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Thursday, November 7, 2013

'MADtv" S4: MAD About You Baby


The awesome 25 episodes in Shout! Factory's upcoming DVD release of the fourth season of  the 1998-99 fourteen-season series "MADTv" , which is Fox's response to "Saturday Night Live" deserves as much anticipation as each month's release of the satirical magazine on which the series is based.

The good news is that the wait until the November 12, 2013 release of the DVD set of this season of this classic sketch comedy series is short.

The wait for the November 26, 2013 release of the beyond awesome "Mystery Science Theater 3000" 25th Anniversary Edition, which Unreal TV is reviewing on the weekend of November 8 2013, is a little longer. Shout!s month-long daily deals on previous "MST 3K" sets will hold Misties over until then. 

The best news regarding the fourth season of "MADtv" is that it had an exceptional batting average of at least .750 regarding its sketches; contenders for "sketch of the year" include one in which "Halloween Spooktacular" guest stars (and incredibly good sports) KISS play life-size action figures of themselves. "Nightmare on Elm Street's" Robert Englund also guest-stars and gets into the spirit (of course, pun intended) of things as much as KISS.

The impressive group of other fourth season C-List celebrities include Vivica A. Fox, Donny Osmond, and Kevin Sorbo.

Another contender for top honors among that season's sketches is a self-explanatory television parody titled "The Sonny's Widow and Cher Show" from an earlier episode that season.

A second particularly great television parody has the corny comedy writers from the classic '60s sitcom "The Dick Van Dyke Show" traveling forward in time to 1998 and incurring the wrath of Chris Rock for not providing him timely material. The ending of this one is a great example of "MADtv's" fall-on-the-floor funny dark humor.

The best homage to the humor magazine from which the show derives its name is short "Spy vs. Spy" cartoons. The equal parts ruthlessness and cleverness of these animated espionage agents is hilarious. It is nice as well that each spy gets an equal number of victories.

Other great subversive humor comes in the form of commercial parodies for things such as a "naughty" product based on real-life item "Egg Beaters" and an ad for a CD in which a barbershop quartet sings rap songs that liberally uses concepts common to rap in the titles.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the ad for the Gangsta Shop Quartet recording specifically shows the awesomeness of the sketch and generally the edgy humor of  "MADtv" that is reminiscent of "SNL's" early years.
The fourth season episodes also give "MADtv's" recurring characters a chance to shine; the Vancome Lady gets to introduce (and have fun with) KISS in the Halloween episode, which also has Michael MacDonald's dorky and spastic young boy character Stuart enjoy a trick-or-treating adventure. The highly annoying Asian character Miss Swan shows up in a great video store sketch in this episode as well.

Another Stuart adventure has him end up in police custody, and Miss Swan introduces the season premiere and works as the worst phone sex operator ever.

Another MacDonald character Rusty the hyper-active (and reportedly "blessed") college student and later talk show host gets big laughs in a sketch that has him meeting his new roommate.

Much of the political satire predictably centers around the Clinton presidency and marriage and Al Gore's presidential campaign. A spoof of "There's Something About Mary" is one of the best of the lot.

The award for best "it's funny because it's true" sketch goes to one in which a yard sale customer drives the homeowner crazy over a 50 cent box of push pins. Personal experience validates that these customers will spend 15 minutes trying to bargain the price of a 25 cent item down by a nickel.

The "punch line" regarding this season of "MADtv" is that the numerous laugh-out-loud moments in each episode make it a great bargain.

Anyone with questions about "MADtv" is welcome to email me; you can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.