Paramount Home Video presents
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season Two (1995-1996)
Dr. Katz: "Wait a second. You bent all of these spoons with your mind?
Ben: Pretty much. You know, I found that if I preheat them first, it makes the job a whole lot easier.- (Jonathan Katz, H. Jon Benjamin)
Stars: Jonathan Katz, H. Jon Benjamin, Laura Silverman
Other Stars: Will Lebow, Julianne Shapiro, Joy Behar, Sandra Bernhard, Janeane Garafolo, Ray Romano, Kevin Meaney, Garry Shandling, Emo Philips, Dom Irrera, Rita Rudner, Barry Sobel, Steven Wright, Carol Leifer, Louis C.K., Judy Tenuta, Bill Braudis, Lew Schneider, Marc Maron, Eddie Brill, Todd Barry, Brian Kiley, Fred Stoller, Tom Agna
Director: Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (occasional mature humor)
Run Time: 04h:50m:00s
Release Date: 2006-11-21
DVD ReviewIn a recent Season Five episode of Family Guy (Saving Private Brian, which aired 11/5/06) there was a quick scene featuring the perpetually squiggly Dr. Katz. It was basically a quick throwaway gag—if you knew the character you got a chuckle, otherwise it was gone before you had time to wonder what joke you weren't getting. For a decade-old animated Comedy Central series that pretty much flew way under the radar, that was the kind of reference that told me that I wasn't the only one who ever watched Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.
Because it sure felt like I was the only one. I don't know anyone who watched it regularly, though a few people I come across are familiar with it, calling it that "squiggly show." This is due to its unique animation style, appropriately dubbed Squigglevision, that utilizes minimal movement (re:eyeballs and the occasional hand) offset by excessive, jittery character outlines, giving the vague impression of movement when there is none. The visual look seems more memorable than the content to a lot of people, which I guess is something, but there is a lot of dry funny stuff here to enjoy.
With this two-disc second season set from 1995-1996, the 13 half-hour episodes don't vary from the show's basic premise. At the center is therapist Dr. Katz (voiced by series co-creator Jonathan Katz) and his sessions with his assorted patients, all of whom are standup comics (including Ray Romano, Emo Philips, Barry Sobel, and Gary Shandling) doing chunks of their acts on the couch as they discuss their problems. These bits are augmented by some quirky and bizarre images—as during Kevin Meaney's recounting of his dad's very fiery barbeques where birds would fall from the sky fully cooked—and it gives a nice edge to the comics' shtick.
In between the standups-as-patients bits, there's also Dr. Katz struggling to deal with either his openly disinterested receptionist Laura (Laura Silverman) or his 24-year-old slacker son Ben (H. Jon Benjamin) with whom he shares an apartment. The brazen indifference of Laura mines laughs from her blunt frankness, with Silverman applying a wonderful enthusiasm-less delivery, while Ben is the lazy loaf who gets some of the best comedic back-and-forths with Katz. All of this is done with a kind of realistic, uneven cadence approach to the dialogue that makes the conversations sound like conversations instead of neatly arranged jokes. Clearly the ad-lib level here were very high, and it gives a casual, natural flow to the humor, where dry, wry and occasionally absurd all fit together.
There aren't really any major plots here, just small joke structures—needing glasses or fear of bees, for example—around which the characters get to engage in some comically dry observations and banter that don't always lead to any particular type of resolution. Sort of like real life, I suppose, only funnier.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All episodes are presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio, and as with season one, carries a very thin black border, giving the impression of something roughly 1.66:1. Foreground colors are fairly bright, the eps look clean and due to the forgiving nature of the wiggly Squigglevision style of animation, glaring flaws are difficult to isolate.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Nothing fancy here, just a 2.0 stereo track providing clear voice quality and a pleasing tonal quality to the jazz theme, with no hiss or distortion. Plain, but effective.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 52 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring South Park: The Complete Eighth Season, That's My Bush!, Stella: Season One
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Jonathan Katz, Laura Silverman, Tom Snyder
Packaging: Double alpha
Extras Review: This two-disc set is packaged in a clear case (one disc on either side) and episode titles look like comic book panels, and feature the comedians for that particular installment. Each episode is cut into four chapters, and there are no subtitle options.
Disc 1 is where all the Katz-centric extras are found, as well a few Comedy Central product trailers. There are two episode commentaries featuring Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, and Laura Silverman for Bystander Ben and Office Management. The tempo of these tracks matches the meandering, dry tempo of the show's dialogue—and considering the voices of Katz and Silverman are absolutely no different from their characters the effect is kind of strange. Things get a little too casual, as during the opening of Office Management when they're just listening and laughing along with the episode, but occasionally there's talk about the use of cold opens and the desire by Katz to not embarrass his family.
Also on the first disc is a series of three patient follow-up calls, ostensibly from Dr. Katz to Joy Behar (07m:42s) and Emo Philips (08m:32s), and then one from Steven Wright (11m:07s) to the doctor. Just like the show, these are essentially mini variations of their standup—funny stuff overall—but there is no animation for these segments—just a static drawing of either Behar, Philips or Wright—so sitting there staring at your television seems weird.
Over on the second disc there is a set of three Comedy Central Quickies (excerpts) from The Colbert Report (02m:38s), Mind of Mencia (01m:27s) and Reno 911! (02m:22s).
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsNot much in the way of extras for this two-disc set, but the show has always been able to make me laugh out loud. And for that reason, this one come highly recommended.
Rich Rosell 2006-11-27