TV on DVD: “Spin City: The Complete Second Season”

Written by Television, TV on DVD

51xhsdxgiil_sl500_aa240_Spin City: The Complete Second Season (2009, Shout Factory)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

By its second season, Spin City, ABC’s tightly written workplace sitcom starring Michael J. Fox, had worked out the kinks and developed into one of the finest ensemble comedies of the 1990s. With Fox acting as the center of the show, creators Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence and their crack staff of writers (along with series director Andy Cadiff), were now familiar enough with their talented cast that they were able to let their actors expand their characters and make them more fully realized. While Fox’s character of Deputy Mayor Michael Flaherty continued to woo and romance beautiful women (including Paula Marshall), the other characters’ personal lives were also explored to keep the audiences interested in every aspect of then show.

Once again playing off their strengths, the supporting cast of Spin City came into their own during season two. The rapport and comic timing between Michael Boatman as Carter Heywood, the liberal gay activist, and Alan Ruck as Stuart Bondek, the conservative, womanizing ass, clicked much better and the two of them, playing polar political and sexual opposites, became brilliant comic foils. Richard Kind, having perfected the goofy, dork role on Mad About You, continued to play this type of character to as Press Secretary Paul Lassiter, and in season two received a romantic interest in the strong and wonderful Faith Prince, playing his fiancée, Claudia. Of course, Barry Bostwick, with his mix of arrogance and ignorance continued to shine as the Mayor Randall Winston, and the second season also saw the introduction of Stacy, Mike’s new street smart secretary, played with sass by Jennifer Esposito. Rounding out the cast were Alexander Chaplin as the naïve James, Janelle Cooper as Victoria (now the mayor’s assistant) and Connie Britton (who would go on the great acclaim in television’s Friday Night Lights) as Nikki.

Of course, the glue to the show was Fox in the lead role of Mike. At this point in his career, after a successful first season and an already iconic status in television, Fox could have eased up a little bit and rested on his laurels. However, he proved the consummate artist and helped make sure Spin City was not only a funny sitcom, but a smart, thoughtful and sometimes heartfelt one as well. Moreover, Fox’s generosity as an actor allowed his co-stars to shine and make the show all that much better. Watching him perform with each actor, you can see him adjust to accommodate their strengths and weaknesses as performers. That Fox was able to accomplish all of this, despite the fact that he was already battling Parkinson’s Disease remains inspiring.

In addition to fine cast, season two of Spin City continued with its tradition of bringing in special guest stars for key roles, such as Raquel Welch as dorky Paul’s gorgeous mother, Alyssa Milano as the mayor’s free spirited daughter, and the wink wink casting of Meredith Baxter as Mike’s mother in a two episode arc.

While season one of Spin City established it as one of the bright spots in TV comedy land during the ’90s, by season two it hit its stride and proved that it was on its way to becoming a classic.

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