Friday, August 12, 2011


I was a little afraid that the last post in my four-year run of NewsRadio recaps would sink into the internet little noticed.  Season 5 of the show, after Phil Hartman's tragic death, is problematic for many fans, and I figured I would have lost some of my readers in this final summer when that was the topic of conversation. The readership for the series was never massive in the first place; certainly it was far from the most popular feature on the site, more of a niche audience at best.

But it's been an amazing week, as readers came out of the woodwork to express their appreciation.  I resolved early on to try to thank everyone who commented with a compliment or a pat on the back, and the lovefest went on for the entire week.  In addition, I've gotten a steady stream of tweets expressing sadness that the series is over.  Some people have even praised the writeups in comment sections, blogs, and columns around the web.

The comments on the article were the best, though.  Some said they had never watched Season 5 before, but gave it a try because of my writeups.  Some said they only just found the TV Club in the last week, but were now rewatching the whole series and reading along.  Some talked about how they never knew many other folks who liked the show, and had found a whole community among readers of the feature.

I know the end can't last forever.  But it's been incredible dragging it out as long as possible, and having the readers play along as if they didn't want it to end any more than I did.

1 comment:

Eos said...

(Please forgive the impertinence of posting this here; since most of its content isn't directly related to the final episodes of NewsRadio, it didn't quite seem right to attach this comment to the AV Club article.)

Thank you for your exploration of the interrupted marvelousness that was NewsRadio, and for demonstrating that it is a show that still deserves recognition.

Is it possible that one of the reasons why NewsRadio still resonates is that it was a show that started out as a situation comedy but evolved -- at least twice -- into something completely different?

Up to the beginning of season four, NewsRadio was not only a great situation comedy, but also a fundamentally optimistic show; while the staff of WNYX may have undertaken some crazy capers, they were generally competent and successful people working for a station on the rise. But once Plan Bee arrived, everything and everyone in the WNYX universe fell apart -- and while the resulting fourth season was still brilliant and was still funny, it wasn't really a comedy any more. Perhaps a sort of screwball tragedy?

(A road not taken: given that the previous three seasons had established Dave Nelson as a capable news director, why not promote him? (If he'd become something like Jimmy James's director of special projects, he would have of course become disenchanted with its non-news responsibilities; at the same time, Lisa Miller would have become similarly dissatisfied with being news director. Then the middle of the season would have about both Dave and Lisa scheming to move back down the corporate ladder, which might have been more interesting. Less acidic, anyway.))

And then after the real tragedy of Hartman's death, the show had to reinvent itself again. And while the fifth season was far too Matthew-y, it at least dialed back the bile -- so while NewsRadio was still a tragedy (especially for Dave, who was denied the escape given to Lisa), it was at least a hopeful one. Maybe it became whatever the inverse of black comedy would be -- light tragedy? (But that doesn't seem to indicate the humor.) Sunshine tragedy? Or, in keeping with the baseball metaphor, knuckleball tragedy? Eephus tragedy? (High trajectory plus inherent hilariousness.)

Suggestions for future reviews:

* Better Off Ted -- another comedy about competent people

* Engrenages (aka Spiral) -- admittedly, not likely to ever air in the US, but a look at the cast would suggest possibly the most insane crossover in television history

* Intelligence -- another show that's about as unlike NewsRadio as it's possible to be, but one that might provide an interesting comparison with Breaking Bad

* Slings & Arrows -- another one of a kind show

Thank you for your time.