The Complete Series
Review by Michael Jacobson
Jon Lovitz, Park Overall, Nancy Cartwright, Brenda Vaccaro
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 520 Minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2004
marry an actress. And never do
blackface at the NAACP Image Awards. Two
things I've learned from experience.”
Critic had a
lot of potential to become television's next big animated hit when it first
took to the airwaves in 1994, but it ended up cut short after two seasons.
Despite funny material and great voice casting, it may have just been a
case of a show never really finding its home base.
It began on ABC, who said it was too racy.
It moved to Fox, where they said it was too tame. It
ran in reruns on Comedy Central where it started to pick up a following,
but I guess it was too little, too late.
was a great premise for a show, and certainly one near and dear to my own heart:
making a central character out of one of those TV movie critics we all
know and love (or not). In this
case, the would-be star was Jay Sherman. As
voiced by Jon Lovitz, the little pudgy balding guy (a cross between Siskel and
Ebert?) ran roughshod over film after film with his “it stinks!”
condemnation. This idea allowed for spoofs of every current Hollywood
offering, which were sent up in mock trailers and film clips.
of course, more than that was needed to float a series, so it focused on
Sherman, the character. He lived in
New York, and the shows carried a kind of Woody Allen vibe, down to the jazzy
theme song and the token shots of the city.
Sherman himself was kind of a throwback to the Allen characters:
lonely, insecure, a little neurotic.
An adopted Jewish boy raised by the waspy-ish parents you could imagine,
Sherman's life outside the multiplex was one of awkward relationships with
women and trying to be a father to his young son, both often with hilarious
clicked most of the time for some of the 90's funniest moments on television.
My favorite episode, “Dukerella”, was a non stop laugh riot from
start to finish. Sometimes, as with
all shows, things didn't quite come together, but overall, the show was more
hit than miss…you especially have to love the feuding Siskel and Ebert,
Jay's Mel Gibson clone friend (starring in movies like Crocodile Gandhi),
or the remake of Pride of the Yankees with a happy ending (where they
discover a cure for Lou Gerhig's Disease).
was enough good material packed into the show's short two year run to make you
believe that it could have succeeded, darn it all. But at least on disc, we can always go back and relieve the
adventures of Dennis the Menace II Society to our hearts' content.
Animation almost always looks good on DVD, even if it's
standard made-for-TV stuff. The
bright and colorful with a clean, crisp presentation…not exactly the stuff of
feature films, but certainly a good representation of the source material.
The standard stereo soundtrack is perfectly serviceable;
these are mostly dialogue oriented shows and the spoken words all come through
with solid clarity. Little touches
of music and a few effects add dynamic range.
Unspectacular by nature, but certainly suitable.
Though nothing is listed on the box, there are a number of
features included here for your viewing pleasure. Some of the episodes have producer commentary, though you
basically have to hunt around to find them if you're interested.
Disc one also includes some bonus trailers and an amusing animated menu
(the longer you wait to pick something, the more impatient Sherman gets).
The second disc also features a branching episode, “A Pig
Boy and His Dog”. With that
feature activated, you can click on the icon when it appears to get some extra
The third disc includes a “Top Ten List” (highlights of
Jay's movie reviews), and a collection of the show's trailer parodies, plus
a making-of featurette. There are
also ten web episodes from when The Critic took to the internet over 2000-2001.
Each feature begins with a pre-movie spoof, where you see “fun facts”
and trivia flash on the screen before the show (“Know your Baldwin Brothers:
Alec – fat and smart.”)