In the years since, I've always remembered "Martin" as a product of its time period - very 90's. "Martin", for those not familiar, was a series in the early days of Fox the show ran from 1992-1997) that starred popular stand-up comedian Martin Lawrence as Martin Payne, a radio show DJ on station WZUP.
The plot of the series isn't anything out of the ordinary. Martin hung out with pals like Cole (Carl Anthony Payne) and Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford), as well as girlfriend Gina (Tisha Campbell). Conflict is provided in the form of Pam (Tichina Arnold), Gina's friend who hates Martin and serves as his nemesis.
Most episodes have Martin getting into trouble, whether professionally or personally with Gina. Despite boasting that he knows all about women, it's usually Gina who ends up teaching him a lesson or two and when Martin gets into trouble otherwise, he's usually faced with having to fast talk his way out of it.
It's Lawrence's rapid-fire delivery and often over-the-top physical comedy that powered the series, and the rest of the cast plays off of Lawrence's riffing quite nicely, especially Ford and Payne, whose somewhat more straightforward styles compliment Lawrence well. Although there were some considerable discussion that Campbell and Lawrence didn't get along, it doesn't show on-screen, as the two have fine chemistry with one another and she stands up to his force-of-nature delivery well. Garrett Morris also gets some great lines as Martin's boss at the radio station. Lawrence also makes up some of the "supporting cast", playing several other characters, including Bob, Gina's oddball co-worker, and bizarre neighbor Sheneneh.
As for seeming "dated", the series does look its age, with sets and costumes that look their age. Otherwise, the series holds up fairly well, as the jokes still connect fairly often and Lawrence's performance manages to sell some of the bits that wouldn't have otherwise worked. The series was consistent throughout most of its run, exiting stage left at the right time after the fifth season, leaving just as it was starting to wear out its welcome.
Some of the highlights of the fourth season include: "Kill Him With Kindness" (a very funny episode where Martin's mother is convinced that Gina is trying to kill Martin for insurance money, and Martin starts to believe it as well), "Three Homies and a Baby" (Martin, Tommy and Cole have to look over Martin's baby cousin, and find that they don't fare too well as babysitters), "Headin' For Trouble" (Gina gets her head stuck in the couple's new bed headboard, and has to wear it around when all attempts to get it off fail), "Kicked to the Curb" (Martin finds a new apartment for a better price and sublets his current apartment, but when things fall apart with the new place, Gina and Martin have no place to go and have to figure out how to get the subleters out) and "DMV Blues" (Martin has to head to the DMV and gets stuck experiencing the awfulness of setting foot in the DMV.)
82. 4- 1 9 Sep 95 Martin in the Corner Pocket
83. 4- 2 16 Sep 95 Kill Him with Kindness
84. 4- 3 23 Sep 95 Blow, Baby, Blow
85. 4- 4 30 Sep 95 Ring a Ding, Ding,Ding Gone
86. 4- 5 7 Oct 95 Love T.K.O.
87. 4- 6 14 Oct 95 He Say, She Say
88. 4- 7 21 Oct 95 Uptown Friday Night
89. 4- 8 5 Nov 95 Old School Loving
90. 4- 9 19 Nov 95 Cole on Ice
91. 4-10 26 Nov 95 Housekeeper from Hell
92. 4-11 3 Dec 95 Three Homies and a Baby
93. 4-12 10 Dec 95 Headin' for Trouble
94. 4-13 17 Dec 95 Swing Thing
95. 4-14 7 Jan 96 The Bodyguard
96. 4-15 14 Jan 96 Green Card
97. 4-16 4 Feb 96 You're All I Need
98. 4-17 8 Feb 96 Kicked to the Curb
99. 4-18 15 Feb 96 The Best of Martin
100. 4-19 18 Feb 96 The Love Jones Connection
101. 4-20 25 Feb 96 Where the Party At
102. 4-21 29 Feb 96 Homeo & Juliet
103. 4-22 7 Mar 96 The Cabin Show
104. 4-23 28 Mar 96 The Tooth Will Set You Free
105. 4-24 4 Apr 96 Martin, I Want to Sing
106. 4-25 25 Apr 96 D.M.V. Blues
107. 4-26 2 May 96 Why Can't We Be Friends (1)
108. 4-27 2 May 96 Why Can't We Be Friends (2)
VIDEO: "Martin" is presented by HBO Home Entertainment in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. The series is pure 90's and looks to have been shot on video, but the episodes look fairly good, considering. Sharpness and detail aren't exceptional, but at least the presentations appear crisp and in good shape, with no visible wear. There's some slight artifacting, but no edge enhancement or other issues. Colors appear bright and loud, with nice saturation and no smearing. This presentation definitely isn't going to dazzle anyone, but the DVDs present the show at about the same level visually as when they were first broadcast.
SOUND: The stereo soundtrack boasts clear dialogue, music and a fairly loud laugh track.
Final Thoughts: "Martin"'s visual look may be stuck fully and completely in the '90's, but Lawrence (especially in recent years) hasn't always been as funny as he is here. The fourth season episodes continue the level of laughs that was evident in prior seasons. The DVD set doesn't offer any supplements, but audio/video quality is a bit better than one would expect. Recommended for fans.