1 9 9 4 – 1 9 9 5 (USA)
23 x 30 minute episodes
2 0 0 0 – 2 0 0 1 (USA)
10 x 5 minute episodes
From the makers of The Simpsons came The Critic – an animated series for grown-ups which debuted on ABC-TV in the US on 26 January 1994.
Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz, ex-Saturday Night Live) is an obnoxious short, fat, balding New York film critic and host of (fictional) cable channel 67’s controversial TV show, Coming Attractions, who rates movies on his ‘Shermometer’.
Jay is vain (he sprays his hair on before every show), rude about the films, unpopular with his audience and unsuccessful in his personal life – he is divorced, hated by his ex-wife, and barely tolerated by his rich adoptive parents Eleanor (Judith Ivey) and Franklin (Gerrit Graham), who is a dead-ringer for George Bush.
He does get along reasonably well with his 11-year-old son Marty (Christine Cavanaugh) and his 16-year-old step-sister, Margo (voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who was also the voice of Bart Simpson) who goes to Miss Hathaway’s School for Untouched Girls.
He certainly gets no respect from his boss, Duke Phillips (voiced by Charles Napier), the megalomaniacal owner of Channel 67, and his makeup lady Doris (Doris Grau) humiliates him at every opportunity.
Throughout all his ups and downs, Jay maintains an unlikely friendship with hunky Australian actor Jeremy Hawke (voiced by Maurice LaMarche), the star of Crocodile Ghandi.
Jay eventually gains a girlfriend, Alice Tompkins (Park Overall) – a mandate from Fox executives to make his character a little less pathetic.
Lampooning the cutthroat world of show business, The Critic was packed with references to well-known American personalities on and off the screen.
The jokes (including brilliant parodies of popular movies, such as Home Alone 5 (starring a 23-year-old Macaulay Culkin); Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Chicago cop who goes undercover as a Hassidic rabbi and dispatches his victims with “Hava Nagila, baby”; a sequel to Silence of the Lambs entitled Honey, I Ate The Kids, and a Beauty and the Beast musical number featuring a singing dustbuster,) one-liners, sight gags, and some risque sexual humour likely flew over the heads of the kids who watched, but adults lapped it up.
The show stayed on ABC for 13 episodes before it was cancelled. Fox picked it up the following year, and the show ran for another ten episodes. Fox subsequently stymied an attempted revival by UPN by refusing to formally cancel the show for years.
The Critic returned in 2000 as a series of short Flash-animated “webisodes” on the internet.
Pilot | Marty’s First Date | Dial ‘M’ for Mother | Miserable | A Little Deb Will Do You | Eyes on the Prize | Every Doris Has Her Day | Marathon Mensch | LA Jay | Dr Jay | A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera | Uneasy Rider | A Pig Boy and His Dog || Sherman, Woman and Child | Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice | Lady Hawke | A Song for Margo | From Chunk to Hunk | All the Duke’s Men | Sherman of Arabia | Frankie and Ellie Get Lost | Dukerella | I Can’t Believe It’s a Clip Show || X-Men | Mission: Impossible 2, Gladiator, Gone in 60 Seconds | Pokemon 2000, The Patriot | Perfect Storm, Star Wars, Titanic, The Sixth Sense | Out of Africa, Silence Of The Lambs, On the Waterfront | Sleepy Hollow, Pulp Fiction | Cast Away, The Legend of Bagger Vance | Harry Potter, Planet of the Apes | Broadway | Pearl Harbor