It's Crizzapy: 20 Reasons Why We Should Talk About 'NewsRadio' More

Senior Pop Culture Editor
03.12.13 113 Comments

Last night, I started thinking about how NewsRadio rarely airs in syndication anymore, and I got sad. And then I decided between that, and Fox never showing golden-era Simpsons episodes in repeats, it’s like TV is spitting on Phil Hartman’s legacy, and then I got really sad. Paul Simms’s NewsRadio is one the best, most innovative sitcoms in recent memory, if not ever, one that would have been massively popular, at least among us Internet folk, had it aired today. It was the Community/Parks and Recreation of the 1990s, and deserves to be just as adored.

As a tribute to the sitcom, which premiered 18 years ago this month, here are 20 (of the 1,392,492,989) reasons why NewsRadio is one of the comedy greats.


1. Phil Hartman.

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2. Dave Nelson, as played by Dave Foley with a snarky out-of-town dignity, is one of the most tolerable (and interesting) straight men in sitcom history. The anti-Mosby, if you will.

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3. The brilliant high-concept parodies — like the futuristic “Space,” in which nearly everyone dies at the end, and “Sinking Ship,” set aboard the Titanic — that paved the way for Community.

4. In 1994, as part of a promotional tie-in with the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, NBC made three of its Tuesday night sitcoms do wedding- or funeral-themed episodes. NewsRadio got the death end of the straw, but rather than force something sentimental, the show instead aired “Rat Funeral,” which is about exactly what you think it is.

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5. In fact, f*cking with NBC was a NewsRadio passion. “Injury” was produced for season two, but didn’t air until after season three because the writers wanted to see how many times they could get away with saying “penis” during primetime, which NBC was none too pleased about.

6. The guest stars, including Lauren Graham…

…Jerry Seinfeld…

…Patton Oswalt…

…Anthrax…

…and Brian Posehn, Bob Odenkirk, and David Cross.

7. It made Andy Dick tolerable.




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8. Did I mention Phil Hartman?

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9. Stephen Root’s character, Jimmy James, is named after a Beastie Boys song.

10. The cast was banned from the SAG Awards after their first (and only) appearance. They took their shoes off, stole wine from other tables, got drunk, and Andy Dick asked Helen Hunt to sign, well, Andy’s dick.

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11. The running gag of no one ever remembering Joe’s last name. Gar…something?

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12. Maura Tierney was at peak babe.

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13. The entirety of “Super Karate Monkey Death Car,” where Jimmy’s autobiography, Jimmy James: Capitalist Lion Tamer, is translated from English to Japanese back into English and is now called Jimmy James: Macho Business Donkey Wrestler. Imagine the Afghanistan Arrested Development DVD cover turned into an episode of TV.

14. No, seriously, did I miss Phil Hartman?


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15. It added new words, such as “bitchcakes” (going crazy) and “gazizza” (informal greeting), to the cultural lexicon.

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16. The small, winking details like, “In [“Presence”], a Star Wars Boba Fett action figure is shown and discussed in several scenes, which the commentary notes required permission from Lucasfilm. The line ‘BOBA FETT COURTESY OF J.T. HUTT’ appears in the episode’s credits.”

17. It understood the importance of a good newspaper headline gag, like Parks and Rec many years later.


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18. Its raw sex appeal.




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19. Overall, NewsRadio had one of the sitcom world’s best top-to-bottom casts, where even the person billed eighth during the credits, Khandi Alexander, killed it every week. The fact that the show only won a single Emmy, for Outstanding Costuming, is a travesty.

20. OK, just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss Phil Hartman.

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