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Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series
It's always a gamble to revisit some of your favorite shows from decades ago, since it might shock you with not only how dated they have become, but how much your taste has grown since. This is doubly the case with sit-coms. Humor is very subjective and dependant on the culture within the time period it exposes. What you once thought to be funny might not be the case a couple of decades later. My guess is that those who were genuinely tickled by The Brady Bunch in the 70s might have had trouble arguing its relevance and overall quality during the 90s when groundbreaking sit-coms like Seinfeld and Friends were making the rounds.
Just Shoot Me is a sit-com I frequently enjoyed during the early years of the 2000s. It ran from 1997 to 2003, during that sweet spot when three-camera network sit-coms were still relevant, and it had the fortitude to get cancelled right when single camera comedy like The Office broke new ground. In many ways, the show is part of a slew of sitcoms that worked as a bridge between painfully innocuous and benign old school sit-coms and groundbreaking stuff that wasn't afraid to touch on edgy material while experimenting with an unconventional comedy structure. It was nowhere near as revolutionary as the aforementioned 90s hits, but it used the simple premise of a bunch of narcissistic, shallow, yet somehow likable idiots who bicker and compete with each other while working for a Cosmo-style fashion rag to touch on some interesting issues.
The relationship at the center of the show is the fractured one between the idealist yet easily corruptible reporter Maya (Laura San Giacomo) and her self-centered millionaire absentee father Jack (George Segal, whose inherent sweetness makes us like such an unpleasant character), who owns the magazine. The emotional core of the series relies on a constant back and forth between Maya's desire to be truly loved and appreciated by her father, and her father's yearning to have her daughter respect his authority above all else. Some of the neuroses of the other main characters, like middle-aged model Nina's (Wendie Malick) obsession with staying young, or womanizing photographer Elliot's (Enrico Colantoni) unrepentant toxic masculinity, are skewered at a time when such characters would have been shown as cool or sexy in simpler sitcoms.
That being said, none of that really stops Just Shoot me from feeling dated enough to only work as a nostalgic bit of curiosity, with nothing much new of value for the contemporary audience. You get the usual three-camera sit-com premises full of wacky misunderstandings, easy jokes with predictable punch lines, and all episodes ending with a convenient schmaltzy button, no matter how serious the conflict depicted was. This becomes painfully obvious as the show moves along. As we get to the final seasons, which began touching the precipice of the mid-2000s, it's hard not to think that it has already overstayed its welcome. The times change, but Just Shoot Me stays the same. The core relationships between the characters might switch here and there, but the overall tone doesn't evolve.
Just Shoot Me was shot on film, and therefore shows a great amount of crispness, grain, and clarity, compared to shot-on-video counterparts. There are even some scratches and dirt here and there. I'm glad that the 1:33:1 aspect ratio was retained, and we don't get that forced 16:9 look that changes the whole aesthetic point of a sit-com from that period. There are some aliasing issues here and there, but this is as good as it gets for Just Shoot Me fans, since I doubt a Blu-ray release is coming any time soon.
The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track on each episode gets the job done as far as being able to clearly hear the dialogue and the appropriate mix between dialogue and the audience laughter goes. There aren't any subtitles offered, not even for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Commentaries: Audio commentaries are offered on four episodes in the first season only. The creator Steven Levitan has the writers and producers of each episode join him for a candid discussion about the production process. These are fun, since the camaraderie between the crew shines through.
Always in Fashion: This is a half-hour featurette with Levitan and the cast talking about the ways they approached the show and their characters.
We also get a Photo Gallery of some fake covers from the fake magazine at the center of the show.
As dated as Just Shoot Me's humor and tonal approach might be in contemporary times, it's still an instantly likable show, thanks mostly to the palpable chemistry between the main cast. This set is especially a great deal for fans of the show.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com