DVD Review: The Sarah Silverman Program (The Complete Series)

The signs were obvious that The Sarah Silverman Program was doomed to a short life on Comedy Central. Mainly because Sarah wasn’t animated, shot in front of a green screen or sitting at a desk. Those are the only shows that last forever. Silverman created a true sitcom life instead of merely following the formula of telling a few jokes to a studio audience and cutting away to a few skits. She created a twisted version of That Girl that specialized in gasps of comic horror instead of mere cute slapstick. There would be only 32 episodes spread over three seasons for the female comic who perfected the most self-centered annoying hot girl with a potty mouth persona.

Season One was a short six episodes, but quickly established the show as the “you won’t believe what they did” watercooler banter. “Officer Jay” gets Sarah busted for drunk driving after pounding down cough syrup. Luckily her sister Laura (Laura Silverman) flirts with Officer Jay (Jay Johnston). The two become an item without the help of Laura. While it would seem that Laura Silverman was riding her sister’s coat tails, the opposite is true. Laura was already an established Comedy Central superstar from being the voice of Laura, the disdainful secretary on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. This may seem like a show with only detestable characters as seen on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Luckily TSSP had two loving characters with Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee). They’re her gay next door neighbors who often have relationship issues. This episode has Brian swearing he’s bisexual. Steve thinks Brian is more gay than he thinks. “Humanitarian of the Year” makes Sarah a good egg when she takes in an old classmate who has become a hobo (Zach Galifianakis). Turns out she might have had something with why Zach became a hobo. “Positively Negative” turns her into an AIDS victim even before her test comes back.

“Not Without My Daughter” is the gem of season when Sarah wants to win a child beauty contest. She can’t compete so she becomes a mentor to a little girl who might be her daughter. “Muffin Man” turns her into a lesbian to hook up with Officer Jay’s patrol pal. “Batteries” has her panicked when her remote control dies and she’s forced to watch a charity infomercial. Things go really weird when she has a quick fling with God. Sarah Silverman created a show as outrageous and musical as South Park except without cute animation.

The second season was the only full season with 16 episodes. “Bored of the Rings” has Brian’s Dungeons and Dragons night interfere with Steve’s date night plans. Luckily this all comes together when Sarah joins an anti-abortion group. They must use their polyhedral skills at a clinic takeover. “Joan of Arf” reminds viewers why they should never taste their dog’s butts. “Face Wars” goes horribly wrong when Sarah wears blackface to see how racism works. “Doodie” puts Sarah and Laura on the Cookie Party TV show. But Sarah’s potty mouth nearly ruins their chance to win. “I Thought My Dad Was Dead, But It Turns Out He’s Not” describes the episode. Brian however goes nuts marathons a TV show starring an actor that played Doctor Who. “Vow Wow” marries Sarah to her dog.

The Third Season was a bit of a challenge since Comedy Central didn’t want to pay the entire budget. Luckily Logo stepped with budget funding. This was good since Brian and Steve had become unlikely gay icons. They proved that gay men didn’t have to look like cast members of Will and Grace. They were just schlubs that were gay for each other. “The Proof is in the Penis” has Sarah think she was born with both sex organs. She accepts her male side and grows a ‘stache. “Just Breve” lets Brian and Steve “adopt” a mechanical boy. Turns out the robot tot is a homicidal maniac. The shoot out with the cops at a backyard birthday party is more intense than the action in Thor. “A Good Van Is Hard to Find” is an North Carolina School of the Arts alumni project. Sarah can’t stop getting inside windowless vans. She hopes into one driven by Randy Gambill. This could be seen as a continuation of his pervert character from Observe and Report if people saw that film. NCSA’s Missi Pyle (Josie and the Pussycats) returns as the talk show hostess that lets Sarah announce her new van program. “Wowschwitz” goes full out when Sarah competes with her sister on creating Holocaust memorials. Sarah’s big coup is knowing someone who was at Auschwitz. Thing don’t work out right since her pal was a Nazi guard. Ed Asner gets to go nuts while Sarah’s dog time travels. A fine final episode for a show that shouldn’t have ended this soon.

The 32 episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program belong with The Honeymooners Classic 39. Each episode is a freakish joy with Sarah doing something bizarre while Brian and Steve explore their love. Officer Jay and Laura pick up the slack. Although the scene with the toy train and Officer Jay will crave itself into your mind’s eye. This is a show that embraced brunch, cookies, Tab soda and musical numbers. Even though it’s only been off the air for two years, TSSP has matured properly without getting too adult-ish. The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Collection is completely demented.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame for seasons 1 & 2. Season 3 is 1.78:1 anamorphic. All look good and have a glow to the action. The audio is Dolby 2.0 that brings out the joy of the musical numbers even if they are gross topics. Season 3 also has a Dolby 5.1 Surround mix. The cuss words are uncensored.

Audio Commentaries are featured on a lot of episodes with cast and crew giving odd tales from the set.

Musical Performances (22:23) is Sarah and Steve doing an odd acoustic set on a soundstage. Many of the songs from the first season are performed. Best moment is when they talk about how it took two shows before Brian realized his character was gay and not merely a roommate.

Opening Titles (2:48) are three rough ideas.

Karaoke/Sing-A-Long lets you choose if you want to sing or join in on eight songs from the first season. This is a perfect fun for a five year old’s birthday party when they can sing “Doody Song.”

2007 Comic-Con
(29:34) Zach Gallifinakas hosts the panel at the Geek Cannes. The whole cast, the producer and director sit at the big table and swill Red Bull. Steve drinks Coke instead of Tab. Brian explains his relationship with Tab. They don’t edit out the audience members asking the questions.

Cookies Come Alive! (13:24) include three segments from Cookie Party and the video game.

Digital Shorts (4:37) include the animated Steve and Brian’s Basement Adventure and Brian’s New Office. The cartoon is the better of the two bits.

Behind the Scenes (16:38) include 8 segments including a visit with Ookie Cookie. There’s a lot of Silverman Report with the cast interviewed by Michael Smith, a dweeb.

Webisodes (9:58) include animated shorts for Fantastimart, Sarah’s Magical Purse and Steve and Brian on a UFO.

Odds N Ends (53:14) includes 125 slates and other webisode weirdness like deleted scenes, interviews, promos and fun. There’s a Dr. Who cameo.

The Writers & Producers Talk TSSP (29:11) is a chat from 2012. There’s a lot of disgusting talk. These folks were sick.

Cast and Creators Q & A at Largo at the Coronet in LA (5:38) lets them preview the third season in 2010.

Odds ‘n Ends, Season three Behind the Scenes
(29:53) are 10 bits from the website. These have almost a Luxuria Music soundtrack playing behind the interviews.

Breve Animatic by Rob Schrab (2:05) covers the cops raiding the party.

Stay Away from bad Stuff!! Safety Tips with Sarah St. Claire
(2:02) is extreme limited animation. You don’t want to show this to a kid.

Original Pilot
(21:39) reminds us this is the evil side of That Girl. The theme song lyrics are a warning about going near Sarah. This is the original cut of “Batteries.” There’s a commentary track to get the inside scoops.

The Sarah Silverman Program belongs in the pantheon of great sitcoms. The show captured the last few years in a demented ball of musical weirdness. While the focus was Sarah being a selfish diva, the heart of the show was the love of Brian and Steve. When you open up the boxset, take a deep whiff. That’s the smell of perfection.

Shout! Factory presents The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Series. Starring: Sarah Silverman, Laura Silverman, Steve Agee and Brian Posehn. Boxset contents: 32 episodes on 7 DVDs. Released: June 19, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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