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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Sarah Silverman Program: "High, It's Sarah"

Illustration for article titled iThe Sarah Silverman Program/i: High, Its Sarah
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Illustration for article titled iThe Sarah Silverman Program/i: High, Its Sarah

There's something odd about the soon-to-be released DVD set for The Sarah Silverman Program: It says "Season Two" on the cover, with a "Volume One" underneath it. That Sarah, she's such a prankster–there isn't more than one season two!
Oh, but there is, my friends. Tonight, we didn't see the season premiere of the third season of The Sarah Silverman Program; no, we saw the part one of the premiere of season 2B. Last year's writers' strike cut the second season in half, postponing the semi-hilarity of this episode, "High, It's Sarah," for almost a year! Damn those writers. They make me madder than a yak in heat. (The second premiere episode airs Thursday night.)
Still confused? The cast and crew helpfully spell it out in this video:


The first part of season two ended in early November 2007 after its sixth episode, stopping production just as the show hit its stride. Episode one of season 2B finds The Sarah Silverman Program trying to get back in its rhythm, but occasionally missing the mark.
It begins slowly, as Brian Posehn and Steve Agee–funny guys, not such great actors–talk about getting high. Steve's abstaining so he can get extra high at that evening's Pink Floyd laser show. The repartee between the two is stilted, so it's a relief when Sarah shows up to borrow a cup of sugar–they give her a mug full of Skittles instead–which leads to a funny flashback of Brian and Sarah sporting outfits seemingly stolen from the set of Singles.


(Side note: Could Brian Posehn and Steve Agee look like bigger ogres next to Sarah Silverman? Those dudes = big galoots. Big, funny galoots.)
Determined to reverse their friendship's atrophy, Brian and Sarah decide to spend the day together, which of course means smoking the pot. With them taking all the attention, the standard Brian-Steve B-plot was replaced by one with Laura and Jay. As we've discussed about The Sarah Silverman Program before, the B-plots are usually the funniest parts of the show. And it was pretty funny watching Jay Johnston try to cover up his wet dream to Laura by saying "I got juicy groins! You know, I'm a Libra!"
Turns out the hopelessly square Jay, who's normally completely devoted to the enchanting Laura, was dreaming about the sexy news anchor who would be visiting his station that day. And, because he's clueless, he told Laura. "I just hope that, when you see her, you're able to contain your semen!" she exclaims before storming off in a huff.
And that's the gist of this episode: Brian and Sarah smoke a lot of dope, and Jay haplessly tries to make amends with Laura. Well, that's not all of it: Turns out that Sarah is a pot genius of sorts. Smoking the reefer gives her extra perception, able to affect great compassion (for a cook at her favorite café) as well as a keen eye for corporate intrigue. When she realizes the company that makes stool-loosening potato chips is the same one that produces toilet paper and diarrhea medicine, it's like that scene in A Beautiful Mind where what's-his-face sees all the patterns in newspapers. (Well, not really.) But Sarah's only smart after taking hits from the bong, so she has to leave her sober self voicemails to explain what's going on.
This leads to a showdown at company headquarters, which Brian and Sarah have stormed wearing their idea of business attire: Brian in a maroon tux, Sarah in a frilly lavender taffeta prom/bridesmaid dress. When the duo sobers up, they find company president Garry Marshall–doing the same funny exasperated shtick he's been doing since Lost In America–bound and gagged in Brian's apartment. "I'm sure we kidnapped this guy for a perfectly good reason, but I can't put my finger on it right now," Brian says.
The cops–including Tig Notaro reprising her role as Officer Tig–inevitably show up, leading to the funniest part of the episode, specifically the funniest line of the episode: As Sarah and Brian try to explain what they've done to the officers gathering outside, Brian says, "It's like when you have diarrhea, and the solution is slavery?" Even if the rest of the episode were abysmal, that line would have redeemed it.
As it is, the episode was mostly so-so. Jay's on-air explanation ("Nocturnal Ad-mission") to the sexy reporter about his wet dream–"Sometimes a front pipe can have an emission of sorts"–was funny, as was Laura's goofy song about her lost boyfriend. Hmm, maybe I liked this episode more than I thought, but something still felt off to me, at least until the showdown with the cops.
The Sarah Silverman Program has always been uneven that way. Its ostensible envelope-pushing can feel rote, but the show reliably offers a few good laughs in each episode. As we saw with the first part of this "season," the SSP (yup, bringing that abbreviation back) tends to lack cohesion at first, but gels as episodes progress. Nine more await in Season 2B, with the second airing tomorrow night at 10:30 eastern.
Grade: B-
Stray notes:
— The little touches can be the SSP's funniest parts, like Jay's ski-lodge-like apartment. His headboard of tree branches, with the ram (?) head mounted on the wall? Awesome. Another nice small touch: Brian's bong, with its masking-tape label that says "IDEAS."
— This episode may have set some kind of record for similes. The company that makes anal-leaking chips, TP, and diarrhea medicine? That's like a company making:
- leaky pens, pocket protectors, and spot remover
- cold floors, slippery rugs, and no-slip pads
- marbles, crutches, and armpit salve
- baseballs, bats, and new windows
- sad movies, tears, and tissues
- dragons, pudding, and squares (?)
Even at the end, Marshall is arrested because his company has been stealing pets. Why? They also make photocopiers and telephone poles.
— "Bacon spelled backward is 'nocab,' which is exactly what black people can't get." It wouldn't be an episode of the SSP without some tacked-on racial joke now, would it?

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