Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season Two review by Mike Long

Several years ago, "The Bob & Tom Show" was introduced to my local radio market. I was pissed that it replaced a show that I liked, but I gave it a shot. After wading through all of the constant giggling, I realized that the crux of "The Bob & Tom Show" was having stand-up comedians perform their routines while disguising it as an interview. While I understand that Bob & Tom have been doing this for years, this immediately reminded me of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Season Two of this show has just hit DVD.

In case you aren't familiar with Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist (or you haven't read the review for Season One ) , here's a quick primer. Dr. Katz (voiced by Jonathan Katz) is, as the title implies, a professional therapist, who sees a variety of clients. All of these clients are stand-up comedians who, as implied above, tell jokes while conversing with Dr. Katz. But that's only half of the show. Dr. Katz must also contend with his surly receptionist, Laura (voiced by Laura Silverman), who is rude to the patients and abhors work. Dr. Katz lives with his adult son, Ben (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin). In much the same way that Laura doesn't like to work, Ben doesn't have a job, but instead spends most of his days imagining that his life is much grander than it really is. Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist was done in "Squigglevision", an animation technique in which the actual animation or movement of the characters is quite limited, but the outlines of the characters is in constant motion, creating an almost "rippling" effect.

The first season of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist contained only six episodes, and while many of these are good, it wasn't until the second season that the show really hit its stride. Each episode would feature two "guest stars", which again, were comedians who would channel their stand-up for Dr. Katz.

The episodes included on this DVD set are:

Episode 201: Steven Wright & Kevin Meaney

Episode 202: Rita Rudner & Barry Sobel

Episode 203: Dom Irrera & Emo Philips

Episode 204: Carol Leifer & Ray Romano

Episode 205: Dom Irrera & Louis C.K.

Episode 206: Ray Romano & Janeane Garofalo

Episode 207: Judy Tenuta & Garry Shandling

Episode 208: Bill Braudis & Lew Schneider

Episode 209: Eddie Brill & Marc Maron

Episode 210: Todd Barry & Sandra Bernhard

Episode 211: Brian Kiley & Joy Behar

Episode 212: Fred Stoller & Kevin Meaney

Episode 213: Ray Romano & Tom Agna

Looking at that list, we see comedians who have gone on to be quite well-known (Ray Romano, Joy Behar, Janeane Garofalo), classic comedians (Kevin Meaney, Barry Sobel, Dom Irrera) and people that I've honestly never heard of (see Episode 208). This range of guest also mirrors the range of comedy on the show. (After the years of Everybody Loves Raymond, it's great to relive the stand up years of Ray Romano. It's interesting that Ray gets a little blue at times.) There's the oddly cerebral stylings of Emo Philips and the in your face rantings of Kevin Meaney. Keep in mind that the bulk of the show wasn't scripted and Jonathan Katz is typically reacting to the comedians routine, and this spontaneity adds to the show. There’s even more improvisation in the scenes with Katz and H. Jon Benjamin. There are times when the pair laugh and it’s easy to imagine that they are actually laughing at one another’s creativity.

The humor in Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist may be too subtle for some, but if you like a mixture of over-the-top and subtle comedy, then the show is worth checking out. And Season Two is definitely the place to start, as it features some of the best episodes of the show. (Episodes 202, 204, and 210 are amongst my all-time favorites and I was surprised to note how many lines from those shows that I still quote today.)

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season Two bares its soul to DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The 13 episodes included in this 2-disc set are all presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio -- although the show itself is letterboxed at 1.78:1. The shows look fine, as there is no grain or any defects from the source material. The colors are somewhat difficult to judge, as the show used an odd combination of bright tones and muted hues, but overall the colors look fine. The “Squigglevision” technique actually negates any of the jagged lines which can plague animation on DVD, but there is some subtle video noise here. The episodes are presented in Dolby Digital stereo, which offers clear dialogue and sound effects. The music sounds fine, and the stereo effects, while rare, are good.

The Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season Two features two main extras. Series creator Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz, and Laura Silverman provide AUDIO COMMENTARY on Episodes 201 and 204. These are interesting commentaries, as they are a mixture of scene-specific comments and anecdotes of how the show was done. The three are very frank in their assessments of the shows highs and lows. There are three “Follow-up Calls”, where Jonathan Katz speaks with Joy Behar (8 minutes), Emo Philips (8 minutes), and Steven Wright (11 minutes). These segments are funny, especially Philips and Wright, but they can re-capture the magic of the original Dr. Katz show.

9 out of 10 Jackasses

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