Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist - Season Two
Paramount // Unrated // $26.99 // November 21, 2006
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted November 21, 2006
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In 10 Words or Less
Back on the couch with those messed-up comics

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Stand-up comedy, animation
Likes: Dr. Katz, old-school Comedy Central
Dislikes: Squigglevision
Hates: Emo Phillips, Judy Tenuta

The Story So Far...
Jonathan Katz has a quirky stand-up act that's remarkable even-tempered. It's a stage persona that translated perfectly to the role of psychotherapist, especially psychotherapist to stand-up comics. Done as a cartoon, with the somewhat reviled squigglevision technique, each episode mixed a story about Dr. Katz, his son Ben (H. Jon Benjamin) and his friends, with two couch sessions. The series became one of the first hits for Comedy Central, until stand-up comedy became just a stepping stone to sitcom stardom The first season was released in May of 2006. DVDTalk has a review here.

The Show
There's not much to seperate the second season of "Dr. Katz" from the first one, as there's no real plot, no character changes and no stand-out episodes. All it is, is 13 more chances to enjoy the good doctor and his patients.

If there's one thing the series has, it's consistency. Dr. Katz is always self-depricating and soft-spoken, Ben is eternally lazy, and Laura can't be bothered to do her job. The story, what there is of it, normally is driven by another of Ben's misadventures, whether he's gloating about witnessing a crime, attempting to date Laura or looking for an apartment. Normally, that ends up frustrating his dad to humorous effect.

The Ben-Jon story isn't the main feature though, as the comics' therapy sessions are the show's reason to exist. The concept really just takes the performer's act and works it as a personality problem for Katz to deal with. This works great for comics like Ray Romano, Louie C.K. and Garry Shandling, who talk a lot about their personal life, like you would on the couch. Kevin Meaney's act, which includes plenty of stories about his apparently insane upbringing, lends itself especially well to the psychiatry concept.

The show's format doesn't work as well for comics whose acts are either conceptual or gimmicky (unless they drop the act and try something different.) Not surprisingly, these same comics, including Emo Phillips and Judy Tenuta, aren't exactly headliners these days. It's almost like "Dr. Katz" is a litmus test for longevity, as a successful appearance on the show tends to belong to a long-time comedy draw like Romano, Todd Barry or Dom Irerra.

Truthfully, this is not the best of the show's five seasons, in large part due to the patient line-up, which is distinctly B-list once you get past the few appearances by talent like Romano and his ilk. No offense to a quality writer like "Home Movies"' Bill Braudis, but he's not what fans remember when they think of Dr. Katz.

The DVDs
The two-disc set is packed in a single-width clear keepcase, with a hub on the inside of each cover. The cover is two-sided, with an episode guide on the inside. There are no audio options and no subtitles available, but there is close captioning.

The Quality
These letterboxed widescreen episodes look better than their age should allow, with bright color and no dirt or damage in the transfers. The squigglevision technique introduces visible pixilation in spots, but there's nothing else obviously wrong with the image.

Replicating the old-school delivery is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that's plain vanilla, delivering the dialogue cleanly through the center channel, along with music. It's all clear and distortion free, right down to the cute transitional music.

The Extras
The extras are all found on Disc One, starting with a pair of audio commentaries by Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz and Laura Silverman, on "Bystander Ben" and "Office Management." Though they sometimes lose themselves in the episodes, they do a fair amount of talking about the development of the show, revealing behind-the-scenes info and telling some jokes. The opportunity to revisit the series over 10 years later seems to have been embraced by these old friends.

A bit of original content finds its way into this set, in the form of three "follow-up" calls to his patients, Joy Behar, Emo Phillips and Stephen Wright. Though they aren't animated, presented instead as a single off-style drawing with voiceover, they are amusing. Wright's is a bit rambling, while Behar and Phillips sound just like an episode performance.

The usual Comedy Central "Quickies" are here as well, including the legendary "Colbert Report" segment on truthiness.

The Bottom Line
Though there are some quality "patients" on board for the second season, overall, it's a bit of a disappointment, thanks to a line-up marred by some former stand-up stars that are out of place here next to hilarious bits by Ray Romano and Dom Irerra. The set itself is something of a step back as well, with four fewer audio commentaries, and far fewer featurettes. Fans will still want to check it out, just not as much as the other seasons.

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