Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review # 3 - The State : The Complete Series DVD Set (MTV Video/Paramount Pictures) Starring Thomas Lennon, Michael Ian Black, David Wain

For those in their teens and early twenties, you may remember a little sketch comedy show by the name of The State. The 11 person (10 guys and 1 girl) comedy troupe whose series ran for two years on MTV from 1993-1995. This was a period when the network was steadily drifting away from strictly music video shows and focusing more on regular tv shows. Unlike today, at least the shows were innovative and interesting. Look at Liquid Television and Beavis And Butthead for example. Anyways, in 1995 the group left MTV to be picked up by CBS. They got as far as a Halloween special. And despite glowing reviews, the lack of any promotion of the show resulted in poor ratings and all hopes of an ongoing series were left in the dust. The members of The State remained close and worked on each others projects. If you watched shows like Viva..Variety!, Stella , Wet Hot American Summer, and Reno 911!, this is where it all began.

Ever since the rise of DVD. Fans of the show have been clamoring for an official release. After a few years of false starts. I'm proud to announce that the fans' prayers have been answered. This DVD set contains all 4 seasons of the show plus a disc of bonus material. Was it worth the wait ? Definitely. IF you don't mind a few changes made to the show. And let's get that out of the way first.

First of all,supposedly one of the reasons for the delay of this set was that there was an issue over the licensed music that was used in some of the skits. MTV had a deal with major record labels that allowed the network the use of their artists' songs. With the release of this set. All of the licensed music has been removed. And any spoken dialogue over said music had to be re-dubbed as well. The group claimed that it would have cost them "millions of dollars" to get the rights to use the songs again. I don't know how true that can be when the song "The Power" from the group SNAP! is being played on certain skits. My feeling is MTV wouldn't give them a decent budget to produce this release. If this is your first time viewing the show or don't remember much about it, chances are you won't even notice. I felt it didn't take anything away from most of the skits and they're still funny as the first time I saw them. The only skits that this really affects are the Barry And Levon skits (the $240 worth of pudding guys). Not hearing Sexual Healing from Marvin Gaye and the re-dubbed dialog kind of hurts these skits a bit.

For the most part however. The skits are still funny 16 years after the shows debut and doesn't feel outdated at all. That's the problem I have with a lot of sketch comedy shows. If I watch them years later, some really feel outdated and lose their luster. Not so with these. All your favorite characters from the show are here too. Remember Doug ? (I'm outta heeeeeerreee!) Capt. Monterey Jack? Old Fashioned Guy? They're all here. My sides were definitely hurting from laughing so hard from revisiting this show. It's still as wacky and absurd as it was when I watched this show during my junior and senior year of high school. Not too many comedy sketch shows can stand the test of time when they're released after being off the air for a long time. I'm happy to say that's not the case here.

As for extras? This set is chock full of them. Each disc contains a commentary by all the members of The State along with interviews (during the time of the show's run) and outtakes. There is a special bonus disc included which contains
the pilot episode. 90 minutes of un-aired sketches that include commentary, more outtakes, and, various appearances they made. There's plenty of stuff on these discs to make fans happy. As for sound, it's in standard Dolby 2.0 and in full screen format. Trust me though, it's only a minor issue.

All in all, fans of the show (myself included) should be happy they can now retire their worn out VHS tapes. Unless the re-recorded music and dialogue on some of the skits bothers them enough to keep them. Otherwise it's great that this horribly underrated, Generation X-era show finally sees the light of day. It's definitely worth picking up and revisiting the show again and the skits are still fresh and funny after all these years and it's filled with tons of extra material. If you've never seen this show before, if you're a fan of comedy or shows such as Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr.Show, and, Kids In The Hall, there's no reason for you not to own this or at least check it out. It really felt like being reunited with an old friend!
(5 boxes of pudding out of 5)