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Mad Mad World was an unsold pilot shot in April 1962 for CBS, which would spoof the news, with Jim Henson supplying Muppet skits. Producer Max Liebman described it as “A weekly roundup of absurdities. A survey of real and composite characters and situations in the nation and around the world. A mad report of what has happened or could have happened during the week.” The basic concept was reminiscent of the British series That Was the Week That Was, which debuted in 1962 in the UK and would spawn a US counterpart in 1964 over NBC (also using puppetry, supplied by Bil Baird).
The cast, a mixture of veteran TV stars, second bananas, and up and coming comedians, would play international correspondents, and the Muppets added to the variety. In one bit, after the initial introduction setting the premise, a Muppet correspondent was devoured by Yorick. A Muppet machine (previously used at the US Agriculture's Food Fair in Hamburg, Germany in 1961), malfunctioning with wheezes, introduces an interview segment with real subway commuters. Limbo appears (called "Line Face" in this script) and introduces a parody of the doctor series Ben Casey, the "Visual Thinking" skit is performed, and the Muppet machine ends the pilot in typical Muppet fashion: by exploding.
The pilot script was written by Larry Gelbart and Gary Belkin, with Perry Lafferty directing. The cast included Jim Backus, Wally Cox, Kaye Stevens, Elliott Reid, Carl Ballantine, Frank Fontaine, Rip Taylor, Tim Conway, and Lou Cutell.