starring Jon Lovitz
Finally ! The day I have been waiting for my entire life has arrived when
one of the greatest shows in the history of television has been released on
DVD. Ladies and Gentleman... The Critic The Complete Series has arrived.
Let me start off this review by saying how difficult it was for me to track
down this DVD set. It seems that many major stores have not received any
sets and did not even know what I was talking about when I asked if any were
in stock. To save yourself the effort I went through tracking down a copy you
can always order directly from Amazon.com by clicking here. With that said,
let's get on with the review.
At first glance without opening the set you can see the incredible quality
packaging which Columbia TriStar has used. The outside box artwork is laid
out perfectly and does a fantastic job visually with a glossy shine. The back
of the box has text which summarizes the show and informs the viewers that
ALL of the episodes from seasons 1 and 2 are included but fails to list any of
the special features that exist inside the set. It is interesting that they did not
want to boast about the great content found within. Inside the outer box is a
3 disc slip holder similar to what holds the discs in each of The Simpsons DVD
releases. This inside slip is visually stunning and has some terrific glossy
images from episodes that fold around the discs including a new image
featuring the Shermometer. Inside the slip is a booklet holder featuring a
booklet that summarizes each episode as well as the 3 discs which are
beautifully labeled in extreme artistic colors. The discs were produced using
a top off the line gold bottom duel layer CD. Behind the discs, the trays also
feature new artwork displaying a film strip of characters and quotes. No
expenses were sparred with the packaging. Everything is durable and
amazingly attractive using bright colors which creatively capture the visual
style found in The Critic.
Each of the opening menus on the discs fade in to reveal Jay sitting or
standing to the right. As you wait longer to make a selection Jay becomes
more impatient and his face becomes increasingly frustrated. This is a neat
animated feature that makes the set stand out in quality with these little
menu jokes. The opening menu has three selections: "Play All, Episode
Selection, and Special Features". The play all button has recently become a
fan favorite with TV show DVDs allowing fans to sit down and watch back to
back episodes without having to select each one individually. I am thrilled to
see the set include this feature since many fans were hoping it would make
it. The Episode Selection button takes you to menus for selecting any of the
episodes found on each disc individually. These menus are still picture menus
and feature frame grabs from each episode along with the episode title. An
asterisk is listed next to episodes that have a separate audio commentary
track. The episode "A Pig-Boy and His Dog" has a star next to it indicating
that it has an interactive feature that allows you to view storyboard
comparisons to several scenes during the episode. I have never before
seen any other DVDs use this listing technique but I would expect more to
follow this pattern. By doing this you can put on the commentary first then
select the episodes to watch without going to multiple menus for each episode
and having to select it each time. The last menus are for selecting the Special
Features. These menus are animated and have Jay doing some funny
movements on the right. I particularly like the special features menu on disc 3
where Jay's stomach grows out to reveal the words written on it. Overall, the
menus for this DVD set are a real treat. I was merely hoping for something
plain that you can navigate easily. What I found were interactive menus that
capture the shows sense of humor and visual scenery but still allow you to
navigate with ease. They are exactly what were needed.
The full screen video transfer on each of the discs is rather well done when
considering the primitive traditional ink and paint animation style used to
create these episodes. Keep in mind that these episodes were created 10
years ago. The colors have been brightened and sharpened a bit for the
release and display the episodes nicely. This is expected from the DVD format.
The final picture quality is a step above the quality you would view during a
regular television broadcast. Several other reviews around the web have been
panning the video quality in comparison to other DVD sets such as Futurama.
These reviewers forget to realize that the method of creating The Critic was
not as technologically advanced as newer cartoons that are released on DVD.
Viewers should be aware that during scenes you will have off movements, dust
particles, and scratches appear every so often. This is the way the show was
created. To go in and try and fix these hardly noticeable specs would not only
blur images but lose the overall artistic quality and colors. Choosing to leave
things this way preserves aspects of the show the way they were originally
created and presented. Could a slight better transfer have been possible ?
Yes. Would it have been necessary ? No. This is a debatable issue and can
be viewed fairly on each side of the argument. I am just thankful that this
DVD set was released in the first place and fans finally have an opportunity to
own this complete series.
All of the episodes feature English 2.0 Dolby Surround sound. This is the
common sound quality found on most older television show DVD sets which
are released. I must admit that it is a tremendous improvement over what
we have been listening to on regular cable television during repeat episodes.
The sound is overall extremely crisp and sharp on several of the higher action
sound effect scenes. A better sound quality on the show is noticeable from
the very beginning with the show's fantastic theme song sounding remarkable.
Most people do not focus on sound when watching television comedies that do
not use it effectively but many of the episodes have used sound quite a bit to
boost the feel of a joke. Nothing is better than listening to "Beauty and King
Dork" in surround sound. It makes Jay seem even more pathetic than his
character shows on screen. Take that as you will.
The special features included on the DVDs are what make this set such a
treasured item. Although there is no listing of any of them on the back of
the box, the set is loaded with plenty of extra material. On all three discs,
each episode is presented in its original full length version as seen during
each primetime showing. Extra material which was later cut from the
episodes for syndication has been restored and is included in each of the
episodes. If you are use to watching syndicated taped episodes you will
definitely notice the couple of extra minutes. Eight of the episodes
throughout the DVD set feature a full length audio commentary featuring
members of the cast and crew. This was my favorite extra feature on the
set since it added a tremendous amount of information about the show that
would have never before been known outside of the people who worked on
the show. All of the commentaries are up-beat and the people involved do
a great job of sharing their inside comments about the show. On Disc 1 there
are two trailers featuring other DVD sets offered from Columbia TriStar.
These are not necessarily needed on the set but are helpful for people looking
to purchase similar items. Disc 2 contains a storyboard-to-episode comparison
available during three scenes of "A Pig-Boy and His Dog". With the feature
turned on you can click on a film real that pops up during the episode to view
each scene's storyboard as it plays. Viewing these storyboards gives an
insight into how the creation of an episode is completed. Disc 3 is where you
will find out just how amazing this set is. A featurette entitled "Creating The
Critic" is simply incredible. It features video interviews with co-creator's
Al Jean and Mike Reiss as well as other cast and crew members. After
viewing it is easy to see how this show was successful. The talent and humor
that worked on the show is rarely seen in this day and age. Also found on
Disc 3 are clip compilations entitled "Trailer Parodies" and "Top Ten List".
These segments open with Jay sitting in a movie theater eating popcorn while
jokes that were used in the more recent webisodes are shown on screen. At
any time you can click 'play movie' and the feature will begin. Once again, this
shows the tremendous effort that went into the creation of the set. And finally,
rounding off disc 3 are all 10 full length webisodes ! Yes, folks. Each webisode
is shown in full screen and play one after the next. For those of you not
familiar, the webisodes were created a year ago and were viewable by
downloading online. I am simply amazed with the special features content
they packed into this set. Many of us were expecting to see just the episodes
included in the set with nothing else. Amazingly, we have been treated to a
remarkable amount of great quality extra content !
I don't think any of us were expecting anything quite like this. My hat goes
off to everyone who was involved in the creation of this DVD set. It's nice
to see that people put some extra time into creating a higher quality product
for the fans. This is a rare occasion which is not easily found these days.
The Critic is one of the most creative, original, and fun animated sitcoms to
have ever been seen on television. Through this terrific DVD set we can all
rest easily knowing that the show will live on for future generations to
A Toupee Production ™