Release Date: November 12, 2013 (Shout! Factory)
Packaging: Viva Case
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 1080 minutes
Running Time of Features: N/A
Audio: English Mono
Subtitles and Captioning: None
Special Features: None
You are now watching MADtv... again! Shout! Factory returns with the fourth season of the sketch comedy that aired for fourteen seasons on Fox in an attempt to compete against the long running NBC series Saturday Night Live. Unlike the competition, of course, MADtv was not live and focused almost exclusively on the comedy aspects. New cast members joined the cast from the previous season, including Michael McDonald and Mo Collins, and the fourth season also brought us a lot more of our favorite recurring characters, including Doreen and Student Larkin, Lorraine Swanson, Marvin Tikvah, Bunifa, Ms. Swan, the Vancome Lady, and more.
It is hard to discuss actual episodes of this series since they all have numerous sketches (some better than others, naturally), but with that being said, there are many highlights throughout the season. We'll highlight out some of these. We see a return of the Sonny and Cher show in "Sonny's Widow and Cher." We get to see The Dick Van Dyke Show reprised... with a little bit of a Chris Rock touch. Aries Spears continues to mock the failure of Magic Johnson's talk show in the form of a Judge Judy type of series. Alex Borstein continues her portrayal of Rosie O'Donnell in several parodies of her talk show, including one with an interview of Kevin Sorbo. Magic Johnson (Aries Spears) returns to host Jeopardy! Aries Spears brings us back to the show Forgive or Forget in his portrayal of Mother Love, as Mother Love tries to reunite Bobby Brown (Phil LaMarr) and Whitney Houston (Debra Wilson). A special Christmas episode features the Vancome Lady encountering Adam Sandler (Michael McDonald) and a return of Magic Johnson (Spears) celebrating Kwanzaa.
Spishak has decided that razors need two blades in one of those classic commercial parodies. Mo Collins gives the series one of the series greatest musical parodies as she portrays Alanis Morisette in the Pop-Up Video version of "Wash Me," a parody of "Thank You." In a special Valentine's Day episode, Bunifa ends up on The Dating Game, and we get to see a special Spanish version of Three's Company. Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" is parodied by the Vancome Lady with the help of Mase (Aries Spears) in "Vancome Life." A man trying to sell his car gets a lot more than he bargained for when Lorraine Swanson (Mo Collins) shows up to look at it. Phil LaMarr plays George Jefferson as he moves on up even further. Rusty Miller (Michael McDonald) gets a chance to meet Donny Osmond on MTV Fanatic.
The season has plenty of guest stars in large and small roles, including Vivica A. Fox, Usher, Jane Krakowski, Gary Coleman, Kevin Sorbo, Shaq, Brian McKnight, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Keri Russell, Jerry Springer, and Donny Osmond.
The episodes are presumably unedited, with runtimes as follows:
The set is packaged in a standard Viva case. The front cover has the series logo, along with photos of different characters (including Ms. Swan, Stuart, and Bunifa), and on the back, there is a brief description of the season, along with a few more pictures of characters (mostly lesser known ones, but the Vancome Lady is among these). Inside, you'll find the four discs, all of which have the series logo on a yellow background. The episode numbers, air dates, and guest stars (for applicable episodes) are found inside. There are no episode descriptions, which are certainly useful for this series.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The set only contains one menu, and that is the main menu. It is a very simple menu with the theme song playing in the background, and different pictures of the cast members on the screen (like the ones on the cover). Main menu options include Play All and a list of the episodes. Chapters are placed within each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The packaging contains disclaimers about the episodes being sourced from the "best available masters," but I didn't really see any issues. I feel like Shout! is probably just including this as a disclaimer on more sets in recent years due to some (often unwarranted) consumer complaints. Everything looks fine for a series that was produced in the days that standard definition television was slowly becoming a thing of the past. The audio is fine too, although it is disappointing that there are no closed-captions (although as far as I could tell, they at least did manage to get all closed-captioning logos out of the beginning of each episode... this didn't happen for at least a handful of episodes in the past).
There are no special features on the set. Some cast interviews would have been nice, as it seems that most of the cast seems to have forgotten about this show.
This season was truly MADtv at its best! To be fair, there are other really great seasons, but this show really picked up around season 3 and continued to deliver plenty of solid sketches for several seasons after that. The cast in this season, which includes Phil LaMarr, Nicole Sullivan, Debra Wilson, Alex Borstein, Will Sasso, Aries Spears, Mo Collins, and Michael McDonald (who ended up staying on the series until the end of season 13), was truly the best group that the series had to offer, bringing us many of the characters whom we loved in the series. If Shout! keeps their plans as they had initially announced, it looks like we'll only be getting one more season of this series on DVD. I hope for more, though. The entire series would be nice, but going through at least season 10 would be sufficient, considering that the series sort of fell apart in the final few seasons (and, unlike Saturday Night Live, MADtv wasn't given the benefit of "rebuilding years," and was promptly canceled as viewers went away). It is even nicer to see that Shout! is giving us these episodes mostly uncut, especially the musical parodies. The Fox predecessor to this series, In Living Color, suffered almost complete obliteration of all musical parodies in many DVD releases. This isn't happening here, thankfully. This is just another solid release of comedy, even if it is lacking in special features.