Since I wrote the review of “Dr. Katz” season one, I get to crib from it to bring you up to speed: The show stars, unsurprisingly, Dr. Katz, a mild-mannered, Bob Newhart-esque therapist who plays the foil for his dimwitted son’s buffoonery, his acidic receptionist’s lack of a work ethic, and his patients’ comedy routines. Yes, comedy routines — you’ll hear plenty of good stuff from Ray Romano, Kevin Meaney, Joy Behar, and other comedians who drop by the office to rant about their lives.
Each of the 13 episodes on this two-disc set features three or four of Dr. Katz’s appointments with his patients. They form a thread that stitches together a loose storyline involving his always-amusing interactions with his son, Ben, and his receptionist, Laura. Occasionally he gets away from it all to chat with his friend, Stanley, at the bar where Julie works. Admittedly, the bits at the bar tend to be the weakest ones, since Stanley and Julie are fairly normal; this show is at its best when Dr. Katz is contending with the lunatics who run the asylum that is the rest of his life.
Once “Dr. Katz” proved itself with its six-episode first season, it really got the chance to spread its wings for the five seasons that followed. It’s obvious that word got around the comedian circuit, since the roster of comics who show up has expanded greatly; this time, every other episode doesn’t feature Ray Romano, although he still appears in three episodes in season two.
Disc one contains six episodes, with audio commentaries found on two of them. Series creators Tom Snyder and Johnathan Katz, along with Laura Silverman (who plays Laura the receptionist), show up on all of the commentaries. As with many group commentaries, the discussion veers more toward chit-chat and away from actually talking about what’s on the screen. Sometimes I think the people who arrange these things should just let the group bullshit for a while and then play the video so they turn their attention to it. (Silverman participated over the phone, but I assume she was still watching the episodes in question.) This group also has a tendency to just fall silent and laugh occasionally at what they’re watching. If you listen all the way through, however, you’ll mine a few nuggets, such as Snyder explaining how they recorded the therapy sessions for maximum effect.
Disc one also includes “follow-up calls” with Joy Behar, Emo Philips, and Steve Wright. We hear the audio of each call while a drawing of the comedian appears on the screen. Johnathan Katz plays his character, who has now written a book called “Marriage: A Three-Legged Table,” and the comics play along. Too bad Paramount couldn’t pony up a few bucks to get Katz and the comics together for an in-person session that could have been animated, SquiggleVision-style. I realize “Dr. Katz” isn’t something that’s going to sell in huge numbers, so there was little financial incentive to embark on such a project, but, you know, throw a bone to the fans. Maybe some Paramount executives could brown-bag their lunches for a week to raise the cash.
Disc two contains the final seven episodes, with no audio commentaries or follow-up calls present. However, we do have “Comedy Central Quickies” from “The Colbert Report,” “Mind of Mencia,” and “Reno 911!” They’re little bits that sometimes run between shows on the network.