MADtv:Season One

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

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Plot: What’s it about?

No television show has dominated its niche on the airwaves like Saturday Night Live, not even close. The show has run through countless cast members, numerous ones that have become big stars and others who have found some measure success in the business. Even in lesser times, SNL held off all other sketch comedy shows, if any were even created to take on the juggernaut, which wasn’t often. Other sketch comedy shows such as Mr. Show, The State, and The Kids in the Hall have been smash hits, but on cable channels, not on the same network battleground that SNL ruled with an iron fist. But then in 1995, Fox debuted MADtv, a show that combined sketches with animated elements from the popular magazine. The show was run against SNL and while the initial reaction was lukewarm, it became a hit show. Not the SNL killer some hoped, but a smash success and almost a decade later, the show remains a solid alternative to SNL. In this first season, the cast tries to gel and the writers establish a tone, one which would become more and more over the top, as well as hilarious, in later seasons. This first season wasn’t a landmark, but it did prove that SNL wasn’t the only show in town.

As with most television shows, the first season of MADtv wasn’t the best, as the cast and writers were still in an evolution stage. Even so, this season is packed with hilarious sketches and has ample memorable moments. The cast has some weak links, but most hold themselves well and more sketches succeed than fail. But the weaker cast members are obvious right from the start, as the real stars, like Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson start to shine. Sullivan is genius at times and really hits her stride in future seasons. When she left the series in 2001, it marked a real loss for MADtv, though new stars were in place. Wilson is a magnet for laughs right from her first appearance and over time, only became more hilarious. While Orlando Jones and Artie Lange have some classic skits as part of MADtv, they seem better suited for motion picture or sitcom careers, while some other cast members just come off as flat. As a rival to Saturday Night Live, MADtv wasn’t much of a force in this first season, but the show would later become much funnier than its more famous rival, not to mention edgier. In later seasons, MADtv would push the limits of content with some of the ballsiest, over the top sketches ever seen. But to see where it all began back in 1995, you’ll have to check out this debut season of MADtv.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. You can’t expect much here, other than a clear and crisp looking visual presentation, which is what you get. The image is sharper than broadcast, with rich colors, high detail level, correct contrast levels, and natural flesh tones. No compression errors emerge, making for a very nice transfer. I assume future seasons will look even better, as more resources and better equipment are attained, but even now, this first season looks quite impressive.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a dialogue driven series, so the included 2.0 surround audio is more than up to the task. Some sequence make better use of the channels than others, but on the whole, this material uses a conservative presence. But when the tension mounts or the action picks up, this mix handles the bumps without much trouble, so no worries on that front. Most of the show is fueled by dialogue though, which is well replicated here and no problems arise in the least. The vocals sound very crisp and clean at all times, I found nothing to complain about with this mix. This release also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release includes over half an hour of unaired sketches, a reel of bloopers, a half hour compilation of some classic moments, and the show’s 200th episode, in which the first season’s cast is reunited.

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