About Last Night: MAD “Pokémonsters, Inc./Bane & Kate”

I feel like I could just re-post my review of the MAD season premiere having only changed the name of the sketches and still have no difference in opinion.  Episode 2 was scarily like Episode 1; opening with an extended mashup sketch that I laughed more at than I should have, settling into some not particularly funny sketches for a while, picking up near the end before finishing on a sketch that kind of just assumes you’ll laugh at the mashup instead of realising that it has nothing to say about either of its targets.  If this ends up as a thing, then I’m going to start getting worried that this is the official template for making a MAD episode, and it’s absolutely the wrong template to take.

Things started strong, though, with a MADvent Calendar that didn’t suck and an opening sketch that I shouldn’t have enjoyed but did.  Pokémonsters Inc. was one joke, and not a particularly original joke at that, stretched out to about 2 and a half minutes that, nevertheless, I laughed quite a bit at.  The sketch collapses with a thud by squeezing in one last, really-not-funny gag instead of ending on a surprisingly dark yet hilarious one, and the guy they got to play Sully is the absolute worst John Goodman impersonator I have ever heard, but I still laughed.  There’s some kind of base hilarity in seeing Ash Ketchum excitedly shout “I haven’t slept in days!” whilst rapidly throwing pokéballs in random directions.  If that makes me a bad taste of humour, well then I apologise to you for being stupid enough to put me up on that pedestal.

Proceedings continued being promising with Bob The Clown Barber which, like Diver At The Winter Olympics from last episode, was clever, funny and in and out without letting the punch-line linger long enough to stop being funny.  Then, however, the episode started to sink fast with The Gollum Go-Thin Diet, a thoroughly unfunny sketch that kept going on and on and on and on.  Unlike the Truth Paste sketch from last week, this one had pretty much no potential which made the length of the sketch (at least 45 seconds) almost unbearable.  The MAD Security Cam, meanwhile, incorrectly assumes that stop-motion animals dancing to a public domain rip-off of Gangam Style is funny enough on its own to gain laughs.  Maybe for three year olds, but not for anyone else.

The next sketch, two pirates burying their treasure, though, was an improvement thanks to the great punch-line of one pirate burying the other alive.  That goodwill is almost immediately burned, however, by returning to it later on for an entirely different gag tenuously connected to the first one.  It’s a thoroughly unnecessary return sketch that retroactively spoils the first one because it couldn’t just have been left alone.  Is Kristen Stewart Sleeping? was exactly as good as that title suggests (and really did not need to be returned to for the end tag) whilst Endless Breadstick was kinda “eh”.  It wasn’t bad, but there was pretty much nothing there.

Fortunately, though, the following four sketches (excepting the return trip to… sigh, Lean John Silver) were all very strong contenders for sketch of the night.  M&MA Championship was one gag that ran just long enough to stay funny instead of overstaying its welcome, Awkward Moments… had two excellent punch-lines that retroactively made the rest of the, at the time, overlong sketch (it ran for at least 30 seconds) great.  Spy vs. Spy, as per usual, was very funny and Half A Tooth was another clever and very funny gag that stayed exactly as long as it needed to.  It seemed that we were on our way to a very solid B grade episode…

…then Bane & Kate had to happen.  Yes, there’s the initial shock joke of “Oh, look!  Kate from Ben & Kate’s brother is Bane from The Dark Knight Rises in this!”, and it’s one that works a lot better than Rainbow Dash And Bernstein did last episode, but after that there’s pretty much nothing there.  You’re kind of just expected to laugh at the appearance of Bruce Wayne as Kate’s date, at Bane locking Kate’s kid down in the hole prison he put Batman in in TDKR, at Kate mentally checking off a list of things that Bane did in that film and, believe it or not, those aren’t jokes.  Those are references.  There are three good jokes in that sketch, three more than Rainbow Dash And Bernstein had, and they’re all quick bits of physical humour at the end of the sketch which, by that point, is too little too late.

It’s a shame that MAD can’t seem to stick the landing.  I know that it’s early days in the season, but I really hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.  More effort needs to go into these extended sketches, because they’re the ones that are dragging the show down so far.  If a short, 15 second sketch bombs, it doesn’t rate so bad because it’s in and out before it has a chance to fully impress its suckiness on you.  But if one of your big centrepiece sketches fails, it’s pretty damn noticeable.  MAD needs to improve on these big time, because they’re the first and last things you see in an episode (excluding the cold open and the tag) and first and last impressions are everything.

Grade: C+

Stray Thoughts

  • Seriously, Stephen Stanton’s Sully impression was just The Worst. Nearly derailed the entire sketch by itself.
  • “Friday, 3:00PM: Jurassic Park returns to theatres in 3D, because 4D would mean having the audience eaten!” was the better of the two actual gags featured in the MADvent Calendar, though I do have a soft spot for the RusselMania pun, for some reason.
  • The better of the two Animated Marginals this week was the skateboard one, because I still don’t know what was going on in that first one.
  • Best Sketch: Half A Tooth takes this one in a close fight with runner-up, M&MA Championship. Spy vs. Spy is an even closer third.
  • Worst Sketch: Is Kristen Stewart Sleeping? Anti-humour at its worst and it really did not need to be returned to for the tag.
  • “Oh, how the tables have turned…”
  • “You’d have to be nuts to battle!” “Actually, I’m just plain!”
  • “I’m a pirate and I express my love by burying!”
  • “Half a tooth?!” “That’s right!  Half the tooth now, the other half when I get my money!”
  • As to the three good gags in Bane & Kate? Bane making his entrance by elbow-dropping onto Albert, the background gag of Batman being incapable of breaking through a glass window and Kate’s daughter, just as she escapes the hole prison, randomly being hit in the face with a ball which sends her falling back in.  I appreciate a good “child being hit in the face” gag.  There’s probably something wrong with me.

Callum Petch is the number one wet blanket.

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