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The Critic is an Americanmarker animated series revolving around the life of movie critic Jay Sherman, voiced by actor Jon Lovitz. It was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, both of whom had worked as writers on The Simpsons. The Critic had 23 episodes produced, first broadcast on ABC in 1994, finishing its original run on FOX in 1995. The show was produced by Gracie Films in association with Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television on reruns), and was animated by Film Roman.

Episodes featured movie parodies with notable examples including Howard Stern's End (Howards End), Honey, I Ate the Kids (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids/The Silence of the Lambs), The Cockroach King (The Lion King), Abe Lincoln: Pet Detective (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Scent of a Jackass and Scent of a Wolfman (Scent of a Woman). The show often referenced popular movies such as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and The Godfather, and routinely lampooned actor Marlon Brando and director Orson Welles.

Despite the ratings improving, The Critic was cancelled after only two seasons, though nine scripts were written for UPN that never panned out. It continued to air through reruns on Comedy Central. Ten web episodes were later produced, which in turn were included on the DVD box set. The show continues to run in syndication.



Jay Sherman

"New Yorkmarker's third most popular early-morning cable-TV film critic," Jay Prescott Sherman is the host of Phillips Broadcasting's Coming Attractions. His catch phrases include his exclamation of surprise ("Hotchie motchie!"), his common putdown of sub-par films ("It stinks!") and his distinctive cough/sneeze ("Acch-um!"). He is known for his surly and sarcastic putdowns of nearly every film he sees (an act that has earned him disdain from the public and rather low ratings). His favorite films are usually Golden-Age classics and foreign films such as The Red Balloon, Citizen Kane, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He often uses the "Shermometer" to measure the films he reviews, or a list of diseases he would rather have than see a movie. He has been known to rate films on a numerical scale, in which his highest score is seven out of ten. Most of his dislike for films comes from a love for cinema that has been disillusioned by seeing the commercialism that has overtaken the film industry.

Jay is 36 years old and is the adopted son of wealthy New-England socialites Franklin and Eleanor Sherman, who originally thought he was a monkey. Jay is Jewish despite his WASP upbringing. In preschool, he was given LSD-laced Kool-Aid by guest speaker Timothy Leary (he claimed afterwards, he "was down at the hungry imarker, jamming with "Dylan"), and was mistakenly sent to Attica Prisonmarker instead of summer camp as a child in the summer of 1972. He has a teenage sister named Margo and a young son named Marty who visits often when not staying with Jay's ex-wife Ardeth. In the second season, Jay begins a long-term relationship with Alice Tompkins, a Tennessee woman living in New York whom Jay meets on the street and later hires as his personal assistant.

In the second first-season episode "Marty's First Date," in desperation to retrieve his son from Cuba, Jay goes to Mexico Citymarker's "Linda Ronstadt International Airport" and marries a Mexican woman in order to travel there. She then admits to him that she is only marrying him "for citizenship" and then openly states "I plan to divorce him and take half his money." It is a possibility that this may be the "second divorce" Jay mentioned in the first webisode (see below).

Jay has also held several other jobs in his time, including a truck driver, speech writer for Duke Phillips' presidential campaign and a writer for the film Ghostchasers III (renamed Ghostbusters III during the final episode clip show.)

Jay has won a string of prestigious awards for his career: two Pulitzer Prizes for criticism, a People's Choice Award, five Golden Globes, an Emmy Award, a PhD in film, and a B'nai B'rith Award.

Jay blames his weight problem on the fictional disorder "vitilardo", a word-play on the skin pigmentation disorder vitiligo. His weight is suggested to be greater than a tank, as a helicopter that was originally designed to lift tanks was unable to even get him off the ground. He was also shown in a file photo on a news report as "weighing more than the entire band Los Lobos," in which he is sitting on a see-saw, lifting the entire band into the air. When he exercises, Duke often uses Jay in place of a set of dumbbells when lifting weights. His weight led to the death of a horse when he was a child, crushing it to death when Jay was forced into sitting on it. Jay's stomach seems to have a mind of its own, often giving him commands that he obeys out of fear, going so far as to call it "Master." Acting on the advice of a quack public-relations expert, Jay once gained so much weight that he had to have several months' worth of liposuction.

Duke frequently makes patronizing comments to suggest that Jay is gay; Jay maintains that he is straight.

He also has an alter-ego in "Ethel." His Ethel persona is an elderly woman, whom he often pretends is his assistant, and therefore assumes her persona when answering the phone. "Ethel" only appears in the first season.

In the opening sequence for every episode, Jay is awakened by a disquieting phone call or radio news brief. At the end, he is seen sitting in a movie theater, eating popcorn and drinking soda as the closing credits are shown on the screen. When they finish, an usher approaches and says, "Excuse me, sir, the show's over." Jay then delivers one of the following four responses:

  • "But I have nowhere to go..."
  • "Is the snack bar still open?"
  • "Get away, zit-face!"
  • "I'm stuck in the chair!"

Marty Sherman, Jay Sherman's son

Marty Sherman

Jay's 13-year-old son Martin (Marty for short) usually stays with his mother, but visits Jay often. Like Jay, he is overweight, which causes him problems at United Nations International Schoolmarker. He was elected eighth-grade president thanks to a speech written by his father, dated Fidel Castro's granddaughter (he even secretly boarded the plane she was on in order to see her again), and discovered he has a gift for belly-dancing (he has great muscle control in his belly). In the second season episode "From Chunk to Hunk," he lost a lot of weight, but found his new thin body to be more trouble than it was worth and gained it all back before the end of the episode.


Jay's ex-wife, last name unknown, who fell in love with Jay as his nurse, during a period in which he was completely bandaged and gagged. She instantly regretted marrying Jay, admitting so during the wedding ceremony. They spent their wedding night playing The Newlywed Game, which they won (Jay correctly guessed Ardeth compared his sex appeal to a dead mackerel).

Ardeth spends most of the series insulting Jay or demanding more alimony. At one point, when he greets her at a school athletic competition, she tells him he has to pay her $100 every time he talks to her. Handing her a wad of cash, he replies, "Fine. Here's two hundred. Get bent!" It is implied that Ardeth cheated on Jay with the judge who presided over their divorce hearing when, during said hearing, they make suggestive comments and flirtatious purring sounds to each other in front of Jay. She once attempted to place a voodoo hex on Jay's girlfriend Alice, despite the divorce settlement specifically forbidding such actions. Despite her dislike of Jay, she shares Jay's affection for their only son Marty and even goes so far as to admit, "We raised a great kid." She is often seen when Marty is in a show or event. She is voiced by Brenda Vaccaro in the first season and then by Rhea Perlman in the second season.

Margo Sherman

The youngest child of the Sherman family, and the only biological child of Franklin and Eleanor. She is 16 years old and is a junior at a finishing school for "untouched girls." Margo is an activist who often protests her mother's socialite lifestyle. She also cares greatly for Jay, making sure his girlfriends are not just dating him to get good reviews and having him escort her to the debutante ball. In the second season episode "A Song for Margo," she briefly dated grunge rock singer Johnny Wrath (real name: Jonathan Rathberg) after he moved next door to the Shermans.

Franklin Sherman

Jay's adoptive father and Eleanor's husband. Franklin speaks with a thick "Locust Valley lockjaw," wears slippers and always has a glass of brandy in his hand no matter where he goes. His mental health is uncertain, and he often acts quite erratically. His family claims that he had a stroke (to which Eleanor adds "He didn't really. We just say that to explain his personality"). A few of his oddities include burning down the house (this is explained by him forgetting to turn the oven off), becoming stuck to an ice sculpture, gluing the dog to the ceiling, wearing underpants on his head at the dinner table, and sticking a banana in his ear which he claimed was to try to lure the monkey out of his head. He is also well-known for dressing up as the New Year's Baby for the year 1937.

He is a former governor of New Yorkmarker, as well as a former ambassador, Cabinet member, a Rhodes scholar and a heavy contributor to the Republican Party. He was also U.S. Secretary of Balloon Doggies. When told by President George Bush that the position is a ridiculous figment of his imagination that Congress will no longer provide funding for, Sherman vehemently claims, "I didn't ask to be Secretary of Balloon Doggies, the balloon doggies demanded it." Franklin was Duke Phillips' running mate when he ran for president, though Duke tried to remove Franklin after he claimed to be the first black female head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Despite his behavior, Franklin proves to be competent in some cases. In the episode "Marathon Mensch," he trains Jay to run in the New York marathon. Also in the episode "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost," much to his wife's surprise, Franklin proves that he can be a problem-solver and an apt handyman by building a shelter, a signal fire and training an ape as a butler. In the episode "Lady Hawke" it is revealed that gin is to Franklin what spinach is to Popeye the Sailor.

It was also revealed during a period newsreel from "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost" that he was completely sane and had never had a drop to drink in his life until Ted Kennedy spiked the punch at his wedding.

Eleanor Sherman (née Wigglesworth)

Jay's adoptive mother and Franklin's wife, Eleanor is very prim and proper. She can be very nasty and underhanded when it suits her purposes, such as willing to shoot her daughter's horse to force her to go to a debutante ball. She is often embarrassed by her family and its eccentricities. She seeks to have all poor people shot into space, and when she wrote a children's book about Jay called "The Fat Little Pig," she promised to put all the profits toward that goal. She loves Jay but often shows humiliating photos of him. She is a little too concerned with her outward appearance, despite her lack of tear ducts. This is brought to light when she is asked how her skin is so smooth, and she replied that she scrubs her face rigorously with steel wool, and then soaks her face in boiling hot water for two minutes exactly. Eleanor's voice and many of her mannerisms were inspired by Katharine Hepburn.

Duke Phillips

Duke is Jay's boss, and head of Phillips Broadcasting (formerly Duke Phillips' House of Chicken and Waffles). He somewhat resembles Ted Turner and has a virtually superhuman constitution (he's able to lift Jay with relative ease and walk through concrete walls). He runs the network that shows Coming Attractions, and is always trying to change things to increase ratings and maximize profits. He owns an amusement park called Phillips Land, dubbed "The Happiest Place In Jersey", founded his own preschool ("Built on a dare"), runs PNN (Phillips News Network), and a hospital/medical research center (with a giant statue of himself on it chanting "All hail Duke, Duke is life"). He also tried to run for president with Franklin Sherman as his running mate. He possesses a hypnotic power called the "Evil eye" which he used to avoid reporters questions during that campaign. Contracted a fatal disease, later dubbed "Duke Phillips" disease; the treatment for which includes an 8 ounce injection of a medication discovered by Jay entitled "Jay Sherman's Oil" (a parody of Lorenzo's Oil) into his eyeball every 4 hours. He believes Jay is gay and in love with him, and wastes no opportunity to belittle him in public about this. Towards the end of the series, he marries Alice Tompkins' sister Miranda. When asked about religion, Duke commented that he, along with the rest of America's cultural elite, worships Pan, the goat god. Also, pigeons love the sound of his voice, as when he once spoke to explain it, a pigeon flew into his mouth. He has a secret love of cats, and in the episode "All the Duke's Men" a videotape of him tearfully singing to his cat is used by Bob Dole to discourage Duke from running as a Republican. Duke loves America, but for tax purposes is a citizen of the Dutch Antillesmarker.

Jeremy Hawke

Jeremy is an Australian actor, and is Jay's best friend since Jay gave his first film its only positive review. Best known as the star of the "illogical, blasphemous, and ultra-violent" Crocodile Gandhi series, he has starred in multiple action movies and played former president James Monroe (as a spoof of James Bond e.g. "Monroe, James Monroe"). He has a twin sister, Olivia, who tries to win Jay's affection. He is a combination spoof of Australians Paul Hogan in terms of the exaggerated accent, and Mel Gibson with his luck with the ladies as well as his action film roles. His hidden shames: he's 43, uses elevator shoes to give the illusion of height, had allegedly fired a caterer for bringing the wrong kind of biscuit and has had extensive plastic surgery. He can also imitate the voice of Bullwinkle J. Moose.

Doris Grossman

Doris is Jay's make-up artist. She is a chain smoker, only has one lung and anytime a cigarette is removed from her mouth a new one appears. In the episode "Every Doris Has Her Day," there was a possibility that she was Jay's biological mother (there are many similarities between his circumstances and her own son whom she gave up for adoption), but was proven not to be from a DNA test. She also tries to be attractive to Duke, by purring to him and sending him nude photos of herself. Doris lives in a very spacious and luxurious apartment, affordable to her since it has been "rent controlled since 1946," and also for the fact that Duke pays her $300,000 per annum, believing that this was what average people earned. Her rent is $120 per month. She says that one of her talents is making shapes out of cigarette smoke, but when she tried to make a bunny she created one with a demonic face which told her "Doris... Tick! Tock!" She was once a Commercial actress for Phleghm Fatale Cigarettes, but her career in acting ended after she "got knocked up by the Fruit of the Loom banana." Doris was even married to horror-movie actor Lon Chaney as evidenced on her arm tattoo. Voiced by Doris Grau who also played a character named Lunchlady Doris in The Simpsons.

Alice and Penny Tompkins

Introduced in the second season episode "Sherman, Woman and Child," Alice Tompkins becomes Jay's girlfriend. She is named for Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners. She is once married to a country singer, Cyrus Tompkins, but she leaves him when she begins to suspect he is cheating on her (she reaches this conclusion after seeing Cyrus' album, entitled "I'm Being Unfaithful to My Wife, Alice Tompkins. You Heard Me, Alice Tompkins.") As a consequence, Alice moves to New York from Knoxville, Tennesseemarker, to show her daughter Penny that a woman can make it without a man. He later tracks her to New York and tries to seduce her, but his attempts get thwarted by Jay. She has an older sister named Miranda, who has usurped her popularity many times over the years, and a younger brother named Bisquick.

Alice was originally an artist and is capable of perfectly replicating art masterworks on the walls of her apartment (such as Michelangelo‘s The Creation of Adam and Georges-Pierre Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte). She pepper-sprayed Jay upon first meeting him on the street, an act he shrugged off (even enjoyed). She now works as Jay's personal assistant. It is in the episode "Lady Hawke" that she realizes she has fallen in love with Jay, and the two become a couple at the end of the episode.

Despite hitting him when she first met him for not liking The Lion King, Penny quickly takes a liking to Jay, initially calling him "funny man" due to the comical mishaps that repeatedly befall him when he is around her. Later in the season, she begins to call him "Uncle Jay." When he and Alice are unable to get her admitted into any of the top preschool in New York, Duke Phillips founds one exclusively for her, staffed by Jimmy Breslin, Sean Young, and Prince Charles.

A fifth tagline for the closing credits was created to go with the original four (see Jay Sherman). Here, Jay and Alice are seen kissing in the theater seats as the credits roll. At the end, they are interrupted by an usher who says, "Excuse me, the show's over." Alice responds, "Get away, pipsqueak," and Jay says to the camera, "That's why I love her!"

In the first Critic webisode, Jay's makeup artist Jennifer asks him what happened to his self-esteem, to which Jay replies that he lost it in the second divorce settlement. Although Alice is not mentioned by name, this led many fans to believe that Jay and Alice had married and eventually ended up in a bitter divorce. Despite this belief, the fate of Alice is left unknown as his second divorce was technically from a Mexican airport employee who he married in the episode "Marty's First Date." (Also see Jay Sherman for more information.)

Vlada Veramirovich

Vlada, who is an Eastern European immigrant, runs a restaurant called L'ane Riche (French for "The Wealthy Jackass"), which Jay and Jeremy both frequent. He hates Jay, but loves his money. During the series most of his wealth is thanks to Jay's appetite and when Jay dieted they couldn't afford Harvardmarker for Zoltan, his equally effeminate and disturbing son. Also according to Zoltan that they bought a yacht as a result of Jay's appetite. Vlada frequently belittles Jay quietly or in a foreign language to the staff. Best known for his greeting to Jay, "Meeester Sherman," he has a keen understanding of who is hot and who is not in New York and a posse built for schmoozing. Zoltan attends the same UN School as Jay's son Marty and sings unintentionally hilarious songs about his homeland. The headmaster of the UN School once described Zoltan as "The boy who used to be a girl. Oops, that used to be a secret!..." On a side note the restaurant is also a parody of Sardi'smarker of New York, which is frequented by Broadway stars and New York socialites alike.


The Shermans' butler, Shackleford is an older Englishman with a dour, sarcastic attitude. He is not particularly loyal to the family. As shown when he watched the house burn down yelling "Burn, Baby! Burn!" after Franklin left the stove on causing it to burn down. but he stays with them for the money and fringe benefits. Shackleford is particularly contemptuous toward Jay, referring to him as "Adopted Master Jay," with a tone that suggest that he does not consider Jay to be a true member of the family (yet he does appear with the family waiting for Jay to finish the New York Marathon). He is also a fan of grunge rock and has worked for a number of famous musical groups. Shackleford was inspired by John Gielgud as the Butler Hobson in the movie Arthur. He has an ape counterpart named Shackleape who hates Franklin and tries to eat both Frankiln and Jay at the end of the episode.

Guest characters

Throughout the show’s run, other famous critics have also guest voiced as themselves, including Gene Shalit, Rex Reed and the duo Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

The Simpsons crossovers

Jay appeared in a guest role on the episode of The Simpsons, "A Star Is Burns," in which he presided over a local film festival, much to Homer's envy. Simpsons creator Matt Groening did not want to do a crossover with a current FOX show (which The Critic was at the time) and executive producer Jim Brooks did. Groening refused to allow his name to be shown in the credits, or discuss the episode on the later DVD commentary, feeling that the episode was nothing more than a 30 minute advertisement. When Jay enters the Simpson household, Bart is watching a Flintstones-Jetsons crossover show (which was probably the movie The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones), which he criticizes; he then praises Jay and Coming Attractions/The Critic, before shuddering and saying to himself "I feel so dirty." At the end of the episode, as he is leaving for New York, Jay offers the Simpsons to appear on Coming Attractions/The Critic, but Bart declines, saying, "Nah, we're not going to be doing that." Oddly, The Simpsons also appears on television as a cartoon in The Critic. Jay Sherman has yellow skin when he appears on The Simpsons but pink skin on The Critic.

Jay appeared briefly on The Simpsons a few more times. In the episode "Hurricane Neddy," he was in an insane asylum apparently unable to say anything more than his catchphrase (Doctor: "Yes, Mr. Sherman. Everything stinks.") In the episode "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", he is seen at Moe's Tavern with all the other characters on the show that Lovitz voices or has voiced.

Home media

Due to the success of DVD sales of Family Guy, FOX Network rushed to release The Critic on DVD, including the two regular seasons and the web episodes. The show achieved good sales, jumping onto the DVD list at 14 on Amazon, and quickly going through five issuings.

Animated Views gave the DVD set good reviews, giving it an overall rating of 10/10.

Episode List

Season 1: 1994 (ABC): 13 Episodes

# Title Original airdate

Season 2: 1995 (FOX): 10 Episodes

# Title Original airdate

Season 3: 2000 (Internet): Webisodes: 10 Episodes

In early 2000, show creators Al Jean and Mike Reiss ran a series of ten 3-5 minute long internet episodes of The Critic, still with Jon Lovitz as the starring role. While still making fun of movies and Hollywood in general, its story focused on Jay lusting after the lovely Jennifer, his new makeup lady. Alice does not appear in any of the episodes and is not mentioned by name, though Jay does briefly refer to a "second divorce" in the first episode — presumably from her or the Mexican woman he married in order to get to Cuba. Besides Jay, Vlada is the only other character from the show to make an appearance. All ten of the "webisodes" were included on the complete series DVD (but not iTunes). Parodies include gaffs on The Patriot, Harry Potter, Mission: Impossible II, X-Men, Pearl Harbor and Cast Away.

# Description
1 Jay talks about his rise and fall from fame and introduces his new make-up lady, Jennifer.
2 Jay reviews the best movies from the year 2000 in a beach-themed studio (since all public beaches have banned Jay until he loses 20 pounds) and gets an unexpected visit from Arnold Schwarzenegger.
3 Jay pans The Patriot with a special guest from Pikachu (from the Pokémon video games, TV shows, and movies). All the while, Jay tries to prove to Jennifer he is nice enough to date.
4 Jay finally lands a date with Jennifer. He takes her to L'ANE Riche where he talks about the movies he missed out on reviewing while unemployed.
5 Jay reviews the Oscars.
6 Jay reminisces about his failed love life.
7 Jay takes a look at the best films of the year 2000, including Cast Away and The Legend of Bagger Vance.
8 Jay visits the set of the Harry Potter film and takes a look at the Planet of the Apes remake. Jay shows Jennifer his favourite spots in New York.
9 Jay defuses Broadwaymarker bombs with "Death of a Seinfeld" and others.
10 Jay reviews Pearl Harbor and is mistaken for Shrek while waiting in line at the movies with Jennifer.

See also


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  7. Weinstein, Josh. (2006) Commentary for "Hurricane Neddy", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.

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