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TV REVIEW : 'The State' Wild, Crazy--and Not Funny

January 21, 1994|CHRIS WILLMAN

With "The State" (premiering tonight at 9), MTV has its first new live-action half-hour comedy show in quite a while.

But wait--what does that make "The Grind," then?

Seriously, folks, "The State" features the wild and crazy antics of the titular New York comedy troupe, made up of recent New York University alumni between the ages of 22 and 24.

Apparently they all watched a lot of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" reruns during late-night studying breaks. Like a lot of thus-influenced contemporary ensemble comedy, the show's full of absurdity for absurdity's sake, and not much else.

Advance publicity promises a weekly series "that isn't afraid to take a raw comedic look at today's pop culture." You never would've guessed from tonight's premiere, which comes closest to raw pop culture with a mock-game show sketch in which Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen inebriatedly field a grinning host's queries about heroin and the like. Boy, there's some raging topicality for you.

The opener does have one bright spot, an amusing skit with a young couple doing the wild thing on a couch, while their respective sets of hormones dance around the living room enacting how well the clinch is or isn't going--suggesting that some of the players have a gift for physical comedy that might be further tapped later on.

But when the best moment in the series opener is on the level of an average Groundlings or Kids in the Hall sketch, and the feeble others (a recurring bit about an overloaded elevator, a faux cereal commercial consisting of mush-mouthed nonsense talk) don't even approach that plateau, the state of "The State" isn't encouraging.

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