Here's a clip from the short-lived but beloved animated sitcom The Critic featuring a rip on Leno as critic Jay Sherman and his boy make a visit to Hollywood. USELESS TRIVIA ALERT! Leno's voice was provided by one of the show's writers, Judd Apatow, before he found success in mining humor from the folds of Seth Rogen's body fat.
Before The Simpsons begat Futurama, current executive producer of The Simspons Al Jean, along with Mike Reiss, created a short-lived animated series about a film critic who hated almost every film he ever saw.
Starring Jon Lovitz in some brilliant voice work, The Critic ran through two networks in two seasons. Like Futurama and Family Guy, it found some success with reruns on cable -- in this case, Comedy Central -- and a subsequent DVD release. But unlike those series, The Critic remains but a distant memory.
Maurice LaMarche is the "go to" guy in animation when it comes to Orson Welles impressions. He used the voice for The Brain on both Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, and recently played a young Orson Welles in The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XVII." Back in the '90s, LaMarche made a few appearances on The Critic, playing the older, rotund Orson Welles who was far removed from his younger and more vibrant days, reduced to doing TV commercials and voiceovers. Unfortunate yes, but this is comedy, and the rule here is that pain and misfortune are always funnier than happiness.
After the jump, enjoy a brief clip from The Critic featuring LaMarche as Welles. It's one of my favorite moments from the series. The "green peaness" line cracks me up every time.
Burns: Listen, Spielbergo, Schindler and I are like peas in a pod. We're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked damn it!
This episode opens like any other, with one tiny omission: Matt Groening's name does not appear on the Simpsons' television along with "James L. Brooks" and "Sam Simon." The story goes that Groening and Brooks were at odds over whether to let Jay Sherman from The Critic (a show created by Simpsons peeps Mike Reiss and Al Jean) appear in the episode. Groening felt, and quite rightly I believe, that Jay was not a part of the Simpsons' universe, and didn't belong on the show. A transcribed article about the tiff can be found here.
The Critic, while it was on television, aired on ABC, FOX, and Comedy Central, though not at the same time. The show, created by Simpsons vets Mike Reiss and Al Jean, started off on ABC where it wallowed in obscurity, and then moved to FOX for its second season. Actually, it didn't fare much better on FOX, either, and after two seasons the plug was pulled. It did, however, manage to find an audience when Comedy Central began airing reruns. Also, a "third" season of shorts was created for Shockwave.com. Not counting the Shockwave mini-episodes, the series only ran for a total of 23 episodes.
The titular character, voiced by Jon Lovitz, was a critic living in New York City who essentially hated every movie he saw. Of course, every movie he saw was incredibly bad, so you couldn't really blame him. The series premiered in 1994, and as anyone who has tried to get an animated show on primetime in the wake of The Simpsons knows, it can be an uphill battle, even if you happened to work on The Simpsons yourself. In fact, a crossover episode of The Simpsons featuring Jay Sherman (the Critic) was made ("A Star is Burns"). That episode, however, perhaps inadvertently zeroed in on why The Critic didn't last. While it was a great show, it seemed to wither under the shadow of a much bigger and much more popular series. Even I never gave it much of a chance when it first aired, seeing it as a lesser version of what The Simpsons was offering. It wasn't until I watched it on its own merit that I realized it was actually very unique, very well-written, and had carved out its own little universe separate from The Simpsons. The lesson, I suppose, is never jump to conclusions.
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