What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sitcom's office setting provides the fodder for much of its mostly tasteful humor. Most storylines are harmless in nature, ranging from an anchorman's addiction to age-unknown sandwiches in the building's snack machine to a new complaint box that handles more than its share of employee gripes. Ongoing elements include office romances and sibling-like rivalry between co-workers. Overall, the show's ability to make interpersonal relationships so funny while sticking to largely non-controversial subject matter makes it a rare find -- so rare, in fact, that we're giving it an "on" rating despite some "pauses" in the content breakdown.
What's the story?
NEWSRADIO is set in the office of New York's (fictional) second-rated news radio station, WNYX, where eccentric station owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root) is a constant presence in the office but does very little real work. It's level-headed Dave Nelson (Dave Foley) who manages the often-unruly group and shoulders their many complaints while grasping at sanity with stolen moments of serenity behind his office door. The rest of the WNYX staff is an unlikely group of colleagues whose interpersonal relations are the basis for the show's comedy. Ambitious, type-A overachiever Lisa Miller (Maura Tierney) is the station's supervising producer; Matthew Brock is a lovably dense news reporter portrayed in Andy Dick's typical awkward, slow-witted fashion; and Dave's assistant Beth (Vicki Lewis) isn't the brightest bulb, with her halfhearted attempts at work and off-the-wall additions to conversations. In the anchor chairs are sassy Catherine Duke (Khandi Alexander) and egomaniac Bill McNeal (Phil Hartman), who maintain a fiercely competitive relationship (probably spurred by a previous affair). And cool guy Joe Garrelli (Fear Factor's Joe Rogan) is the station's engineer -- who usually handles technical problems with a whack of the wrench.
Is it any good?
NewsRadio benefits from thoughtful casting, an extremely talented cast, and sharp writing that plays to the actors' strengths and promotes the banter and sarcastic exchanges that keep the laughs coming. The show's humorous take on office politics will appeal to adults, and the mostly innocent topics make it a fine choice for families with older tweens and young teens to enjoy together. Some episodes border on the absurd thanks to locale changes (pretending the station is in space or aboard the Titanic, for example) or outlandish storylines (like Mr. James taking on a Ross Perot persona and running for president). But somehow it works with this group.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about forging relationships with someone very different from you. In what situations could you be forced to work side by side with someone who's entirely your opposite? How do you relate to someone with whom you have little in common? Families can also discuss the specific episodes. How did the characters handle the problems in this episode? How might you have handled them differently?