STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $14.97
RUNNING TIME: 175 Minutes
Stuart gag reel with optional commentary

MADtv has been the redheaded stepchild of sketch comedy since it first debuted. The show has always played second fiddle to Saturday Night Live but seems accepting of that fact. During the show’s first few seasons it produced some funny and creative comedy, but many members of that cast left the show and MADtv was left in a rut. The show went in a new direction in order to save itself, focusing on creating popular characters and a heavy reliance on physical comedy.

Many people complain about the overuse of recurring characters on Saturday Night Live and the awful movies they eventually spin-off, but that show can’t hold a candle to MADtv’s characters. Entire one hour episodes are often little more than recurring character sketches. While it may not be the most original or creative approach to sketch comedy, MADtv has lasted eleven seasons so far, meaning that there’s definitely an audience for a collection highlighting its last three seasons.

A typical reaction to being subjected to an episode of MADtv.

The Show

The sketches on the disc are broken up into sections based on seasons. Season eight has two Oprah sketches, a Dr. Kylie sketch, a Stuart sketch and some assorted television and movie parodies. The main gist of the Oprah sketches are that Oprah is fat and treats her boyfriend Steadman like garbage. The Oprah: Jackass sketch is little more than Oprah doing stunts from Jackass while Steve-O and Wee Man look on. It’s not fresh comedy by any means, especially since MADtv did a near identical Jackass parody twice with Kenny Rogers instead of Oprah being parodied.

Dr. Kylie is one of the least annoying recurring characters from the show. Resembling a woman from the Girls Gone Wild commercials in both appearance and personality, Dr. Kylie frequently creeps out her patients and makes a joke out of their embarrassing ailments. The simpering man-child known as Stuart is one of MADtv’s most famous characters and receives the most attention on the DVD. Each sketch is almost identical to the others, as Stuart behaves in a bizarre manner while his mother screeches at him and drives other people up the wall.

Season nine is represented by sketches featuring Stuart, Dot, Marvin Tikvah and Lorraine. Two Stuart sketches are put in the season nine highlights just to make sure the character gets old that much faster. Dot is a stupid child whose sister happens to be a child genius. Dot’s parents are frequently embarrassed by the stupidity of Dot and would probably like to see her dead.

The official t-shirt of internet messageboards.

Marvin Tikvah is a parody of Hollywood producer types. He hangs around bars in a disgusting jogging suit while making awful jokes and liquoring up Hollywood hopefuls. Lorraine is essentially a female version of Stuart whose bizarre mannerisms and speech put off everyone around her. Season nine contains one of the best sketches on the disc entitled The Lillian Verner Game Show, which makes fun of all the cheap and tacky novelty items sold by the Johnson Smith Company in their Things You Never Knew Existed catalogues. It’s a fun sketch for anyone who has ever browsed through the hundreds of bathroom humor products and lame T-shirts available in the catalogues.

Season ten features the strongest sketches of the disc and not so coincidentally features the least number of character sketches. This season contains a sketch with Ms. Swan, who narrowly edges out Stuart as the most famous character from the series. She’s the owner of a nail salon and completely oblivious as to how to function in normal society. It’s another one of the sketches that fits the cookie-cutter build of MADtv, in which the zany characters utter their catch phrases and frustrate people trying to help them.

The sketches chosen from season ten are mostly parodies. The Lost parody nails every trademark of the show, especially the romantic tension scenes between Kate and Jack. The character sketches are better in this season as well, mostly because these characters are recent and haven’t been given a chance to be run into the ground yet.

The recurring characters have served to make MADtv a success and are the reason many people tune in, so it makes sense that these types of sketches would make up the majority of the disc. However, these characters become old after only a few sketches, and that’s just when watching the show from week to week. Seeing the same character in four sketches in the span of three hours kills off any appeal the character had that much faster. The inclusion of more non-character sketches would have widened the appeal of this collection to casual MADtv viewers instead of just the devoted fans of the program.

3.0 out of 10

The four horsewomen of the apocalypse, at least to moviegoers.

The Look

The show is presented in its original full screen 4:3 ratio. The video transfer quality varies between sketches but most are broadcast quality. The video in some sketches are softer than others and there are a few very minor artifacts in one or two instances. The seasons included in this set are fairly recent so there wasn’t much work that needed to be done on the video.

7.0 out of 10

The tragic results of exposing your children to blue collar comedy.

The Noise

The only audio track on the release is a standard stereo one. This is basic sketch comedy and doesn’t require anything above and beyond stereo. The music and voices are all easily heard in the sketches.

7.0 out of 10

I’m not sure but I think this is what hell looks like.

The Goodies

The only extra is a very short reel of bloopers from one of the Stuart sketches. A majority of the blooper reel is Michael McDonald, playing Stuart, making noises with his legs and trying to make his co-star Mo Collins break character and laugh. It’s nice to see the performers having fun with the show, but bloopers from other sketches would have made the feature more entertaining.

The disc gives the option of watching the blooper reel with commentary by Michael McDonald but it’s one of the most pointless commentaries ever recorded. To be fair, there’s not really much to say about bloopers. The commentary consists of Michael saying “Here I am trying to make Mo break,” and “There she goes. She broke.” Repeat for every blooper. A card is included inside the DVD that is good for two free issues of MAD Magazine. The issue featured on the card boasts of an article on the 50 worst things about comedy, with Chris Rock being number one. I wonder if MADtv is anywhere on the list.

1.0 out of 10

Ouch. Right in the pannus.

The Artwork

The recurring characters keep MADtv on the air and Warner hopes they’ll make these DVDs fly off the shelves. The cover features several of the characters in front of generic green swirls. The plastic case has also been made green to draw more attention to it. It would have been helpful to include a list of the included sketches on the back of the case. It would have been a great service to the fans of the show and double as a warning for everyone else.

4.0 out of 10

Overall: 3.5 out of 10