EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

Image Credit: NBC

Remembering 'NewsRadio,' NBC's great forgotten sitcom

The ’90s were a great time for NBC sitcoms. FriendsFrasier, and Seinfeld were all running concurrently, and the network was riding high on ratings and critical acclaim.

It was during this boom period that NewsRadio, a show about the daily grind at a New York City radio station, was born. The brainchild of The Larry Sanders Show veteran Paul Simms, NewsRadio ran from 1995 to 1999, and seemed forever on the verge of cancellation. Simms’ strained relationship with the network couldn’t have helped matters — in a 1997 Rolling Stone interview, he called NBC executives “c—suckers” and likened the network’s Thursday-night lineup to “a big double-decker s— sandwich with three good pieces of bread.” Far from pulling the show down, this embattled environment seemed to light a fire under Simms and his team, who turned out episode after episode of lighting-quick comedy.

Looking back, the show was well ahead of its time, and deserves to be remembered alongside NBC’s monster hits from the era.

As with any good sitcom, NewsRadio’s success begins with its cast. SeinfeldFrasier, and Friends had between four and six main cast members apiece, but NewsRadio had eight, which made it feel more like a proper ensemble show. With the exception of Saturday Night Live veteran Phil Hartman, most of the actors were unknowns when cast. (Interestingly, a pre–Everybody Loves Raymond Ray Romano appeared in the pilot, but was replaced by Joe Rogan for the show proper.) It would be an exaggeration to say that NewsRadio turned the cast members into household names, but most have done well for themselves. Maura Tierney, for example, is up for a second Emmy for her work on The Affair, and Stephen Root has long been one of the best “Hey, it’s that guy” actors in the business.

RELATED from FanSided: Is a baby on the way in the new Gilmore Girls?

The producers cast for chemistry rather than star power. According to Simms, NBC disapproved of this strategy, but it made for terrific comic energy. The relationships between characters on NewsRadio were uncommonly well-developed, and formed the basis for many of the laughs, whether it was the surrogate father-daughter bond between station owner Jimmy James (Root) and feisty secretary Beth (Vicki Lewis), the brotherly squabbling between electrician Joe (Rogan) and incompetent reporter Matthew (Andy Dick), or the eternal battle of wills between station manager Dave (Dave Foley) and anchor Bill McNeal (Hartman).

McNeal was one of the show’s most potent creations, a self-aggrandizing blowhard for the ages. When Hartman died before the show’s fifth and final season, the creators and cast paid tribute to him in “Bill Moves On,” a nakedly emotional episode that belied criticisms that the show lacked heart.

If critics found the show lacking in emotion, it might have been because the density of jokes was so high and the methods of delivery so varied that they were overstimulated. NewsRadio was produced in the same way as other sitcoms of the day: with multiple cameras and a laugh track. But looking back, it almost has more in common with later-era shows like ScrubsThe Office, and particularly 30 Rock. It wasn’t afraid, for example, to go off on wild flights of fancy, such as ending its third season with an episode set on a radio station in outer space, or ending its fourth with an episode aboard the Titanic.

NewsRadio is also notable for its use of physical humor and elaborate staging. For example, almost every episode in the first few seasons began with Andy Dick, a wonderful physical comedian whose talent would be overshadowed by his tabloid-worthy antics in the years following the show, taking a pratfall, some of which look pretty painful.

Particularly in the later seasons, the staging could take on an almost Looney Toons–like level of mania. Take the below clip, for example, where Dave tries to trick an efficiency consultant into firing random employee Carl rather than the incompetent Matthew. He arrays them at a table, pulls the curtain, and the show begins.

At one point in the not too distant past, a handful of NewsRadio seasons were on Netflix. At the moment, the entirety of Friends and Frasier can be viewed there, but NewsRadio is nowhere to be seen. That’s a shame, because NBC’s great forgotten sitcom deserves to be watched by as many people as possible.

Dan Selcke is an editor at FanSided and editor-in-chief at WinterIsComing.net.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like