Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union: Complete Season Two

January 01, 1970

(Eagle Vision Media)




Tracey Ullman is brilliant. Any of her talk show
appearances show her to be quick and incisive, unfiltered and often drop dead
funny. Like the comedian she most resembles, Robin Williams, she needs very
little winding up and once wound she is a veritable energizer bunny. When that
energy is applied to the sketch comedy of her show, Tracey Ullman’s State Of The Union, in which she takes on life in
these United States
(“50 states, 51 capitol cities”) it works mostly in her favor. For one thing
the frenetic Koyaanisqatsi cum surgical strike approach keeps things from
suffering SNL syndrome; none of the
skits goes on so long as to get boring. If you don’t like one you’ll probably
like the next, though sometimes the frenetic pacing and quick cuts bring to
mind those anime cartoons that were supposed to have caused seizures in some
people a while back.


All of Ullman is not for everyone either. She
doesn’t have the fascination with body fluids that hamper the American Pie school, but old age,
loneliness and terminal disease are frequent themes for her and the appeal is
limited. And Ullman often uses musical parody, like her impersonations – celebrity
and otherwise – they are mostly spot on. Her Bollywood send ups featuring her
Indian born pharmacist show off the singing and dancing skills but sometimes
it’s hard to make out the lyrics, her accent, good as it is, doesn’t make them
any easier to make out. Luckily the DVD extras include subtitled sing-a-long
versions of some of the songs. 


For sure, there’s a lot to like; the flight
attendant and the Mormon compound wives sketches are great. Laura Bush post-White
House at the Crawford Ranch, Tony “Paulie Walnuts” Sirico, Celine Dion and
Heather Mills make perfect targets, some handled more or less sympathetically
and some, like Mills, mercilessly and deservedly skewered.


The set is best viewed in sessions rather than all
at once. It’s more of a rental than a buy unless you are a rabid fan; most
people aren’t likely to watch the whole thing more than once or twice. But it’s
sure worth a look even if afterwards you find yourself a little worn out, thanking
your lucky stars Ullman’s parents never asked you to babysit her; you’d still
be exhausted.


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