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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Lateline: Complete Series
Lateline: Complete Series
Paramount // Unrated // August 17, 2004
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 13, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

A short-lived late 1990's NBC sitcom that I vaguely remember, watching "Lateline" again reminds me of some of the finer moments of "Newsradio", a somewhat similar workplace sitcom airing at the same time that the network likely chose to focus its efforts on instead. "Lateline", which ran a short first season and a half of a second season, stars creator/co-writer Al Franken as Al Freundlich, a so-so anchor who finds himself consistently playing second fiddle on a Washington, DC-based news series.

Where "Newsradio"'s radio station politics were often played for laughs and building up comedic bits, "Lateline" chooses to try and mine humor from what one senses isn't too far off the mark of working in broadcast journalism. The laughs don't hit hard and often, but the show is often very funny and the writing - whether attempting to be funny or not - is intelligent.

The series features Franken, but he's backed up by a superior supporting cast, including Meghan Price ("Grounded For Life") as the show's producer, Miguel Ferrer as the boss, Sanaa Lathan ("Love and Basketball") and Ajay Nadju ("Office Space") as coworkers and Robert Foxworth as the show's arrogant head anchor. While Martin Sheen and other celebs play themselves in inspired cameos, what's even more entertaining are some of the real-life politicians (presidental candidate John Kerry is pretty amusing playing himself in a couple of bits throughout the final episode) and other famous non-Hollywood figures that are occasionally incorporated quite well into various episodes.

All of the shows produced for the series have been included here - both the episodes that were broadcast on NBC and four that went unaired on the network - a total of 19 episodes.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Lateline" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame. The episodes looked perfectly fine, if not remarkable. Sharpness and detail were satisfactory and generally stayed consistent, as the picture maintained a respectable level of definition throughout. Pixelation and edge enhancement weren't a problem, but the picture occasionally did show mild grain, making the image appear slightly noisy. Colors remained bright and clean, with no smearing or other faults.

SOUND: "Lateline" is presented by Paramount in Dolby 2.0. The sound quality is perfectly fine, with clear dialogue and no distortion or other issues.

EXTRAS: Nothing. It would have been nice if Franken would have been pulled in to do a commentary or two.

Final Thoughts: "Lateline" offers a superb cast and smart takes on issues and the workplace. It's not laugh-a-minute, but it's often funny and occasionally hilarious. The DVD set provides very good audio/video quality, but nothing in the way of supplements. Still, recommended, as hopefully this smart series will find more of an audience on DVD than it did during its broadcast run.

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