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The Best of "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" DVD Review

Buy The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist on DVD from Amazon.com The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
Show & DVD Details

Creators: Tom Snyder, Jonathan Katz / Featured Writers: Jonathan Katz, Tom Snyder, Laura Silverman, Will LeBow, Julianne Shapiro, Bill Braudis, H. Jon Benjamin, Loren Bouchard, Carl W. Adams, Lisa Gillim, Richard Luongo, Annette LeBlanc Cate, Karen LeBlanc, Mark Usher, Martha Williams, Amy MacDonald Ronayne, Ivan Rhudick, Todd Barry, James Fagerquist, Paul Santucci, Andre Lyman, Adam Simha, Kristen Kempton, Sharon Glick, Carol Vidinghoff; Additional Material Provided by Guests

Voice Cast: Jonathan Katz (Dr. Katz), H. Jon Benjamin (Ben Katz), Laura Silverman (Laura)

Featured Guests (Patient Voices): Ray Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Kevin Nealon, David Cross, Dave Chappelle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Richard Lewis, Denis Leary, Patton Oswalt, Brian Regan, David Duchovny, Sarah Silverman, Susie Essman, Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Dave Atell, Louis C.K., Conan O'Brien

Running Time: 108 minutes / Rating: Not Rated

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2008 / Originally Aired May 28, 1995 - December 24, 1999
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); Black Keepcase

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In the mid-1990s, original programming was scarce on Comedy Central. If you tuned in and found something other than a "Saturday Night Live" rerun,
it could very well have been B-movie-riffing "Mystery Science Theater 3000", Bill Maher's ABC-bound "Politically Incorrect", or the animated comedy "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist." Those are just about the network's only properties that both predated still-running icons "South Park" and "The Daily Show" and remain remembered today.

If it was "Dr. Katz" adorning your cable-equipped '90s TV, you'd have known right away. That's because this cartoon had a unique look from a patented process called "Squigglevision" that put characters in constant wiggling motion. "Katz" was also distinguished by being an adult-oriented cartoon, a rare beast then, predating the influx of racier Adult Swim content by several years.

With pencil and notes in hands, Dr. Katz listens attentively to a patient. Lying down on the couch with a bright Hawaiian shirt, Kevin Nealon is one of eighteen famous guest stars featured in "The Best of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist."

As the full title suggests, "Dr. Katz" centers on a shrink. Taking his name from his voice actor and series co-creator Jonathan Katz, the therapist would welcome no shortage of famous patients into his office to hear their amusing issues. Guest stars would lend their (generally familiar) names, likenesses, and ideas (often taken from their stand-up comedy routines) to the characters they're voicing. It's never quite clear if they're playing versions of themselves like some celebrity guests of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" or if their name and a cartoony rendering of themselves is used for recognition purposes.

In any event, the patients vent and Dr. Katz listens, offering sincere support and therapeutic guidance but only until the closing music plays and never at the expense of comedy. Also figuring in the series are the doctor's immature grown son Ben (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) and disinterested receptionist Laura (Laura Silverman).

"Dr. Katz" isn't your typical sitcom. Despite the minimalist presentation and improv-friendly retroscripting format, it can't be considered a direct ancestor to the reference-laden "Family Guy" and its ilk or Adult Swim's ribald, absurdist fare. (Although "Home Movies" shared some common cast/crew and, in its first season, Squigglevision.) The natural delivery stands in contrast to scripted dialogue and calls to mind Woody Allen films and personas. Simple though the visuals may be, the images they convey are sometimes very humorous and almost always play a part in the show's scattered moments of crippling hilarity.

Like all of Dr. Katz's patients, David Duchovny has to check in with Laura the unfriendly receptionist. His "Believe" t-shirt separates him from the crowd. Split-screen shows us Julia Louis-Dreyfus' phone session with Dr. Katz.

The show ran six seasons on Comedy Central for a total of 81 half-hour episodes. Like most things popular enough to still be discussed after leaving the air, "Dr. Katz" made its way to DVD this decade. Viacom distributor Paramount Home Entertainment released the short first two seasons in the spring and fall of 2006. Then, apparently deciding it'd just be wiser and easier to release the whole kit and kaboodle in one go (a move that understandably aggravated those who had bought Seasons 1 and 2), subsequent season sets were halted and last Thanksgiving brought a 13-disc Complete Series collection. Now, a year later, the studio seeks to reach fans of the show who aren't devoted enough to spend close to $100 to own every episode.

The Best of "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" has a 94-minute-plus-credits feature presentation which compiles vocal appearances by eighteen well-known guests. Carrying a $19.99 list price, this disc will run you about as much as the Season 1 and 2 releases, which is of course to say a mere fraction of the big series set. All of the featured guests, primarily stand-up comedians who sometimes act, still maintain some degree of fame today. Many are better known now than they did when were tapped last decade, including Ray Romano, Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Susie Essman, Louis C.K., and Kathy Griffin.

The emphasis on guest stars renders Dr. Katz secondary here. The Ben and Laura material is also kept to a minimum, with the therapy sessions claiming the spotlight in clips ranging from 2 to 10 minutes long.

This visual describes how Ray Romano places orders from non-lingual fast food workers. Everybody loves Raymond! Cartoon Denis Leary takes the couch, complete with his trademark cigarette and pea coat.

Here's a look at what's found here:

In his first of seven appearances on the show, Ray Romano discusses Thanksgiving compromise and forgetting things (7:09). Janeane Garofalo shares her marriage fears and Dr. Katz tries to jog her childhood memories (5:25).
Kevin Nealon talks about relationships, living each day like it's his last, and how alarm clocks could be improved (6:38). David Cross imagines if Jesus talked like an effeminate Southern man and ponders life with marijuana legalized (5:13). Dave Chappelle opens up about intolerance and TV superheroes (4:55). Julia Louis-Dreyfus confides in Dr. Katz over the phone and in between many bathroom breaks (3:59). In a tense, terse session, Richard Lewis admits to hypochondria (2:18).

Kicking off one of the disc's funniest stretches, Denis Leary gripes about kids, a talking Darth Vader bank, Irish cooking, and clothing (6:55). After Laura "helps" him check his voice mail, Patton Oswalt talks about his favorite movie Star Wars and how it would have been with Nick Nolte playing Han Solo, before asking Dr. Katz to fulfill his need for a villain (6:10). Brian Regan proves himself to be one of the most entertaining patients ever, with his talk of misusing the phrase "you too" and regionally-varying terms for food (6:27). David Duchovny gets trapped in a broom closet and begins his session there, before babbling about dreams (5:09). Sarah Silverman supplies a short bit of her shtick about her love life and family (2:52).

Susie Essman sounds off on how her family scares away all her boyfriends (4:02). Kathy Griffin talks about her own relationship problems (4:59). Margaret Cho does impressions of her Korean mother's words of wisdom on food and gays (2:12). Dave Attell speaks out about scary animal attacks, stalking, and monkeys' "feety hands" (3:26). Louis C.K. discusses judging strangers by appearance, irrational gorging, and one way of handling presidential responsibility (4:53). Claiming the longest and most story-oriented segment, Dr. Katz is miffed when Conan O'Brien uses his jokes on his talk show without giving him credit (9:51).

The disc concludes with 15 minutes of end credits, covering each of the featured episodes.


"Dr. Katz" appears in 1.33:1 fullscreen and two-channel stereo. Picture quality isn't particularly good, but that's more likely due to the show's thrifty design than the DVD transfer. I'd be shocked if the presentation differed for better or worse from the complete series set. The fullscreen episodes are usually mildly windowboxed to the point where you'll see black bars even on a TV with standard overscan. Even with that anomaly, video and the dialogue-driven audio are both adequate. The lack of subtitles and closed captioning is certainly frustrating but nothing new for Comedy Central DVDs.

Largely absent from the feature presentation, Ben and Laura get some screentime in "Dr. Katz Remembers" clips like this one, in which the Doc test-drives a used car for Laura. This second Session selection page displays many of the stronger guests, who alphabetically fall 10th to 18th on this disc.


Though generally not expected of a Best-Of, the disc does provide some bonus features.

Most significant are "Dr. Katz Remembers" shorts (22:30), which set up 3-5 minute clips from the show with new in-character audio introductions by Jonathan Katz rendering them flashbacks. These give us more of the core personalities, who the main feature neglects in favor of guest stars.
Four of these shorts are clearly identified in thought bubbles and two others are accessible as Easter eggs. Featured here: Dr. Katz delivers a eulogy, Ben watches television but doesn't take interest in nature shows, Dr. Katz and Ben help Laura buy a used car, Ben tells Laura about his father's plan to run for alderman, Ben talks about his dream of killing his father, and Dr. Katz sings at an open mic night.

"Comedy Central Quickies" provide tastes of four of the network's active series. In "Baracknophobia" from "The Daily Show", Jon Stewart recounts some of the unfortunate Barack Obama photos captured. From "The Colbert Report", Stephen Colbert speaks out against children's growing acceptance of fruit and the culprit behind the change (Cookie Monster). "Reno 911!" finds Dangle and Junior ordering a Thai food delivery hoping to bust a prostitution ring. And in "South Park", Cartman gets ready to visit a tough urban high school. If the disc space was available for these 2-minute clips, then who can complain about this effective and painless form of advertising?

"DVD Previews" plays the same three ads that open the disc, which promote "South Park": The Complete Eleventh Season Uncensored, "Comedy Central's TV Funhouse", and The Best of "The Colbert Report".

The main menu opens with a lengthy intro, after which it settles on a still screen with a loop of the theme music. The Sessions menu arranges the 18 guests alphabetically (not chronologically, like the main feature) and will play just that segment with no end credits.

Perhaps joke theft has kept Conan O'Brien on the air much longer than his therapist. Or maybe Conan just rocks. With Dave Chappelle as Aquaman...


There are shows that you love and will need to own every second of every episode plus every bonus feature. There are shows you don't like or don't care enough to try.
MTS3K meets Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull MTS3K meets The Happening
MST3K Meets Iron Man MST3K meets The Star Wars Holiay Special
Everything else falls into the large gap between, which may earn labels such as "like it but not enough to invest in buying all the DVDs" or a "reruns are good enough." "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" is a show that falls into that middle range for me and I'm sure many others. As it's not presently in syndication and is unlikely to return anytime soon, a DVD sampling is an appealing, reasonable alternative to the complete series set.

That's where this Best Of disc comes in. It's not entirely representative of the series, skewing more to the celebrity guest comedy than the core character situation material. And it could have held more, maybe even a complete episode or two in addition to what's here. But, as an inexpensive taste of some of the series' guest star highlights, this DVD does just fine. Completists and diehard fans can move on; there's nothing for you here. Those who like the show but not enough to plop down nearly $100 to own, pick this up. Just know that it might make you hungry for more.

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Reviewed November 28, 2008.

Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1995-99 Comedy Central/Partners, Tom Snyder Productions, Popular Arts Entertainment, HBO Downtown Productions,
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