Why did "The Critic" fail on ABC?

Does anyone else just love this show? I started watching it in reruns on CC a couple years back and it is one of the funniest animated shows ever on TV. For some reason Jon Lovitz is quite bearable when you can’t actually see him. The humor was very witty and the stories were typically very funny. Why did this show flop so fast in its original run? How many seasons was it on? I don’t even remember.

Wow, only two seasons. But I do love this show. I also liked his 2 guest appearances on The Simpsons.

I believe the problem was it was aimed at a more adult audience then the Simpsons of other animated shows were at the time. You see I think there is an American problem with viewing animation as something for children. It is a very rare thing for any animation in the US to manage to appeal to adults in large numbers. This is changing but very very slowly. Which is weird since so many adults are huge fans of the Simpsons.

I mean I cannot imagine for one moment see any American TV network, broatcast or cable, making an animated drama.

I think it died from poor support.

It was on ABC for half a season, and on FOX for half a season.

I thought the writing was . . . Variable. Some of it extremely sharp and witty; but some of it sophomoric and dull. Not that sophomoric and dull isn’t good for ratings—in fact, it was probably the “sharp and witty” that got it killed. The animation sucked, but I don’t think that affected it one way or the other.

I do still fondly recall some lines . . . “You’re watching FOX—shame on you!” “Mother? I thought you were dead! No, dear, you’re thinking of Barbara Stanwyck . . .”

I think it got bounced around various time slots. Always a death sentence for a new series.

There never is a simple answer, other than “the ratings weren’t good enough.”

If you need a fix, though, there are ten unaired short episodes available at Shockwave.com:


[Jay Sherman] “It sucked!” [/Jay Sherman]

I quite liked it, but you know somebody had to do that one.

The line was “It stinks!” Which The Critic certainly did not.

Of all the episodes, my favorite part was probably when Marty was going on the bus to camp and Alice’s little daughter handed him a piece of paper: “I wrote you a letter.” Then the camera shows the paper and there is a single letter “P” written on it.

Man, that had me in tears.


The Critic and Duckman were great. Too bad they never made it.

“You can read it it on the bus!”

The movie parodies that were shown on Jay’s program in the program were usually great. You could watch the program for those alone. In fact, you often had to. The show’s real problem was that it only had one main character and he wasn’t very likeable. The people who surrounded him (except for Alice) were also not very likeable, and the comedy was supposed to stem from how horrible and weird they were.

Cartoons for adults are a hard enough sell. Cartoons on the three original major networks never last. Cartoons whose characters are also unlikeable are in a death spiral from the first episode. The Critic would only have worked if, like the Simpsons, the satire was spread out over the entire episode. But the stuff outside of the movie parodies weren’t satire about popular culture, but about unlikeable characters. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. I liked it but I wished that the episodes were a lot better then they were.

“You look familiar.”
“I had a show on ABC for about 7 seconds.”

Thanks for pointing out my error, Cliffy. I’m firing the editor in my head for changing that in my memory.

“Oh. The pilot’s a penguin. Waaaaaiiiiit . . . . penguins can’t fly! Penguins can’t fly!!!

Danged if I know. It had great writing and was surprisingly accurate with most of its parodies. And I’ll take Jay Sherman over a hundred other cartoon main characters any day.

If anything dragged this back, it was some of the supporting cast, particular Jay’s ex-wife (who should’ve been vaporized at the development stage). Anything they added could’ve been done by far less irritating characters. Oh, and the Aussie hunk should’ve been more likable.

Lord, I sincerely hoped it wasn’t that “cartoons are for kids!” tripe…sheesh, we STILL haven’t gotten rid of that ridiculous, horribly outdated hang-up?

I think Exapno Mapcase has nailed it. the characters weren’t likable enough, and the stories didn’t have the basic sweetness and (non-cloying) sentiment that makes The Simpsons work.

Because it wasn’t funny.

I remember thinking that it seemed rather odd that the show would take Jon Lovitz, who relies so much on spontaneous expression and gesture for comedic effect, and who is in addition–how to say this?–naturally gifted with a mirth-inducing appearance (in a purely good, manly and virile way, so don’t come after me, Jon), and have him star in an animated format where none of that really translates. Watching the show was like watching stilted (albeit frequently well-written) radio comedy acted out by refrigerator magnets.

That’s just my impression, and probably has nothing to do with why the show was cancelled. But I felt like the premise would have worked better in live-action, along the lines of Chris Elliott’s “Get a Life.” Then again, that show didn’t do too hot either, so maybe I’m just deranged.

I liked the episode where Jay went to Hollywood to write some horrible movie sequel. You hear Ah-nold saying, “No one must ever know” as he’s hanging up his muscle body suit on a coat rack.

Watching it on CC instead of when it aired is one place to start looking for blame…
And the Critic ruled! The Klingon children ruled! Jay’s Dad rocked the house!