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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > The State – The Complete Series (MTV DVD)

The State – The Complete Series (MTV DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A-     Episodes: B+



MTV has offered us a lot over the years.  From great animated series like Beavis & Butthead and Daria too raunchy reality TV like The Real World and Road Rules; MTV has seeming done it all.  Oh, and let’s not forget Jackass either; amazing.  Many people won’t remember The State, so let me refresh your memory a bit.  The State aired on MTV between 1993 and 1995 as a half-hour sketch comedy show and featured a crew of young Canadians who wrote, edited, directed, and acted in the series; think Kids in the Hall.  This sketch comedy show was like the long history of series that came before it like that of the previously mention Kids in the Hall and even Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which many memorable characters entered pop-culture lingo and the series was just a zany trip of all around fun.


In the early and mid-1990’s MTV was king when it came to original television programming; so much so that it gives me a warm feeling just thinking about it now.  The State was a huge gamble for MTV back then as the sketch series was almost 100% run by a group of fresh college graduates who new little of the major broadcasting world; besides a short stint on MTV’s other series You Wrote it, You Watch it.  The series was amazingly original, artistic, and down right hilarious.  The was on MTV for a couple seasons before some bad choices lead them to CBS and the series was never seen or heard from again.


The show was definitely targeted to the A.D.D. generation as it featured a variety of sketches (some long and some very brief) all intertwined together to make a serene blend of sketch comedy and pop-culture.  The series was so talented that it becomes hard to distinguish what came first the jokes or pop-culture references.  The series truly had a pace and momentum behind it like no other and as it drew inspiration from the world and past greats like Monty Python you just knew you were watching something insanely original like you had never viewed before.


The gang of actors were the brains behind the operation as they had their hands on every piece of the series from the 1st draft to the finished product.  The troupe featured greats like Kerri Kenney-Silver (of Reno 911 and Viva Variety), Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, and Thomas Lennon; but truly that just names a few as each and every member did their job amazingly well.  The hundreds of sketches that appeared throughout the series have a gross sense of humor that walks the line, but rarely crosses it; knowing just what to do to create the perfect sketch. Sure, just like any other sketch comedy show there are winners and losers, but The State has many more winning sketches that you can watch again and again.


The show is absurd through and through and that is what makes it so memorable.  The extreme absurdity of such things as “piggy shoes” or “$240 worth of pudding” or even the way it mocks its own network with spoofs of MTV News/Sports makes for brilliant comedy. I highly recommend this series for those who remember it and those who have never heard of it; as it is a timeless sketch series.  Some of the sketches may go over younger viewers’ heads, but surprisingly they will still be funny.  What a great show.


The technical features on this box set are not the best, but the extras more than make up for that.  The picture is presented in 1,33 X 1 Full Frame and the quality is all over the board; with some shots looking a crisp as material shot today and others looking like a shoddy analog VHS transfer.  Some of it is obviously due to the way the series was originally filmed and other parts were just not able to be remastered to an adequate level (yes, these are remastered transfers! YAY!).  Overall, I will say the quality is good and the colors project nicely with a generally solid image that is crisp, even when not always the cleanest.  The sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Track that has a crisp, clean sound with the dialogue coming solidly from the front and a smooth projection of the music throughout.  There is a fair bit of music replacement in the series as the box notes this and this is the reason the DVD set was held up for so long.  To put it simply, if they had waited around to get the music rights the DVD set would have never come out and I think most fans will agree that the music editing on this set (whereas not ideal) is done quite well.


The extras are EXTREMELY well done on this set and it is obvious that a good deal of time and effort (like everything on this set) were taken to ensure it was all done correctly.  The main extra that fans will notice and gawk at is the overwhelming 24 audio commentaries.  The commentaries gather the original 11 cast members (participating on different tracks) to give some nice insight and laughs on the old sketches.  With very little dead air (though there is some) the troupe reminisces about the locations of the shoots, their inspirations, and generally how they just had a ton of fun.  It is more than apparent that they are all old friends and the commentaries emphasize why they all worked so well together.  The set also includes some old interviews from “back in the day” with the cast as well as a set tour with Michael Ian Black.  Spread throughout the discs are also many outtakes, unaired sketches, and extended scenes.  The material becomes a bit overwhelming to watch all at once, but with time it is all nice material to have on hand.  Also included are appearances on The John Stewart Show (pre-Daily Show Days for sure), a Spring Break Special and the series original pilot with optional commentary track.  For good measure Promo Spots are also thrown in.  Surely a lot to look at.


Characters, catchphrases, and everything in between run rampant on this set full of amazing sketches and solid extras.  I highly recommend this set; some of the best television that there has ever been.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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