Warner Bros. // 2010 // 146 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge William Lee (Retired) // September 28th, 2011
You'd be crazy to miss it.
Cartoon Network's animated sketch comedy series inspired by the iconic satirical magazine arrives on DVD in Mad: Season One, Part One. Copying the format of the much funnier Robot Chicken, frenetically paced bits are strung together in 11-minute episodes. This single disc release includes the first 13 episodes, each title stating the first and the last jokes on each segment:
* TransBoreMores/Groan Wars
* 2012 Dalmatians/Grey's in Anime
* Star Blecch/Uglee
* Pirates of the Caribbean 4: Journey to Neverland/The Batman Family Feud
* Wall-E-Nator/Extreme Renovation: House Edition/Superman's Fortress of Solitude
* Big Time Rushmore/Clifford-field
* Fantastic Megan Fox/Mad vs. Wild
* I Love You, Iron Man/Ben 10 Franklin
* Class of the Titans/Zeke and Lex Luthor
* S'up/Mouse MD
* DaGrinchy Code/Duck
* Snot Pilgrim/Malcolm in the Middle Earth
It's been forever since I picked up a copy of MAD magazine so I can't say whether this series lives up to the standards set by its print inspiration. Still, I'd like to think that the magazine's parodies are cleverer than what is demonstrated by Mad: Season One, Part One. Writer-producer Kevin Shinick leads a new gang of idiots in their exploration of a fairly narrow range of gags. Vomit, snot, poop and bad puns are the order of the day and I didn't laugh once during the disc's 146 minutes of material.
The one segment that had me smiling despite its awkward word play was "Grey's in Anime," where the medical drama characters morphed into various Japanese cartoon types. Finding a way to blend those two genres seemed quite clever and the animators' handling of the anime style amused me. Unfortunately, nothing comes from the set up and there is no reason for the mash up. The entire series is essentially a collection of set ups with no pay off.
In an Avatar spoof, Papa Smurf and Grover are members of the Na'vi because they're also blue. That's the full depth of that joke. Making fun of Megan Fox (Jennifer's Body), the gag is that she's a robot. Taking a jab at Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, when nebbish Snot Pilgrim (har, har) dates Snow White, he has to face her seven ex-boyfriends. So, they animate some fights between Snot and a few dwarves, but so what? Did you know that the gimmick of Glee is that they're singing in high school and that's similar to High School Musical and both are descended from Fame? That's pretty funny, huh? None of the parodies in this show subvert the original material, exploit new comic potential or make you reconsider a familiar scene. It's all tiresome and completely unfunny.
There is a mix of cartoon styles on display including cell animation and stop-motion. Often, cutouts of photos of celebrity heads are used over other media and it's a cheap-looking effect. Fake commercials, such as Wolverine selling kitchen appliances, are common. Another recurring gag is the list of "Rejected" things that aren't part of the official line-up of Transformers toys or Girl Scout cookie flavors. Each episode also includes a short black and white "Spy vs. Spy" cartoon where the two characters try to blow up the other one. Normally, I find it annoying when a television show season is split up to make multiple DVD releases but in this case I'm grateful that I only had to endure half of the season in order to write this review.
The lazy creativity of the show is mirrored in the lazy DVD release that's been forced up. The 1.78:1 picture is presented in a non-anamorphic, letterboxed transfer so viewers with 16:9 monitors will see black bars on all four sides unless you can zoom in. Otherwise, the colors and sharpness are adequate. The stereo mix is also fine, nothing to shout about but dialogue is clear so you can be sure you didn't miss any funny lines -- 'cuz there aren't any. No extras for the show but trailers for other shows are included on the disc.
Robot Chicken is obviously the show that Mad wishes it were. Mad tries to copy the style but doesn't understand what makes that format of quick parodies and non-sequiturs funny. Even Family Guy can surprise me with a random joke sometimes. Mad is just an assemblage of pop-cultural references that don't amount to anything, least of all a laugh.
Guilty. Lock up this show and throw away the key.
Review content copyright © 2011 William Lee; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 146 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site