlight of the final season. Oddly, Charlie Sheen is the least interesting person wandering onscreen; often it feels like Sheen is just around to make snide and snarky asides at the other character's expenses. Ultimately that works against Sheen and makes Charlie an unsympathetic character.
Other actors who were utilized to fine effect during the show's heyday take a backseat to Sheen and Bostwick. Richard Kind's Paul -- all blusteringly endearing during the first few seasons of the show -- is given hardly anything to do during the final leg of Spin City. With many of the original actors already departed (including a sorely missed Connie Britton, who went on to bigger and better things with Friday Night Lights), it often feels like there is a hole in the show that was never filled properly. Even Heather Locklear -- an actor who doesn't get enough credit for being a credible comedian -- just seems to be wandering around looking for a laugh. You can just feel the writers, actors and producers struggling to keep the show chugging along even though the entire endeavor feels like an uphill climb. And by "uphill" I mean "completely vertical."
It's sad to see the once funny series slip away into drivel like this. I'm sure the creators stood by the old adage "the show must go on," but sometimes it's good to go out on a high note...something Season Six is most definitely not.
Spin City: The Complete Sixth Season is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers on this set look good, if not great -- they are appropriately rendered with solid colors and black levels. There is nothing here that will truly pop out at the viewer; the show was a straight forward, multi camera series and doesn't include a lot of exciting visuals. The soundtracks are all presented in what I assume is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (no mention is made on the package) and sounds appropriately supportive of the material. There's nothing flashy about any of them -- this is a mostly front heavy mix that gets the job done, and little else. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this set.
Spin City: The Complete Sixth Season isn't terrible, but it certainly feels like the series went out with more of a whimper than a bang. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 480 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated