Martin Review

Martin is a 1992 comedy drama sitcom created by John Leanne Bowman, Martin Lawrence, Topper Carew, and Bentley Kyle Evans, starring Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II, Thomas Mikal Ford, and Tichina Arnold.  Series focuses on his romantic relationship with girlfriend Gina, her best friend Pam and escapades with best friends Tommy and Cole.


Positives:

  • Great performances
  • Great cast
  • Great humor
  • Great writing
  • Good makeup effects
  • Great characters
  • Witty dialogue

Negatives:

  • Season 5 starts to fall off
  • Over-the-top performances
  • Cheesy humor

Plot:  The series is about a radio disk jokey Martin Payne who lives in an apartment in Detroit with his girlfriend and later wife Gina Waters.  Between the two are Martin’s friends the sensible Tommy Strawn and the dumb but lovable Cole Brown, and Gina’s best friend Pamela James, a real man hater and Martin’s “rival”. What makes the show great is the relationship between Martin and Gina and how their friends influence it. There is a lot of character development for the characters. Every episode is an adventure and the ending was emotional with the subplots wrapped up nicely. I would’ve liked to have seen the Tommy/Pam relationship work out in the end as they had great chemistry together. (3 out of 5)

Characters:  The characters are likable, each with their own interesting quirks.   The main characters are Martin Payne (Lawrence), Gina Waters (Campbell-Martin), Pamela James (Arnold), Tommy Strawn (Ford), and Cole Brown (Payne II) and it’s the interactions between these characters that provide the humor though there are moments that can be surprisingly moving.  There are a lot of great characters some who were played by Lawrence himself (an old school pimp and hustler Jerome, a stereotypical surfer-dude-cum-redneck Bob, Martin’s mother Edna “Mama” Payne, the next door neighbor Sheneneh Jenkins who likes Martin and is rival to Pam and Gina, etc.).  But there are other great characters who populate Martin’s fictional universe including the shady pastor Reverend Leon Lonnie Love (David Alan Grier), Martin’s rival DJ and nemesis Varnell Hill (Tommy Davidson), the all time hustler Hustle Man (Tracy Morgan), and the man from the fourth floor Bruh-Man (Reginald Ballard). (4 out of 5)

Cast:  The casting is great and the performances are hilarious. The main cast includes Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Thomas Mikal Ford, Carl Anthony Payne II, and Tichina Arnold.  There are some special quest appearances.  Lawrence can be a bit over-the-top at times but it’s due to his characters being written as such. There is great amount of chemistry among the cast but it is evident in the last season that there troubles behind the scenes were starting to peek through. The cast also includes Garrett Morris, Jon Gries, Reginal Ballard, Kymberly Newberry, Kellita Smith, Tracy Morgan, John Wesley, David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, and Judyann Elder among others. (5 out of 5)

Visuals:  Visually the series looks good.  One of the best aspects of the show is Martin’s apartment especially when it comes to the various stories and how diverse it can feel. Within a few episodes the apartment will feel as important as the characters.  The makeup effects for the different characters Martin portrays is done well enough to help with the comedic value. (3 out of 5)

Score:  The intro is so 90s and perhaps that’s why it maintains its charm.  There are some good tracks throughout the series that definitely helps with the 90s feel. (3 out of 5)

Writing:  In terms of comedy, this is one of the golden series of the 90s, embodying the best of comedy, romance, and character growth.  The dialogue is fast paced, witty, rapid fire and is just as humorous written as it is delivered. Nearly every conversation between Martin and Pam will end with a pun or a funny insult.  The idea for Martin to play multiple characters works really well. One of the biggest letdowns is most notable in season 5 where the obvious problems behind the scenes were starting to effect the show.  One of the highlights of the show were Martin and Gina’s chemistry but when their actual scenes were cut from the series it definitely throws the balance off. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Martin is one of the best 90s sitcoms that still holds up to this day.  Aside from the problems of season five, the series features great performances, a great cast, great writing, witty dialogue, and a ton of great humor.  Martin gets 4 out of 5.

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