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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Sarah Silverman Program Season One

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 13 2007 - 04:11 PM


The Sarah Silverman Program Season One

Release Date: Available now (original release date October 2, 2007)
Studio: Paramount
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc DVD keepcase
Year: 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 2h12m
Video (Feature): 1.33:1
Audio (Feature): Dolby Digital: English Stereo
Video (Special Features): 1.33:1
Audio (Special Features): Stereo
Subtitles: None
MSRP: $19.99

The Feature: 4/5
Controversial, polarizing comedians are nothing new, but few present their bound-to-offend material with such sweet and innocent subversiveness like Sarah Silverman. While her 2005 film, "Jesus Is Magic," was largely hit-and-miss with many bits that were ultimately unsustainable for a feature length run time, the short form of a half-hour "situational" TV program is pretty much perfect for her. Nothing overstays its welcome, whether its her musical numbers with scatalogical and/or button-pushing lyrics or simply the ongoing ignorant/arrogant self-involvement of her "Sarah" character. It helps that she has a solid supporting cast - real-life sister Laura Silverman, Brian Posehn, Steve Agee and Jay Johnston - who play the straight (or slightly more sane) men despite having issues of their own. If you dislike Silverman, "The Sarah Silverman Program" probably won't change your mind, but anyone on the fence should find themselves firmly in the "like" column after watching its first season.

The first season release includes the following episodes:

"Officer Jay" (Episode 102) - Sarah feels threatened when her sister, Laura, starts dating Officer Jay. Meanwhile Brian tries to convince Steve (and himself) that he's bisexual.

"Humanitarian of the Year" (Episode 106) - Sarah tries to show up Jay, who has won a humanitarian award, by taking in a homeless man (and former classmate). Brian graduates from Karate school, but can't seem to protect Steve from getting beat up.

"Positively Negative" (Episode 103) - Sarah gets it into her head that she has AIDS and goes on a crusade to raise public awareness. This also happens to take attention away from Jay and his first-ever birthday party.

"Not Without My Daughter" (Episode 104) - Sarah becomes a pageant mom when she meets an orphan girl who tries to enter the same pageant Sarah was in when she was a girl. Meanwhile Brian and Steve are arrested for domestic terrorism. The highlight of the episode (and dare I say the season) is seeing cute Laura Marano, who plays the orphan, singing "Poop Song" with such conviction.

"Muffin' Man" (Episode 105) - Sarah thinks she's a lesbian when she meets Jay's partner and can't stop thinking about her. Meanwhile Brian and Steve bicker over Tab.

"Batteries" (Episode 101) - Sarah's quest for new batteries for her TV remote brings her face-to-face with God. The episode with the most potential to offend understandably gets moved to the end of the season.


Video Quality: 4/5
"The Sarah Silverman Program" is framed at 1.33:1 and is free of edge halos, dust, dirt and damage. Consistent with the show's comedic veneer, colors and flesh tones are warm and saturated. Black levels are quite good, with sufficient shadow detail and depth. The picture is generally sharp and clear, though things tend to look processed with fine object detail a bit lacking. Overall though the transfer is very good.


Audio Quality: 4/5
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is a fine example of how a stereo mix can still be an effective and satisfying option. While dialogue is firmly centered, music and sound effects are given a wide and enveloping sound stage. There's little bass activity, but nothing in the show's content really demands it either.


Special Features: 4/5

Audio Commentaries: Five of the six episodes have at least one commentary track, giving viewers plenty to choose from. The commentaries by Jay Johnston and Laura Silverman are the weakest with the actors' tendency to just watch and react to the episodes. Steve Agee and Brian Posehn's commentaries are significantly better, providing more in the way of production anecdotes and background information. Understandably the trio of Sarah Silverman, Rob Schrab (Co-Creator) and Dan Sterling (Executive Producer) provide the most behind-the-scenes information in their tracks. But all of the commentaries are populated with very funny people, which makes the sometimes dearth of practical information forgivable.

Musical Performances: Live from the Comedy Central Stage (22m27s): Thirteen spartan recordings of Silverman with various cast members singing about the show, apparently used as promotional pieces on Comedy Central. The bottom line is most of the 22 minutes of material isn't very funny or entertaining, though I suppose someone should get points for completeness for including it on the release.

Animated Storyboards: Includes two title sequence pitches created by co-creator Rob Schrab and a chase scene for "Batteries" that was never shot.

Karaoke/Sing-A-Long: Choose between karaoke or sing-a-long mode for eight songs from the show, including "That's What I Wish," "Doody Song," "Cookie Party," "AIDS Ballad," "AIDS Ballad: Reprise," "Poop Song," "Lesbian Song," and "Humanitarian Song." Hands-down the best part of the bonus features.

Comedy Central Quickies: Includes "Essays" from "South Park" (2m12s), "Breasts" from "The Colbert Report" (1m26s) and "Chatty Junior" from "Reno 911" (2m04s).

DVD Previews: "South Park: The Complete 10th Season," "Drawn Together: Season Two," "The State: The Complete Series"


Recap

The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

Sliverman's offensive, raunchy and strangely endearing TV show gets very good audio and video transfers and a good special features package.

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   David Rain

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Posted October 14 2007 - 07:06 AM

I enjoyed this first season as I find Sarah to be wonderfully irreverant and vulgar. A very unique show. Unfortunately the current second season has none of the demented charm of the first. It's mostly just bizarre, meandering and pointlessly distasteful. And worst of all sometimes it's just boring. How quickly this promising sitcom has started to go down the tubes. But I'll certainly enjoy having the first season set.
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#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 14 2007 - 07:13 AM

I agree there's something missing in the second season. Maybe the musical numbers?

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 14 2007 - 08:24 AM

Ack! I totally missed there are commentaries on most of the episodes since I chose the "Play All" option on the menu. Stay tuned.

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 14 2007 - 10:55 AM

Review has been updated with information about the commentary tracks. I also upped the score for the special features.

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   DeWilson

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Posted October 15 2007 - 07:12 AM

It's good show,only problem is some episodes Sarah can be a little annoying to watch! Posted Image

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   FranklinC

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Posted October 16 2007 - 08:25 AM

I think this show is hilarious. Silverman's character has got to be the most insanely selfish and shallow person ever, but she's just so cute and sweet about it. That said, I do agree that the second season (so far) hasn't held up.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   djgolfer59

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Posted October 16 2007 - 07:22 PM

I havent seen season 2 yet, but I'm loving the dvd of season 1!

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted October 18 2007 - 02:29 PM

Nice review, Cameron. I really enjoyed season one but I agree that season two has been a disappointment so far. I've seen all of the episodes from season one twice but I'll be picking up the DVD set anyway!
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#10 of 10 OFFLINE   FranklinC

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Posted October 19 2007 - 11:49 PM

Well, maybe I'll have to take back what I said about Season 2. The last episode, where she spent most of the show in blackface, was just as funny, if not funnier, than anything in season 1, IMHO. And it seemed to have the same feel to it as a season 1 episode. Hope they keep it up. Watched some of the special features on this set and they are much better than I thought they'd be.





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