MAD TV: Season 1

In the mid-'90s, MAD TV filled the void left by the anaemic Saturday Night Live. Finally here was an ensemble sketch comedy series that was funny. Based on the anarchic comic magazine, MAD TV skewered all things pop culture: celebrities (the Woody Allen action flick), TV commercials (Mike Tyson for the Gap), blockbuster movies (an all-black Lord of the Blings starring L'il Kim and Bill Cosby), music videos (P. Diddy rapping with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il), TV sitcoms (I Love Lucy '98 guest starring Prince) and the show's very own network: Fox. MAD TV's bread and butter are parodies, which are surprisingly heavy on racial issues but disappointingly light on politics. Episode two's "P.C. Cops" features two policemen literally saying "N-word" to describe blacks, "K-word" for Jews and the "T-word" for women's breasts. "Gump Fiction" (episode one) casts the simple-minded Forrest in the killer Travolta role from Pulp Fiction and would sit well alongside the best of SCTV. Twisting the knife further as Gump is Phil LaMarr, who actually appeared in Pulp Fiction as the luckless Marvin. Tasteless? Sure. Funny? Not always, but often. This double-sided triple-DVD set is generous. The third disc is loaded with special features, starting with "The Best of MAD TV," which collects the best parodies ("The Wizard of Oz Lost Footage," "Sex Toy Story") from the first nine seasons. Also included are the entire 200th episode, which features a reunion of the season one cast, nine unaired sketches, which are interesting but not funny, and the obligatory blooper reel (funny, but not interesting). Overall, however, a good collection of laughs. (Warner Brothers)