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Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

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Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist is an American animated series that originally ran on Comedy Central from May 28, 1995 to December 24, 1999—with a final set of three shelved episodes airing in 2002—starring Jonathan Katz, Jon Benjamin, and Laura Silverman. The show was created by a Burbank, California production company Popular Arts Entertainment (executive producers: Tim Braine, Kevin Meagher, and David Pritchard), with Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder, developed and first made by Popular Arts for HBO Downtown Productions. Boston based Tom Snyder Productions became the hands-on production company, and the episodes were usually produced by Katz and Loren Bouchard.

The show was computer animate in a crude, easily recognizable style called Squigglevision (a device Snyder had employed in his educational animation business) in which all persons and animate objects are colored and have constantly squiggling outlines, while most other inanimate objects are static and usually gray in color.

The original challenge Popular Arts faced was how to repurpose recorded stand-up comedy material. To do so they based Dr. Katz's patients on stand-up comics for the first several episodes, simply having them recite their stand-up acts. The secondary challenge was how to affordably animate on cable TV at the time. Snyder (a boyhood friend of Braine's) had Squigglevision, an inexpensive means of getting animation on cable, which could not afford traditional animation processes. A partnership between Popular Arts, Tom Snyder Productions and Jonathan Katz was formed and Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist was born.

FormatEdit

The show focused on the title character, Dr. Jonathan Katz, who was voiced by, and visually based on, the comedian of the same name. Dr. Katz was a professional psychotherapist who had famous comedians and actors as patients, usually two per episode. The comedians' therapy sessions generally consisted of them doing their onstage material while Dr. Katz offered insights or simply let them rant. Meanwhile, therapy sessions featuring actors and actresses offered more interpersonal dialogue between Katz and his patient to better suit their predisposition. Dr. Katz is a very laid-back, well-intentioned man who enjoys playing the guitar and spending time at the bar with his friend Stanley and the bartender, Julie.

Interspersed with these scenes were scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life, which included his aimless, childish 24-year-old son, Ben (Jon Benjamin), his uninterested and unhelpful secretary, Laura (Laura Silverman), and his two friends: Stanley (Will LeBow), and the barmaid, Julie, voiced by one of the show's producers, Julianne Shapiro. In later episodes, Todd (Todd Barry), the video store clerk, became a regular character.

Each show would typically begin with Dr. Katz and Ben at breakfast and initiating a plotline. These plots included events like Ben attempting to become a radio personality, believing he is in possession of ESP, and the moral conundrum he suffers after receiving a chain letter. The development of these plotlines would occur in alternation with the segments between Dr. Katz and his guests.

The show would end in a similar way each week; while Dr. Katz was in a session with a patient, music signaling the close of the show would begin to play. Katz would acknowledge it by saying, "Whoops, you know what the music means... our time is up" or some variant thereof.

Much of the show's content, particularly dialogue between Katz and Ben, was improvised through a process called "retroscripting", in which a vague outline is developed but the actual dialogue is ad-libbed. This style, as well as Squigglevision, would reappear in Home Movies, a cartoon that features many members of the Dr. Katz cast and crew.

Original airingEdit

The first episode of Dr. Katz aired on May 28, 1995. A total of 81 episodes were produced, with the sixth and final season (of 18 episodes) beginning on June 15, 1999. Only the first six of the episodes were aired on Comedy Central immediately–though they did air in international markets. After a five-month delay another nine episodes ran during a Christmas Eve marathon. The final three episodes were broadcast for the first time in the United States on February 13, 2002, during an event dubbed "Dr. Katz goes to the Final Three".

EpisodesEdit

Main article: List of Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist episodes

In popular cultureEdit

  • In "Summer Sucks", an episode of South Park, another Comedy Central cartoon, Dr. Katz appears as Mr. Garrison's psychiatrist.
  • In the Mr. Show episode "Bush is a Pussy", a Dr. Katz scene is played out between Katz and Kedzie Matthews, a spoof of a typical college comic, at the end of the episode.
  • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast Season Six episode "King Dead", which featured Benjamin as the guest, the Dr. Katz show is mentioned by name.
  • In the direct-to-DVD parody film, Farce of the Penguins, Jonathan Katz appears as Steve, the owl who gives therapeutic advice for $275/hr.
  • In the children's animated series Arthur, there was an episode where the children all proposed an idea for a TV-show episode, all of which were based on various animated programs. Arthur's idea had himself as a young adult seeing Dr. Katz, complaining about his sister, D.W.
  • On the sitcom Help Me Help You, Jonathan Katz appeared as Dr. Katz.
  • In Family Guy, Katz appears as Peter Griffin's therapist in "Saving Private Brian", where Peter makes note of his unusual art style. He says that his skin always appears to be moving and he responds that he thinks he's having some sort of seizure. The episode's commentary reveals that Jonathan Katz declined the opportunity to reprise the role, and consequently Katz is voiced by Seth MacFarlane.

Comic stripEdit

A comic strip of the same name was produced by the LA Times syndicate from March 1997 to January 2000. One book collection was published, Hey, I've Got My Own Problems. Writers included Bill Braudis and Dave Blazek, with artwork by Dick Truxaw.

DVD releasesEdit

Season Releases

DVD NameRelease DateEp #Additional Information
Season 1May 9, 2006 6 Bonus features include cast and crew commentary, and several animated shorts.
Season 2November 21, 2006 13 Bonus features include cast and crew commentary, and "follow-up calls" with previous guest stars.
The Complete SeriesNovember 20, 2007 81 Bonus Features include a 28-page booklet with patients' "memories from the couch" and new drawings, as well as "An Evening with Dr Katz: Live from the Comedy Central Stage."
The Best Of Dr. KatzDecember 2, 2008 Various Segments Bonus features include excerpts from other Comedy Central series and a look back at classic Ben & Laura moments.

External linksEdit

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