Spin City: Season Two

Spin City: Season Two
Probably the biggest selling factor of Spin City was the return of Michael J. Fox to television as a grown up, and slightly toned down, version of his Alex Keaton character from Family Ties. After a series of bombs like For Love or Money and Life as Mikey, this return was inevitable, and the idiosyncratic inner-workings of the New York mayoral staff was a reasonable format for his particular archetype to breed in. This second season plays much like the first, with Mike (Michael J. Fox) maintaining a solid public image for the dingbat mayor (Barry Bostwick), with the help of his zany staff, including eternally single Nikki (Connie Britton), uptight gay black man Carter (Michael Boatman), misogynist Stuart (Alan Ruck) and simple Paul (Richard Kind). With the arrival of Jennifer Esposito as Mike's streetwise Italian assistant, this season covers cultural tensions, accidental engagements, nude horseback riding and Christian pen pals. While certainly serviceable and occasionally amusing in a broad sense, the main problem with Spin City is that the characters, while different on the surface, all have the same voice and moral code, which leads to no natural dissonance or character-based comedy. As a result, they often resort to gay jokes and obvious pratfalls, which essentially cater to the lowest common denominator. This is not much different from most of the sitcoms airing in the mid-'90s and in truth, Spin City was one of the better sitcoms that followed this template, but a less Republican sensibility may have proven more entertaining for repeat viewings. As this four-disc box set includes no special features or commentaries, the season two episodes themselves prove to be the only selling point, which may not matter to fans of the show that are looking to revisit some of the pre-Heather Locklear antics. (Shout! Factory)