The Critic: The Complete Series

Mid-‘90s animated TV series The Critic will live forever in animation history. Not the show itself, of course, which limped through two mini-seasons on TV, but the character the Critic (voiced by Jon Lovitz), who of course appeared in a classic crossover episode of The Simpsons. This animated show — originally conceived as a Good Morning, Miami-style live action morning show parody, then pared down to just the film critic character — was created by Simpsons writer/producing team Al Jean and Mike Reiss. In order to avoid inevitable comparisons to that other prime-time adult-oriented animated show, they set The Critic in a real place (New York), avoided the family unit (he's a grumpy divorcee with only partial custody of his son), and made its film parodies as close to real as possible. Now on DVD, the show's weaknesses are clear: it only peripherally takes advantage of its New York setting, its central character is largely unlikeable, and without that family unit, there is very little material for secondary storylines crucial to a sitcom structure. The Critic is occasionally funny — once in a while side-splittingly so — but not often nor with regularity. As a whole, its film parodies are terribly dated, and it flounders to create a community around the strengths of Jon Lovitz, which are to play lonely, desperate and pathetic. Great sidekick material, but not likeable enough to make a central character without a superb supporting cast, which The Critic never got. The best extras here are group commentaries (a la The Simpsons DVDs), and 11 web-only episodes of a Critic short revived in the late ‘90s. Plus: "Making The Critic" featurette. (Columbia Tristar)