"Mr. Mike's Mondo Video" invites comparision with "Meteor" as the season's tackiest production and foremost consumer fraud. Every movie-going hipster susceptible to the delusion that "outrageous" must be synonomous with "hilarious" will face an acid test of endurance at "Mondo Video," although Michael O'Donoghue's mirthless fiasco runs barely more than an hour.
Last April the head censor at NBC spared his network and a few million potential viewers at least 60 minutes of avoidable degradation by banning "Mondo Video." If you think that censors are always wrong, this show could change your mind. O'Donoghue doesn't give offense by being obscenely funny. He gives offense by being obscenely pointless, tasteless and mean.
O'Donoghue, who also imposes his scrawny, supercilious presence on the show by serving as a forked-tongue-in-sunken-cheek narrator, was one of the original editrs of The National Lampoon and an early recruit to the writing staff of "Saturday Night Live."
His anti-comedy anti-special is ostensibly a spoof of "Mondo Cane," an almost forgotten exploitation hit of the early '60s composed of scurrilous "documentary" vignettes about kinky customs around thw world. His new effort was commissioned under the banner of Lorne Michaels, the producer of "Saturday Night Live." When the network rejected Mr. Mike's rotten revue, "Mondo Video" was reprogrammed for theatrical release and advertised as humor too hot for the strait-laced tube.
The problem with most of the material in "Mondo Video" is that the humor is exhausted once you've heard the premise. When O'Donoghue tries to sustain a gag, it becomes tedious or contemptuous. Sometimes both.
For starters, it's not especially clever to stage a skit about a bogus swimming academy for cats which consists of slow-motion shots of the animals being tossed into a pool and paddling gamely to the wall. The humorous notion is hazy to begin with, and it is totally overwhelmed by one's concern for the animals.
The idea of a midwestern religious cult organized around the deification of Jack Lord might be worth a fleeting chortle, but it fails miserably to justify a full-blown comedy sketch. Dan Aykroyd, cast as the leader of the cult, is the most conspicuous casualty of this misbegotten brainstorm. A glutton for punishment at the hands of Mr. Mike, Aykroyd returns to show us his set of webbed toes in a segment called "Celebrity Deformities."
The potential audience for "Mondo Video" might string along with O'Donoghue as long as he appears to be rediculing the squares. He may risk alienating fellow wisetwerps by exploiting figures like the late, Sid Vicious, who appears in a "musical" interlude, doing a pathetic travesty of the Sinatra number, "My Way."
Elementary decency would have prompted most impresarios to delete the Vicious routine in the wake of his violent demise. But not the fearless Mr. Mike. He even kisses off the ghostly-ghastly spectacle with a little barbed tribute: "We're gonna miss you, Sid . . . Sid Vicious, a very mondo kinda guy." I feel no grief over punker Sid, but it's Michael O'Donoghue who emerges as "a mondo kinds guy."