Professionals [1966]

Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist: Season One includes the first six 1995 episodes from the Comedy Central animated series, which was based, the story goes, on comic actor Jonathan Katz's personal life. Playing himself (i.e., providing the voice for his cartoon self) as a divorced psychologist whose clients include a number of comedians, Katz is very funny in a non-confrontational, quietly frustrated yet loquacious way. Dr. Katz lives with his grown son (H. Jon Benjamin), an unemployed, apparently unskilled loser who hangs around Katz's office ineptly trying to pick up his dad's prickly receptionist (Laura Silverman). The latter is so surly and self-centered she tells Katz he doesn't "know what it's like" to spend a day around "crazy people" at work. (Katz, being Katz, has no comeback to that remark.) These three absurd characters (and the inspired performers behind them) would be enough to fill a show by themselves. But the biggest plus in Dr. Katz is a succession of vocal performances (which sound largely improvised) by some welcome comedians playing neurotic versions of themselves, including (and especially) Ray Romano, Wendy Liebman, Dave Attell, Laura Kightlinger, and Larry Miller, all in the first season. Each episode exudes anxiety and churns along to the sound of rambling dialogues that barely paper over repressed desire and rage. Sort of like real life, except funnier. --Tom Keogh

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