By Jae-Ha Kim
In the fourth season of Mad About You, which originally aired on NBC during 1995-1996, Paul (Paul Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt) Buchman deal with issues that could potentially break up their marriage. As they start planning a family, they are faced with infertility. When both decide to shake up their careers, one of them loses their job. And then there is the possibility of infidelity, when both Jamie and Paul are tempted outside of marriage. In a testament to the writers’ sharp scripts and adroit acting by the leads, Mad About You manages to find humor during some bleak scenarios. Like many couples who find themselves unable to get pregnant, the Buchmans at first are incredulous that they can’t easily finagle a pregnancy. There’s a not completely original, but still funny, episode revolving around Paul having to produce a specimen on demand, which isn’t helped any by his behemoth of a nurse (played by Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett). At one point, Paul asks his cousin Ira (the delightful John Pankow) if he realizes that the Buchman dynasty could end if neither of them has children: “If we don’t produce an heir, it’s all over.” Looking at his cousin, Ira quips, “If you and me are it… then it deserves to be over.”
Some critics have harped that listening to the Buchmans bicker has grown old by now. But the beauty of the show has always been in the way the two argue. Quick-tongued and witty, they wield their words like razor-sharp knives, reminding viewers of the song “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” But it’s their quiet truisms than can break your heart. When Jamie tells her husband, “It’s not working,” viewers are left holding their breath and urging the couple on to make it work. And in the three-part season finale, Paul and Jamie have some major issues to work out. Other story arcs include Paul’s sister Debbie coming out as a lesbian. Their mother is shocked but takes some solace in the fact that Debbie’s lover is a doctor. Ira begins gambling again and handles it better than Paul. And Jamie’s neurotic and self-centered sister finally gets engaged. Guest stars include Yoko Ono, Arte Johnson, and Hank Azaria, who appears as a semi-regular as the Buchmans’ dog walker. All 24 episodes are included on the four-disc set.