Mad TV: The Complete Second Season

Mad TV: The Complete Second Season
5
In the second season of Mad TV, Fox's attempt to replicate the SNL format became more overt, with the introduction of the weekly guest host format, with full opening monologue. It resulted in speeches about Christina Applegate trying to eschew her dippy Married with Children image and Neve Campbell telling a depressing, Party of Five-like monologue in a peppy comic tone to demonstrate range, but didn't really help the show in any way, which is likely why the format was scrapped after this season. As far as the actual sketch comedy, it wasn't particularly strong at this point. The show took a while to find its footing, which eventual took a more entertaining, anarchic turn in later years, leaving the first few seasons trying desperately to match the existing sketch show format. The laborious X-News, as hosted by Nicole Sullivan and David Herman, was the best example of this, taking the sanctimonious, urban grunge MTV (circa Tabitha Soren and Kurt Loder) dynamic and applying their generic Democratic perspective to discussions on Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. More awkward than funny, it played with political satire much like most of the sketches throughout the show. The injection of pop-culture into the series was also preoccupied with political perspective, often referencing capitalist clichés in a superficial context to wax superior to the masses. It was a little undergraduate and rarely resulted in laughter, which is why other abstract, wildly offensive skits referencing more timeless material — a fake trailer for A Time to Kill where the child rape victim is replaced with a black mailbox — hold up better in a modern context. Still, it's interesting to look back at the Michael Jackson gags and references to long-cancelled TV shows to get an idea of the cultural climate in the mid-'90s. It's just a shame that there's so much crap to wade through before something genuinely funny pops up in this box set. No supplemental material is included with these four DVDs, which isn't much of a surprise considering the show has been cancelled for some time now. (Shout! Factory)