Mad TV

2009/03/05

What a lot of people didn’t know until very recently is that Fox’s SNL competitor Mad TV remained on the air well after the era of those god-awful reruns on Comedy Central. I was one of that number who raised mildly interested eyebrows upon hearing the news that Mad TV had in fact been cancelled, only it didn’t happen in 1998.

After 14 seasons–the bulk of which I assume consisted of increasingly psychotic UBS Guy skits and spiralling alcohol abuse–Fox finally, mercifully dropped the big hammer on the show in November of last year. This opens two excellent avenues of discussion.

The first is that Mad TV could have been good with only a few minor changes.

The second is that now that it’s over, we can empirically prove1 how terrible it was.

 

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

What we have here is the aforementioned Jaq the UBS Guy, played to some sort of abominable perfection by one Phil Lamarr, who either revelled in the chance to portray an impossibly annoying Asperger’s sufferer or employed California’s cruelest acting agent. Jaq the UBS Guy all by himself could be the worst thing ever.

But there’s more.

 

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Coffee Guy. Holy fucking cats, Coffee Guy

Coffee Guy is what your nightmares would look like if you were raped by Robin Williams: methamphetamine-manic, shameful in the way we think of Yakov Smirnov as being shameful, and utterly devoid of humor.

Did you know caffeine makes you jittery if you ingest too much? Did you know that?  Are you sure? Because Mad TV doesn’t seem to think you get that reference. 

 

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Kenny Rogers, as portrayed here by Will Sasso, was not necessarily a bad character. There were moments of blissful idiocy and almost-heavenly levels of silliness where the inebriated country singer seemed like the second coming of Will Farrell’s hilarious Harry Caray impersonation.

 

Comedic bliss

Comedic bliss

 

Of course, the writers at Mad TV were not content to let a good thing be and the actor himself certainly did nothing to help things.  

 

Rampant overacting and cheap, flimsy jokes killed what could have been Mad TV’s finest hour. Instead of being true to their subject and calling out the real Kenny Rogers’ idiosyncracies–which is something satire requires of its writers–Sasso’s version became a grossly exaggerated Barney Gumble. 

That’s enough. Instead of sitting here kicking this long-dead horse, I’ll just  rest my case. Mad TV is the worst thing ever.

 

1. By which I obviously mean ‘make cheap jokes about’.


The Secret Life of the American Teenager

2009/03/03
Or: The Secret Life of Script-Writers Who Live in a Vacuum

Or: The Secret Life of Script-Writers Who Think You Are Stupid

There are times when an attentive television viewer will feel a certain level of hostility toward the programs they watch. The reasons vary widely–the actors, the set design, the writing, the fact that the program follows Futurama–and aren’t that important. What matters is that it happens to just about everyone. 

Then there are times when even an inattentive television viewer will be unable to feel anything but hostility toward a program. That program is ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager

For those of you fortunate enough to have never seen this show, whether by virtue of refined good taste or simple congenital blindness, the basic premise is that an adolescent girl in a conservative California town is impregnated by a smarmy older schoolmate. Everyone’s pants are then collectively shat as apparently none of them had ever considered the possibility of a young girl becoming pregnant out of wedlock. This is evidently the one area of California where porn isn’t an elective in high school, and where the inhabitants are filled with oddly Puritanical self-righteousness. 

His crime? Picking at his salmon with a salad fork.

His crime? Eating his charred salmon with a salad fork.

What’s so terrible about this show isn’t the stupid premise, the clumsy plot, the horrible writing, or even the noticeably no-longer-adorable Molly Ringwald.

 

Here is what we dont want in a Molly Ringwald.

Here is what we don't want in a 'Molly Ringwald'.

It’s not even the fact that ABC Family is to television what Jerry Falwell was to intelligent debate. The very worst thing about this ‘hit’ show is this malfunctoning, emo-powered cyborg lovely young actress:

not pictured: pulse

India Eisley showing uncharacteristic emotion

This is India Eisley, the blank-faced creature who plays the pregtagonist’s wooden younger sister. Despite being cute and having a kick-ass name, Miss Eisley suffers from one minor drawback that could potentially cause a m0derate amount of dificulty in her chosen career: she is made entirely of pale, non-porous rock. Sadly, it is a rare type of rock that can never learn to emote. 

While she is certainly the worst aspect of the show, that in no way means the show would be improved by her absence. Like soiled white trousers, The Secret Life of the American Teenager is beyond any help. No amount of scrubbing will ever wash the smell away.

I hereby declare The Secret Life of the American Teenager to henceforth be known as the worst thing ever.