Judge Clark Douglas needs help. He now knows one place not to get it.
"Hello, is Dr. Katz in?"
Back during the mid-to-late 1990s, there wasn't a lot of great programming to be found on Comedy Central. Well, let's be honest…there's never been an abundance of great programming on Comedy Central. At any given time, there are a couple of gems sitting comfortably alongside a pile of predictable dreck. Anyway. One of those gems from the mid-to-late 1990s was Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, an amusing and frequently inventive animated program. Like many of the shows that can be seen on Adult Swim these days, the animation is very cheap and low-budget (and also presented in the slightly irritating Squigglevision), but that never really mattered. The comedy was solid enough to carry the show.
Comedian Jonathan Katz plays professional therapist Dr. Jonathan Katz, who provides assistance to a wide variety of troubled comedians. Whether it's Patton Oswalt, Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Conan O'Brien or Ray Romano, there's always some funny celebrity in his office who is in desperate need of therapy. Dr. Katz is divorced, and has custody of his incredibly lazy and unambitious 23-year-old son, Ben. Katz's assistant is the apathetic Laura, who fends off romantic suitors and dismisses the concerns of Dr. Katz's many neurotic patients. However, you may not figure that out by watching this DVD.
The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist seems to be inappropriately titled. The DVD that we are given should probably be called Funny Moments From Major Celebrities Who Appeared on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. An awkward title, I know, but an accurate one. You see, we aren't given much of anything other than the therapy sessions. There is no significant interaction between Dr. Katz and his son, we don't get any scenes of Dr. Katz hanging out at the bar, and Laura's screen time is fairly minimal. The full scope of the show is ignored in favor of focusing on the one-on-one interactions between Katz and many patients.
That being said, the 110 minutes offered on this disc are quite funny. The shows were unscripted, and basically permitted the comedians to riff on whatever they felt like, with Katz serving as a perplexed moderator. It's interesting to note the different ways that comedians approach this material. In some cases, they let Katz serve as the guide, and simply come up with the funniest possible response to his probing questions (Denis Leary is quizzed about his anger issues). In other cases, the comedian takes the lead, attempting to get provoke some sort of reaction (Patton Oswalt's hilarious attempt to get Katz to act like a supervillain). There are also occasions where the comedians simply do their standup routine, using less-than-smooth segues to just jump into material that was obviously planned ahead of time (Dave Chappelle's fun routine on superheroes). Finally, there are the odd moments in which folks just act like they are actually in a serious therapy session (Janeane Garofalo tries to work through surprisingly ordinary issues).
While there are a few minor misfires here, most of the stuff included on this highlight disc is a lot of fun. I had quite a few hearty laughs, but there was a small cloud of disappointment hanging over everything. I would have preferred a collection of complete episodes, offering a more well-rounded portrait of the program. Katz's scenes with Ben were very often even funnier than the therapy sessions. Why is there so little of that sort of thing here? Ah, well. It's an odd thing, but for some reason, there are very few "best of" DVDs that actually manage to represent "the best of." The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist is no exception, but it's a perfectly enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.
The transfer is just fine, but it's not like there are any particularly
interesting visuals to preserve. The show is very, very low-budget, and the
animation is only there to slightly enhance the verbal duels. And, uh, because
you can't just get away with showing a blank screen on television. The audio is
just fine, getting the job done without offering anything genuinely exceptional.
There is a bit of distortion on occasion. The only special feature is a brief
remembrance of fun Ben n' Laura moments. Not guilty, I guess.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Comedy Central
• Dr. Katz Remembers
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