HTF Review: The State: The Complete Series

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by jmk56, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. jmk56

    jmk56 Agent

    Nov 30, 2007
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    Real Name:
    J. M. Kauffman
    Remember when the "M" in MTV stood for music? You could go for days on the MTV of the 1980s and see virtually nothing but music videos. As the channel moved away more and more from music and into such fare as series, I repeatedly felt the "M" stood for Mediocre (and that was being charitable at times). I guess it's a sign of my encroaching curmudgeonhood that I pretty much can't stand MTV (or even its once "easy listening" sibling VH1) anymore. So you should probably take that into account in this review, even though MTV's less than groundbreaking comedy series The State actually ran around 15 years ago, in the early to mid-1990s.

    The best thing about The State is seeing several then-newcomers who, if not exactly household names, have gone on to much greater comedy glory in such better series as Reno 911. The State therefore offers some nascent hilarity from such folks as Kerri Kenney (AKA Kerri Kenney-Silver), Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Michael Patrick Jann, and Joe Lo Truglio. Other non-Reno 911 alum include Michael Showalter and Ken Marino.

    As with most of these sketch comedy series, the offerings are a mixed bag which veer from outright hilarity, to passing giggles, to just plain stupid. The show does offer some appealingly outre, if not downright hilarious, recurring characters, including Marino's Louie, whose catchphrase "I wanna dip my balls in it" (get your minds out of the gutter, he means golf balls--at least I think that's what he means) does frankly fall flat in a couple of moments, but offers a little politically incorrect mirth when he shows up at The Last Supper. Lennon's Old Fashioned Guy plays like Saturday Night Live's Jack Handy, only Old Fashioned Guy's "deep thoughts" are usually misogynistic jingoist rants that could have been uttered by Grandpa Simpson in one his less delerious moments.

    Mixed in with this is the usual assortment of good and bad bits. There were some downright weird, yet absolutely thigh-slapping, moments, like the game show where the unwitting contestants are actually being awarded with orphans. "But, I live in a very small one bedroom apartment," protests a hapless Kenney. Now that's comedy. Other bits, like Michael Ian Black's recurring "motivational speaker" (on such lame subjects as turning off lights after you leave a room) Capt. Monterey Jack, I found to be mostly a bore, despite good set-ups and some at times completely hyperbolic deliveries.

    The State has become something of a cult phenomenon, and I'm sure this release will be greeted with loud hurrahs by its target demographic, which I would assume probably was in their teens to late 20s when the show aired, circa 1993-95. (Evidently the show's release on home video was delayed at least in part by that old bugaboo, music clearances, and a lot of the original music has been replaced). That puts me well outside the intended age range for the series. That said, it's still fitfully amusing and fun, especially seeing actors who have developed their improv skills to the comedic highs of such shows as Reno 911. The State, therefore, is at least a quite remarkable time capsule showcasing some great talents that have honed their skills and probably have long comedic careers ahead of them. As for me, I'd much rather sit down with an old episode of Monty Python--not only is it funny, it's timeless in a way that The State can only feebly imitate.

    Video: The State's full frame videotaped (mostly) image has held up surprisingly well, with very little if any damage, and still vibrant, well saturated color. Detail is still very sharp. Some of the filmed interstitials are considerably less sharp, with abundant 16mm (or even 8mm) grain and softness.

    Audio: The DD 2.0 mix is quite robust, for a show that is largely dialogue driven. Separation is minimal, but fidelity is extremely good, with everything very easy to hear.

    Extras: Some passable Extras dot the two multi-episode discs, including commentaries, outtakes and brief interview clips (including the really funny recounting of the show's original less than stellar reviews, including one which gave it negative 2 stars). A third bonus disc offers the best extras, including the unseen Pilot Episode, unaired sketches from the pilot and the three actual seasons of te show, special appearances by the troupe (including one on The Daily Show), and promos.
    Edited by jmk56 - 7/3/2009 at 05:43 pm GMT
    Edited by jmk56 - 7/5/2009 at 02:11 pm GMT
    Edited by jmk56 - 7/5/2009 at 02:15 pm GMT
  2. Jeff Reis

    Jeff Reis Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 6, 1998
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    Curse words are bleeped on the commentaries
    And of course a lot of replacement music. But it is great to finally have this.
  3. Josh Forsythe

    Jan 1, 2002
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    Yes, I'm in the target demographic, and yes, you're hearing a loud "hurrah" from me. It's been years since I first wondered when this was coming out. It's a first-day buy for me, and I just hope it's even close to as good as I remember.

    Porcupine Racetrack forever!


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