|Index||5 reviews in total|
From the "Bloggies" awards, to Angelina Jolie being attacked by an angry mob of her own children, to Renee Zelwiger's chronic narcissistic squint, to Hindu pharmacists calculating the effects of Viagra on septuagenarians in musical "bollywood" form, this is more classic humor from one of the most talented women in the world. Having been a big fan in the mid-eighties and beyond, I haven't missed a single series/episode of the magical Miss Tracey Ullman since she arrived from "across the pond". One of the funniest series she has created to date, in "State of the Union" she pokes fun at just about every conceivable nonsense the USA is known for.
It is incredible that this mindless junk has gone on for three seasons.
I keep giving it another chance for Tracey's sake, but it is always
terrible. There is absolutely nothing good to say about it.
It is possibly the worst show I've ever seen, and that's up against some pretty stiff competition. Ullman can do so much better. This show is pathetic.
Does she even watch the show herself? If she is actually approving this soulless crap then she has apparently lost her mind. I may never watch anything else she ever does.
Let this travesty die.
T. Ullman is a prodigiously talented and intelligent performer but even
she can't redeem strained, one-joke sketches, reminiscent of the worst
of Saturday Night Live. When she hits the mark, she is gut-bustingly
funny and simultaneously moving. That is her great characteristic:
compassionate and piercing insight combined with
equal-opportunity-offender humor and a gift for mimicry. But in the
2010 season of her Showtime series, like the 2009 season, too many
sketches fall flat. She's just so good a performer that one keeps
watching, hoping the material can rise to her level. Even one or two
successes out of eight or nine tries per night makes her game worth
watching, but just barely. And she isn't helping by padding out the
shows with extended, repetitious and uninspired musical numbers.
P.S. - Yes, I know Ullman is one of the writers. But she still needs help in that department if she wants to get laughs.
Watching some of Tracey Ullman's previous shows, I was impressed by her range of characterisation but rarely found myself laughing. I blamed poor writing. I was hoping for better with this series. Maybe it is unfair to judge after one episode, but here goes anyway. Not only did I not laugh at all, the closest I came to smiling was when I thought about how bad this was. The "best" segment were of Renee Zelwegger and David Beckham, but as they are both caricatures in real life, comic interpretation is unnecessary. What is more disappointing (and which will dissuade me from watching another episode) is Ullman's rather hesitant performances (maybe a better director was needed.) Too often I felt that I was watching a rehearsal rather than a finished product. With a bit more polish I may even have raised a hesitant grin.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Network: Showtime; Genre: Sketch Comedy; Content Rating: TV-14 (for
some strong language and scatological humor); Perspective: Contemporary
(star range: 1 - 4);
Seasons Reviewed: 1 season
America is a weird and funny place apparently. Unlike other countries in the world it is filled with simple farm folk, hypocritical celebrities, vein or fear mongering news anchors, philandering businessmen and a cultural clash of many races, ethnicities and nationalities. Look out.
Do I need to say that Tracey Ullman is a brilliant comic talent? She's an unbelievable chameleon, slipping in impressions of celebrities Renee Zellwegger to David Beckhem, along with original characters like security screener Shannell (feeling like a 15 year old reject from "In Living Color") and a borderline offensive pharmacist who bursts into a Bollywood musical number to explain a medication's side-effects. "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" takes us around the United States in quick 1 -3 minute sketch segments for a day. It's a one-woman band for Ullman who spends most of the screen time mugging for the camera.
Yet, there isn't a single laugh to be found in "State of the Union". A clunky, unimaginative affair, it's more a masturbatory excuse for Ullman to put on a goofy costume and let us marvel at what a great impersonator she is. That's all it is, an impersonation. She isn't Phil Hendrie creating characters. They come in, tell their joke and leave. Then they tell the exact same joke in subsequent episodes without expanding on them. The same one-note jokes over and over.
The would-be satirical comedy falls in line with the Ullman's vapid costume act. She isn't satirizing any particular element of America, just shallow little inconsequential idiosyncrasies that have no effect on anything and everybody has already noticed. Broad comedy is the name of the game here with every gag thrown up in your face with giant neon blinking lights framing it. Renee Zelwegger suffers from "Narcisistic Squint" (ok ), liberal environmentalists (in the form of Laurie David of all people) are hypocrites who fly around in private jets (wake me when it's over), news anchors are trying to scare you (and ). She does an impression of Paulie from The Sopranos now branching out into independent film and still acting like a mobster. Shannell runs a man through her luggage x-ray to check his medical health. Prescription medication can have ghastly medical side effects! Arianna Huffington is one of the strangest and most ripe for a parody of Tracey's collection of personalities. Huffington is a goon and her blog is a joke, but Tracey can only think to make Huffington arrogant over what a great blogger she is.
The episodes have no theme threading the segments together, randomly bouncing around the country from one impression to the next without letting any of the segments flesh out or come to any comic boil. It would have required some effort and intricate story construction to pick a theme, and use her characters to delve into that. Now that would have been fun. Americans pull themselves apart satirically on TV all the time (mostly in animated shows) in a little bit of irony often lost on the rest of the TV watching world, far better than Ullman does here.
Even so, I'm not asking that Tracey Ullman be Ira Glass or Michael Patrick King. I'm asking for laughs - one laugh - which should not be difficult for a talent like Tracey. This befuddling, head-slapping, eye-rolling, shrill, mess of a sketch series is not the slightest bit funny. It's 30 of the longest minutes on TV inspiring us to count down with the on-screen time marks until this day in the life of America and it's people comes to an end.
* / 4
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