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The Critic

Voices: Jon Lovitz, Charles Napier, Gerrit Graham, Judith Ivey, Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh, Jennifer Lien, Maurice LeMarche, Nick Jameson, Doris Grau, Kath Soucie, Gene Shalit, Brenda Vaccaro, Margaret Cho.

Voices: Jon Lovitz, Charles Napier, Gerrit Graham, Judith Ivey, Nancy Cartwright, Christine Cavanaugh, Jennifer Lien, Maurice LeMarche, Nick Jameson, Doris Grau, Kath Soucie, Gene Shalit, Brenda Vaccaro, Margaret Cho.

With “The Simpsons” tucked safely under their production belt, Al Jean and Mike Reiss turn to the misadventures of a Manhattan film critic, schlemiel Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz), who works for cable channel 67. A conniver, he’s supposed to draw laughs because he deserves whatever he gets. He and the new animated series opener should pull thin smiles at best.

The sophisticated script with inked cameos strewn across the landscape may tickle a few as Jay finds himself wooed by gorgeous new film actress Valerie Fox (Nancy Cartwright), who assures him she likes him for himself, not because her first pic’s screening momentarily.

Jay buys it, taking her to visit his adoptive parents, who don’t like him, and his teenage stepsister Margo (Nancy Cartwright), who likes Jay and can’t shake Valerie’s self-proclaimed devotion. Of course, only one thing can.

Divorced, plump and bald Jay, whose 11-year-old son Marty (Christine Cavanaugh) likes him, has been ordered by the station owner to give “good” as his lowest opinion on films. Clips of pix he’s reviewing, such as a Schwarzenegger number called “Rabbi P.I.” or Brando as Mr. French in “Family Affair,” put across his dilemma.

His status is indicated by a gang of thugs who watch him to jeer; on the other hand, his best friend is actor Jeremy Hawke (Maurice LeMarche).

Production is OK, with the writing not particularly witty but the animation clearcut. Subject may be too specialized for general audiences, but the funnier writing and characters could make a difference. It just needs good laughs.

The Critic

(Wed. (26), 8:30-9 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed by Gracie Films and Columbia Pictures TV; animation produced by Film Roman Inc. Exec producers, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, Mike Reiss; producers, Richard Sakai, Richard Raynis; co-producers, Steve Tompkins, Mike Madendel; director, Rich Moore; writers, Reiss, Jean; animation exec producer, Phil Roman; animation producer, Bill Schultz; overseas supervisor, Gregg Vanzo.

Crew: Editors, Michael Bridge, Lee Harding; sound, Ronny Cox; music, Alf Clausen; "Beauty and King Dork" music, Jeff Martin.

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