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October 13, 2015

Why a MAD Magazine Show Could Work

by Danny Gallagher, posted Apr 27th 2010 12:05PM
Mad MagazineWhenever MAD Magazine crops up in a conversation with someone under the age of 20, their mind immediately jumps to 'MADtv.' That's when my mind blows a fuel cell and launches into a death spiral.

Back in the late '90s when the Fox sketch show hit the airwaves, my brain almost exploded at the thought of a MAD Magazine TV show. I read the magazine cover to cover and kept a stack of them in my bookcase until the covers withered away with time. I thumbed through each issue for my favorite writers and artists like Dick DeBartolo, Mort Drucker and Frank Jacobs. I didn't date much.

The final product left me very disappointed. Now, it has another chance to be something better. DC Comics has announced they are developing an animated sketch show for Cartoon Network that's centered around more than just the magazine's brand.

Taking such a storied humor and comedy institution to television is bound to have its pitfalls, but their odds are better than average that this latest commodity could be turned into something that doesn't suck. Here's why...

• The MAD style still works

Sure the magazine itself has seen more successful times. The circulation might be down, their yearly number of issues might have been reduced and they are taking advertisements for the first time in their 60-plus year history, but the style and soul of the magazine is alive and thriving. Anyone who tried sneaking a glance of the magazine out of the watchful eye of their humorless parents knows its attitude questions everything popular, political and otherwise by not taking any of it seriously. Shows like 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' have carried on that tradition, but a show running on a style as fuel won't be restrained by the confines of its format or formula.

• The writers have MAD to thank for their careers

Ask any starving comedy writer where they learned they wanted to be a professional comedy writer and one out of four will tell you they have MAD to thank (their parents, however, demand an apology). Any writer worth his weight in jokes written on bar napkins will not only treat the show with reverence and respect, but give it new twists to turn it on a whole new generation of future wisenheimers and snappy answer spouting chowderheads... YOU CLOD!

• MAD is still a hot commodity
Younger generations might forget how to read. The public might become complacent zombies who are easily swayed by shiny objects and tasty snack treats. Jenna Elfman may keep getting sitcom deals. But the MAD brand will never die. It has developed features and faces that have become cultural icons like "Spy vs. Spy," the Fold-In and Alfred E. Neuman.

It's also not the first time someone has tried to turn the magazine into a TV show.

• It can't be any worse than 'MADtv'

It's just simple math. In order for a show that's actually based on MAD Magazine to suck worse than a show that kinda-sorta-never really was based on MAD Magazine, it would have to be produced by sub-human monkeys without enough neurons to figure out the difference between a banana and a stick of dynamite that's painted yellow in order to make it look like a banana. In other words, at least this latest attempt isn't being handled by Fox.

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What really hurt the TV show was the fact it spent more time creating new hit or miss characters that had no previous association with the mag and most importantly no TV show satires. The magazine's main bread and butter and something Seth McFarland has been used since the start of Family Guy.

April 27 2010 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You *do* realize during its early seasons that MADtv regularly featured Don Martin and Spy vs. Spy shorts -- heck, even the opening credits involved old magazine covers!

April 27 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Danny,

I'm under the age of 20 and my mind didn't immediately jump to MADtv. Maybe that's because I actually read the magazine. Also, I hope MAD has creative control over this new show otherwise it will devolve into another really sad attempt at comedy with the MAD name attached and none of the style.

April 27 2010 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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