Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down on MadTV?

Tonight was the 300th episode of MADtv. So is that a milestone, or a prelude to the end? I gotta tell you MADtv has gotten strange. I once heard a an expression that goes, “a bulb burns brightest before it burns out.” Or maybe it was about stars (celestial not Hollywood). At any rate as somebody who has actually watched the show from the beginning all the way through tonight I have to say I think I’m done.


The show has always been compared to Saturday Night Live, but that’s only because it airs on Saturday nights. In no other way does it compare. It is a very different kind of humor, and as far as I can tell the shows creation comes from an entirely different place; we all know the history of SNL. Lorne was the driving force of SNL, and Quincy Jones was the producer of MADtv-and at this point Quincy is probably more proud of the fact that his daughter is on the Office.

To me, MADtv came out of very strange moment in history. For a while FOX was a new and struggling network, and in those days they realized that appealing to minority groups (meaning Black) viewers were a more realistic demographic than trying to go after the 3 major network’s viewers. Why try to poach Seinfeld or Friends fans? Just go after the underserved Black viewers. And they were VERY successful with that. In Living Color, and Living Single made FOX a lot of money. Enough money to eventually dump the color format. And MADtv is from that era of programming.


Originally this year I thought Mad wasn’t coming back. Their season got off to a very late start. And the first thing you notice is the format change. They’ve moved the show to some sort of club and essentially become a “clips show.” They go to clips after a humorous presentation, which they did in the past also, but now it feels less like it’s live. At least before you had the illusion that it was live. But Mr. Show is Mr. Show and this ain’t Mr. Show. Bob and Dave had that format and it worked for them. There is also a group in LA called the Ministry of Unknown Science that does a pretty good live version, but I’m not feeling it from Mad.

They’ve added a couple of new “ethnic” cast members. Where in the past they would go Black for color (except for Bobby Lee, of course), this year they went to the Spanish speaking community. And as usual, I feel the performers are actually stronger than the writing. But my feeling is the show won’t be back next year, despite the changes. In fact, it almost looks like the changes were a last ditch effort. Your thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down on MadTV?

  1. personally, i think this show never knew what it wanted to be. it uses the MAD Magazine brand, not the MAD style of humor. i’ve always appreciated the fact that the show has an integrated cast and tackles social issues (as opposed to SNL, which has a largely segregated cast where black actors almost always play stereotypes). but like you said, the quality of writing is missing. the actors sell their characters, but i think they

  2. Right! I totally forgot to mention the issue of Mad Mag. Yeah, they’ve NEVER even remotely made you feel like there was a connection with that brand of humor.

  3. This article is ridiculous. Since when is it considered a “strange moment in history” for a network to want to appeal to minority, or as you say “Black” group? Who cares what the demographic is? Just because a critic is more comfortable in a KKK uniform, doesn’t mean the rest of the world should be.

    Mad TV is a colorful and creative show. And the fact that It appeals to people of all colors shouldn’t be a reason to give it a thumbs down. Who cares if the Actors out-perform the writing. At least it’s not like most of these shows, where the writing sucks MORE than the crappy actors… I mean, have you heard some of the dialogue on CSI?

    I give MAD two thumbs up. I mean, unless you would you rather see another REALITY SHOW!

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how people come to this site and interpret things no matter how they want to depending on what kind of chip they have on their shoulders. So ok, lets

  5. As an old man, My advice as an old er person. Such a strong position shouldn’t need such a large defense.

    – I don’t care either way, TV is turning into crap. I do, however enjoy MadTV.

  6. Franklin, thanks for the visit. Listen some people are turn the other cheek-ers, and some people are point by point breakdown-ers. I think you see which side I fall on.

    Teri, I have written comedic works and been paid for it. But yeah, I take great offense when people casually toss around KKK accusations without first checking to see who they’re accusing. But I sincerely thank you for returning. I knew you would find something you liked.

  7. Tonight, MADTV was once again back in ITS very own time slot 10PM CST – 11PM. Is this just the beginning of the end. It has been widely published that they have already cancelled the show and that they had many episodes in the can that they would be stringing out over the next few months….at the 30 minute time slot.

    SO IS IT A MADTV MIRACLE???? Did Faux come to it’s senses and realize that SNL’s temporary success was due to the Election skits and more directly TINA FEY & AMY POEHLER….

    Keenan’s B.(MADTV’s) OBAMA was much better than SNL’s Fred A. …. but lets face it they had already begun to abandon the show. They never recovered from the writer’s strike and slow walked the show to it’s death after that. When you show the same episode 6 times it’s hard to say that you gave the show a FAIR CHANCE again SNL and the presidential skits ((((COME ON FAUX))))!!!

    I like Spike Feresten but I refused to watch him while he occupied MADTV’s time slot. I actually missed 10 minutes of Tonights broadcast of MADTV b/c I didn’t expect ti to be back in that time slot. MORE EVIDENCE THAT FAUX STILL HAS IT IN FOR MADTV. Did you see how much support & promos they ran for SPIKE in the months preceeding his hour long shows???? YET I saw NOTHING promoing that MADTV was back at 10PM CST not 11PM CST and that it would be an hour. WONDER HOW LONG THIS WILL LAST ???? Please Fox keep this slow on the air! PLEASE GIVE IT SUPPORT WITH A DECENT BUDGET AND PROMOTION!!!!

    • Hi Be-Rye-An
      First of all that is an incredibly long Faux email. Why not something easy like

      Now your comments are VERY astute! The thing about the networks support of Spike is not too different from the NBC’s support of Molly Shannan. She has a TERRIBLE show called Kath and Kim and not only have they not canceled it but they RENEWED it. Why would networks support these 2 ho-hum performers and NOT a whole cast of talented performers? Is it a racial issue? Or is it a loyalty issue? Molly made them a lot of money on SNL and Spike made a lot of money as a writer on Seinfeld-so are these guys just riding on their past success? Hard to say, and impossible to prove anything…

      But I will tell you this; YES, I saw tonight was going to be a new MadTV and I was ALMOST compelled to watch it, but I didn’t. And that’s the thing; TV guide said Bobby was bringing back some special character or whatever but I couldn’t get excited about it. As for a change of heart by FOX to keep the show alive-don’t get your hopes up. Networks do this to dead shows ALLLLllllll the time. Pushing up Daises final episodes haven’t aired yet. Reaper comes back this month after almost a year (a show that was going to be canceled but changed at the last minute) and Battlestar also had a delay of about a year for these final episodes to air. So I think it’s a done deal. And I still stand by what I wrote in this piece a whole year ago; the performers are good, but MadTV writing has gotten a little weak…

      Thanks for your insights!

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