There are a few sitcoms that are stealth hits. They might not have grabbed all the critical hardware or been a catch phrase machine. You didn’t see their cast on the cover of the National Enquirer in constant blood feuds with each other or producers. You didn’t have to worry about the loser in accounting spoiling the episodes in the elevator. But they have a loyal fans who allowed them to go beyond the threshold of episodes necessary for syndication. Just Shoot Me proved to be a success last seven seasons and 148 episodes. What’s truly remarkable is that NBC swapped it around in 12 timeslots. This is normally the kiss of death in the era before DVRs. Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series captures the fun of working at a vapid magazine.
The series was loaded up with quite a few known stars. George Segal (The Goldbergs) got to play Jack Gallo as a ditzy magazine publisher who wants to be as glossy as his readers of Blush. David Spade had to do something outside the realm of being Chris Farley’s sidekick. (Farley didn’t die until midway through the show’s first season). His annoying schtick worked well as receptionist Finch. Wendie Malick had just wrapped up HBO’s Dream On and went from being responsible divorced mom to delusional and self-centered ex-model turned fashion editor Nina Van Horn. Enrico Colantoni was just on Hope and Grace with Alan Thicke. He came quickly became a natural as the magazine’s philandering photographer Elliot DiMauro.
Laura San Giacomo was the wildcard factor in the cast even though she was a star. She had mainly been a movie actress before landing the role in 1996. Her biggest roles were as the cheater sleeping with her sister’s husband in sex, lies and videotape and the hooker’s roommate who didn’t land the millionaire in Pretty Woman. Did she have the comedy chops to hang with the rest of the crew? Could she be believable as Jack Gallo’s daughter Maya. “Back Issues” has her laid off from her news career and originally just wanting to ask dad for some money. The guy has remarried to someone close to Maya so there’s quite a bit of tension. But Jack refuses to just give her cash and makes her write a dumb article for Blush. The rest of the crew won’t accept her since she looks down on them and they fear she’ll take their jobs. Nepotism helps in most industries. Slowly she calms down and learns to enjoy her peculiar co-workers. “The Devil and Maya Gallo” has dad getting her used to the magazine lifestyle as he pampers her. He finds the one thing that lets her compromise her attitude. “Nina’s Birthday”is the episodes where Laura’s comedy chops come out. She throws a birthday party for Nina that turns bad when she’s stuck with ex-model for the night. When things won’t seem to end, she gets dragged up on stage to sing karaoke with Nina. The ending has Maya make things happier for her roommate and a co-worker. In a sense it was this episode that gave a feeling that this show was a bit naughty for network and will last longer than its original 6 episode run.
There are quite a few fine episodes during the run. “My Dinner with Woody” when Maya thinks she’s going out with Woody Allen and discovers it’s an impersonator. But Woody did make a semi-cameo in the episode so it’s not a cheat. “”Puppetmaster” has Maya dating French Stewart (Third Rock from the Sun. Turns out the child tv host is incorporating his adult life into the action. Maya is not happy. “The Odd Couple” has Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul play Finch’s old classmate. “A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn” goes into the stories of the famed supermodel in the wild ’70s. “Brandi, You’re a Fine Girl” wants us to believe that Jenny McCarthy was once a man. Finch is torn since he knew her when. “The Auction” has Finch hire Lucy Lawless (Xena) to be his date for a charity event. “Erlene and Boo” has Brooke Shield guest star as someone’s sister. “Finch in the Dogg House” has him hired to be the assistant to a certain rapper. Can he really hang with such a character? “Slow Donnie” is golden as Elliot’s brother (David Cross) visits. Elliot swears he has mental issues. Maya thinks Donnie is faking it for sympathy. This was the show’s big catchphrase moment with “Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Pie!” But Larry in accounting never repeated it like “yadda yadda.”
Just Shoot Me! during its network run was a fun show to watch because didn’t completely play by network rules. The characters enjoyed their vices or at least fondly missed them. Nina drank as much as Dean Martin did on the air in the ’70s. The guy characters had no problem be rather lecherous in their desires although they did eventually learn a lesson. There’s a feeling that broadcast networks wouldn’t sign off on several of these scripts if it aired this Fall. The characters were as colorful as the front cover of Blush. Just Shoot Me! was always entertaining even if it was a bit of a chore to figure out when it was on.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer looks fine for a show shot on standard definition video at the turn of the century. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The mix is good for hearing the snappy dialogue. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
Always In Fashion (26:43) is a conversation between creator Steven Levitan and his cast. David Spade feels like there were very few dud episodes. This is a major compliment from the star of Joe Dirt. Steven admits that he created the show based on a script idea he had for The Larry Sanders Show. He wanted Janeane Garofalo for the role. There is a clip of the original pilot that didn’t have Spade.
The Blush Covers Gallery has dozens of the fake magazines that tied the episodes together. This is a great feature if you’re one of the models that nailed the cover.
Audio Commentaries with Steven Levitan and writers on “Back Issues,” “Lemon Wacky Hello,” “King Lear Jet” and “My Dinner With Woody.”
Shout! Factory presents Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series. Starring: Laura San Giacomo, George Segal, Wendie Malick, Enrico Colantoni, David Spade. Boxset Content: 148 episodes on 19 DVDs. Released: September 5, 2017.
Tags: David Spade, Just Shoot Me!, Shout! Factory