Well finally, a decade after its debut, the cult classic comedian-curative careerist cartoon Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist is on DVD. Like the American version of The Office, the first season of Dr. Katz had merely six episodes. That this necessitates a low-cost single disc compilation could be fortunate or unfortunate depending on your wallet-to-patience ratio.
The disc comes in a clear plastic DVD case to allow the episode information to be seen on the back of the cover insert when you open the case. This is handy since there's no need for chapter listings, however the clear plastic makes the case much flimsier than more common packaging.
The main menu is of course done in the signature Dr. Katz style. An image of Katz is animated in Squiggle-Vision to lip-synch with several psychiatric phrases from the show as the theme song plays. After it repeats once, the music stops and Katz just sort of stares at you and occasionally glances at the menu selection.
As any Dr. Katz fan should know, the PC-based animation won't win any awards. Though the picture is clearer than it's ever been, the minimalist style of the pixelated MS-DOS scenes and monophonic audio mean you won't need to hold out for an HD version. The show is presented in full screen as originally aired, although it is framed in fake widescreen that is not anamorphic. Considering the quality, it's probably better when viewed small anyway.
On the selection menu, there are six commentaries spread across five episodes. Four of them are by Jonathan Katz, H. Jon "Ben Katz" Benjamin, and series creator Tom Snyder (not the talk show host), and are as informative as you'd want and hilarious as you'd expect from the cast of an improvised comedy show. The third episode has a second commentary with Ray Romano and Jon Katz (who sounds to be joining via phone). Episode #105 also has a Romano/Katz commentary.
The back of the DVD mentions commentary by Dave Attell, and although this may be misleading, it's not entirely false. While the Attell episode lacks a full commentary track, a five minute section of the phone discussion with Dave and Katz is relegated to the bonus features section. I'm guessing the commentary was either too short, too blue, or Dave was just too bored for them to bother including it in full. Since Katz, on another track, mentions Attell pretending to get "calls from Hollywood" during his session, I'd bet on the latter excuse.
In addition to the commentaries are a small selection of other extras. "The Biography of Mr. Katz" (not "Dr." as the case states) is not some hastily thrown together text bio, but rather an eight minute short predating Dr. Katz that shows an early Squigglevision version of Jonathan dictating his life story to an unseen biographer. It's hardly uproarious, but still amusing to see how the style developed. "Shrink Wrapped" is a roughly 40 second short supposedly about a shrink that features more cartoonish voices than fans are used to, but it's rather inexplicable and aimless. Two of the original Short Attention Span Theater shorts featuring Dr. Katz are included and are as funny as the regular show. However I certainly remember there being more of them. Perhaps they're being saved for future sets.
Scant as it is, there's enough here to tide fans over until the next season is released, and for $15 or less it's hardly a nail-biting decision. Insert clever therapy pun here.