An all-cynical, all-evil absurdist variety show that parodies the classic educational PBS shows of the 1970s, made up of old cartoons and educational films, children, and puppets from one's worst nightmares.
Jay Sherman is a TV movie critic who is forced to review the most pathetic films to which is he always says "It stinks" for his reviews. In addition to the film parodies, the show also deals with his personal life working his tyrannical media mogul boss and his love-life and family. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert famously turned down offers to guest star on TV shows and in movies because they felt it would have been a conflict of interest. But this turned out to be the exception and this is the only show in which they guest starred together. The episode was called "Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice" and the story is a parody of Sleepless in Seattle in which Jay and Alice attempt to patch things up between the duo when one of their verbal feuds causes them to split up. See more »
Oh son, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times... who are all you people?
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Two episodes have Jay kissing Alice before the credits start and as it ends, a theater usher tells them that the show is over and Alice says "Get lost pip-squeak". Jay then says "That's why I love her". See more »
I'm both disappointed and somewhat content with the fate of this ill-received TV show. On one hand, I feel the Critic far outclasses anything on television today and thus deserved more than it received; on the other hand, I'm glad it was concluded before it could suffer the fate of the Simpsons which has grasped at straws for years (and in my opinion just needs to be put out of its misery). I think the Critic could've gone strong for one more season before the ideas started thinning.
Anyway, due to its premature cancellation, the Critic has a concise feel and no degradation in quality. I feel the Critic was cancelled at the height of its potential when its comedic timing was dead on and the most of the jokes made me at least chuckle (well, other than the final episode . . . which was disappointing because it was a reprise of all the faux film clips and little original material.)
As for the Webisodes, I really didn't care much for them due to their lack of the rest of the cast - Alice, Dorris, Duke, Vlada, Jeremy, Martin, Penny, and Jay's family. Even though I like Jay Sherman, the Critic was never a solo act, and the webisodes brings to light how important the supporting cast are who is Jay supposed to bounce jokes off of, and who's going to make fun of the poor guy? Without the rest of the gang, Jay is just a punch line with no build up.
I really liked this quirky cast of misfits, the individual roles they play, and how jokes gain momentum through their personalities and even their art styles. Too many comedies want to depend on quick punch lines and catch phrases. Sure, Coming Attractions was funny as part of a normal TV episode, but it alone was not the episode. No one character was the episode. I think that's why the Webisodes lack the edge its full episode brethren have.
The funniest aspect of the Critic, which is also noted on one of the DVD commentaries, is that not only does Jay wind up criticizing movie-parodies on Coming Attractions, but Jay's life is a series of movie parodies. Everywhere you look is a film reference in some shape or form. From plots that parody famous films of that era, to classics to little known trivia facts featuring Maurice LaMarche impersonating Orson Welles doing a commercial for peas and fish sticks. And of course, a show about a movie critic would eventually involve a plot around Siskel & Ebert, which is perhaps one of the more entertaining episodes.
So, as a fan of films, I found the Critic to be pretty sharp and a pretty fun ride. It was a nice comedic counterpoint to the serious films being released at the time, and some of the trends in filmmaker's art and even in their lives. Part of me is disappointed that it didn't last, but then again, part of me is also glad it stopped before it could go to hell like other shows out there.
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