Ken Tucker
January 28, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

There’s enough about the Critic (Jan. 26, 8:30-9 p.m.), a new cartoon series from co-executive producer James L. Brooks (The Simpsons), that captures the critic’s profession with a mean accuracy that I wish the damn thing had been funnier. Jon Lovitz provides the voice for Jay Sherman, a balding, pot- bellied, 36-year-old film critic who hosts a cable-TV show, Coming Attractions. He has a catchphrase (”It stinks!”), he schmoozes with the stars he’s supposed to cover as a journalist, and he agonizes over the diminishment of his once high critical standards in return for a salary of $271,000. Sherman is, in short, many people’s image of a certain kind of critical hack, and thus a potentially terrific creation. But in its debut episode, The Critic squanders much of the masochistic goodwill this critic brought to the show. There are surprisingly long, tedious scenes involving Sherman’s neurotic adoptive family, a subplot about a dishy actress who sleeps with Sherman to get a good review (not hard to see where that story goes), and numerous lame-film-star parodies. The primary problem is that the show can’t decide who deserves contempt more-the movies or the people who make their living reviewing them. Speaking from experience, I’d say that, for as much of a weasel as they’ve made Sherman out to be, he’d have been more amusing if he were even weasellier. C+

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