Monday, April 20, 2009

Boys and girls... ACTION! ACTION! 'The State' comes to DVD!

Yes, it's finally happened. Hell has frozen over, and beloved '90s MTV sketch comedy "The State" is finally coming out on DVD on July 14. I'll have a more full-length review then (the set features everything -- including some never-aired MTV sketches -- except the career-ending CBS special), but to whet your appetite, MTV has the original Barry & Levon sketch (with new music, which most of the sketches will have to feature for legal/budget reasons), and "The Jew, the Italian and the Red-Head Gay", plus the first five episodes (which have been available on iTunes for a while) in their entirety.

It's been far too long since I've seen high-quality versions of the tacos vs. mail sketch, or The Bearded Men of Space Station 11, or so many other classic, bizarre pieces of "State" comedy. I dig "Reno 911," "Stella," "Wet Hot American Summer" and all the other post-State projects, but the original series still holds a special place in my heart.

19 comments:

Bobman said...

I can't believe it's really happening. They've been promising this DVD set for a freaking decade.

In college, back when eBay and the interwebs were still new, I bought a 9 hour VHS tape on the Internet. It was a HORRIBLE quality, fifth-generation redubbing of pretty much all of the State skits, just taped off of MTV. I lent that tape out to EVERYONE; I swear people I had never met before had the tape somehow pass through their hands through a friend of a friend before it made it back to me; I would be introduced as the "guy with the State tape." If you went to college in Boston around 1998/1999, and you borrowed a State tape, it was mine :)

Anyway, tres excited. I hope it doesn't cost 240 bucks, I wasted that on pudding.

Mike F said...

So if you had this blog operating as it does now back then early-to-mid 90s (1993-1995), what shows would you definitely be blogging about?

The State I guess for sure...

My guesses would be Seinfeld, Frasier, ER, Friends, NYPD Blue, The X-Files as the obvious choices

early Real World, Dream On (HBO), The Simpsons, Beverly Hills 90210, Star Trek: TNG might also have fit your bill, but not sure

I'm sure I'm missing some sleepers too...what were the shows you were watching and discussing then?

Pamela Jaye said...

i like Mike's question

someday when we are bored (does that ever happen?) that would be fun.

I have no idea what this show is about (and I have DVDs due to the library on Thursday) which means I don't have time to ask. But i do understand the 5th gen videotape (and wish i had those eps of Almost Live that aired on Comedy Central)

Gladly said...

I still call this old velux blanket I had in college my "Barry and Levon" blanket. This makes me so happy, I want to go home and have muppet for dinner to celebrate.

Eric said...

That news is so good that... I wanna dip my balls in it.

Ben said...

Alan,

Sorry for hijacking the thread! But no Caprica review??

amysusanne said...

They've been teasing us for so long that I can't believe that the day is finally set. Maybe I should just go ahead and put in for that day off. Maybe the day after, too.

Rachel said...

I still say "Hey, it's the 'I Wanna Dip My Balls in It' Guy!" every time I see Ken Marino in anything.

Regina said...

Great news! Now everyone can finally realize that this show was terrible. It accrued an absurd mystique as it became some kind of TV DVD holy grail with countless rumors and delays over the years. It ran concurrently with Kids in the Hall and was followed by Mr. Show. These are the two gems of 1990s sketch comedy that will stand the test of time. The State is on the level of a public access goof-em-up and will age like scrotum-soaked swill.

With the exception of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER -- some kind of minor miracle -- everything done by the members of this troupe has been dire.

HarrySTruman2 said...

I too "want to dip my balls in it".. My God I haven't heard that in years!

Kyle said...

I'm pretty excited about this, but I was dreading that some of the music would have to be changed--correctly, as it turns out.

I don't know what I would think of it now, but I remember a hilarious sketch with two of the members rubbing the "free" stuff from a high-class men's restroom all over each other set to Ween's "Voodoo Lady" that first really hooked me on the State. It would be a shame if that's altered.

I'm outta heeere.

amysusanne said...

We had the 240. We had to have the puddin'.

I'd prefer the original music (and wonder if they got the rights to some of it, like "Cannonball") but the linked sketch works just fine with the generic. Some will obviously work better than others, but most of the classics are classics with or without the original music.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sadly, they did not get the rights to "Cannonball," as you can see/hear in the new version of "Pants". As that's arguably the most memorable music cue from the show -- whenever I mention the music changes to people, their first response is "What about 'Pants'?" -- if they couldn't get that, I wouldn't bank on anything else. Sigh... I really wish I could hear the original songs, but it's better than nothing.

amysusanne said...

Damn. And their fake "Cannonball" is terrible. Oh well. I'll go dull the pain with some Doug and Dad.

Kyle said...

Pants! Right, god, it's hard to imagine without Cannonball (although luckily I don't have to since I still have my VHS copy of "Skits and Stickers (Stickers Not Included)" and I can't get the link to the new version to work. Guess I ought to consider getting that converted to DVD. ..)

Oh, and Barry and Levon without Marvin Gaye? Hmmm, the more I think about this, the worse it seems.

alynch said...

So why do some shows have such an easier time getting music cleared for DVD? I own all seven seasons of Homicide, which used a bunch of music, but as far as I know not a single cue was changed for the DVDs. Did some 20 year old shows have enough foresight to get the rights holders to sign off on home video during the initial clearances, even though the market didn't exist yet? Do some shows just have a higher budget for their DVD sets? If it's a matter of budget, it doesn't make much sense. I mean Homicide wasn't that popular of a show. I can't imagine that they had a blank check for music clearances.

amysa said...

It's just different situations for different shows, based on whatever original deal they had. There are different options out there for clearing music use and depending on initial budget, some shows go the cheaper route and don't lock things in. You have brand new shows like "Life" whose DVD releases don't have all of the original music and you have shows like "Freaks and Geeks" where the distributors worked really, really hard to make sure they could clear and pay for every piece of music originally used in the show. "The State" has a huge following that's been waiting for this DVD for a long time, but it's probably not large enough for MTV to consider spending extra cash that they probably wouldn't make back. It sucks, but I'm not surprised. I'm happy to have the S&S tape, too, and will have to take better care of it.

I don't know what kind of deal "The State" had, but at Paley last year Andy Dick was asked about whether or not his MTV show would ever make it to DVD and his answer was no based on the problems with music clearance. At the time of "The Andy Dick Show" MTV could use any music on the show that was in their current rotation. Once they were done, that was it. They used so much that MTV would never agree to/could never afford to put it out.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't know what kind of deal "The State" had, but at Paley last year Andy Dick was asked about whether or not his MTV show would ever make it to DVD and his answer was no based on the problems with music clearance. At the time of "The Andy Dick Show" MTV could use any music on the show that was in their current rotation. Once they were done, that was it. They used so much that MTV would never agree to/could never afford to put it out.

That's essentially the situation with "The State." MTV had a deal that gave them carte blanche to use any song from videos they had permission to air in any other show they were doing. But those rights only applied to the show airing on MTV. This was years before DVDs came out, and there was no real aftermarket for TV shows on VHS, so securing video rights for the music wasn't even a consideration. And, at MTV's urging, those episodes were just wall-to-wall music, sometimes with multiple songs per sketch.

I'm disappointed that they didn't fight to get a few of the really essential songs ("Cannonball" at the top of that list), but I also understand why the music issue has been holding up the DVD until now.

Holden Caulfield said...

The two best things MTV ever did was bringing The State and The Young Ones into my life. $240 Worth of Pudding is genius on a Van Gogh level. Aww Yeah.