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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Woody Allen, his scandalous relationship with Soon-Yi Previn and accusations about his preference for inappropriately young partners was a favorite target during The Critic's run.
    • In some episodes, the job of film critic is looked down upon, on par with pre-op groin shaver, which is shown to cost George H. W. Bush a second term.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: A rare example of this happening within the work's country of origin. The show was supposed to be a love-letter to New York City... where it got the lowest ratings.
    • Hollywood, the other thing it was a love-letter to, didn't appreciate it either.
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  • Awesome Music: Hans Zimmer's Gershwin-esque theme song, which sounds like a smooth jazz version of "Rhapsody in Blue".
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The show featured some very strange aside moments, such as Jay suddenly revealing that his navel can play the trumpet and performing "Flight of the Bumblebee".
  • Crossing the Line Twice: In "Miserable", when Jay went missing and everyone was trying to find him, in mulling over his enemy list, one of them was apparently actor Haing S. Ngor, who not only survived the Khmer Rouge massacre but played a character in the film based off of it, The Killing Fields (and won an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it). Jay had previously written the man off in a review of the film, citing how he "should go back to the acting fields".
    • Later in the episode, Jeremy (among others including a crazy looking guy and a small child) are in line to buy handguns from a vending machine. One of the questions even asks before selling it is if the purchaser is a criminal.
    • "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now."
    • "Marty's First Date" has Jay, Marty and Carmen watching a foreign film whose company logo is a dancing filmstrip who gets killed via being sucked into the film reel. Worse, the filmstrip's son then comes looking for him calling out "Daddy?"
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  • Cult Classic: The show became more popular when it got canceled than it did when it aired on TV.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: To the surprise of production, testing audiences rated Doris as their favorite character. Franklin is also a fan-favorite for his hilarious Cloud Cuckoo Lander personality.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Jay and Alice, which is one of the reasons why the web series wasn't well received. Considering how much trouble Jay went through in season 2 to be with Alice (especially the next to last ep), you can't blame their reaction at seeing Jay trying to woo another girl.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Most people who liked the TV show hate the short-lived Flash Internet revival. This fan review should further explain why.
  • Foe Yay: Jay is seduced by a beautiful woman at Margo's debutante ball. He eventually learns that she's actually Humphrey The Hippo, who became attracted to him after he criticized her while she made a public appearance in costume.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The episode "Sherman, Woman and Child," which aired in March 1995, had a scene in which Doris (an active chain smoker) attempted to make a smoke ring bunny but it ended up turning into a shape with a demon-like appearance, which told her "Doris ... Tick! Tock!" Seven months after it aired, her voice actress Doris Grau died from respiratory failure. Also can count as Harsher in Hindsight.
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    • As noted in the DVD Commentary for "Eyes on the Prize":
      Al Jean: Ironically, this is the episode where we got cancelled by ABC, and it's about Jay getting cancelled.
      • Also ironically, this is the episode where a desperate for work Jay agrees to take a terrible job his agent found and then asks, "Wait a minute - it's not on Fox, is it?" The show would later be picked up by Fox.
    • A fairly minor example would be the after-credits Couch Gag at the end of the second season finale, "I Can't Believe it's a Clip Show;" after being told the show was over by the usher, Jay morosely says: "But I have nowhere to go." The Critic didn't get another season and was not picked up by another channel.
    • In one episode, Duke slumps down out of his chair and to the ground, crying out for his pills after receiving a naked picture of Doris in the mail. This is considered difficult to watch nowadays since several years later, Charles Napier, Duke's voice actor, collapsed and later died. See Harsher in Hindsight below.
    • "Dukerella's" sexual harassment jokes are much less funny after the #MeToo movement began shedding a light on just how widespread and underreported sexual harassment actually is.
    • "A Song For Margo" has a dancing beer bottle played by Sean Young get angry at Jay and tries to cut him. This causes Duke to declare that it'll be the last time he works with her. Around this same time, Young's own popularity in Hollywood was starting to wane thanks in part to both her attitude and a string of flops, including Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In the Philadelphia parody Schenectady, the judge is voiced by Charles Napier, Duke's voice actor. This is fitting, as Napier played the judge in the original film.
    • When Jay took in a homeless puppy, he gave it the full name "Un Chien Andalou," after Luis Buñuel's famous short film; the title translates to English as "An Andalusian Dog."
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-universe example: Duke mentions in one episode that Jay is loved by the French. Duke then says it's likely that Jay reminds them of Babar, much to Jay's annoyance.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The entire episode "Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice" was bad enough when Gene Siskel died and Roger Ebert was left all alone and looking for a replacement, but now it's worse thanks to Roger Ebert dying. On the plus side, if there is, in fact, an afterlife, it's heartwarming to think that Siskel and Ebert have reunited, just like they did at the end of the episode.
    • In "Dr. Jay," Duke collapses to the floor and is sent to the hospital. The doctor tells Duke he has four years to live. On October 4, 2011, Duke's voice actor Charles Napier collapsed in his home and passed away in hospital the following day.
    • "Bazooka Duke says CHEW ON THIS!" Aside from the usual opposition to banning assault rifles, this makes the scene creepier and eerienote . The rise of the NRA as a major lobbying force supporting conservative candidates, and their staunch and uncompromising anti-legislation stance even in the aftermath of numerous school shootings and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting (many of which were facilitated by the same sort of high-capacity, high-rate of fire weapons mentioned in the episode) also makes the scene significantly less amusing.
    • The opening shot of every episode prominently featuring the World Trade Center.
    • The 1994 episode "A Day At The Races An A Night At The Opera" features a flash-forward to 2014 of Jay's son Marty performing at Carnegie Hall. Marty's voice actress Christine Cavanaugh passed away in 2014.
    • Pretty much all jokes or references to Doris' smoking after the death of her actress, Doris Grau, due to her smoking habits.
    • One the films Jay reviews is a remake of The Pride of the Yankees which revises it's famed Downer Ending to one a happy one where Lou Gehreg makes a full recovery from ALS and is popular with test audiences for being "nicer." Staring in The New '10s, Disney would release several live-action remakes of their animated classics which have been criticized for using Politically Correct History to whitewash the problematic aspects of those films, which were still considered classics despite being somewhat problematic.
    • From that same episode, the movie clip ends with a gag where Lou Gehreg looks forward to enjoying Bill Cosby's warm and family-friendly style of humor. At the time, it was a jab at Cosby's brand of perceived "soft" humor, but by 2015, his numerous sexual assault charges revealed that the squeaky clean image was all a front to lure women into a false sense of security and trick the general public into never suspecting him, making the gag feel like an outright lie.
  • He Really Can Act: Siskel and Ebert did marvelous voice-acting for Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice, even taking potshots at each other physical deficiencies; Siskel calls Ebert "porky" while Ebert calls Siskel "cueball."
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: "Marty's First Date", Marty falls for classmate Carmen, who's later revealed to be Fidel Castro's granddaughter. The two unfortunately part ways due to the American embargo against Cuba. In December 2014, Fidel's brother Raul, now leader of Cuba, and President Obama announced that they'd be normalizing relationships, effectively ending the embargo, meaning Marty and Carmen could be together again. (Of course, they could've been together anyway had she continued attending his school.)
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Jon Lovitz insisted that Jay Sherman's character design not resemble him. Al Jean has gone on to say that Jon Lovitz can now play Jay Sherman in a live-action series. Ouch.
    • The Broadway musical Hunch appeared in the Season One episode "Every Doris Has Her Day" as a parody of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals — two years later, Disney released their own musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. For that matter, it isn't even the only Real Life musical version!
    • This was Lampshaded years later in the DVD commentaries by Mike Reiss, who recollected they all thought it was a dumb idea at the time, "but not too dumb for Disney."
    • In the pilot, Vlada gets orgasmic at Conan O'Brien entering his restaurant. At the time, O'Brien was considered a flop. (It was likely a friendly Shout-Out, as O'Brien is a friend of creators Jean and Reiss.)
    • Jurassic Park II: Revenge of the Raptors and the Barney movie.
    • Several jokes involved blatant Product Placement within the movies Jay watched, much to his disgust. During the early '90s, product placement in films was indeed fairly uncommon, making the writers seem almost clairvoyant for predicting how much the practice would come to dominate cinema.
    • ABC objected to "Miserable" on the grounds of sexual content. As pointed out in the commentaries, this from the same network that later aired The Bachelor — as well as later airing sexual content in many of its primetime dramas.
    • Phillipsvision, which adds new endings to movies, as well as rewriting scenes for product placement, came true (in a way) when DirecTV started airing ads made from scenes of famous movies re-edited to talk about DirecTV.
    • In the episode "A Song For Margo", Penny calls Jay's boss "Uncle Duke". In the later episode "Dukerella", Duke marries Alice's sister Miranda, meaning he really does become a uncle to Penny.
    • Early in the show's run, Siskel and Ebert reviewed the first three episodes, and gave it quite a bit of criticism such as more parodies, make it more about the movie industry, give us some TV parodies, and make it less about sitcom staples. As the show went on the parodies improved and were more numerous, some episodes focused on the film industry, more fun was poked at Hollywood, and Siskel and Ebert eventually guest starred as themselves.
    • Home Alone 5.
    • In "Every Doris Has Her Day", it's mentioned that Duke is funding a remake of The Dirty Dozen starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis (among others). Sound familiar?
    • In "L.A. Jay" when Jay is taking suggestions from directors about the film he is writing "Ghostchasers 3"(a parody of Ghostbusters) one of them suggests making one of the Ghostchasers a strong and independent woman. This became funny when it was announced that the remake of Ghostbusters would have an all-female lead cast.
    • "NBC Sinks To 5th."
    • In "From Chunk to Hunk", there are a few comments regarding "that show about the talking butt". Funny they should mention that...
    • Many of the trailer parodies were oddly prophetic. "Honey I Ate the Kids" shows Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter as husband and wife — some years later, Hannibal came out, and the novel version ends with Hannibal and Clarice getting together; likewise, Jurassic Park II is about the velociraptors getting smarter — which became the plot of Jurassic Park III.
    • In one episode, Orson Welles attempted shilling Rosebud Frozen Peas with the slogan "Full of country goodness and green pea-ness". A similar statement later popped up on a 2006 episode of Iron Chef America.
    • At one point Jay reviews a "politically correct" James Bond film, the joke being that such a film where Bond doesn't smoke, and is expected to act respectfully towards women would be uninteresting...then we get Daniel Craig, who doesn't smoke, has never once forced himself on a woman, and is generally regarded as one of the best Bonds to date. This could, arguably, be an example of Values Dissonance, as the definition of positive masculinity has changed quite a bit over the last two decades.
      • On the subject of Political Correctness Gone Mad jokes, the plot of the episode "Uneasy Rider" involves Jay delivering a shipment of politically correct textbooks to schoolchildren. One concerned father bemoans that his son asks "When is he going to get here?" and not "When is he or she going to get here?" Now, with the concept of nonbinary genders becoming more socially accepted, the all-inclusive "they/them/their" pronouns have become more commonplace, meaning "he or she" is now politically incorrect!
    • Marty and Carmen eerily resemble Steven and Connie from Steven Universe, with the difference being that Carmen is Latina, while Connie is East Indian. In the episode "Historical Friction", Steven even wears a sweater over a buttondown shirt not unlike Marty's
    • "All the Duke's Men" is this. A New York City-based billionaire with an iconic skyscraper, with no political experience runs for President? Like that would ever work...
      • That episode is a double whammy, since it also involves a presidential campaign that gets derailed in large part thanks to the candidate's loopy running mate. Are we talking about Franklin Sherman or Sarah Palin?
    • In the first webisode, Jennifer informs Jay that the internet doesn't have commercials. That isn't the case anymore, with most internet videos preceded by (or interrupted by) an ad.
    • One of the last episodes seen on ABC before its cancellation/Channel Hop to Fox has Jay addressing those who tuned into the last moments of this show just to wait for Home Improvement. Over two decades later, another sitcom starring Tim Allen would itself end up being canceled by the former network only to be soon picked up by the latter one.
    • The infamous "And nothing of value was lost" scene involving the destruction of a Cats musical play becomes this after 2019's live-action/CGI hybrid of Cats was absolutely brutalized by critics all over.
  • Ho Yay: See Mistaken for Gay example on the main page; Jay also had a "date" with a fellow prisoner in one episode (which he refers to as the best one he's ever had up to that point).
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Jennifer in the webisodes. She replaces Jay's original make-up artist Doris and Jay's real girlfriend Alice. In fact, she replaces almost the whole TV cast.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: As insane as it seems, this show was highly controversial when it aired on ABC. On the making-of featurette on the complete series DVD set, Al Jean mentioned one time when a big bag of angry letters from viewers was hauled into the office. Nowadays, the risque jokes have easily been surpassed by Family Guy and the like.
    • While fans will certainly claim the show has held up in terms of its humor, more modern viewers may find the film parodies unremarkable, even if enjoyable. However, the idea of a show, let alone a prime-time cartoon, specializing in film parody was a rather new concept back in 1994. However, today, we have shows that consistently parody films, television, and pop culture, such as later seasons of The Simpsons, Family Guy (particularly its cutaway gags and family TV interludes), South Park, and Rick and Morty, just to name a few.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The theme song by Hans Zimmer is very reminiscent of "Rhapsody in Blue," especially the opening clarinet glissando.
  • Tear Jerker
    • Gene Siskel pining for his reviewing partner in "Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice." In fact, the entire episode is now too depressing to watch now that both Siskel and Ebert are dead.
    • Margo, under the assumption that her parents died at sea, listening to her parents' music box on their video will and fighting back tears in "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost."
  • Too Good to Last: It's one of the funniest animated sitcoms ever made... and it only got 23 episodes. If only the president of Fox at the time didn't hate the show, we could've gotten more.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The writers never intended for the audience to not sympathize with Jay in Season 1, but they underestimated the reaction to his repeated misfortunes and his overall lot in life (where you could only say Marty, Margo, and Jeremy consistently liked him). Needless to say, Season 2 went about correcting this and throwing Jay some serious bones.
  • Values Dissonance
    • The Running Gag of Duke mistaking Jay for gay isn't nearly as funny, if at all, in an age where homosexuality isn't considered anywhere near as unusual as it once was.
    • Similarly, the many, many jokes Political Correctness Gone Mad were considered fair game in 1994, when George H. W. Bush's "kinder, gentler America" concept was just getting off the ground and largely considered flimsy. Now, they come across as just as mean and dismissive as the literal white supremacists and internet trolls actively trying to shoot down every effort that marginalized people make on social media to voice their genuine feelings about injustice, if not just hackneyed.
    • Related to the above, one such joke in "Uneasy Rider" involves a shipment of politically correct textbooks that need to get to a preppy school before the kids believe that "someone other than Christopher Columbus discovered America." While it was already common knowledge in 1994 that Columbus didn't "discover" America (that would've been the people already living there), his reputation eventually shifting fully from a flawed-but-important historical figure to a genocidal imperialist monster makes the joke feel especially tone deaf.
  • Values Resonance
    • The Rousing Speech from Jay about not going to bad movies, sequels past the second, TV-to-theater movies and remakes, has seen a lot of people openly praising the idea in the modern age amidst criticisms that Hollywood has effectively become the over-exaggerated parody that Jay was complaining about in the first place.
    • Compounding the Values Dissonance about political correctness jokes as listed above, the joke from "Uneasy Rider" of a wealthy father bemoaning how his private school student son doesn't say "he or she" instead of just "he" still works as a satire of wealthy alleged liberals who are woefully out of touch with the values they claim to support.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Jay asks Alice this when she considers going back to her philandering husband, Cyrus. Alice then confessed to Jay that whenever she's about to throw him out, he sings to her and she "melts like butter on a bagel."note  Sure enough, he sings to her when she attempts to throw him out again, and it almost works until Jay counters it by singing about his faults.
  • The Woobie: Jay is treated like crap by just about everybody, always struggles for ratings (and by extension, employment), forced to watch the film industry sink lower and lower, and doesn't have much luck with women. However, Alice becomes his long-term girlfriend in the second season.

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