Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
|Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist|
H. Jon Benjamin
|Theme music composer||
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||81 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
HBO Downtown Productions
Popular Arts Entertainment
Tom Snyder Productions
Warner Bros. Television
|Original network||Comedy Central|
|Picture format||4:3 SDTV|
May 28, 1995 – |
February 13, 2002
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 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. It won a Peabody Award in 1998.
The show was computer-animated in a crude, easily recognizable style produced with the software 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.
Dr. Katz is a professional psychotherapist. He is a laid-back, well-intended man who enjoys playing the guitar and spending time at the bar with his friend Stanley and bartender Julie. His patients are famous comedians and actors, usually two per episode, and the show is oriented around these sessions. Therapy sessions that feature comedians generally consist of onstage material while Dr. Katz offers insights or simply lets them talk. Therapy sessions that feature actors offer more interpersonal dialogue between Dr. Katz and his patient.
Interspersed between therapy sessions are scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life, which includes 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 bartender Julie, voiced by one of the show's producers, Julianne Shapiro. In later episodes, Todd (Todd Barry), a video store clerk, becomes a regular character.
Most episodes typically begin with Dr. Katz and Ben at breakfast. The plots include events like Ben attempting to become a radio personality, believing he has ESP, or suffering from a moral conundrum after receiving a chain letter. The development of these plots alternates with the segments of Dr. Katz and his guests in therapy sessions.
Much of the show's content, particularly dialogue between Dr. Katz and Ben, is 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 the animation technique Squigglevision, would reappear in Home Movies, a cartoon on which many members of the Dr. Katz cast and crew worked.
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 final season 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."
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.
Live action production
In 2007, Comedy Central presented An Evening with Dr. Katz: Live from the Comedy Central Stage, a live-action special taped in front of a live audience at the Hudson Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, featuring Jonathan Katz reprising his role as Dr. Katz. Comedians Maria Bamford, Kathy Griffin, Andy Kindler and Paul F. Tompkins appeared in person as celebrity "clients"; Jon Benjamin and Laura Silverman reprised their respective roles from the animated series. This special was included in the "Complete Series" DVD compilation.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, live performances took place at the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival in Austin, Texas on April 23 and 24. Staged therapy sessions included Andy Kindler, Emo Philips, Maria Bamford, Dom Irrera, Dana Gould, and Eddie Pepitone.
In popular culture
- 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. Also, when Space Ghost says cable is important to him, he appears in the Dr. Katz artstyle. The Season Four episode "Brilliant Number One" originally used the poorly-drawn Space Ghost when he asks Peter Fonda "What does this tell us about your childhood?"
- 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.
- In the 1996 film Independence Day, Stuck in traffic, Fierstein demands over his cellphone that he speak with Dr. Katz. Fierstein himself was previously a guest character on the show.
- In the Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man episode "Das Sub", Duckman has a picture of Dr. Katz in his office.
- On the Squidbillies episode "Holodeck Redneck", Jonathan Katz had an uncredited appearance voicing Dr. Katz depicted with an hairpiece as the Holodeck Therapist.
- Eichler, Glenn. Dr. Katz's Me at a Glance, Pocket, 1996. ISBN 0-671-00318-6.
- Braudis, Bill. Dr. Katz: Hey I've Got My Own Problems, Pocket, 1997. ISBN 0-671-00758-0.
- Brozan, Nadine (June 12, 1997). "CHRONICLE". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- 58th Annual Peabody Awards, May 1999.
- Wertheimer, Ron (April 26, 1999). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Meet the Small Family, A Year After the Divorce". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Milvy, Erika (December 14, 2008). "For Him, Laughter Was the Best Therapy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Johnson, Steve (December 1, 1995). "Laugh Therapy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Moontower Review: Dr. Katz Live, April 25, 2015
- "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist DVD news: Announcement for Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist The Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist DVD news: Press Release for The Best of Dr. Katz". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist at the Internet Movie Database
- Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist at TV.com
- Dr. Katz comic strip
- Explosion Bus official webpage (web series created by Katz and Snyder)
- Dr. Katz's Therapy Sessions (audio only), (includes Dr. Katz's post-session diagnoses)