Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union (2008)

by | Nov 12, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, Season One (2008)

Five Episodes of her Showtime Series
Studio: Showtime/Eagle Media EM 35106-9 [Release date: Nov. 11, 08]
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 5.1, 2.0
Subtitles: Closed captions
Extras: Promos, Bloopers, Outtakes, Character screen tests with commentary by Tracey, Deleted scenes & more
Length: 150 minutes
Rating: *****

The absolutely amazing British impersonator – who outshines Tina Fay’s one-trick pony by light years – has recently become a U.S. citizen.  So she thought it appropriate to make her new Showtime series a celebration of all the varied personalities that make up this crazy and colorful nation. Her subtitle to the show is “One Nation. Impersonated.”  And that it is.

Ullman doesn’t just approximate the voice and gestures of a particular celebrity; she seems to pull over the skin of that person and really become them. She starts with some British personalities such as Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, then moves on to Cameron Diaz, Arianna Huffington, Nancy Pelosi and Renee Zellweger. But the most mind-boggling are her male characters, including Andy Rooney, his brother, a gangster type, and even soccer star David Beckham!  Some of the celebrities are her own creations modeling a certain type we’re all familiar with.  For example, the female network news host who reports nothing but news to instill fear, shock and anxiety in viewers, as well as another whose shtick is to always be the first where the news is breaking.

Then there are her studied portrayals of all the ordinary, non-famous folks out there. Her black characterizations are in no way bad taste – unless you object to the adult language and content of the pay-TV series. One is Chanel, who during non-busy times manning her airport x-ray unit, employs it to run people without medical insurance thru the conveyor belt.  Then there is the couple being arrested returning from Canada with prescription drugs which they cannot afford in the U.S.  Some of her other unforgettable bits include the musings of Mother Superior Rose Pannatella, and the Bollywood song and dance routines which break out behind the drug store counter of East Indian pharmacist Padma Perkesh.  The only slightly prejudicial material that bothered me was occasional over-the-top senior-bashing – especially with the Andy Rooney character and the hands which kept appearing from the sides to stop his hands from shaking all the time.

I admit I didn’t quite make it thru the entire 150 minutes because I got very tired of the repetition of the opening sequence of each show.  It is a clever collage of images illustrating the State of the Union theme, but we don’t need to see the whole thing five times.

 – John Sunier

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