Alan Smithee: "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show" was directed by someone named "D.R.L. MacMoortler". It's pretty safe to assume that this is a pseudonym for David Cutler, Rich Moore, and Lauren MacMullan, all of whom worked on the show.
Cancellation: First by ABC, then by FOX, then by Comedy Central (though Comedy Central only aired reruns of the show, not new episodes). Lampshaded in the first episode of the webisodes.
The Cast Showoff: In the DVD commentaries, the writers shamelessly admitted that they tried to get Jon Lovitz to sing any chance they got, noting that he has a very powerful singing voice.
Channel Hop: After the show's first season on ABC, it then moved to FOX for the second season. Then it reran on Comedy Central until the rights ran out and it appeared on IFC (the Independent Film Channel, a.k.a "the channel that airs Portlandia") and Reelz Channel. It's now on DVD and does air on some overseas channels.
This show also had Nancy Cartwright, Russi Taylor, and Kath Soucie playing one-shot and unnamed boy characters.
The Danza: As with The Simpsons, in The Critic, Doris Grau voices yet another chain-smoking, sarcastic, old lady named Doris (only here, she's a make-up lady for a fat, ugly film critic, not a school lunchlady who lost her passion for her work years ago, smokes on the job, works as a school nurse either because of budget cuts or to get two paychecks, and makes disgusting food from low-end ingredients bought due to school budget cuts).
Averted with Jay. Even though he looks like his voice actor, Jon Lovitz (and was almost named Jon), the writers decided to name their critic character Jay.
Executive Meddling: Al Jean has alluded to this trope being very much the case in real-life in DVD commentaries for both this series and The Simpsons (particularly the Simpsons episode that combined The Simpsons with The Critic, which drove Matt Groening to remove his name from the credits for that episode).
Network to the Rescue: The series was cancelled by both ABC and FOX. The latter was truly offensive because the series was getting strong ratings in a post-Simpsons slot. (It was theorized that new executives hated the show and wanted it gone, as well as FOX not owning it and having less interest in it succeeding.) UPN attempted to invoke this trope by wanting to pick it up for a third season, but FOX prevented that. Comedy Central eventually came to the rescue by securing rerun rights and rerunning it for yearsnote in doing so, also making the show a staple on United Airlines' in-flight entertainment for a good part of the 90's. While this didn't revive the show (outside of a brief webisode run), it did keep the series from fading into obscurity and made it a cult hit earning it an eventual DVD release.
Old Shame: Mike Reiss wasn't thrilled with how the webisodes turned out. He and Al Jean had to work on them from 10 PM to midnight every day, after already working a full work day, so they were exhausted. And the ability for the show to quickly parody movies that were just released in theaters was rendered null by the various animation studios taking too long to produce them. And when they did go up, they were released with little fanfare.
The Other Darrin: Rhea Perlman (best known as Carla Tortelli from Cheers) replaced Brenda Vaccaro as the voice of Ardeth in the second season for two episodes.
Rerun: The show was in reruns on Comedy Central back in the early 2000s, but the show has since vanished from the airwaves (at least in America). The entire series (including the webisodes) has been released on DVD.
The show can still be viewed on Reelz channel. But good luck finding that (here's a hint, it's usually in the high-200s and it might not be available on most cable packages)
Due to it being out of license, however, the entire series can be easily found on YouTube.
FOX was noted to have been far worse than ABC. While the series suffered in the ratings in Season 1, Season 2 was actually successful — retaining much of The Simpsons lead-in. However, after FOX first picked up the series, new executives took over and didn't want it. Al Jean has also suggested that because FOX didn't own the series, they were far less inclined to keep it going. Worst of all, FOX purposefully didn't officially cancel the series like ABC did - all just to prevent other channels from picking it up.
Al Jean: Lucie Salhany, who was the president of Fox, left the position before the show came on and the new person [John Matoian] didnt like the show. I was very aggravated because it placed us with two things, one was a show called House of Buggin and one was a show called Too Something, and I liked the performers a lot on those shows, but they werent doing nearly as well in the ratings and we knew it and yet we couldnt get picked up.
Trope Namer: No Celebrities Were Harmed, heard during the end of the closing credits when Jay announces "Celebrity voices are impersonated. No celebrities were harmed in the filming of this episode."
Uncanceled: FOX picked up the show after ABC dropped it, but sadly, after 10 episodes, they also did the same. Perhaps the best joke of the Webisodes had Jay muttering how ABC, FOX, and Comedy Central all literally kicked him out.
Unfinished Episode: About nine scripts were written for a possible Season 3; one story idea was a parody of Single White Female with Jay meeting his biggest fan, who promptly models himself more and more on him. The fan would've been voiced by Maurice LaMarche, who would increasingly impersonate Lovitz as the episode went on.
Besides the fact that the Twin Towers are in the intro sequence, some of the (then) fake movies reviewed actually got made later (Jurassic Park 2). And the original Broadway production of Cats closed in 2000.
Then there's the "topical" political references. Jokes about Malcolm Forbes and Admiral James Stockdale do not age well. On the other hand, the Reverend Al Sharpton has actually gained more national recognition since the show.
Yes, there was a time when the most common jokes made about Bill Clinton were about him supposedly eating a lot (see also the Clinton-at-McDonald's sketch on Saturday Night Live) rather than his promiscuity, save for the "Fat Lecherous Hillbilly Wins" sub-headline in "Sherman of Arabia". Ever since the Monica Lewinsky scandal that unfolded a few years after this show's television run ended, whenever a joke is made about Clinton it's not about food, but sex. Plus, Clinton had noticeably slimmed down throughout his two terms.
Another topical reference that aged badly is a joke about The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jay Leno's awkward rapport with his first band leader, Bradford Marsalis, whose brief tenure is almost forgotten.
"Every Doris Has Her Day" was going to use Cat Stevens's songs from Harold and Maude instead of "A Bicycle Built for Two", to spoof the growing friendship between Jay and Doris, but the producers couldn't get the rights.
The show was originally going to be live-action, with Jon Lovitz playing Jay. This never came to be due to potentially high production costs and Lovitz being unable to commit to doing a live-action series.
Cyrus, Alice's cheating husband who left her after he cut an album that blatantly revealed that he was unfaithful to her, was going to make a second appearance if the series continued.
Aspects of the series (such as the setting, the make-up woman and Ted Turner-type boss) were originally conceived by Al Jean and Mike Reiss when Matt Greoning wanted to do a spin-off of The Simpsons starring Krusty.
Another season three plot idea involved a Loony Fan obsessed with Jay and gradually trying to act more and more like him as the episode progressed. This would have featured Maurice LaMarche showing off his Jon Lovitz impression.
Jay's birthday is January 26, 1958. It is presented on his driver's licence in the episode "Uneasy Rider."
Also, the pilot first aired on January 26, 1994, which was Jay's 36th birthday. Jay mentions he's 36 in a few episodes in the first season. It was also mentioned in the show's first phone gag in the pilot in the opening credits.
Elenor Sherman: Jay, this is your mother. Your father and I are taking you out of our will. We feel you already have enough money. Oh yes, and Happy Birthday.