|Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One (1995)
Starring: Jonathan Katz, Jon Benjamin, Laura Silverman, Will Le Bow, Julianne Shapiro
ALSO! Click here to read Will's interview with Jonathan Katz.
Jonathan Katz is one of the greatest deadpan comics of all time, right up there with Bob Newhart and Stephen Wright, but his greatest accomplishment comes not from his stand-up but, rather, from his role as the animated title character of “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.” Katz might disagree with that assessment, but he’s not the one who’s writing this review, and that puts him at a disadvantage that he’s just going to have to live with.
The show was the creation of Katz and Tom Snyder (but not the Tom Snyder who was the host of “Tomorrow,” though that’s got to be the bane of his existence), and while the general concept – Katz plays a similarly-named therapist whose patients are voiced by comedians like Ray Romano, Dave Attell, and Larry Miller – was a great way to incorporate standup routines into animation, some of the funniest bits in the show come from the interaction amongst the show’s regulars, courtesy of the easy adlibbing that goes on between them. Dr. Katz’s son, Ben, was voiced by Jon Benjamin, who later went on to portray Coach McGuirk on “Home Movies”; it turns out that, even as Ben was constantly pursuing his dad’s receptionist, Laura, Jon Benjamin was in an off-and-on relationship with the woman who provided her voice, Laura Silverman. Talk about instant tension!
Insofar as the method of animation used for “Dr. Katz,” here are a lot of inventions that have offered tremendous advances in the world of television, but few have had the lasting impact of a little thing called…Squigglevision. Actually, that’s not true at all. You don’t need more than the fingers on one hand to count the number of series that used that particular method of computer animation (I think the only one of those shows that’s still on the air is “Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy”), and, as Katz, Benjamin, and Snyder observe on the audio commentary for one of the episodes, some people can’t watch it, lest they have epileptic seizures. They’re probably kidding. Probably.
Right, and about the commentary: there’s a fair amount of it, including appearances by the aforementioned trio, as well as Romano and Attell, and given the people involved, it shouldn’t surprise you that it proves almost as funny as the show itself. Additional special features include a few “Katz” shorts that appeared on Comedy Central’s late, lamented “Short Attention Span Theater,” as well as an animated bio of the good doctor.
The only bummer is that, while this set covers the entire first season, you’re only talking about a grand total of six episodes. Whether we see more “Katz” discs remains to be seen; nothing’s on the calendar yet, so one presumes it depends on how well this inaugural volume sells. Given the price (it’s only about $14.99), you really should do your part and pick up this disc, because…whoops, you know what the music means. Our time is up.