A few weeks ago The Wife and I were in Target shopping for Christmas presents. While cleaning up baby vomit that had hit the floor, I literally ran into a display of TV-DVD overstock for like $5 a season. Among them was my recently-discovered-missing Seinfeld Season 8 set. I asked The Wife to get it for me as a stocking stuffer and she said she would as long as I don’t ask to stuff anything else. I weighed my options and figured there wouldn’t be a very good chance of that happening anyway, so we picked it up.
Because we don’t have anything the resembles cable or high-speed internet at our house, much of our TV watching has to do with popping in a DVD. Since we ran out of things to watch about six weeks back, we decided to open this gift early.
During one episode of Seinfeld, George and Susan are watching TV. I commented to my wife half-jokingly and totally off-the-cuff, “You know that that show is? Mad About You. You remember that?” Last night we opened our Christmas presents and Mad About You seasons 1-3 were in my stocking.
The Wife started laughing when I opened them and I gave a little chuckle too, “Is this from what I said when we were watching Seinfeld?”
“Yeah. All three were like $15 together, so I thought it’d be a nice gag gift.
While watching Lemon today I popped it in the DVD player, just for some background noise since The Adam Carolla Show is in reruns and inking with a portable shit machine can be dangerous. I started watching and realized something fantastic: Mad About You is totally watchable. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a Fave Five or anything, but I can definitely see why it was on the air for seven years; I can definitely see why I watched it for most of those seven.
I’ve seen three of four episodes now and – although I haven’t laughed out loud at anything – I can see where the charm and ingenuity of this series lies. For those of you too young to remember, sit-coms used to be 100% awful. At one time, Perfect Strangers was literally the funniest show on television. They were all highly formulaic, they all used canned laughter, and every sentence was just the set-up for an obvious punch line. With Mad About You, that changed. There were entire episodes dedicated to trying to leave the house to go on a date or getting locked in a bathroom (this was not the usual schtick back then. Most sit-coms were situational comedies, meaning people got into situations – trouble at school, accidentally served rum cake to an alcoholic, dating two girls at once – and then the viewer watched the hilarity ensue. We often hear writers of these old shows say something like, “…And then it wrote itself.” Most shows taking place after the millennium don’t write themselves; they have teams of writers pouring over every word. Listen to The Simpsons commentary sometime). There was an entire flashback episode that didn’t warn the viewer they were flashing back. Unheard of.
Also, a lot of the humor revolves around Paul Reiser’s sensibilities and comic timing, so that helps.
As I looked up the history of the show, I found that Mad About You hasn’t really had a very good DVD life, which is odd since it won numerous emmys and was consistently in the top 25 (the parent company released the first two seasons on DVD and then decided sales weren‘t enough to warrant the rest. A few years later another company bought the rights to released season 3 to just enough fanfare to warrant a season 4 and 5. There are no plans to release 6 or 7). Why? Because it’s no one’s favorite. Like I said, the series is totally watchable, and I probably have seen the majority of these episodes at some point. But that’s just because there was nothing else on.
If The Wife didn’t buy these for me, I definitely wouldn’t’ve asked for them; I don’t even think I would’ve taken the time to try and pirate them. However, just like in the 90s, I happen to have access to Mad About You, nothing else happens to be on, and the humor is funny enough to keep my attention.
Now if they’d only release the rest of Perfect Strangers.
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