Judge David Johnson is now watching MADtv. Oof...
Our reviews of MADtv: The Complete First Season (published November 17th, 2004), MADtv: The Complete Second Season (published March 27th, 2013), and MADtv: The Best of Seasons 8, 9, and 10 (published January 18th, 2006) are also available.
Facing down the behemoth that was Saturday Night Live, the programmers at Fox opted to pit a new sketch comedy series against the champ. To ensure it had the best opportunity to withstand the ratings war, the showrunners piped nitrous oxide into the studio audience.
That's the only reason I can come up with for the always delirious response the live viewers offer every goofy sketch the Mad geniuses come up with. "Mad geniuses" is a term I, of course, use sarcastically.
Because MADtv kind of blows.
I remember distinctly tuning in when it aired and thinking even then, I was a young college student, the obvious target demographic for these shenanigans, that this was some brutal stuff. It's like watching a joke that everyone around seems to find uproarious, but you're just not getting it. Though, in this case, I'm fairly confident I'm not in the vanishing minority that MADtv fails to deliver.
Take the recurring characters for example. When they show up, everyone seems to applaud. But in action, they're not funny. The hyperactive UPS guy? The tiny Chinese woman? The grossly over-tanned cabana lady? Yecch. No thanks. The only original creation I could get behind was Will Sasso's Kenny Rogers.
The surrounding, non-character-centric sketches offer little more than hamfisted film parodies, commercial send-ups, or dead-end one-offs. Once in a while, something will come along that made me laugh (it's typically slapstick, like Kenny Rogers dumping BBQ sauce on someone's head).
The third season includes 25 episodes and 18 hours of wildly uneven sketch comedy. Perhaps some sightings of mide-90s stars like Sandra Bernhard and Anna Nicole Smith are enough to add some value, but I wouldn't bet on it: MADtv is just as bad as you remember it.
Wait. Wait. I almost forgot. Howie Long shows up to play himself and talks about Firestorm. Series redeemed!
Nah, just kidding. It's still crap.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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