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HTF DVD REVIEW: The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Two, Volume One

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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 08 2008 - 03:28 PM


The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Two, Volume One
Directed by Rob Schrab et al

Studio: Paramount/Comedy Central
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 132 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
Subtitles: CC
MSRP: $ 26.99

Release Date: October 14, 2008
Review Date: October 8, 2008


The Series

4/5

The Sarah Silverman Program is what I call a fruitcake comedy. Everyone in the show is as nutty as a fruitcake and lives in a world of fruitcakes. (Currently 30 Rock is another practitioner of fruitcake comedy.) And yet, through this insanity, we see our world with all its problems and frustrations with a fresh pair of eyes. It helps, of course, that through this lunacy, we often laugh until our eyes water. The shows take on some really hot button topics and controversial issues, and while the stances are often rather obvious and some of the comedy predictable, we can also usually count on something out of left field to surprise and engage us.

This first volume of second season episodes contains only six outings, but Sarah and her loony band find themselves knee deep in controversy from the first episode on. Among the topics under the comedy microscope: abortion pros and cons, sex offender registration, racial prejudice, God’s existence, and illegal aliens. Of course, Sarah’s experience as a sex offender is with her male dog. Sarah’s problems with racial prejudice exist because she’s made up in sub Al Jolson-ish blackface and is condemned for it. And on it goes. Poor, well-meaning Sarah deals with life’s irritants with grit and steely determination until she can right things with the nutty world in which she resides.

Along the way Sarah is joined by her co-inhabitants of Valley Village, California (aka Fruitcakeland): her nurse-sister Laura Silverman, Laura’s police officer boy friend Jay McPherson (Jay Johnston), the two gay stoner schlubs from next door Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee), and Sarah’s adorable pooch Doug. These supporting characters are sometimes involved with Sarah’s activities but often have their own B-story apart from her. Jay Johnston is by far the funniest of the supporting characters and an episode where he performs his own unique brand of standup is fall down funny in its endearing awfulness. Though Brian and Steve are about the least believable gay couple imaginable (and the commentaries continually remind us they aren’t gay in real life), their preoccupation with getting high and their dim-witted personalities make them less interesting and less funny than the other characters on the show.

There is obviously much improvisation on the program, and it’s often hilarious, but there are other golden opportunities (Doug in doggie prison; Sarah’s adventures in Mexico looking for her deported maid Dora) that could have been milked for much more verbal and visual humor. At its best, the show is a scream, but the screamingly funny moments might be more consistently delivered with tighter writing.

Here are the six episodes presented non-chronologically on disc one of this two disc set. The names in parentheses refer to participants in the audio commentaries for that episode.

1 - Bored of the Rings (Sarah and Laura Silverman)
4 - Joan of Arf
3 - Face Wars (Laura Silverman, Jay Johnston)
2 - Doody (Sarah and Laura Silverman/Rob Schrab, Daniel Sterling)
6 - Ah, Men (Brian Posehn, Steve Agee/Rob Schrab, Daniel Sterling)
5 - Maid to Border (Brian Posehn, Steve Agee)


Video Quality

4.5/5

The program is broadcast on Comedy Central in 1.33:1, and these DVD transfers replicate those broadcasts perfectly. Color saturation and sharpness are exemplary, among the best live action transfers I’ve seen from Comedy Central for their various comic shows and specials. There are no artifacts at all, and only less than sterling black levels prevent this from earning a perfect video score. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio mix is well recorded if a touch bright in some of the episodes. There are no distracting anomalies with the tracks, but they’re merely serviceable for the show as presented here.


Special Features

3.5/5

At least one audio commentary is available for five of the six episodes of this half-season, and two episodes contain two separate commentaries. They're not the most informative tracks you'll ever hear, and often the stars are watching parts of the segment they're not in for the first time. Still, fans of the show will enjoy what the stars and creators have to say.

Comedy Central quickies offered on this disc, each running about 2 minutes, come from South Park, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Reno 911!

Previews on disc one include TV Funhouse, South Park - Season 11, and Kenny Vs. Spenny.

Disc two contains the majority of the set’s bonus features. All are presented in 4:3.

The cast and crew appear at a Q & A session at Comic Con to wild appreciation from their fans. This featurette runs 29 ½ minutes.

There are 2 digital shorts: the animated “Steve and Brian’s Basement Adventure” (4 ½ minutes) and the live action “Brian’s New Office” (2 minutes). The viewer can watch them separately or together in one chunk.

4 “Cookie Party” shorts can be watched together in a 13 ¼-minute grouping or separately as the three “Cookie Comes Alive!” features and one “Cookie Party Video Game” faux ad.

There are 8 behind-the-scenes shorts, all done as goofs featuring the cast in mock interviews and silly vignettes. Together they run 16 ½ minutes, but the viewer may also choose to watch each separately.


In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

The Sarah Silverman Program is a very funny, often very raunchy half hour of laughs. For those adults looking for something offbeat, this may suit your needs perfectly.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   David Rain

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Posted October 08 2008 - 05:06 PM

I love Sarah and her edgy style of comedy. However, her program is wildly inconsistent in quality. The first season was quite good and unlike any show I'd ever seen on television. I looked forward to the second season but found that it was actually pretty bad and had very few genuinely funny moments. Mostly it was just awkward.

I think Sarah and her real-life sister are great on the show but the real weak link is the supporting characters who serve no real purpose, are not funny and whose scenes seem to make no sense whatsoever. If you're picking this show up after never having seen it before then I advise you to fast forward through any scenes of her 2 male neighbors in their apartment. The show comes to a complete, screeching halt when these characters appear on-screen.
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#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 08 2008 - 05:46 PM

I think I may have only seen a half or two-thirds of the season, but I found that episodes when Silverman sang were better than ones when she didn't (and it seemed like the second season had fewer musical numbers). I definitely thought the first season was more consistently funny.
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#4 of 4 OFFLINE   AnthonyC

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Posted October 09 2008 - 03:48 AM

I used to be a big Sarah fan but I've kind of cooled off recently...I did catch a few episodes of the first season which were enjoyable but a little too quirky for the most part (I loved the AIDS episode though).

I don't intend to buy it, but one thing is just perplexing me on this release--why is it released as a half-season set when the full season would take up, what, two discs? I realize that the first season was a single disc but it's not like the packaging couldn't be consistent.