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Lou Diamond Phillips and even a pre-Oscar Halle Berry make appearances on this Third Season comedy set...
Shout! Factory / 1080 Minutes / 1997-1998 / Unrated / Street Date: June 25, 2013
The fact that we live in a world where a studio like Shout! Factory continues to take the time and effort to release comprehensive season-long editions of MadTV like this one is implicitly geek-approved. TV-on-DVD isn’t what it once was, thanks to the advent of Netflix and Hulu Plus, and there honestly can’t be all that money in liberating nominal (if beloved) shows like this one from the vaults and throwing them out into the world in standard-def.
But ignoring these buzzkill factoids, here is MadTV. Fox’s attempt to out-SNL SNL is loony, laugh-track-heavy comedy with a brazenly infantile kick. Adhering quite strictly to the funny ha-ha shtick of the magazine it was ostensibly based on (or at least inspired by), this skit show definitely lacks Lorne Michaels’ attempts at comedic nuance (if, for the sake of argument, Pat or Wayne and Garth showcased nuance), instead relying on flashy, loud, often cacophonous setups to keep its viewers in front of the set.
In hindsight, MadTV – and this Third Seasonbox set especially - is kind of a nightmare, but a fascinating one. Folks like Jerry Springer and Kerri Strug are given hosting duties on this compilation, and this caliber of celebrity actually suits the show perfectly. Some viewers can’t get all that excited for sketch comedy shows featuring celebrity pixie dust from Sandra Bernhard or LaToya Jackson, but for those of us who have spent more than our fair share of time being entertained by those lovable vixens, the curiosity to revisit these episodes is pretty intense.