Thursday, February 22, 2024

MAD Magazine takes a look at classic TV sitcoms of the 1970s

MAD About TV is a top-notch 1999 collection of TV spoofs from MAD Magazine. Here I’m reviewing the takeoffs on All in the Family, Columbo (side note: I just re-watched an episode and it very much stands the test of time, tons of suspense and great 1970s acting), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and M*A*S*H.

“Gall in the Family Fare” riffs on how offensive and vulgar Starchie Bunkerhill is, and MAD pushes the envelope in terms of racist, offensive words used in the bit to portray the lead character in this, from the magazine’s “Little Bigot Man Dept.” Starchie’s old war buddy, Dolf, visits and it goes so well that network executives show up to offer him his own spinoff show. Instead of Edith, her name is Meathead. And she offers the same zany dingbat observations as usual, blind to Starchie's bigotry, and simply wanting to go out for a movie date. Gloriosky and Meek are the liberal kids who wonder why they live with such a racist. The Brady Bunch kids also stop by briefly, asking if anyone is up for a pillow fight before realizing they’re at the wrong house. 5 out of 5 stars (like the offensive and important show itself).

“Clodumbo” focuses on the 1970s TV detective’s knack for wearing his tan coat no matter how hot it may be and also his rambling lack of focus. He badgers an innocent doctor so relentlessly that the doc finally admits to the murder in order to get locked up, get some peace and quiet, and get away from the badgering Clodumbo. Like with all these stories, the artwork is nothing short of amazing and the story is pretty hilarious too. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“The Mary Tailor-Made Show” riffs on the fact that, despite the program being about the workings at a TV news organization, there never seemed to be any reporters (other than anchor Ted Baxter, played by Ted Knight) reporting the news. Mr. Grunt bosses Mary around to do lots of important jobs like dusting off his bottle so he can start drinking in between her frequent wardrobe changes that might be a little unrealistic for a “$92-per-week office flunky.” The men of the newsroom gawk at Mary’s looks in super creepy ways that make me want to go back and rewatch some episodes to see if it was really that perverted. 5 out of 5 stars.

“M*A*S*H*UGA” is what it might mean in Yiddish to think something so foolish as “war is a heck of a lot of fun.” Spoofing this classic sitcom is tough to do and this is the weakest of these four. Cockeye and Crapper joke their way through operating on their patients and act even more reprehensible to women than in the actual show. They are both miserable and want out of their TV contract even more than out of the Korean War itself. 4 out of 5 stars.

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