Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor! Damn!

TV Shows on DVD has the episode list and extras for season 3 of "NewsRadio."

This was probably the best season of "NewsRadio." The following season they would get a bit too zany and surreal, abandoning realistic workplace situations. (To be fair, the reason they did that was that NBC introduced a raft of similar workplace sitcoms -- "Just Shoot Me" and the infamous "Suddenly Susan," where Kathy Griffin played essentially the same character as Vicki Lewis on "NewsRadio" -- and "NewsRadio" had to do something different to distinguish itself from those shows.) The third season is a good mix of mundanity and silliness, and includes episodes like Jimmy James's run for President, Bill McNeal doing a commercial for "Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor," and probably the best "daydream" episode that any sitcom has ever done. And after a season when they had a different director every week, the third season brought on Tom Cherones ("Seinfeld") as permanent director, and he kept the show moving at an amazing clip while holding the touchy cast and crew together.

"NewsRadio" was actually almost cancelled near the end of the third season. It was around this time that Paul Simms, the creator of the show, gave an interview to Rolling Stone where he blasted NBC in anticipation of his show's cancellation, and blasted them in particular for never giving "NewsRadio" a spot on Thursday nights:

People are starting to realize Thursday night is like a big double-decker shit sandwich with three good pieces of bread.

This is the best I can do. Pretend you're God and you say, If you
do a show about a single father who's dating a lot and has two teenage
sons, and it doesn't have to be funny, and it'll be a huge hit. I'd say,
"Fuck you, God."

Instead of cancelling the show, NBC basically gave it a month to improve its ratings. The report at the time was that Warren Littlefield, head of NBC at the time, suggested that "NewsRadio" end its season with a bunch of gimmick episodes that could be easily promoted and therefore pull in some extra viewers. So they ended the season with an episode set in outer space, an episode where Bill gets committed to a mental institution, and an episode guest-starring Jerry Seinfeld (a fan of "NewsRadio"). It worked well enough that the show managed to get picked up, and stayed on the air long enough to get sold into syndication.

1 comment:

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