Picks and Pans Review: Newsradio
Show of the week
Its ratings have been middling at best. Its strongest cast member, Phil Hartman, was slain last May. Yet this sitcom set at a New York City radio station remains on the air after more than 3½ years. Does NewsRadio deserve to be a survivor? Based on its performance so far this season, the answer is yes.
The Hartman character, pompous anchorman Bill McNeal, has been replaced by Max Lewis, a radio gypsy played by the late actor's old friend (and Saturday Night Live cohort) Jon Lovitz. While Hartman's comic mastery is sorely missed, Lovitz has earned his share of laughs with familiar tics and offbeat timing. We treasure the memory of Max's incomprehension ("All what? How often?") when news director Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) explained WNYX's "all news, all the time" format. Things got fairly outlandish this fall with a three-parter in which station owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root) stood accused of being fabled '70s skyjacker D.B. Cooper and resisted a power play by corporate shark Johnny Johnson (a fine guest-star turn by Patrick Warburton, formerly Seinfeld's Puddy). But we've come to appreciate the primary source of this show's staying power: Foley's not-quite-straight-faced reactions to the craziness around him.
Bottom Line: Still on the right frequency