Dr. Katz has had therapy sessions with some of the best comedians and funniest actors in the world. Here are some of the best, in one package.
Dr. Katz ran on Comedy Central from 1995-1999, starring Jonathan Katz, H. Jon Benjamin and Laura Silverman. It was presented in an animation style called squigglevision, a technique created by Tom Snyder where the outlines of the figures are made to wiggle, a technique that was loved by some and hated by many others. The cartoon introduced us a therapist, Dr. Katz, whose patients were famous comedians and actors. If the episodes were with a comedian, the format would allow the entertainer to deliver his standup performance while Katz commented on it. Actors were more than likely personal conversations between the two.
I want to start by saying how much I hate this animated style. The cartoons are funny, but those squiggly borders are really distracting. It was the same style used on the first season of Home Movies, but was dropped due to customer complaints. I really think this would be better if it were more traditionally animated.
This DVD release is called the Best Of and features the following patients: Dave Attell, Dave Chappelle, Margaret Cho, Louis C.K., David Cross, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny, Susie Essman, Janeane Garofalo, Kathy Griffin, Denis Leary, Richard Lewis, Kevin Nealon, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, Brisn Regan, Ray Romano and Sarah Silverman. Looking at these names, I went into this experience believing it would produce more laughs than not.
The actual DVD sections are mostly the therapy sessions, and not the entire episodes, meaning it lives and dies by the guest stars.
First, I’ll talk about the good guests.
I was expecting Dave Chappelle to be the loud, brash comedian from his own Comedy Central show but he was soft spoken and very, very funny. He had a great line about The Hulk where he said “after five episodes I said, hey man, maybe it’s you.” Most of his jokes included the subject of comic book characters from The Hulk to Wonder Woman to Aquaman. He did some of his racism jokes, but nothing over-the-top.
Another highlight is Louis C.K., which is not a surprise since his normal standup act is brilliant anyway. Even when his jokes are only average, his delivery is ace. The guy could sit there and read me Pride & Prejudice and I would be happy. He finishes with what he would do if he were elected president. Pure brilliance. On the same wave length is Patton Oswalt, who talks about what would happen if Nick Nolte were cast in Star Wars and the importance of having arch enemies, of which he chooses Katz to be one of his.
The entire Conan O’Brien episode was pretty funny as well. Conan stole one of Dr. Katz’s jokes and used it on his show, making Katz feel unsure about whether that was right or not. The episode uses the reference point of standup routines and questions who the real author of the joke is, the comedian or the person who influenced the joke. That sounds kind of pretentious but the monologue between Katz and Conan helps the setup achieve more than many other of the episodes provided here.
Sarah Silverman’s episode was just a series of one-liners and if you like her standup, you should enjoy this episode. “I was licking Jell-O off my boyfriend and realized, shit, I’m becoming my mother!” “My sister got married and hyphenated her name. Now my sister’s name is Susan Silverman-Abramowitz. They’re gonna shorten it to just JEWS. Fits on the mailbox.”
As for the bad guests, there were a few.
Dave Attell, who I am a pretty big fan of, was very disappointing. He had a slightly humorous joke about monkeys, but overall, it was a letdown. David Cross is another person I am a big fan of who was really kind of flat. He did do one funny spot where he questioned what Jesus would be like if he spoke like an effeminate southern man. I don’t think Kathy Griffin has ever been funny, so there is that. Ray Romano was not that funny either and annoyed me more than he made me laugh.
Everyone else falls into the middle, some slightly funny and some just ordinary. The episodes with David Duchovny and Dennis Leary were both decently funny but nothing really special. That is the biggest problem with this DVD and the show in general. The series was hit and miss and when you rely on the quality on the guest stars, you will miss much more than you hit. If you look at the comedians names I listed above, you should like this DVD. If you find the majority of the comedians uninspired or boring, you will probably hate this release.
There were more funny episodes than bad ones, but there were a lot of mediocre spots. If you can find it at a reasonable price or are a big fan of the original show, it is worth picking up. It also might be a good chance to see if you like the show enough to buy the complete series.
You can watch every one of the sessions in one batch or watch them individually. There is also a bonus feature called Dr Katz Remembers. These are shorts where Dr. Katz speaks about a number of things including an awkward moment with his son Ben at the funeral of a relative where Katz is called to give the eulogy, with horrible results. The second shows a father-son moment where they discuss the wildebeest. The next shows Katz and Ben helping Laura buy a car. The final one describes when Katz ran for public office. Finally we get the typical Comedy Central Quickies. This DVD includes The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Reno 911!, and South Park. The extras round out with some trailers.