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Right up front I have got to say that I loved THE CRITIC. For my money, THE CRITIC was one of the most inspired and hilarious animated shows to ever grace broadcast television. Perhaps that is why I was none too shocked when the show was yanked from the airwaves, after two brief seasons (one on ABC and the other on Fox). Although it would take the occasional potshot at any subject, the humor of THE CRITIC primarily focused on movies, the entertainment industry and celebrities. Many of the movie parodies offered up on THE CRITIC featured such hilarious zingers that I had tears rolling down my face because I was laughing so hard. Sure, there were jokes that fell flat and others that went over the heads of many viewers, but there was still is plenty to love in each and every episode of THE CRITIC.

The basic premise of THE CRITIC focuses on the life and career of cable television movie critic (and likable loser) Jay Sherman (voided by Jon Lovitz). A highbrow lover of the cinema, Jay regularly rips apart the latest blockbuster assaults on his intelligence, much to the chagrin of media tycoon boss, who wants him to rate movies on a scale of "good to excellent". On certain levels, Jay’s personal life seems to stink almost as much as the crappy movies he reviews; however, the eccentric characters that populate his world add another layer of hilarity to this animated show. In addition to the delightful Lovitz, the other inspired lunatics that voice THE CRITIC include Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh, Gerrit Graham, Doris Grau, Judith Ivey, Nick Jameson, Charles Napier, Kath Soucie, Maurice LaMarche, Russi Taylor and Park Overall.

($50) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features the following twenty-three season one and two episodes: 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, L.A. 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 and I Can't Believe It's A Clip Show.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made all the episodes that comprise THE CRITIC: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. I have to say that the DVDs look much better than the syndicated rebroadcasts that I’ve seen cropping up late at night on Comedy Central. Everything appears a bit crisper on DVD than it does in syndication, although there is still some softness here and there. There are some blemishes and bits of dust that occasionally appear, plus one will notice a grain structure from time to time, but overall, the presentation will please fans of the series. Colors appear solid and are rendered without fuzziness or noise. Digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed. The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel surround stereo soundtracks decode to standard surround and it sounds pretty darn good. Dialogue is always completely understandable and crisp. Music has good fidelity and is nicely spread throughout the entire soundstage. No other language tracks or subtitles are present, although English captioning has been included.

The mildly animated interactive menus provide access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some good supplemental content. Eight episodes include audio commentaries with various members of the show’s production team and vocal talent. The commentaries are interesting and fairly informative about the creative process behind THE CRITIC. The episode A Pig-Boy And His Dog offers interactive features that allow one to access original storyboards. Trailer Parodies brings together all of the movie parodies that run through the twenty three episodes that comprise the series, while the Top Ten List brings together Jay’s movie reviews. Creating The Critic is a nine-minute program that features members of the production team discussing how the show came into being. Finally, Columbia TriStar has thrown in the ten brief webisodes of THE CRITIC that were created for Internet distribution in 2001.

As a fan, I can say that I am utterly delighted that THE CRITIC: THE COMPLETE SERIES has come to DVD. This was one heck of a funny show and its nice that it is seeing new life, and perhaps a new audience, on DVD. Who knows, if THE CRITIC is a big seller on DVD, maybe fans will get to see more of the antics of Jay Sherman in the future.



The Critic - The Complete Series


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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