There had been many shows that attempted to rival Saturday Night Live for the weekend comedy crown. Producers would wrangle together a band of comics and stick them in sketches. Most of the syndicated shows quickly failed and were swept away into obscurity before they could finish the season. MADtv didn’t vaporize from it’s 11:00 time slot on Saturday nights. The plucky show took advantage of its 30 minute jump on SNL to gain a following that didn’t want to watch the news. Against major odds, the show gained a following so we have MADtv: The Complete Second Season.
The second season cast didn’t have too much of a turnover. Tim Conlon and Pablo Francisco were the new guys. Returning from the first season is Craig Anton, Bryan Callen, David Herman, Orlando Jones, Phil LaMarr, Artie Lange, Mary Scheer, Nicole Sullivan and Debra Wilson. Orlando would split after the season as the hot property. Artie Lange vanishes during the season although he remained in the opening credits and bumpers. Would you care to guess what happened to Artie? As shocking as it sounds, he was checked into rehab for substance abuse. Who would ever equate Artie Lange and substance abuse? The rest of the cast steps up when Artie vanishes. This is sort of how SNL didn’t lose a beat when Chevy Chase split during the second season.
The big difference between the first and second season is guest hosts. This gave the show the feel of Saturday Night Live, but didn’t make it a clone. The guest stars opened and closed the show and appeared in a single sketch. The comedy for the entire episode didn’t revolve around Joe Rogan. The sketches for the most part are still funny since they might have spoofed the times, they don’t seem too bent on mocking current events. That’s not to say there are jokes that will require you to visit Wikipedia to understand. Kids probably will have no clue about Brian Bosworth during the Super Bowl special. The writers mix Suddenly Susan and Millennium in one sketch. Those shows aren’t exactly the hot reruns. When is the last time you craved to see Suddenly Susan? The joke is that (Lance Henriksen has taken over for Brooke Shields. Oddly enough what makes it funny is the actress playing the annoying Kathy Griffin. Who would have predicted that Kathy would be the one still in the pop culture stream nearly 15 years later. The only real element from Mad magazine to be part of the show is Spy Vs. Spy. The beaked rival agents do their best to screw up the other. Alfred E. Newman gets his gap toothed portrait in the credits, but doesn’t play a role in the sketches. MadTV: The Complete Second Season has become its own show and not merely an extension of the magazine.
Christina Applegate, Ice-T, Kim Coles, Jack Wagner, Neve Campbell, Kevin McDonald, Joe Rogan, French Stewart, Harry Connick, Jr., Andrea Martin, Super Bowl Special, Rodney Dangerfield, Queen Latifah, Tommy Davidson, Bobcat Goldthwait, Pauly Shore, Thomas Calabro, Mark Curry, Adam Arkin, Bob Marley, Ryan Stiles, David Faustino and L.L. Cool J.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. This was made in the era right before shows went HD. The transfers look good. You’ll feel Artie Lange vanish from the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo. You’ll get to hear all the joy of Pauly Shore’s visit.
There are no bonus features.
MadTV: The Complete Second Season is entertaining as it brings an end to the Orlando Jones & Artie Lange era. The sketches for the most part are still funny even after all these years. Time has been kind to the humor.
Shout! Factory presents MADtv: The Complete Second Season. Starring: Orlando Jones, Nicole Sullivan and Artie Lange. Boxset Contents: 22 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: March 26, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.