The Critic was a short-lived prime time animated series that featured Jon Lovitz as the voice of the titular critic. It was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were also writers for The Simpsons. It was launched on ABC in 1994, where it was cancelled after a month, but brought back in the summer to air the rest of its 13 episodes. It was picked up by FOX the following year, where it ran for a 10-episode second season. UPN expressed an interest in picking up the series, but negotiations eventually broke down and a third season never materialized even though scripts had already been written for it. Ten short Flash cartoons (webisodes) appeared on the internet over 2000-01, and reruns of the series aired on Comedy Central for a time. In Latin America, this show was aired on Locomotion before turning into Animax.
The DVD box set was released in 2004, which includes all the TV episodes and has the webisodes as extras. During the late 2000s, the show has aired in syndication. In September, 2006, IGN ranked the show 9th in their list of the Top 25 Prime Time Animated Series of All Time. In January 2009, they also ranked the show 26th in their other list of the Top 100 Best Animated TV Series. In December, 2011, Complex ranked the show 6th in their own list of The 25 Most Underrated Animated TV Shows Of All Time.
Jay Sherman is New York's #3 film critic, with a cable television film review show called Coming Attractions. He delivers scathing reviews of nearly every movie featured on the show, which does nothing to boost his ratings or popularity. It also doesn't help that he's overweight, balding, cynical, and incredibly unlucky with the ladies. His ex-wife Ardeth (not pictured) keeps demanding more alimony from him, and while he does score a few dates, the women he chooses are either insane or trying to get a positive film review. His boss Duke Phillips thinks he's gay and keeps mistaking his statements for come-ons, and his elderly chain-smoking make-up lady Doris loves to inflict verbal abuse on him.
Jay is the adopted son of former New York governor Franklin Sherman and his wife Eleanor. Their butler Shackleford (not pictured) has a tendency to greet Jay as "Adopted Master Jay" whenever he sees him. Jay also does have a few friends: His best friend Jeremy Hawke (a combination of Paul Hogan and Mel Gibson); restaurant owner Vlada Veramirovich (well, he's nice to Jay's face, anyway); his teenage sister Margo; and his and Ardeth's son Marty, who attends United Nations High School (where one of his classmates is a Klingon, and another one from Easter Island has a head made of stone).
In the second season, after FOX picked up the show, the character of Jay was retooled. He was given a rounder face, bigger eyes, a warmer personality, and a long-term girlfriend in personal assistant Alice Tompkins. Like Jay, Alice has a child from her own failed marriage, her young daughter Penny.
The show was resurrected one last time on the Internet as a Flash series. The supporting characters from the TV series are gone (except for an appearance by Vlada), and Jay keeps hitting on his new and younger make-up girl Jennifer (not pictured). Most fans don't really count this one among the main series.
Now has its own Characters page.
This show uses the tropes:
- Actor AllusionMarty: Look! It's Yesterday Night Live alumnus Jon Lovitz!
Jon Lovitz: Make way, make way, you comedy peons. Famous movie star coming through, and I'm carrying something you've never seen before: It's called "talent"!
Jay: I wish I had half his looks.
Marty: Well, you kinda sound like him.
Jay: You think?
Jay: Don't worry son, if you think that only handsome musicians can get beautiful women, I have two words for you: Lyle Lovett.Marty: I thought that he was handsome.Jay: You're thinking of Jon Lovitz. With his good looks, he takes the cake.
- There's this memorable exchange:
Lovitz: Benjamin, don't go! I know you want me.Jay: Wow! Everything's big on him, except his ego!
- Later, in the ninth webisode, Jay attends a Broadway rendition of The Graduate, where the lead actress has been replaced by Jon Lovitz.
Before you left, I wanted to say get bent.
- There's also Jay's singing, alluding to Jon Lovitz's operatic abilities.
- One episode had Margo quoting the Catchphrase of Nancy Cartwright's most famous role:
- Adam Westing: "Siskel & Ebert and Jay and Alice", in a big way.
- The man himself appeared in "Eyes on the Prize" for a brief cameo. Emphasis on "brief", due to Jay's particular film and television preferences.
- Ad Bumpers: The original broadcast featured a shot of Jay in both the ABC ("Stay tuned after the commercials, you beer-swilling couch monkeys") and FOX ("You're watching FOX, where we can say the word 'boobies'!" ), ("You're watching Fox. Shame on you!") & ("The Critic will be right back, you TV addicted couch monkeys") runs.
- Adobe Flash: The webisodes.
- 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.
- Alcohol Hic: From the animatronic hillbilly bears Duke keeps in his office. One is an animatronic of Bill Clinton; according to Duke, no one notices:"We're the bears who sing for Duke, doo-dah, doodah/Drinkin' moonshine 'til we puke, oh-da-doo-dah-*HICCUP*"
- Alliterative Title: A headline made by Jimmy Breslin while being the headmaster at Duke's preschool: "Bunnies Bite Breslin, Breslin Bleeds Badly."
- Alone Among the Couples: The episode "Miserable" focuses entirely on this during Jay's lonely season one.
- Alphabet News Network: "This... is PNN."
- Always Someone Better: Jay was this in his cameo on The Simpsons; reportedly, this is what annoyed Matt Groening enough to have his name taken off the credits for that one episode.
- Animated Shows
- Animation Bump: The "Beauty and King Dork" sequence in the pilot.
- Art Evolution: Most of the characters were given some slight updates to their character designs. Jay's changes are described above, while Margo went from realistically proportioned to completely stylized.
- Artistic License Geography: In case you want to know, In the episode "Marty's First Date", the name of the Mexico City Airport in Real Life is Benito Juarez, not Linda Ronstadt. Very likely to be chalked up to the Rule of Funny.
- As Himself: One episode was noteworthy as one of the few examples of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel appearing in a work of fiction, alongside other real critics like Rex Reed and Gene Shalit.
- Basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar appears in one episode, lessening Jay's role to a ventriloquist's dummy.
- Another episode had Queen Latifah for no adequately explained reason. Even the characters were confused as to why she was there!
- Ricki Lake guest stars as herself in the same episode, but that goes back to an earlier gag of Penny watching daytime trash TV.
- Don't forget the time when Jon Lovitz shows up.
- Geraldo Rivera to the list interviewed Jay and Eleanor. It ended with Franklin dancing in a diaper.
- Aside Glance: In the second webisode, a clip from Mission: Impossible II is shown, where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) escapes various villains and gunfire, and then does his trademark toothy smile to the camera.
- Jay does one after cleaning the Public Library and accidentally knocking off the L, causing a crowd of people to rush in excited, only to quickly let out a depressed groan.
- Audience Participation Failure: In "A Song For Margo":Johnny: Are you ready to rock?!
Woman: Not yet; Brad's tying his shoe! (Audience goes silent for a couple seconds)
Brad: ...Okay! (Audience starts cheering again and the band starts playing)
- Award Snub: Discussed In-Universe in one of the webisodes. The quote is even used on the main page.
- Background Music: The webisodes mostly recycled music cues from the TV series (as a cost-saving factor), though Alf Clausen still receives credit.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Valerie Fox in her film Kiss Of Death; a woman also had a small part in Jay's terrible student film, which she didn't get right:Woman: My darling, I have always loved—Oh, no. Pro-mo-theus.
- "Basic Instinct" Legs-Crossing Parody: In the pilot episode, film critic Jay Sherman interviews an up and coming actress whose debut role is a Femme Fatale similar to Sharon Stone's Catherine Tramell. When the comparison to Stone is brought up, she re-enacts the scene, leading to Jay glancing between her legs before turning to a cameraman and asking "Can we get a shot of that?".
- Beach Bury: Marlon Brando during Jay's trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
- Bears Are Bad News: Something about Jay seems to rile up bears.Bear handler: Come, Sasha. The last time you ate a critic, you spent two weeks sitting on the can!
Jay: Oh hide me! I'm being chased by three bears. There's a dispute over some porridge. Don't ask questions.
- Jay's apparent dispute with the Three Bears from Goldilocks in "Dukarella":
Miranda: Oh Jay, don't tease.
(Something on the other side of the door roars and tries to claw its way through)
- Betty and Veronica: Jay got into a brief Love Triangle with Alice (the Betty) and Jeremy's twin sister Olivia (the Veronica).
- Big Applesauce: The series takes place in New York.
- Big Rotten Apple: Its not a flattering portrayal. note
- Big Eater: Jay and Marty Sherman.
Jay: Hello, Vlada. Tonight, I'm on a diet.
- To put this in perspective - while training for a marathon, he tells Vlada that he's on a diet.
Vlada: (Picks up the phone) Tell Vlada Junior no Harvard.
Jay: In fact, I may just have coffee!
Vlada: (Sadly) Pull the plug on Mama.
- Big Fancy House: The Sherman family's mansion. Ditto for Duke's mansion.
- Big "NO!": Jay does this twice in "Miserable" when his "#1 fan" cuts off all his hair and looks as if she was about to break both his feet with a sledgehammer.
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: In "Sherman of Arabia", after Jay sent a rat with an SOS message on it to Duke:Duke: (going through mail) Junk mail, junk mail, junk mail, rat from Jay, junk mail....
- Bonus points for actually having a separate filing drawer just for rats from Jay, with several of them running around.
- Bilingual Bonus: Vlada's restaurant L'ane Riche is French for "The Wealthy Jackass".
- Biting-the-Hand Humor:
- In the episode "Sherman, Woman, and Child":"I'm Jay Sherman, the famous film critic. I used to have a big show on ABC... for about a week."
- One of Jay's voiceovers during the show's Eye Catch:"You're watching FOX. Shame on you!"
- Facetiously inverted in the episode "A Song For Margo":Margo: Johnny is just like you, Jay. He's not afraid of anything. Not even the TV networks.
Jay: Well, they're all pretty crummy. (Turns to the camera when the FOX logo appears) Except for FOX. The last bastion of quality programming. (Does a salute) God bless you, little logo.
- In the episode "All The Duke's Men":"It's a giant horse's ass! (Turns to the camera) You're watching FOX. Give us 10 minutes, we'll give you an ass."
- And from another bumper:"You're watching FOX, where we can say the word 'boobies'!"
- From the episode "From Chunk To Hunk":"Ah yes. Sweet, non-judgmental FOX Network, where coming in third is a triumph!"
- In the first webisode, Jay recounts how he was cancelled at ABC, Fox, and Comedy Central. Fox's building is portrayed as a very scuzzy, shoddy, run-down building in the slums - and Comedy Central's HQ is a tent.
- In the episode "Sherman, Woman, and Child":
- Blind Without 'Em: Carmen from "Martys First Date". After losing her glasses during the international food fight, she sees Marty in front of her as a handsome guy holding a rose. Once he gives the glasses back, her vision comes into focus on a pudgy kid holding a fork with a meatball on it. She still agrees to go on a date with him, though.
- Box Office Bomb: Invoked; in one of the webisodes, Spike Lee appears and tells the audience to check out Bamboozled on home video... much sooner than he thought.
- Brain Bleach: In Season Two, Doris starts revealing an attraction for Duke, and this often resulted in Duke having this kind of reaction.Doris: Duke, I've loved you for years. In fact, every thirty seconds I have a hot, steamy fantasy about the two of us.
Duke: Ooh, uh, I got to take this elevator.
Doris: It's just an open shaft!
Duke: It's quicker! (steps in and plummets)
- Later, Doris sends him a graphic nude photo of herself, which the audience sees (with Duke's fingers as the censor strip). Duke has a heart attack and cries for his pills.
- In one of the webisodes, Jay went out to a stage production of The Graduate on Broadway, which featured a much talked about nude scene with Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson. Unfortunately, she wasn't available, and Jon Lovitz served as her understudy, much to the disgust of the audience. Jay is pleased.
- Brand X: "Hair in a Can" and "Phlegm Fatale Cigarettes".
- Broken Heel: This affects Jeremy upon meeting Margo in "Miserable".
- Broken Record: "Buy my BOOK! Buy my BOOK! Buy my BOOK!"
- Burping Contest: Between Jay and Homer Simpson on Homer's show.
- And Eudora Welty.
- Butt-Monkey: Jay and Marty. The writers also really enjoy taking potshots at Ross Perot.
- Call-Back: In episode 19, the Presidential robot that's supposed to be Bill Clinton is pointed out by Jay to actually be one of Duke's hillbilly bears. We first saw the bears in episode 14.
- The Cameo: Billy Crystal supplied the voice of Gary Grossman in one episode.
- Phil Hartman provided THREE of the voices in "Eyes on the Prize" (respectively, Adolph Hitmaker, Bernie, and Professor Blowhard).
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Jay and Marty become affectionately drunk after splitting half a glass of wine.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: On the first episode, Jay tells the taxi driver his dilemma about dating Valerie Fox. The driver points to a sign that reads, "Driver Only Knows Three Words of English." Those three words: "Look at sign!"
- Career Resurrection: In-Universe example. During his 1,000th show, Jay discusses this trope in regards to Sylvester Stallone."We've seen Sylvester Stallone rise and fall, rise and fall, fall further, and somehow rise again! Who could survive Rhinestone?! He's not human, I tell you!"
- The Cast Show Off: The random bits of Jay singing are just an excuse to hear Jon Lovitz's (admittedly amazing) operatic singing voice.
- Parodied in-universe in the promo clip from Arthur 3: Revenge of the Liver, which is set in a doctor's office...that has a grand piano in it for the title character to notice and play. Dudley Moore was an excellent pianist as well as actor and many of his film and TV appearances, including Arthur, found ways to invoke this trope.
- Catapult Nightmare: In "A Pig Boy And His Dog", Jay has this over dreams that his rapidly growing dog might eat him.
- Catch-Phrase:Jay: It stinks!
Jay: Hotchie motchie!
- Celebrity Paradox: Avoided with regard to Jon Lovitz, who exists in this show's universe — but he came to prominence on Yesterday Night Live. Jay's a big fan, but when he suggests by phone to a movie studio that in the wake of the remake Rebel Without a [Bill] Cosby they should make Dr. Strangelovitz, he has to explain who Lovitz is: "He's a character actor! No, I don't 'think he died!'"
- Chained to a Bed: In the episode "Miserable", a female projectionist (a.k.a. Jay's #1 fan) drugs Jay's glass of wine and ties him to her bed with strips of movie film.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: When a food fight occurs in Marty's school cafeteria, the French students immediately put their hands up and surrender, even though they did not participate.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the episode "Miserable", Jays #1 Fan shows Jay a cardboard cutout of himself holding a book he wrote. She tells him she hooked it up to her Clapper, and demonstrates by clapping to it, which results in the cutout waving the book up and down and saying "Buy my book!" multiple times. At the episodes climax, when she madly lunges at and attempts to kill Jeremy, Jay claps his hands and triggers the cutout, hitting her on the head and knocking her unconscious.
- Chekhov's Skill: In "A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera", while Jay and Marty try on clothes at a department store, Marty discovers he is able to move his stomach up and down. He opens the door from the changing room to show his father, only to be told by a little girl that what he was doing was "gross". Feeling bad, he stops. Later, during a school talent show he attends, he attempts to play "Yankee Doodle" on his electric guitar, only for a string to break off just as he starts playing. Unfazed, he tells the audience "This is the only other thing I know how to do": he moves his vest out of the way and moves his stomach up and down again. The audience and Principal Mangosuthu become impressed. Marty performs more creative belly-dancing routines, and the audience gives him a standing ovation.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The ENTIRE CAST (aside from Jay and briefly Vlada) vanishes without a trace in the webisodes. This was probably a necessity of budget, as the webisodes were done on a shoestring and they couldn't afford to bring back the old voice cast.
- It is implied that Jay and Alice's relationship ended in a messy divorce, though, since he's single and hitting on his makeup lady.
- Circling Vultures: In the episode "Every Doris Has It's Day", these show up after Doris claims she's very old.
- These also show up twice in "Sherman Of Arabia".
- Citizenship Marriage: At least that's how the Mexican airport employee sees it when she agrees to marry Jay (so he can travel to Cuba to save Marty) in the Season 1 episode "Marty's First Date":Mexican woman: Stop! You promised to marry me!Jay: All right, but I've got to tell you, I'm only marrying you to get to Cuba.Mexican woman: Well I am only marrying you for citizenship!Jay: (Starts crying) This is the most honest, caring relationship I've ever been in.
- For the record, that part of the episode is pretty inaccurate: in Real Life, Mexican airliners don't care if an American citizen travels to Cuba via Mexico, as long they can pay the ticket. At the time, one just couldn't fly directly from America. (Permission is still needed from the U.S., though.)
- Clip Show: The final episode of the second season, titled "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show".
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Franklin Sherman is too rich to be "crazy", so let's just call him 'eccentric'.
- Cluster F-Bomb / Sound-Effect Bleep: Cher does this to Jay during his interview with her on Coming Attractions.
- Comically Missing the Point: In "Miserable":Jay's #1 Fan: Whenever I get into a relationship with a man, they tend to get dominating and overcritical.Jay: I can see your point. Although, I wouldn't have used "overcritical", and I think your delivery was wooden and unconvincing.
- Comically Serious: Satoshi - The Eater of Souls, an ancient Japanese demon, is called forth into the mortal world!...as Marty's first sparring opponent in karate class at the local mall. After Marty quits, Satoshi wanders around the mall, trying out a guitar at the music shop and threatening to devour the souls of Cookiepuss at Carvel.
- Couch Gag:
- The beginning of the opening credits where Jay wakes up to a phone call from someone with bad or weird news. In the FOX episodes, they also added in Jay waking up to an announcement on his clock radio.
- The opening credits also shows Jay on Coming Attractions showing a movie clip/parody (such as parodies of Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Nazis being knocked down like bowling pins by the boulder that Indiana Jones is running from, The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is bumped into the camera and falls down a hill, a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie where said actors are eaten by a colorized T-Rex, etc), to which Jay says "It stinks!"
- The post-credits scene where an usher walks up to Jay and says, "Excuse me sir, the show's over." Jay's replies have been: (1) "Is the snack bar still open?" (2) "I'm stuck in the chair!" (3) "But I have nowhere to go." (4) "Get away, zitface!" (only used when the usher sounds like the Squeaky-Voiced Teen from The Simpsons.) There's also an end credits sequence in the FOX episodes that shows Jay and Alice kissing during the credits. When the usher (a different one this time) tells the couple "Excuse me, the show's over," Alice retorts "Get away, pipsqueak!" and Jay tells the audience "That's why I love her!"
- Cousin Oliver: One of Dukes attempts to improve Coming Attractions ratings was the addition of a cute child with a speech impediment.Jay: Well, I find you "wee-pulsive" and "wee-pugnant"!Kid: (now with a normal voice) Hey, that speech impediment shtick is copyrighted. You'll be hearing from my lawyers! I mean, wawyers.
- Cover Version: In Star Trek: Generation X, Captain Kirk sings "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" in Shatner fashion.Kirk: Raindrops... keep... falling on my... head... MY FEET!... are too big!... for my... BED!
- Creator Backlash: In-Universe example: Jay to Ghostchasers III."I helped write this picture, but believe me when I say this is the worst movie ever made! Attention, L.A. street gangs, why kill each other when there are more deserving movie executives just miles from your home? Their addresses are " (cut to 'Technical Difficulties' sign)
- With The Simpsons, on that show's season six episode "A Star is Burns", the only episode not to have Matt Groening's name in the opening or closing credits (as Groening — and a lot of Simpsons fans — felt the crossover was an excuse to have the episode be little more than a 22-minute advertisement for a dueling show). This is lampshaded — just before Jay walks into the Simpsons' living room, Bart is watching The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, and says he "smells another cheap cartoon cross-over". He then says that all kids should watch his show, before shuddering and saying, "I feel so dirty!"
- Lampshaded again in this exchange towards the end:Jay: And if you ever want to appear on my show-
Bart: Nah, we won't be doing that. (Technically true in that the Simpsons never appear in-universe, although Bart and Homer do turn up on a TV screen in one episode.)
- Jay also had a short cameo in season eight's "Hurricane Neddy" where he is a patient at a mental hospital, as his psychological state seems to have deteriorated to a point where he responds to everything with his Catch-Phrase, and he is also in season fifteen's "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" as one of four characters at Moe's Tavern who have been voiced by Jon Lovitz.
- Crying Indian: Duke wants "Savvy Indian Chewing Tobacco" to be a sponsor for Coming Attractions. He even has an Indian on the set holding a sign with said name on it. Refusing to take part in it, Jay rips up his contract and throws the pieces at the Indian's feet, making him shed a tear.
- Curtain Clothing: In the episode "Dukerella", Miranda's costume ball dress was made out of curtains. She even had the venetian blinds as the back of the dress.Duke: Ooh, baby got back!
- Cute Kitten: In "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost", during Coming Attractions, Duke tells Jay that the audience only tunes in for the funny clips, and then shows a black and white clip of two kittens playing Ping Pong with their paws. Jay is at first offended, but then he sees one of the kittens frisking with the ball.Jay: Haha, they are cute.
- Darker and Edgier: Parodied in the first webisode. Jay ends the episode with, "Oh, Jay, you bitch! It's the internet. I can say "bitch"!
- Dénouement Episode: "Dukerella" serves as one, as the last broadcast episode before the Take That! episode "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show!"
- Deserted Island: Where the second half of "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost" takes place.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:Jay: (after Jeremy's sister Olivia introduces herself) I wonder what she looks like naked?
Jay's brain: You idiot, you said that out loud. Better cover.
Jay: I mean uh, I wonder what she cooks like ... naked?
Jay's brain: (sarcastically) Oh, nice going.
Jay: (softly singing) Beauty and King Dork...
- Olivia doesn't mind. She asks if he'd like her to cook naked for him. Jay's stomach approves (because, well, cooking).
- In the pilot, at the end of the Beauty and the Beast parody:
Valerie: What did you say?
Jay: Uh... I said, "How useful is the spork?"
- Didn't Think This Through: In "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show", a terrorist group has captured Jay and threatened to blow him up unless their demands are met. As the timer runs into its final minute, Jay points out that if he blows up, the lead terrorist would die too. The terrorist attempts to walk away, but Jay starts chasing after him.
- Diet Episode: "From Chunk To Hunk". Marty becomes slim and toned. Jay loses two pounds, which is apparently his college weight.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In the episode "Dial 'M' For Mother", Jay's life is ruined after he tells his adopted mother Eleanor to shut up live on Geraldo. This includes being picketed, vilified on television, and generally being shunned by the entire population of New York City. What really drives this home was that Jay only told Eleanor to shut up after she told some embarrassing and inappropriate stories about him live on Geraldo.
- The Ditz: "I'm Dan Quayle. I gotta go boom-boom."
- Domestic-Only Cartoon: The webisodes.
- Dork in a Sweater: Jay usually wears an argyle sweater vest.
- Double Entendre: A non-sexual example. When Duke's on the phone with the "spastic colon people", he asks if they can hold. Naturally, they can't.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Jay's design changes slightly over the first few episodes to make him more relatable and easier to animate.
- Alice and Penny aren't introduce until the first episode of the second season, when the show had moved to Fox. However, since this proved to be the last season, there are actually more episodes without them than with.
- Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: The Easter Island children have the stone Moai heads atop human bodies.
- Embarrassing Rescue:
- In "Marathon Mensch", Doris drags Jay down the Phillips Broadcasting tower. When this is turned into The Cowering Inferno, Doris is played by Jessica Tandy with Jay played by a sumo wrestler.Sumo wrestler: I have to go potty.
Jay: I may have said "potty", but they completely took it out of context.
- When Jay is taken prisoner in "Sherman of Arabia", he gets rescued by a helicopter. It doesn't go as planned.Helicopter pilot: I don't understand. This thing's supposed to lift a tank!
Jay: Can you talk a little louder? I think a few people in Jordan didn't hear you!
Prisoner: Yes, we did!
- In "Marathon Mensch", Doris drags Jay down the Phillips Broadcasting tower. When this is turned into The Cowering Inferno, Doris is played by Jessica Tandy with Jay played by a sumo wrestler.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Satan calls Jay just to say that he's not the reason Cher won an Oscar.
- Every Episode Ending
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Or worse with penguins, in this case. Apparently, they're bad pilots ("Penguins can't fly... PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!!!") and slack off drinking piña coladas when there's work to be done.Penguin: Wah-wah-wah...
Franklin: No, I will not pray with you!
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Alice found out Cyrus was cheating on her by the title of his first album: "I'm Cheating On My Wife Alice Tompkins. You Heard Me, Alice Tompkins".
- Executive Meddling: In-Universe examples.
- Jay often finds himself a victim of this, as Duke will tell him how to review movies or change the show to try to make him more likable.
- Duke tries to retool Coming Attractions on more than one occasion, and in "Dr. Jay" he invents "Phillips Vision", which alters classic movies to give them all happier endings. Jay also faces this in "L.A. Jay", in which he is hired to write the screenplay for Ghostchasers 3 after getting his original script rejected.
- Humphrey the Hippo.
- Duke Phillips is like Ted Turner.
- Franklin and Eleanor Sherman are named after Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, but they don't actually behave like them - though Eleanor's personality is definitely a nod to Katharine Hepburn.
- Jeremy Hawke is a mix of Paul Hogan, Russel Crowe and (pre-meltdown) Mel Gibson.
- His twin sister Olivia Newton Hawke is, of course, Olivia Newton John.
- Fan-Art: There isn't a lot of art out there, but they are absolutely worthy of taking a look at, such as the following: This portrait of Jay, Jay/Alice, Jay/Alice again, and some of the characters cosplaying as "Dragonball Z" characters (scroll down to see). There is also this piece where you can build your own Jay Sherman.
- Fanservice: Invoked when Jeremy plays Mahatma Gandhi, pulling down his pants for a "tasteful view of my behind" intended for the ladies.
- Femme Fatale: Valerie Fox is labelled this in the film industry.
- Find the Cure!: The plot of "Dr. Jay".
- "Just LOOK who got eight million dollars to be a Fish out of Temporal Water!"
- Fix Fic: In the episode "Dr. Jay", Duke creates "Phillips Vision", which changes films to have happy endings (such as Rhett returning to Scarlett) and script changes (such as changing Charles Foster Kane's last word from "Rosebud" to "Schwing") with a mix of Executive Meddling, Viewers Are Morons, and Lowest Common Denominator in-show.
- Floating Advice Reminder: Played with in "Marty's First Date", in which the balloon containing Jay's head gets popped by a skier's poles — and goes flying around afterward.
- Later, in the same episode, Jay starts complaining about being in the bubble and then being ignored. He then notices a fried banana stand. "Oooh! Fried bananas!" He starts floating toward the cart and opening and closing his mouth while the intermission theme to Ms. Pac-Man plays. The Ms. Pac-Man song is omitted in the DVD release.
- Flying Flightless Bird: Played for Laughs when Franklin discovers his airline pilot is a penguin — who's been drinking.Franklin: Wait a minute — penguins can't fly. PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!
- Food Fight: An "international food fight" occurs at Marty's school cafeteria in the episode "Marty's First Date". (Which leads to the aforementioned French students' reaction).
- Four Point Scale: Referenced in "A Little Deb Will Do Ya".Jay: This film gets my highest rating, seven out of ten!
- Fully Automatic Clip Show: The final episode, aptly titled "I Can't Believe It's A Clip Show!"
- Fun with Acronyms: During a meeting with Hollywood agents:Agent: Jay, ever since we at Preferred International Talent Brokers merged with United Labor Leading Specialists...Jay: Pitbulls?Agent: (turns around and looks at the giant P.I.T.B.U.L.L.S. sign) Hey look, that does spell pitbulls.Agent 2: Well what do you know? Well, we are aggressive.(Agents all laugh which quickly turn into dog-like growls.)
- Game Show Appearance: Jay and his (soon to be ex-) wife Ardeth appear as contestants on The Newlywed Game. They win, if only because Jay knows exactly how repulsed she is of him.
- GASP: Jay does this in the pilot episode. After giving actress Valerie Fox (who was also his girlfriend at the time) a negative performance review on Coming Attractions, he returns home hoping that she will still be there. It turns out she is — only for her to slap him multiple times, telling him "You're short, you're fat, and, even for a film critic, you're ugly" before leaving him. Jay lets out a long shocked gasp after this.
- Gene Hunting: Jay and Doris discover that Doris may be Jay's biological mother, only to find out that she isn't from a DNA test.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: An in-universe example occurs in that Jay is generally loathed in America and Mexico (in Mexico, Jay's show is prefaced with a warning stating that Jay is an escaped mental patient, as his behavior scares Mexicans), but is very popular in France. This is because of his resemblance to Babar, King of the Elephants.Jay: Now that's just ridiculous. (walks away, swinging his arm like a trunk to the tune "Baby Elephant Walk".)
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- In the episode "A Little Deb Will Do Ya", when Margo is getting fitted for her dress for the debutante ball, the dressmaker asks her what shade of white she wants:Dressmaker: Here's the skinny. We dressmakers have a very strict code, so I need to know, do you deserve to wear virginal white? Because if you don't, you'll have to wear an off-white, what we call a hussy white. So which will it be? White-white?
Margo: Yes ... um, except for the gloves.
- The infamous Orson Welles frozen peas commercial, where he says "Full of country goodness and green pea-ness." Try saying that last part out loud if you don't get it.
- In the episode "A Little Deb Will Do Ya", when Margo is getting fitted for her dress for the debutante ball, the dressmaker asks her what shade of white she wants:
- Ghost in the Machine: Happens at least once, and serves the quote at the top of the page.
- Gilligan Cut: One episode had Jay bragging to someone that his face is on the cover of tons of merchandise...which then cuts to an entire warehouse full of his shirts and other merchandise where two men are looking at the overhead and bemoaning that "they just can't sell this stuff". One of the men then instructs a third man on a forklift to take it to a landfill with all of the ALF merchandise.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Alice and her Southern Belle sister Miranda. To put into perspective how far it's gone, Miranda actually performed a striptease at Alice's wedding after Alice complained about her wearing a bridal gown. When Miranda finally admitted to being jealous of Alice's life, Alice briefly rejoices.
- Gold Digger: Again, Alice's sister Miranda. She ends up marrying Duke.
- Goofy Print Underwear: Jay has pairs of underwear that include titles of (mostly) bad movies printed on the backside (they're studio promotional items he's been sent over the years). The best of these is Backdraft', but there's also Rear Window and For The Boys''.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Technically a subversion: Miranda reminds Jay of when he first started losing his hair. Flashback to Jay wearing a white judge's wig, and speaking with a horrendous English accent.
- Also, when Duke comes in and grabs the wig off his head, there's a Little Orphan Annie wig underneath, with Jay exclaiming "Leaping Lizards!"
- Hedge Maze: There's one in "A Song for Margo"; Don King and the Pope get lost in it, but their hair and hat, respectively, stick above the hedges.
- Helium Speech: Principal Mangosuthu speaks in a helium voice in "From Chunk to Hunk" due to a helium leak in the school.Mangosuthu: (over intercom) Attention, students: There is a... (voice gets higher) helium leak in the building!
Mangosuthu: (Over intercom) Attention, students: Auditions for Peter Pan are being (Voice gets higher) held in the auditorium! (Voice back to normal) Stupid helium.
- Here We Go Again!: In Forrest Gump 2, Forrest mentions shrimp to Bill Clinton, which causes the president to list all the different kinds of shrimp he likes. When he finally finishes, Forrest exclaims, "You sure like shrimp, Mr. President!" Clinton replies, "Shrimp? I like shrimp!" and starts the same list over again.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jay and Jeremy.
- Hired for Their Looks: In "Marathon Mensch":Anchor: You must be very appreciative of this woman [Doris]. She's like the mother that lifted the Volkswagen off her child, except you are the Volkswagen, and the child is the child in all of us.
Jay: What are you talking about?
Anchor: I don't know. I was hired for my looks. (smirks)
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Howard Payne arms his own book bomb in Speed Reading.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In one of the opening gags during the main credits, Jay's boss Duke calls him, inviting Jay to his ranch upon the news that Duke has received a license to hunt man for sport. Jay is advised to bring his jogging shoes.
- Hypocrisy Nod: In "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost", after a news report about Jay cleaning up New York:Anchor: At last someone's had the gumption to roll up his sleeves and clean up the litter in this town. If you ask me, Jay Sherman's a hero. Good night. (the cameras stop rolling, and the anchor litters) ...That's right, I'm a hypocrite! Who wants a piece of me? (brandishes switchblade) Come on!
- Hypocritical Humor: "Talk about overusing a catch phrase! Hotchi motchi! It stinks!"
- In "From Chunk to Hunk," Marty's gym class is preparing to take the Presidential Fitness Test, so Principal Mangosuthu shows a brief film of Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. As Clinton reminds the children about the importance of diet and exercise, an aide brings in lunch—which turns out to be a fast food order. Clinton finishes his speech while jamming french fries in his mouth.
- I Ate WHAT?!: After Jay reviews The Cockroach King, he remarks that the best thing about the film was the free roach-shaped chocolates they handed out at the theater. He takes a bite out of one...and the other (decidedly real) roaches swarm off the plate. Later in the same episode, he reminisces about a movie William Shatner made about giant spiders, which also provided free candy arachnids...no points for guessing what happens.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!Penny: Mama, Aunt 'Randa's gonna teach me to giggle stupidly, to make men do my bidding!
- "I Want" Song: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" sung by Jay in the episode "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice."
- And a parody of "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl.
- Identical Stranger: Jay had one in "Miserable".
- Impact Silhouette: In "Eye on the Prize", Jay returns from winning the Pulitzer to find Duke in his apartment.
- Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: In "A Song for Margo", Jay remembers the time he had dinner with Cher. Turns out it was just a guy in drag, who didn't bother to shave or alter his voice.Guy: (gruffly) I got you, babe.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: From the episode "From Chunk to Hunk":Penny: (Giving Marty a sheet of paper) Goodbye, Marty. I wrote you a letter.
(Marty sees only the letter P written on the page)
Penny: You can read it on the bus.
- From "A Song For Margo":Hard Copy reporter: Tonight on Hard Copy, O.J. refuses to speak. (Shows a pitcher of orange juice on the witness stand.) Part 2 tomorrow.
- From "A Song For Margo":
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Parodied twice in-show with Howard Stern as The Cockroach King and a remake of Pinocchio featuring Jeremy as Bogart the Roach, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Geppetto, Robin Williams as the Beige Fairy, and Bob Dylan as the title character.
- Al Jean, Jon Lovitz didn't start out looking like Jay, but he eventually began to resemble him. According to
- Instrumental Theme Tune: Played for the opening and closing credits. The theme is by Hans Zimmer.
- Island Help Message: In "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost", Franklin and Eleanor end up on a desert island. Franklin wrote in the sand "Need Rum".
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": In "Uneasy Rider", Jay addresses a pizzeria employee as Mr. Pizzaface. The employee's name is actually announced "pizza-fah-chay".
- It's Been Done: In "Uneasy Rider", the truckers complain that they were misled into thinking Ultimate Force would be an exciting action movie when it was instead a science documentary with Stephen Hawking, and wondered why there weren't a group of people who could warn moviegoers about bad movies. They went even farther: Said people could rank movies on a system, with good movies getting raised to the heavens, and bad movies being lowered sheepishly towards the earth.Trucker: You mean "thumbs up" or "thumbs down"?
Trucker 2: Yeah, I suppose that would work.
- It Will Never Catch On:William Daniels: Jay, I just want to say one word: Trucking.
Franklin: And I have one word for you too, Son: Snapple.
Jay: Oh, Dad, you and your nonsense words.
- Jaw Drop
- Just Here for Godzilla: From "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost":Jay: Well, here's what I think—
Duke: Sorry, son, our research shows people don't care what you think. They just tune in for the funny clips.
- Lame Rhyme Dodge: From "L.A. Jay":Jay: All right, it's just you and me. Now what did you think of my script?
Gary Grossman: It was excrement.
Jay: Did you say "it was excellent?"
Gary: It was crummy.
Jay: Did you say "it was yummy?"
Gary: It was an awful piece of junk that made me want to puke all night.
Jay: Did you say "it was an awesome piece of spunk that you want to shoot tonight?"
Gary: It was a bilious piece of dirt that made me cry out in pain.
Jay: Did you say "it was a brilliant piece of work, and you'll fly me to Spain? Where we'll meet King Juan Carlos and drink sangria all night?"
Gary: You piece of blech.
- Large Ham: Jay on occasion, but also Jon Lovitz in-universe.
- Last-Second Word Swap:Jay: Up next, an interview with Meryl-
Stagehand: (whispering from off-screen) Streep cancelled!
Jay: ...Merrily we roll along, to a commercial!
- Lighter and Softer: The second season was made over into this overall.
- Like Father, Like Son: Hinted at in the episode where Jay goes on a date with Doris and it's implied she may be his birth mother. Doris recounts to Jay about how she used to date a short, balding fat guy who would always take her to movies and then complain about them.
- Limited Animation: The webisodes, but to be fair, they were created in the early days of Adobe Flash and were on a much smaller budget than the TV series.
- Long List: Deciding to wipe her slate clean, Olivia tells Jay a list of all the men she had been with. The list is so long that Jay ends up growing stubble on his face and shaving. Conversely, his takes all of one second.
Jay: Bruce Willis plays the lone survivor of a horrific train wreck, which is not surprising, since he survived Hudson Hawk, The Fifth Element, Mercury Rising, North, The Jackal, The Story Of Us, Billy Bathgate, The Bonfire of the Vanities...
- In the sixth webisode:
Jennifer: We've been off the air for 45 seconds.
- Loser Protagonist
- Love at First Punch: Or in this case, pepper spray. Alice pepper sprays Jay in his face when they first meet on the street, but he was not harmed by the act. In fact, he rather liked it ("Mmm, jalapeño!"). However, in this case, no Strangled by the Red String is involved as their relationship has chemistry and flourishes more naturally. Jay is tempted by Jeremy Hawke's sister at one point, but only because he and Alice's relationship had not been resolved yet.
- Make a Wish: In the episode "Uneasy Rider", Marty points to a shooting star and asks Jay to make a wish. The scene then cuts to said star hitting and destroying a billboard advertising Ace Ventura with Jay exclaiming "Thank you, God" while driving past the scene.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Maurice LaMarche does nearly all of the male background characters in the show (with the exception of a few done by Nick Jameson). In fact, one episode had him surpass The Simpsons as having the largest number of characters voiced by one person.
- Marlon Brando: A frequent target of the show — specifically his latter years when he became grossly overweight.
- Masquerade Ball: Duke holds a costume ball in the episode "Dukerella."
- The Merch: In "Miserable", Jay's #1 fan has a lot of these.
- Misaimed Marketing: Spoofed in-universe; Siskel and Ebert tie-in merchandise includes such oddities as a Whack-A-Mole game.
- The Missus and the Ex: When Jay's girlfriend Alice and his ex-wife Ardeth meet for the first time, Ardeth tells Alice a spooky warning to "beware" and attempts to place a voodoo hex on her. Jay then has to remind Ardeth that the separation order specifically prohibits hexes and curses. This is only a one-time event, as Ardeth isn't seen in any future episodes.
- Mistaken for Gay: A Running Gag is Duke's belief that Jay is gay. Jay always insists that he's not, but tends to send very mixed signals around Duke in a way that may or may not be deliberate.
- Money, Dear Boy: In-Universe examples.
- This is why distinguished actor Sir Roger Twicenightly did the film Howard Stern's End. And in this universe, Orson Welles not only did commercials in his waning years (such as for Rosebud Frozen Peas and Blotto Bros. Wine), but Video Wills!
- Subverted in one case: he'll give testimonials for Mrs. Pell's Fish Sticks for free—and even from beyond the grave—out of sheer love for the product.
- Marlon Brando takes a big paycheck to play Barney The Dinosaur. The face-concealing costume looks as defeated as Brando feels. Previously, he played Mr. French in Family Affair: The Motion Picture.
- Mood-Swinger: Jay does this pretty often.Jay: (after eating some so-called chocolate roaches which scurry off the plate) Wait a minute, edible roaches don't crawl. EDIBLE ROACHES DON'T CRAAAAAAAWWWWWLLLL!!!.... Anyway, our next film is the latest from Belgian kickboxer Jean Paul Lepope.
- Mood Whiplash: Done for laughs in "Miserable"; Jeremy Hawke chases after the projectionist who's going to kill Jay, and some intense orchestral music plays. Jeremy hails a cab to tail her; cue the pleasant theme song to Taxi for a few seconds as the cab crosses the Queensboro Bridge, then back to dramatic orchestral music when Jeremy leaves the cab.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Played literally straight (and a subversion of sorts) in the first episode.Jay: (openly staring at Valerie's breasts) Uh huh. Uh huh. Oh, yeeeeaaah.
Valerie: (amused) What are you doing?
Jay: (sadly sighing) Oh, I'm sneaking a peek at your maguppies. It's my stumbling attempt at intimacy.
Valerie: If that's what you want, look in my eyes.
(Valerie looks lovingly at him.)
Jay: (shocked) OH, YE GODS!!!
- My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: When Jay is about to be shot, his life flashes before his eyes. We then flash back to a teenage Jay on the couch, in a suit, eating chips. Jay fondly remarks, "Ah, prom night."
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Inverted with Jeremy Hawke's sister Olivia. When Jeremy finds out his friend is dating her, he's worried that Olivia will leave Jay heartbroken because of her history of breaking up with her previous boyfriends.
- Naked People Trapped Outside: In "Lady Hawke", as Jeremy and Olivia have a discussion of her relationship with Jay, Jay is locked outside his window wearing nothing but a towel. As soon as he mentions his limited apparel, a strong wind blows the towel off, followed promptly by a rainstorm. After a couple minutes, he's seen whimpering like a puppy wanting to come back in.
- Never Heard That One Before: One scene features Duke meeting then-Pope John Paul II. He then asks, "Hey, John Paul. Where's George Ringo?" Pope John Paul merely sighs and says, "I am so sick of that joke!"
- Never Live It Down: In-universe: It was Jay's 8th birthday. That clown was so scary, that he wet his pants. As a result, everybody laughed at him, and they keep calling him "Weewee," to the point that the Stablemaster still refers to him by that 28 years later. To be fair though, this might be in retaliation for Jay lying about his weight as a child, resulting in the untimely death of Patches the Pony.
- New Job Episode:
Jay: Today I was going to teach you how to say He was already dead when I hit him.
- In "Eyes on the Prize," Jay is fired from Coming Attractions due to low ratings and gets a job teaching English on the 6:00 AM TV program English For Cab Drivers.
- In "Uneasy Rider", Jay quits Coming Attractions and becomes a truck driver.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Played for laughs in "Dr. Jay". Jay manages to find a cure for Duke's terminal illness, saving his life. The end of the episode then plays a montage of other people who were saved by Jay's cure; they include a Klansman, a Nazi, a baby seal clubber, a drunken tanker captain who causes an oil spill, a military dictator who declares, "Your streets will run red with blood thanks to Jay's oil," and three life prisoners.
- The '90s: The show aired from 1994 to 1995. These were also the years the show took place.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Trope Namer.Jay: (during the show's closing credits) Celebrity voices are impersonated. No celebrities were harmed in the filming of this episode.
- No Indoor Voice: "Stop making yourself the CENTERRRR OF ATTENTIOOOON!!!"
- No Name Given: The woman that holds Jay hostage in "Miserable" is not given a name; she's unofficially referred to as "Jay's No. 1 Fan".
- Non Sequitur, *Thud*:
- No Sympathy: Jay gets it hardcore in "Dial M For Mother", when chewing out his mother on national television erupts into a major scandal, despite the fact that she was condescending towards him the whole time before he eventually had enough and blew up at her. To top it off, she refused to accept his apology.
- Noodle Incident:
Jay: Why, one time, I was beat up by Snoop Doggy Dogg! No, wait, it was actually Snoopy the Dog at the Ice Capades.
- After ticking off a group of children by making Humphrey The Hippo sad, we learn that Jay once sucker-punched Mister Rogers! What led to this is never explained.
- In another episode, Jay comments that the last time he drank, he woke up in a petting zoo and one of the goats was missing.
- Also, there's this memorable, unexplained moment:
- Another episode had Franklin talk about the one time that he had amusement from when Jay fell off a cliff "trying to eat that bird". While Eleanor initially believed that he was confusing it with a Road Runner cartoon, Jay (quite embarrassingly) admitted that it really was him.
- Also, apparently Franklin once met the Fonz by simply reaching into the TV and pulling him out.
- A flashback of Jay in kindergarten involved their guest speaker being Timothy Leary. The next thing he recalled was that he was on a street corner singing "John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt" ala Bob Dylan to a crowd of people.
- In "Dial "M" for Mother", we never learn the interesting story behind a picture of Jay at his prom with a nun.
- Nose Tapping: When Vlada is speaking in a foreign language to his elderly waiter employee,note the waiter will tap his nose back at him in reply.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: In "A Pig Boy and His Dog", a grocery delivery man tries, unsuccessfully, to woo Eleanor by "accidentally" ripping his shirt off and slathering oil on his chest. She gives him a cookie and shoves him out the door.
- Not So Remote: In "Sherman of Arabia", Jay and some POWs are lost in the Iraqi desert and losing hope when they run across an International House of Couscous.
- Of Corset Hurts: Lampshaded by a maid pulling on corset strings, yelling, "Suck it in! Suck it in!" It's revealed to be Jay Sherman. The corset, however, is put on more like a straitjacket than a corset, with Jay's arms bound as well. He mutters, "I don't think this is right." The maid scoffs at this, puts a top hat on him, and boots him out of the room. And down a flight of stairs.
- Official Couple: Jay and Alice. Franklin and Elenor. Duke and Miranda.
- Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List
- Older Than They Look: In "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost", a news anchor gives birthday wishes to Goldie Hawn, "who turns 100 today."
- One-Liner Echo: During his stint as the English for Cab Drivers TV class, Jay becomes re-inspired and ends up delivering a one-liner that is echoed by his viewers (as well as a horror-struck Arnold Schwarzenegger): "If the movie stinks, just don't go!"
- Only Known by Their Nickname: In "Uneasy Rider", Jay is referred to as "Lardbutt" by the other truckers (and later, after proving himself with a difficult delivery, "Hardbutt").
- Organ Autonomy: Jay's stomach appears to not only have a mind of its own, Jay occasionally has conversations with it, and it also appears to be dominant over him.
- Orson Welles: Another frequent target of the show. They had Maurice LaMarche voice-acting for the show, and as cartoon fans may know, Maurice has a pretty good Orson Welles impression.Orson Welles: Oh, what luck! There's a french fry stuck in my beard! (chomp, chomp) Oh, yeah.
- Overly Long Gag:
- Franklin thinks an owl is Wilson:Owl: Whooo.
Franklin: My wife, Eleanor.
Franklin: My wife, Eleanor.
Franklin: My wife, Eleanor.
- And the Director's Cut of JFK, with 2 hours of new footage:"Back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. Back... and to the left. (long pause) Back... and to the left..."
- Interestingly, the inflection is actually different on each "Back... and to the left" statement, which makes it even funnier.
- "Plot? That's a funny word. Plot! Plot! Plot! PlotplotplotPLOTPLOTPLOT! PLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOT!" (Jay gazes at a People Magazine cover proclaiming Gary the "smartest executive in Hollywood")
- Franklin thinks an owl is Wilson:
- Overly Narrow Superlative: "New York's third most popular early-morning cable-TV film critic."
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Duke pays Noah Webster to put the words "Quyzbuk" (meaning "a big problem"), "Dukelicious", and "Duketastrophe" in the dictionary. Ignore the fact that Noah Webster has been dead since 1843.
Duke: Isn't that the film you described as a combination of fantasy and crap?
- Notably, he did it just so he'd get a really high score in Scrabble.
- Also notable in that a seemingly random character uses the recently-invented "Quyzbuk" when talking to Jay later in that same episode.
- Describing Lorenzo's Oil.
Jay: Yes! I called it "fantacrap"!
- Notably, he did it just so he'd get a really high score in Scrabble.
- Periphery Hatedom: While the real Barney exists in-universe, Humphrey the Hippo serves as this universe's usual analogue to him. Jay's hatred of Humphrey figures into the B-plot of "A Little Deb Will Do Ya".Humphrey: Please, kids, my philosophy is "love and dance", not "hate and not dance."
- Pet the Dog: Despite the fact that Ardeth was sleeping with the divorce court judge, he still forbade her from bothering any of Jay's girlfriends with spooky warnings or hexes. Not that it stops her.
- Also, even if Ardeth is genuinely disgusted by her time married to Jay, she admits that the two of them have done a good job raising their son.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Savvy Indian Chewing Tobacco was going to be called Savage Indian, but was changed due to concerns over political correctness.
- Real Award, Fictional Character: Jay is given a Pulitzer in one episode.
- Really Gets Around: In "Dukerella", Randa says that her first day of working at Mattress in an Hour was exhausting; she had to deliver a mattress to Madonna's place... then another one... then another one... then ANOTHER one!
- Repeating Ad: Jay's talking billboard in "Miserable".
- Retool: In-Universe, Duke's pet project Hee Haw: The Next Generation was apparently just a modern version of the original ("We've got Junior Samples, Jr.!"); when we see it later on, it's morphed into Hee Haw meets Star Trek: The Next Generation — literally. Worf plays a mean hambone.
- Reviews Are the Gospel: Invoked in episode 4, "Miserable". A woman kidnaps Jay, so he can review movies for her. And she can tell which ones are good and which ones are bad because she likes every movie she sees and can't tell otherwise.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Shackleford's wordplay in "A Song for Margo". Hes even slightly redesigned to look like he stepped out of a Dr. Seuss book.Shackleford: Before I was your butler, I would buttle for the Beatles and the Turtles and the Eagles and the Kings of Heavy Metal.
Johnny Wrath: You're a Heavy Metal Eagle Turtle Beatle butler?
Shackleford: And I once dusted the lamp of John Cougar Mellencamp.
Wrath: Would you like to work for me?
Shackleford: This was clearly meant to be.
Elenor: I never knew you had this itch.
Shackleford: Live and learn, you wicked witch!
Elenor: I wish I hadnt used the word "itch".
- Ridiculous Exchange Rates: In "Dr. Jay", Duke comments the French franc is "fancy-colored toilet paper".
- "Risky Business" Dance: Seen in the movie parody A Few Good Monsters.
- Romantic False Lead: Alice's adulterous ex-husband Cyrus who travels to New York to win her back. He sings to her in order to do so, which is Alice's weakness. ("Alice, you make any home a palace. Even Brooklyn would be Dallas, if I could be with you.") It almost works until Jay arrives playing an accordion and singing an obnoxious yet funny song of his own, snapping her out of it. Then Jay sings this song:Cyrus is just a virus.
He wants to tie you down while you're still young.
Your potential is whats essential.
You could someday be another Connie Chung!
Alice: (Singing) Jay, I'm glad that you're not gay. I may show you why someday. (Kisses Jay on the cheek)
- Jay finally breaks the spell with this exchange
- Cyrus: (Singing) Lover, without you there's no other...
Jay: (Interrupting, singing) Give him a chance, he'll do your mother!
- After making Cyrus leave, Alice finishes it
Jay: (Smiling at her) Yay!
- Rousing Speech: In "Eyes on the Prize", Jay aims to win another Pulitzer Prize so he could get back his respectability. He writes an essay entitled "The Sorry State of Films Today" and presents it on the TV program English for Cab Drivers, which ends up being a parody of the climax to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."I am a movie critic by trade, and until recently, I got paid to tell you people which movies merely stink and which ones you shouldn't screen near an open flame. Well, I'm putting the burden of lousy movies back on you. It's very simple: If you stop going to bad movies, they'll stop making bad movies. If the movie used to be a TV show, just don't go. After Roman numeral II, give it a rest. If it's a remake of a classic, rent the classic! Tell them you want stories about people, not a hundred million dollars of stunts and explosives. People, it's up to you. If the movie stinks, just don't go."
- Understandably, some are less than pleased.Arnold Schwarzenegger: If da moovee steenks, just don't go... VUT AM I SAYING?!
- Some take it even further.Hollywood Executive: Uh oh, the jig is up! *dives out office window*
- Someone wasn't listening.Franklin: If the movie stinks, do-si-do.
Shackleford: Allemande left, sir. (they square dance)
- Understandably, some are less than pleased.
- Rule of Three: From "Eyes on the Prize." To prove to Jay that he's being repetitive, Duke shows Jay a three-way split-screen video of himself.Jay: (section 1, from 1988) Rain Man (section 2, from 1992) A Few Good Men (section 3, from 1993) The Firm (all together) is the latest stinker from Tom Cruise. He doesn't act anymore, he's on... Cruise Control! AAAAAAHAHAHA! AAAAAAHA! I JUST... I JUST! MADE THAT! UP!
- In the third webisode:
- Running Gag:
- Duke always assuming Jay is gay.
- Jay's stomach having a mind of its own.
- Dumb college students who watch Coming Attractions, only to mock Jay.
- Jay sounding like an elderly British woman named "Ethel" and pretending to be his secretary, even having conversations with "her". This gag only appears in the first season.
- The Paparazzo who always appears to take a picture just at the most embarrassing time.
- Dudley Moore as Arthur Bach making a terrible joke while intoxicated.
- A minor one features a character shouting "[Plural noun] can't / don't [verb]!" in a panic. Such as Jay's "Eggs don't ripen! EGGS DON'T RIPEN!" and Franklin's "Penguins can't fly! PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!"
- Satan: Appears a few times.
- He takes credit for Marisa Tomei winning the Oscar, for one.
- He also is shown to be responsible for influencing the creation of really awful Hollywood screenplays, but admits that it's beyond even his power to give the cast of Wings another season.
- Also appears in an interview with Gene Siskel, disguised as a reviewer.Reviewer: Tim Allen gives that same likable performance we always love, once again proving Disney Pictures have the magic touch that may not win awards, but keep America smiling. How was that?
Siskel: You're Satan, aren't you?
(Reviewer transforms into his real form: Satan)
—->Satan: You win another round, Siskel, but we shall meet again! (growls angrily and disappears)
- Samus Is a Girl: In "A Little Deb Will Do You", it turns out that Humphrey the Hippo is played by the woman who's attracted to Jay.
- Satellite Character: Duke's aide.
- Scenery Porn: While the character designs are up for question, the artwork of New York city and various locales were always a treat to the eyes.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: Valerie Fox is a suspect of this.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Duke feels his wealth allows him to do anything he wants.
- Sealed with a Kiss: Jay and Alice at the end of the episode "Lady Hawke".
- Second Place Is for Losers: Duke's philosophy.Duke: Your job is to rate movies on a scale from "good" to "excellent".
Jay: What if I don't like them?
Duke: That's what "good" is for.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: At the end of the pilot episode, this literally happens during a scene from Seinfeld that Jay and Marty watch.George: I thought you were taking Cathy out tonight.
Jerry: Why do they call it "taking out"? I took her to a restaurant. It wasn't out, it was in. I would say I'm taking her in, but then she sounds like a pair of pants.
- Marty claims that is what "real people" sound like. (Do they?)
- Self-Deprecation: Much of their Take That! was aimed at FOX. "Where coming in third is a triumph!"
- Sequelphobic: A lot of the movies bad enough for Jay to bash are sequels.[invoked]Jay: After Roman numeral II, give it a rest.
- Serenade Your Lover: See Romantic False Lead above.
- Shameless Self-Promoter: "VOTE FOR DUKE!" messages appearing during "Coming Attractions" in the episode "All the Duke's Men" where Duke ran for president.
- In "A Song for Margo", Jay remarks that all the networks are pretty crummy, except for FOX, "the last bastion of quality programming". Then he salutes the logo in the bottom right of the screen. (See also Biting-the-Hand Humor above.)
- "Buy my book! Buy My Book! BUY MY BOOK!"
- "ALL HAIL DUKE. DUKE IS LIFE. ALL HAIL—" (pigeon attracted to the statues voice gets chomped and eaten)
- Shout-Out: Has its own page.
- Show Within a Show: Coming Attractions, which featured the use of Ad Bumpers.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: What "Jay's #1 fan" did to Jay while he introduced himself to her.
- Sit Comic: The show starred Jon Lovitz.
- Skyscraper Messages: The show did a parody of the Sleepless in Seattle thing, with Siskel And Ebert. They Lampshaded it.
- Skyward Scream:
- Sleeping Single: In Franklin and Elenor's bedroom, it is shown that they sleep in separate beds.
- Slow-Loading Internet Image: In the first webisode, Jay brags about "coming at you at the speed of light!" Pull back to show his legs still downloading.
- Smoking Hot Sex: In one episode, Humphrey the Hippo is used by a cigarette corporation to advertise smoking cigarettes to young children. When Jay complains, the corporation's CEO asks Jay what kids will do after they have sex if they can't smoke.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Utilized when Jay interviewed Cher, who incessantly swore at him.
- Spinning Paper: Done a few times in the show.
- When Jay went missing during the New York marathon and was presumed dead.
- When Jay is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
- Spork: This cutlery is mentioned at least twice.
- A scene from the pilot.
- From the episode "Lady Hawke:"Chicken Shack employee: You want a piece of me, fat boy? I'll spork your ass!
- That might only provoke Jay.
- Stalker Shrine: The projectionist in "Miserable" has one for Jay.Jay: You seem to have an unhealthy obsession with me. I like that in a girl!
- Star Trek: Two of Marty's classmates are Klingons.
- Status Quo Is God: Marty regains all the weight he lost in "From Chunk to Hunk," after he becomes uncomfortable with his newfound popularity. He promptly eats all of the ice cream in an ice cream parlor to restore his weight.
- Stealth Cigarette Commercial: In the 1950's, Doris was in a commercial for Pleghm Fatale cigarettes.Doris: (singing) Smoke in the bathroom, smoke after school; don't listen to your parents, 'cause smoking's really cool.
- Stealth Pun: The E.T. parody, D.T. stands for drunken terrestrial. D.T. also stands for delirium tremens, alcohol withdrawals severe alcoholics go through.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: In one episode, a research scientist uses the previously mentioned "Quzybuk" word Duke invented.
- In "Eyes on the Prize", both Jay's agent and his old professor think he's Stubby Kaye.
- Suckiness Is Painful: Several times with films, but most notable is when Roger Ebert tries to find a replacement for Gene Siskel, and tests one candidate by showing him some of the films he'd have to review. A remake of Mrs. Doubtfire starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is sufficient to reduce the candidate to a skeleton (a la Toht's death in Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Sylvester Stallone in a Waiting for Godot rehash (Yo! Godot, I'm Waitin' Heeya!) makes the skull fall off.
- Super Strength: Duke Phillips. Makes sense because he uses Jay Sherman as a weight for lifting.
- Take That!: Innumerable ones. Virtually every movie and major actor or director who was popular at the time is mocked at least once — as well as a smattering of older ones. Also TV executives, Hollywood producers, singing purple dinosaurs, dictators of Iraq, stars of Home Improvement and much, much more! Note how many of the examples under Shout-Out qualify.
- The Taxi: Jay is seen traveling by taxi a few times.
- Tempting Fate: After Jay is rescued from Iraq, President George H.W. Bush poses for a publicity shot with him.Aide: Sir, are you sure it's wise to be photographed with a film critic? It's the most despised profession there is—except for pre-op groin shaver.
Bush: Hey, my approval rating's 90%. How much harm can a little film critic do?
(After the photo is taken, it appears on the front page of The New York Chronicle with the headline "BUSH LOSES! — Fat, Lecherous Hillbilly Elected.")
- That Came Out Wrong: While Jay didn't realize it, his statement of "Hey, you don't understand! We Americans aren't like you Australians. It's not just about sex! We want to make love to our mothers!" had Jeremy understandably put off.
- That's All, Folks!Movie Usher: (to Jay after the show's closing credits) Excuse me sir, the show's over.
—>Jay: (says one of the following four responses)* Is the snack bar still open?* But I have nowhere to go.* I'm stuck in the chair!* Get away, zit-face! (Only in closing credits where the usher sounds like the pimple-faced teen from The Simpsons.)
- In "Lady Hawke" and "Dukerella":Usher: Excuse me, the show's over.
Alice: Get away, pipsqueak!
Jay: That's why I love her!
- And makes another one when he leaves his apartment.
- In "Lady Hawke" and "Dukerella":
- That Poor Cat: "Sorry, Mittens."
- That Russian Squat Dance: In "A Pig Boy And His Dog", Franklin does a cossack dance with James Stockdale, Ross Perot's running mate in the 1992 Presidential election.
- There Is a God!: When Jay Sherman became a trucker and took his son on a trip, Marty pointed out a shooting star, insisting his father make a wish. Jay thinks a moment, and said shooting star annihilates a billboard advertising Ace Ventura. Quote the critic, "Thank you, God!"
- Also another episode where a man was told to remove the title for a play because it was cancelled, the man says these exact words.
- There Was a Door: Duke is somehow able to make an Impact Silhouette by just walking through Jay's wall.
- Three Stooges Shout-Out: One happens in the flashback in "Frankie And Ellie Get Lost", at Franklin and Eleanor's wedding.
- Thick-Line Animation: Not so much the character designs, but many of the background objects are thick-lined.
- Throw a Barrel at It: In the second season episode Frankie and Ellie Get Lost, Franklin Sherman drives rather recklessly on his way to the airport. When Eleanor chastises him to slow down he exclaims: "Are you mad? Don't you see what danger we're in?" A quick cut to his P.O.V. shows an 8-Bit Donkey Kong throwing barrels at them — hitting the car horn makes the car jump.
- Timber!: Subverted when Jay was a lumberjack: He yelled "Tim Burrrrrrrrrton!"
- Title, Please!
- Title: The Adaptation: Parodied with Hee Haw: The Next Generation.
- Transgender: In "Miserable", when Jay bumps into what appears to be a woman on the subway:Jay: (thinking) I wonder if this is it: The chance encounter I've been waiting for.
Man: (thinking) I wonder if he knows that I'm really a man.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: Jay and Alice were an established couple during the second season. Jay being a short funny fat guy, with the beautiful southern belle Alice.
- Can be partially explained by her self esteem issues surrounding her sister, and her abusive unfaithful ex-husband. Jay being a sweetheart helps too. Explaining the girl from the Webisodes, however, is just way off.
- Despite being deemed as incredibly ugly and obese in the show, Jay's attracted several other women who clearly are out of his league, including his #1 fan and Olivia.
- Uncanny Valley: Invoked when a robotic Rosie Perez approached Roger Ebert and Jay about It Could Happen to You. When the Perez-bot shorts out from a Logic Bomb (Jay: "Ben Turpin is dead!" note ), she crashes through the wall and sucks on a live wire. Then enters William Shatner.William Shatner: (like a robot) Great-party-wouldn't-you-say? Read-my-book-read-my-book-read-my-book...
Jay: Hey! There's the William Shatner robot!
Ebert: No, that's really him.
William Shatner: (rushing over to Perez) Don't bogart that juice, Rosie! (starts sucking down electricity from the live wire like alcohol.)
- Underwater Fart Gag: Jay sits in the jacuzzi once and some women want to join him, but then they realize that the jacuzzi isn't on but it's bubbling anyway, so he must be farting.
- Unwanted Harem: To his chagrin, Marty becomes a Chick Magnet at his school after he loses weight in "From Chunk to Hunk."
- Unwanted Spouse: Jay is a victim of this. His ex-wife Ardeth admitted to his face of regretting marrying him, during the wedding ceremony.
- In the episode "Marty's First Date", a flashback reveals how they met. She was a nurse and Jay was wrapped in bandages. She was so lovestruck by him that she was going to give up her job and marry him upon recovery. But when his bandages come off, she screamed like bloody murder!
- Also Alice's husband Cyrus. A country singer who titled his first album "I'm being unfaithful to my wife, Alice Tompkins. You heard me, Alice Tompkins."
- Ur-Example: The show had a referential, pop culture-heavy sense of humor that, while not completely unheard of in its time, was at the show's core in a way it wasn't for, say, The Simpsons. The idea of an animated show built on referential humor would later be popularized by Family Guy.
- Video Wills: Franklin and Elenor prepared their own video will, which was presented to Jay and Margo after their possible death from a plane crash. Orson Welles also took part in it (and made sure to also include his "declaration of love" to Mrs. Pell's Fishsticks at the end).
- Even his ghost loves them. "Yes, oh, YES! They're even better when you're dead!"
- Viewers Are Morons: This attitude gets a lot of spoofing in-show. Duke is especially a firm believer in this, causing him to clash with Jay.Duke: Look, this isn't art. It's just mindless pabulum for losers who can barely read. Oh, that reminds me, I've got an interview with People Magazine.
- Virgin in a White Dress: Jay's sister, Margo, was forced to attend a debutante ball, and the dressmaker asked if she wanted to wear white, or an off-white he called "Hussy White." Margo said she wanted plain white... Except for the gloves.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: She becomes this with Jay in "Every Doris Has Her Day".
- Vocal Dissonance: In the fourth webisode, Jar Jar Binks (talking in a deep, refined voice) complains to George Lucas that he's a trained actor and shouldn't be known for doing a silly high-pitched accent.
- Webisode: Ten of these were made throughout 2000-2001, but YMMV on the quality of them.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The webisodes, of course, had to drop the other main characters due to lack of time and the original voice actors. One curious ommission, however, was Jeremy — whose voice actor was working on the webisodes.
- What If?: ComicBookMovie.com made their own cast list for a live-action movie, if one was in the works.
- White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Jay's adoptive parents embody this trope, except for the incest. They do, however, try to arrange a date between Margo (their biological teen daughter) and a teenage boy who really bleeds Blue Blood for the debutante ball.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The Season 2 episode "Sherman of Arabia".
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Franklin delights in destroying priceless art with a monster truck.
- Woody Allen: Gets lampooned in the show a few times (often in reference to dating his adopted stepdaughter Soon-Yi [or an Asian girl who looks like her]).Woody: Soon-Yi, I-Im sorry. I just cant get past this problem with your age. You know, 22 is just too old for me.
- To Olivia Newton-Hawke and Jay: ""Jay?!" She's fantastic! Does she have a daughter?"
- At one point, Woody Allen does a little dance and falls down a manhole.Jay: I'm glad he's getting back to physical schtick!
- Yandere: Jay's #1 fan from "Miserable".
- Your Cheating Heart: In her first appearance, Alice notes how when her ex-husband, Cyrus, was trying to make it as a country singer, she began to suspect he was cheating on her. Mostly due to his songs he wrote like "My Lyin' Heart", "Daddy's Steppin' Out", and then his album, "I'm Being Unfaithful to my Wife, Alice Tompkins. You heard me. Alice Tompkins."
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Alice once said to Jay "Honey, we have a saying back in Tennessee: 'Be a mensch, not a schmendrick.'"
Excuse me sir, the work page's over.
But I have nowhere to go...