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The State: The Complete Series

The State: The Complete Series
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The State: The Complete Series

 
 
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Description

The State was simply one of the sharpest, funniest, and most under-rated shows of the 1990’s. Originally created as MTV’s first foray into the sketch comedy genre, The State was a comedic gem that rocked Generation X with slapstick, smarts and witty sarcasm. The dynamic cast features 11 multi-talented actors that have continued to collaborate on such projects such as Reno 911!, Stella, Viva Variety and Wet Hot American Summer. MTV’s timeless sketch comedy show, The State, is finally here.


Product Details
Actors:Kevin Allison, Michael Ian Black, Robert Ben Garant, Todd Holoubek, Michael Patrick Jann
Director:Michael Patrick Jann
Format:Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
Language:English
Number of Discs:5
Studio:MTV
Run Time:514 minutes
DVD Release Date:July 14, 2009
Average Customer Rating: based on 100 reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review:4.5 ( 100 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 93 found the following review helpful:


5Disk info.  May 18, 2009 By Roger Lamont "oj"
Disc 1 (Season One)
All five episodes from Season One
Commentary on every episode by various cast members
Interviews
Origins
Feedback
Outtakes

Disc 2 (Season Two)
All six episodes from Season Two
Commentary on every episode by various cast members
Interviews
Roles
Catchphrases
Outtakes

Disc 3 (Season Three)
All six episodes from Season Three
Commentary on every episode by various cast members
Interviews
Outtakes

Disc 4 (Season Four)
All seven episodes from Season Four
Commentary on every episode by various cast members
Interviews
Outtakes

Disc 5 (Bonus Disc)
Pilot
Over 90 minutes of unaired sketches with commentary from the cast
Outtakes
Special Appearances:
-"The State" on "The Jon Stewart Show"
-The cast's performance on MTV's "Shut Up & Laugh, Panama City" (1996)
-Spring Break Safety Tips
-MTV Christmas Party Video
Promos

75 of 85 found the following review helpful:


4Thankful, but a bit let down  Jul 14, 2009 By K. Blanchard
It has been years since I've seen The State, and the moment I saw the commercial for it on TV, I immediately ordered it. It's a great DVD set with some really worthwhile bonus features, particularly the cast commentaries.

That being said, yes, the music replacement is quite noticeable, as is the frequent and sometimes scene devastating blurring of any and all images that might require MTV to pay something for their display. The insert that comes with the DVD set claims that to include these images and songs would have cost millions and forbade the production of the DVD. I find that hard to believe.

How much is it going to cost to have a picture of Andrew Shue on a goofy homemade collage? Or some obscure album cover from 15 years ago? I can't imagine those would cost all that much. And how much can the inclusion of a handful of songs cost? Even just for those few that were played over the live performances in studio, which is where the dubbing is most noticeable (any skit performed in the studio that contains licensed music, does not have a single piece of original sound, whatsoever. It's all dubbed over with new music, generic audience laughter, and re-recorded performances by the original cast members). Pretty much every licensed song used in the show is background music with dialogue recorded over it. How, in that kind of context, is some Marvin Gaye song from 30 years ago or goofy grunge song from 1993 is going to cost "millions" to license? And how did songs such as "The Power" by Snap!, which is played over the guidance counselor sketch, make it in and all these others didn't?

I'm sure the real explanation is that MTV didn't give this DVD production any kind of budget at all, which is why we get all these alterations. I guess we should be thankful that the cast members and producers were so dedicated to the show that they took the time to find ways to get around all these inconveniences forced upon them by their stingy bosses.

It's great to see the show again and so many of my favorite skits, particularly from the first season. It's just a shame so many great parts are ruined by all the editing and audio dubbing. I consider it's 4-star rating entirely MTV's fault for being so cheap with one of its greatest shows.

47 of 55 found the following review helpful:


3Less than $60 worth of pudding...  Jul 02, 2009 By Victor Love
I don't know how much of the music has been replaced (I've only checked Pants and $240 Worth of Pudding) but it's definitely jarring to not have Cannonball playing while Kerri is high-kicking or to hear Barry sound like a giant pudding clot is stuck in his throat. It's a sad commentary that such an incredible pop culture high-water mark can be scarred by the pop culture copyright tsunami. The dubbing probably won't bother somebody who has never seen the show but it may make even an infrequent 90s viewer feel that something is a little off. Surely somebody out there will compile a list of music substitutions and dialog re-recordings, but MTV already has our money and at the end of the day this is better than the tape that got eaten by my VCR.

(Edit: There's an episode I've never had on tape, that I caught maybe two or three times on MTV, and that contains the one line I've blurted out who knows how many times any time I see a bottle of rosemary - "Ahhhh! Rosemary!" - and the substituted muzak track prevented a moment of utter joy. The State is one of the few objects of nostalgia I've clung to and it feels like that link to the past is getting weaker while watching some of these episodes. Sigh. In all fairness, I didn't notice any dialog re-recording in the TV Watching skit like I noticed the absence of Beck. )

(Another Edit: Yes, the replaced music can be distracting at times - it can also be barely noticeable at other times. There are only a handful of sketches which are tough to separate from their of-the-time accompaniment and a much larger percentage of pure goodness. And ,yes, the blurring can be annoying, especially when they try to block out most of a moving character's background, but that only happens once or twice. Finally, yes, the reports of dubbed lines are disturbing, but I've only noticed it in one particular character's scenes. I don't regret buying this set at all.)

22 of 28 found the following review helpful:


3dialogue dubbing  Jul 01, 2009 By Daniel Thompson
we've all been waiting years for this to come out.. but the fact that none of the music will be the same is so hard to get over. generic songs take away from the sketches. and to make matters even worse, audio had to be re-dubbed if there was music playing in the background??? it's so noticeable in season 1 with the $240 worth of pudding. if i could pay the same price for the entire original series on bootlegged VHS i would have more enjoyment :\

i'm glad there are at least some extras and commentary and such.

4 of 4 found the following review helpful:


5I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!  Nov 03, 2011 By Just a Guy on Amazon
While MTV occasionally offers up something worth watching, seemingly by accident, there was a time when they were on a hardcore winning streak, and that was the mid '90s, when the channel rolled the dice and managed to craft a truly unique and entertaining line-up with original series like Unplugged, The Maxx and, of course, The State. Handing the keys of a nationwide sketch comedy show to a gaggle of kids just out of college, whose biggest accomplishment to that point was working on the much-forgotten, yet prescient crowdsourcing series You Wrote It, You Watch It, was an actual programming risk, unlike airing yet another Laguna Hills series.

That risk paid off though, at least for those who watched it, as The State delivered three or so seasons of sketch genius that deserved a place alongside the true legends of the genre, mostly because they were from a new generation of comedy troupes who learned from the pioneers, but wanted to blaze their own trail, a group that included The Kids in the Hall and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Taking influences from Monty Python and adding a healthy helping of pop-culture flavor, The State bent the expectations for sketch comedy and yet managed to practice the art to near perfection, until an ill-advised move away from the comfort of MTV to the more corporate, less-nurturing CBS ended their show.

From the moment the unusual theme song kicks in, with it's rough, loud "Boys and girls...action! Action!", you know this show is something different. Utilizing links to move from sketch to sketch, filming with a mix of multiple camera and single camera shoots and mixing longer sketches with quick bits, the show built a legitimate sense of momentum that helped the group's absurd sensibility create a show where anything truly could happen. In a single episode you could have a slapstick-style food fight, a commercial parody, a kabuki scene, talking, vengeful seamonkeys and the story of a relationship with a toothbrush. There's no such thing as the prototypical The State sketch, with only the recurring character sketches bearing any resemblance to each other (and even those are parodies of recurring characters.)

All the credit obviously goes to the troupe, who wrote and performed everything, and the talent they brought to the show is obvious in the success so many of them have had in the years since the show left the air. Considering how organic the group's origins are, with them being college pals and improv group colleagues before getting the show, the variety of styles they bring to the table is surprising, with a bit of everything amongst the 10 guys, including the overwhelmingly funny Michael Ian Black, Thomas Lennon and Ken Marino, and an unbelievably versatile and hilarious lady in Kerri Kenney-Silver. Of course, with just one female member, drag is also a big part of their arsenal, with their technique coming in somewhere between Monty Python and the Kids in the Hall, as there's not a lot of an attempt to be feminine, but the women don't tend to be as grotesque as some of the females portrayed on the Flying Circus. Truthfully, unlike SNL or many other sketch shows, there's not a weak link in the bunch, with even the lesser-known stars, like Todd Holoubek and Kevin Allison, having their moments of brilliance and overall solid performances.

With hundreds of sketches included, it's hard to pick out a handful to highlight, without leaving out a ton of great ones, so instead focusing on the genres makes sense. The recurring characters, which were mostly foisted upon the group by MTV, looking to build popular bits, actually ended up becoming popular, despite making fun of the idea of a sketch built around a catchphrase. Thus we get several segments with Louie (Marino), a guy whose sole attribute is a desire to dip his (golf) balls in various items, and announcing that desire, along with teen rebel Doug (Michael Showalter), who is unable to cope with understanding authority figures, and busts out his own exit catchphrase (which itself is parodied in a sketch.) It's amazing how many times it feels like they are trying to not make a legitimate sketch, only to create a memorable one, like "The Animal Song," a bizarre musical scene, or the Barry and Levon bits, which center around $240 worth of pudding.

The show has aged surprisingly well, with bits that aren't hugely timely, though most of the MTV-focused segments, including an MTV Sports parody and several "Free Your Mind" commercials, may fall on the deaf ears and blind eyes of younger viewers. Making fun of talk shows, kids getting in trouble and sneakers that make piggy sounds when you step down on the heel are simply universal concepts, as is the extreme absurdism the show trades in. A commercial for cereal where everyone is at least mildly mentally retarded is an example of where this show is coming from, and that's just the first episode, as it just gets weirder from there, touching on monkey torture, dinnertime prayers for fratricide and Eastern European variety shows (the origin of the later Viva Variety series.) Having a line that's hard to cross, or no line at all, will go a long way toward helping you enjoy this series.

The DVDs
Just to start, according to The State's site, there were only three seasons on MTV, with the third being aired in two parts, but this set is broken up into four seasons. Considering the group was heavily involved with the discs, there's no reason to doubt this organization, but it is a bit weird. On the other hand, it made it easy to split the four seasons over four discs, with a fifth for more bonus material. The discs are held in a trio of black ThinPak cases, which are inside a loose-fitting slipcase that also holds a note from The State (explaining the music replacement (see The Quality for details,) and some promo inserts. The DVDs feature animated full-frame menus with options to play all the episodes, select shows, check out the bonus material and activate audio commentaries. There are no subtitles and no audio options, but closed captioning is available.

The Quality
The episodes were remastered for re-release (on iTunes first and then on DVD) and the results are clear on these full-frame transfers, especially when you compare them to other shows from the early '90s. There's an odd inconsistency to the footage though, with some scenes looking like they were shot last week, with a clean image that sports bright, appropriate color and a good level of detail, while others look like home video I shot with my old Sears shoulder-mouth camcorder, with that distinct dull, soft look that only VHS does justice to. It's not even like you can compare in-studio to location shoots, as they vary in quality no matter where they were shot. No matter what you're looking at though, there's no obvious damage or compression artifacts, though there's a bit of blurring that's distracting, as copyrights are upheld on posters and such throughout the series.

The audio is presented in pretty standard Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that do a fine job of recreating the early-'90s basic cable sound of the series, with clean dialogue and clear music, though there's nothing dynamic about the mix.

Now, about that music replacement... When the show aired, they were free to use a wide range of music due to deals MTV had with the major labels. So there were a lot of well-known music tracks throughout the series. Those deals didn't extend to video, so most of the music had to be replaced ("The Power" by Snap somehow slid through.) It's frequent, but, as the updates were done with the cooperation of the troupe, the creator of the rocking theme, Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think, was brought in to do fill-in tracks, and he's done an excellent job of recreating the feel of the original songs. The most memorable example of music in the series is probably the iconic use of The Breeders' "Cannonball" in the classic "Pants" sketch, but it's imitated with some heavy bass use to good effect. It's not ideal, but as noted in the packaging, the cost of the music would have prevented the DVDs from being released, and some rights were simply not available to them. The only real down note is the removal of a link sketch where the cast sang part of a Pearl Jam song, but only the most hardcore fans will miss it or notice its absence.

The Bottom Line
Incredibly, The State remains truly hilarious, even with the dual demons of timeliness and music copyrights working against it, thanks to a fantastically funny gang of creators working with a relative level of freedom. After years of hoping by fans, a complete collection of episodes has finally arrived, and it looks and sounds very nice (despite many changed music cues), while packing some impressive extras to boot. Though the music and blurs are frustrating, I can't think of anything else I could ask for in this set, aside from the CBS special, which is likely a rights issue (though aren't they all Viacom now?) As such, I feel I have to give this the highest rating possible, if only for finally fulfilling the wishes of so many. It's a fantastic walk down memory lane for longtime fans, and a chance for a new generation of fans to dip their balls in The State.

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