Anthony's Film Review
(TV Series, 1992-1997)
Martin Lawrence sure knows how to be goofy on his TV sitcom...
Like many comic actors, Martin Lawrence got his big break with his television sitcom Martin, which aired on the Fox network. I started watching the show early on in the first season, though not the first episode. I ended up watching it after seeing a commercial about one of its upcoming episodes, which I thought looked funny. It's actually rare for me to get into a TV show this way, which is one reason I remember this show. I also remember it as a pretty good show centering on African-Americans, entertaining even for a non-black person like myself.
Martin Lawrence plays Martin Payne, who hosts a radio show on WZUP ("Wazzup!") in Detroit. Even though his occupation is mentioned, the show seems to focus a lot on his private life, which is fine with me because that's where all kinds of things could happen. He lives in an apartment and has a romantic partner named Gina, played by Tisha Campbell. He also has three other people who are in his inner circle: Carl Anthony Payne II as the idiotic Cole, Thomas Mikal Ford as the often unemployed Tommy, and Tichina Arnold as Gina's friend Pam who Martin despises.
The situations on the show are nothing out of the ordinary. What makes them funny is how the characters deal with them. Often, there is a mild degree of hysteria involved. In one episode, Martin has to help deliver a baby in his apartment, and the baby comes out in a humorously exaggerated way: by being shot out of the womb and across the room where Martin catches it (though it's clearly a plastic doll) and washes it in the kitchen sink. Or how about this? Martin, Tommy, and Cole have to explain where they've been, and just when their lie holds up, Cole talks about an alien mothership coming after them. If you think that's funny, here's one more. Martin teaches Gina a lesson by making her run pointless errands, including buying stuff from a hardware store without question, even though Martin eventually points out, "We ain't got no damn lawn!"
The main characters aren't the only funny ones on screen. Besides the character of Martin Payne, Martin Lawrence also plays various other characters, including a woman named Sheneneh, a short kid named Rosco, a butktoothed security guard, a goofy karate fighter, and even Martin's mother who has a mustache (probably an intended joke). They are funny because they are silly and sometimes over the top. I remember cracking up in one scene where the karate guy takes so much time preparing to fight an opponent, doing things like silly warmup exercises and even playing a piano. The punchline is predictable but still funny: he gets taken down by the opponent with one hit.
As entertaining as this show was, there was also a sad behind-the-scenes saga that ultimately led to the end of this series. Apparently, there were allegations by Tisha Campbell that Martin Lawrence had sexually harassed and assaulted her. Whatever actually happened is not my concern, but it's still unfortunate it happened. The cast of Martin looked like they were having a great time in each episode. As much as I wanted the show to go on, I still had a good time watching the show. Say what you will about Martin Lawrence. He still has one thing that displays his talent as a comic actor: his namesake sitcom.
For more information about Martin, visit the Internet Movie Database.