To quote New York movie critic Jay Sherman, voiced to Master Thespian perfection by Jon Lovitz, "it stinks" that The Critic
lasted all but two seasons. "I used to have a show on ABC," Sherman bitterly remarks at one point, "for about a week." The show, created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss of Simpsons
legend, fared no better when it moved to Fox, and little better when re-run on Comedy Central. But it did garner a devoted following, and thanks to DVD and the Internet, "the last hope of fading stars" (according to one of the ten "Webisodes" contained in this three-disc set), Jay Sherman lives! Television's saddest sack is the host of a TV review show, Coming Attractions
. He must deal with the slings, arrows, and outrageous misfortunes heaped upon him by his ex-wife, adoptive WASP parents, and ratings-desperate Ted Turner-esque boss. On the movie front, The Critic
is no less inside than the similarly ill-fated Action
, but its hilarious parodies of classics and contemporary blockbusters, from the musical "Apocalypse Wow" to "Dennis the Menace II Society," make it much more accessible to any multiplex-goer.
The Critic took particular glee in zinging Howard Stern, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Woody Allen and Soon-Yi. (We pause to praise the show's unsung heroes, Maurice Le Marche and Nick Jameson, who provide uncanny celebrity impersonations each episode). Some references have a longer shelf life than others. Conan O'Brien, at the time a fledgling talk-show host, certainly got the last laugh on a spied newspaper headline, "Conan Replaced by Dancing Chicken." And the series' best episode, in which Jay reunites an estranged Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel, plays now as a touching tribute to the original Thumb and Thumber. The Critic is poised for discovery. Is it too much to hope that, as with Family Guy, voluminous DVD sales may spark interest in creating new episodes? --Donald Liebenson
From the producers of "The Simpsons"! Jon Lovitz is the animated Jay Sherman, a TV movie critic who is forced to review the most pathetic films which he always rates as "It stinks." In addition to the film parodies, the show also deals with his personal life: working for a tyrannical media mogul boss, his lovelife and his family. Three-disc release includes all 23 episodes from the entire first and second seasons!