Paramount Home Video presents
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One (1995)
"No, Dad, that's not it at all. I actually enjoy playing Bingo. I just don't want to schedule Bingo. I don't want to see the word 'Bingo' in my datebook on Saturday. 'Saturday night Bingo.' You know what I'm saying? Not yet."- Dr. Katz (Jonathan Katz)
Stars: Jonathan Katz, H. Jon Benjamin, Laura Silverman, Will Lebow, Julianne Shapiro
Other Stars: Bill Braudis, Dom Irrera, Wendy Liebman, Ray Romano, Joy Behar, Dave Atell, Laura Kightlinger, Larry Miller, Anthony Clark, Andy Kindler
Director: Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (occasional mature humor)
Run Time: 02h:14m:10s
Release Date: 2006-05-09
DVD ReviewThe concept for this mid-1990s Comedy Central animated series was pretty simple—and at its most basic level presented standup comics as the patients of the titular shrink—essentially doing a hunk of their act as part of their therapy. That was, at least, when things weren't about Dr. Katz (voiced by series co-creator Jonathan Katz) and his trevails as a divorced dad, who still has his twenty-something unemployed slacker son Ben (H. Jon Benjamin) living with him. There's also his caustic, disinterested receptionist Laura (Laura Silverman), as well as the good doctor's opinionated drinking buddy Stan (Will Lebow) and the faithful ear of logical-minded bartender Julie (Julianne Shapiro). The range of comedians appearing in supporting roles for this set of Season One eps features the likes of Bill Braudis, Dom Irrera, Wendy Liebman, Ray Romano, Joy Behar, Dave Atell, Laura Kightlinger, Larry Miller, Anthony Clark, and Andy Kindler.
Plots are fairly loose, and exist really as thin excuses for mini-monologues that are interpreted with some occasionally surreal bits of animation that can turn the simple discussion of pot-bellied pigs, driving a car or investigating noises in the night into something funny, but still wholly nonsensical. And that's part of the strangely laid-back appeal of this series, because it bounds from conversations of the mundane to smatterings of sometimes quite literal visual imaginings of what was just said.
There is a Curb Your Enthusiasm-feel to the way the comic dialogue flows, and none of it sounds particularly scripted, which immediately gives this series a natural feel, but then there's the animation, which really gives the show its distinctive presence. Done in Squigglevision (a creation of Dr. Katz co-creator Tom Snyder), this animation style utilizes minimal movement offset by excessive movement of character outlines, giving the impression of movement when there is none. This exaggerated squiggly approach to animation can be a little odd, sometimes to the point of distraction, but it generally fits the quirky tempo of this show. And to further give things a unique appearance (as if the incessant squiggles weren't enough), foreground characters and objects are in color, while backgrounds appear in black and white.
More people probably remember this as "that squiggly show" than actually watched it, and there are times when the process almost appears to eclipse the content. But there are a lot of funny people involved here, and the appearances by comics like Atell, Romano, and Miller is what expands the boundaries a little, giving a platform for some great observational humor.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All six episodes are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio, though in reality the animation has a thin black border around it, giving the impression of something roughly in 1.66:1; the clean transfers look quite good, with bright colors throughout. No debris or specking issues, but the good thing about Squigglevision is that would be difficult to find an example of the infamous Family Guy squigglies even if they existed.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: No complaints on the 2.0 stereo track offered here, as it presents dialogue clearly and paints the jazzy music beds with a moderate amount of depth. Nothing remarkable, but certainly more than acceptable.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dave Attell's Insomniac Tour, Patton Oswalt: No Reason To Complain, South Park: The Complete Seventh Season
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, Ray Romano, H. Jon Benjamin
Extras Review: Packaging is nice, coming in a clear Amaray case that opens to reveal comic-like panels for the episode descriptions.
There are six episodes and six commentaries, but what that really means is that one ep gets two commentaries (Bully) and one doesn't get one at all (Cholesterol). The participants are Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, Ray Romano, H. Jon Benjamin, and though Dave Attell is listed on the backcover, he doesn't appear on any of the commentaries. He does, however, talk about the show in A Conversation with Dave Attell (05m:07s), in what might be called a mini-commentary with him and Katz played over footage from the series. The conversational tone of the tracks are generally laid back, much like the show, and in spots the silent passages go on a bit long.
A set of assorted Squigglevision shorts are included, beginning with 1992's The Biography of Mr. Katz (08m:31s), a sort of test template for what would eventually become the series, here featuring the character with noticeably more hair. He does a really funny riff on becoming just like his father that struck me a little close to home. Shrink Wrapped: An Original Squigglevision Short (:49s) is a quickie that doesn't have the time to gel properly, though a pair of Katz-oriented Short Attention Span Theater Shorts—Too Attached (01m:07s) and Law and Food (01m:01s)—do work, thanks to some laugh-generating asides about having to eat food you don't like as a child from comedian Larry Miller.
A trio of Comedy Central Quickies (essentially just promos) for Drawn Together, Mind Of Mencia and South Park, along with some Comedy Central-centric trailers, are also included. Each episode of Dr. Katz is cut into four chapters.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThis first season set is regrettably quite short—with just six 22-minute episodes—but it's still funny stuff, operating on a premise of having standup comics use their act as the basis for a therapy session. Though be warned, the whole minimalist school of the Squigglevision style of animation may be a bit distracting if you're not used to it.
Rich Rosell 2006-05-08