A lot of time when you’ve waited anxiously for something for a long period of time, when that special something finally arrives in your greedy little paws, it turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. I was worried that my rose-colored glasses might have the better of me after the decade and a half wait for The State to come out on DVD. About five minutes into viewing, I realized the worry was for naught – this collection can still make me laugh all these years later. The nice thing – it will make you laugh too. My review is after the jump:
The State aired on MTV during the mid-1990s. For me personally, these were formative early high school years and I can credit at least a portion to whatever sense of humor I’ve developed as a person to their antics. The cast consisted of ten men and one woman who joined together during their college years. For the uninitiated, the format is akin to The Kids in the Hall, with a series of skits and male members often dressing up as female characters. The fertile creative talent behind this series spilled out to create and inspire with RENO 911!, STELLA, Viva Variety, and Wet Hot American Summer.
If someone were composing a dissertation on comedy from the 1990s though today, the cast of The State could act as one-stop shopping with highlights in both the acting and writing arenas. Thomas Lennon (I Love You, Man, 17 Again) is probably the biggest standout in his post-The State career. In addition to his acting roles, Lennon co-created Reno 911 and co-wrote Night at the Museum, Balls of Fury and The Pacifier with fellow alum Ben Garant. Kerri Kenney (The Ellen Show, Still Standing) was the third co-creator of Reno 911. David Wain wrote and directed Role Models, The Ten and Wet Hot American Summer. Michael Showalter wrote, directed and starred in The Baxter. Michael Ian Black had an extended run on Ed as Phil Stubbs and co-wrote Run Fatboy Run with Simon Pegg. These two Michaels combine for the current Comedy Central show Michael and Michael Have Issues. Ken Marino had a recurring role on Reaper, but turns in a tour-de-force performance in Starz series Party Down as catering manager Ron. (Side note: Starz is worth a subscription for this great series.) Joe Lo Truglio turned in memorable performances I Love You, Man and Superbad and a great cameo on Party Down. Michael Patrick Jann directed Drop Dead Gorgeous as well as numerous tv series.
Some of the can’t miss sketches: two men in velour suits (Barry and Levon) with some spare cash on their hands, a man gives you the 411 on how you can join him in the exciting enterprise of monkey torture, a skit about a man fixated on balls (Louie) & The Last Supper, a pair of teens and their out of control hormones, a former power agent (James Dixon) who takes his brand of business to less-Hollywood occupations and a teen named Doug who doesn’t want to learn pinochle and be bland.
The twenty-four episode collection comes on five DVDs packed into a thin, shelf-ready case. Each disc is dedicated to a season and the final, fifth disc solely to special features. Every episode has an audio commentary by some permutation of the cast or another. The interview segments on each disc are from the time of The State‘s heyday and focus on different aspects of the creation and production.
In addition to the DVDs, there is a letter enclosed explaining the replacement of some of the original songs, most notably the Breeder’s song Cannonball for the pants skit.
Disc 1 (Season One)
Startup — Ad for Daria coming to DVD in 2010, Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection (volumes 1,2,3)
Interviews — Origins and Feedback (cast members and producer Jim Sharp).
Outtakes — some add-ons, some joining segments
Disc 2 (Season Two)
Startup — Reno 911: The Complete Sixth Season, Human Giant: Season One
Interviews: Roles and Catchphrases
Disc 3 (Season Three)
Startup — Wonder Showzen: Season One
Interviews — Process
Outtakes — Six outtakes with play all functionality.
Disc 4 (Season Four)
Startup — Wonder Showzen: Season Two
Interviews — Set Tour with Michael Ian Black
Outtakes — two outtakes with play all functionality.
Disc 5 (Bonus Disc)
Startup — Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection.
Show Pilot — almost seventeen minutes long.
43 Unaired sketches from the Pilot, Season One, Season Two and Season Three with Play all functionality.
Seven more Outtakes
Special Appearances: “The State” on “The Jon Stewart Show”, on MTV’s “Shut Up & Laugh, Panama City” (1996), Spring Break Safety Tips, and MTV Christmas Party Video.
Promos — six promos (with play all).
Previews — Michael & Michael Have Issues: The Farting Butterfly Sketch, Aeon Flux: The Complete Animated Collection, Beavis and Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection, Human Giant: Season One, Wonder Showzen: Season One and Two.
The only sad caveat – nothing from The State’s 43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special which aired on CBS; the only The State thing I ever missed… Otherwise, this collection is packed with enough extras to properly sate your appetite, even after enduring the long wait.
Final Grade – A