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"The Sarah Silverman Program" Season 3 DVD Review

The Sarah Silverman Program.: Season 3 DVD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Three (2010)
Show and DVD Details

Creators: Sarah Silverman, Rob Schrab, Dan Harmon / Executive Producers: Sarah Silverman, Rob Schrab, Dan Sterling, Heidi Herzon

Writers: Harris Wittels, Jon Schroeder, Eric Schaar, Chelsea Perretti, Dan Sterling, Rob Schrab, Brian Posehn / Directors: Rob Schrab , Wayne McClammy, Dan Sterling

Regular Cast: Sarah Silverman (Sarah Jane Anastasia Silverman), Laura Silverman (Laura Silverman), Brian Posehn (Brian Spukowski), Steve Agee (Steve Myron), Jay Johnston (Officer Jay McPherson)

Recurring Cast Members: Eddie Pepitone (Eddie), Tig Notaro (Officer Tig), Mike Ivy (Homeless Mike), Murray Gershenz (Murray), Stanley Ullman (Officer Ullman), Rob Schrab (Background Guy, Mini Coffee, Baby-Man Sr., etc.)

Notable Guest Stars: Jon Schroeder (Mr. Jenkins), Bill Maher (Himself), Robert Gossett (Judge Willie Joe Blackwell), Dave Juskow (Slip Yeagley), Paul Scheer (Producer), Tim Heidecker (Francis), Jane Shepherd (Carl's Wife), Ben Schwartz (Writer), Gene LeBell (Carl), Maria Bamford (May Kadoody), Bradley Whitford (Toby Grossnickel), Rich Fulcher (Reverend Fulcher), Joshua Malina (Supervisor Bill Wilson), Matthew Patrick Davis (Ace Ventura), Andy Samberg (Troy Bulletinboard), Kurt Loder (Himself), Mark Cohen (Max Silverman), Frankie Ray (Andre), Stephen Tobolowsky (Bill Fantasimart), Stuart Cornfeld (Mr. Spukowski), George Kee Cheung (John), Kurt Scholler (Jo-Jo), Chris Romano (Stencil), Billy Crudup (Himself), Orson Bean (Mr. Myron), Mary Gregory (Mrs. Myron), John DiMaggio (Trent), John Ennis (Free Hug Guy), Ron Lynch (Dr. Lynch), Adam Scott (Agent Schroeder), Doug Benson (Weird Nathan), Gabriel Pimental (Breve), Patton Oswalt (Vincent Van Guy), Missi Pyle (Scarlett Lacey), Edward Asner (Commandant Von Reichenstein), Scott Aukerman (Officer Leach/Banana Cop), Holly King (Sexy Hitler)

Running Time: 216 Minutes (10 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $19.93 / DVD Release Date: December 18, 2012
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9) / Clear Keepcase / Season 3 Airdates: February 4 - April 15, 2010
Discs previously released and still available in The Complete Series ($49.97 SRP; June 19, 2012)
Episodes also available on Amazon Instant Video

Buy The Sarah Silverman Program on DVD from Amazon.com: Season 3 The Complete Series

It doesn't take much inactivity for an entertainer's stock to drop. It's been two and a half years since Comedy Central cancelled Sarah Silverman's self-titled television series.
And yet, the controversial comedienne, whose career began twenty years ago as a writer and featured player on "Saturday Night Live", has managed to avoid plunging into obscurity. Earlier this month, she secured cinematic immortality as the voice of Vanellope von Schweetz, the young deuteragonist of Disney's animated hit Wreck-It Ralph. Silverman has also managed to remain visible with guest appearances on popular TV Series ("Childrens Hospital", "Louie", "The League") and audible with vocal guest spots ("The Simpsons", "Bob's Burgers"). There have also been supporting roles in independent films (Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz) and cameos in mainstream films (The Muppets).

Still, NBC recently passed on picking up Silverman's autobiographical pilot "Susan 313" for the fall 2012 season, suggesting it may be difficult for the 41-year-old to find another outlet as creatively liberating and personal as "The Sarah Silverman Program", a half-hour comedy she created, executive produced, and starred in for three seasons.

Running from 2007 to 2010, the Comedy Central show was tailor-made for the leading lady by "Community" creator Dan Harmon, his Monster House co-writer Rob Schrab, and Silverman herself. The stand-up/actress' film career had been picking up with turns in School of Rock and Rent as well as her 2005 concert film Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. Without expectations to draw network-type audiences or fiercely compete with basic cable's variety of niche programming and documentary-style reality television, "The Sarah Silverman Program" allowed its star, her friends, and others who shared her sense of humor to indulge their instincts and make a show that made themselves laugh. Inevitably, enough people tuning into Comedy Central right before the potent hour-long block of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" would also laugh.

At least for a while. Ratings dropped enough in the winter of 2010 to turn the ten-episode third season into the show's final one. That was still an impressive run by Comedy Central standards, a network that has allowed few series to run more than a couple of seasons.

Not only did the cable channel pull the plug on the show, but it also withheld Season 3 from home video, as DVD sales had begun slipping. Two years after signing off, the final season of "Silverman Program" came to DVD over the summer in Shout! Factory's seven-disc The Complete Series collection full of bonus features. Now, fans who already owned the first two seasons through Comedy Central's three DVD releases and were reluctant to rebuy them in Shout!'s box set can pick up Season 3 on its own in a 2-disc set available on December 18th.

Excited for breakfast, Sarah Silverman sings an ode to pancakes. Big sister Laura (Laura Silverman) and her cop boyfriend Jay (Jay Johnston) give Sarah a couple of much-needed voices of reason.

The show finds Silverman playing an immature, insensitive, self-centered slacker version of herself who lives in an apartment in Valley Village, a Los Angeles neighborhood that resembles a kind of twisted version of Sesame Street for this childish adult. Sarah doesn't work, nor need to, because her saintly nurse sister Laura (real-life older sister Laura Silverman) pays her rent and looks after her. Laura lives with her mustachioed cop boyfriend Jay (Jay Johnston), who is kidlike in his own way but fairly reasonable. Rounding out the cast (and episodes with B storylines) are Sarah's two portly, geeky gay couple of homebody neighbors, gamers/stoners Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee).

The show honors its star's tastes for wordplay, bathroom humor, and silly original songs, making time for all three of those in virtually every episode. In addition, the show is big on the hot button topics of Silverman's edgy stand-up act: race, drugs, religion, homelessness, abortion, homosexuality, etc.
Like Silverman's stand-up, the material is clearly meant to provoke and if you don't agree with her liberal views or see the humor in her ironic bigotry and ignorance, you may find it difficult to warm to. Still, if you aren't easily offended or disturbed, you'll find some pretty funny material here, especially once you acclimate to the tone and characters.

Season 3 changes the opening title sequence, but not much else. At first it seems to reduce the role of Sarah's Chihuahua-pug dog Doug, but he mostly hangs onto his role as the nonresponsive audience at the end of every episode to Sarah recapping what she learned that week. While there are a couple of weak episodes near the end, enough humorous material remains for the show not to have worn out its welcome. There are a lot of callbacks and returning guest stars from the first two seasons.

Sarah (Sarah Silverman) embraces her inner man with a mustache on her face and a lost part of herself around her neck. After a prank goes wrong, Sarah Silverman sues "Home Alone", represented by her television recording of it.

Disc 1

1. The Proof Is in the Penis (21:38) (Originally aired February 4, 2010)
Trying to imbue Sarah with a work ethic and fiscal responsibility, Laura reveals that Sarah was born with both sets of genitalia, prompting Sarah to embrace her inner man. Steve and Brian are haunted by the ghost of a man their television's remote control killed.

2. The Silverman and the Pillows (21:38) (Originally aired February 11, 2010)
When an author of a children's book ruins her pancake brunch plans, Sarah complains and gets her own controversial children's television show. Troubled by their loss of cable and Internet, Steve and Brian join the show's cast.

3. A Slip Slope (21:38) (Originally aired February 18, 2010)
After her practical joke accidentally kills a prankster, Sarah sues Home Alone on television court, only to be put in charge of Valley View's censorship and then all television programming. Brian wages war with a pigeon.

4. Nightmayor (21:39) (Originally aired February 25, 2010)
Sarah and Brian mount a campaign to defeat a mayoral candidate with a strange name, but their write-in vote winner, May Kadoody, proves to be a real person and one opposed to gay marriage.

Sarah reconnects with her now grown-up imaginary childhood friend Troy Bulletinboard (Andy Samberg) in "Smellin' of Troy." An enchanted dragon telephone causes Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee) to switch bodies.

5. Smellin' of Troy (21:39) (Originally aired March 11, 2010)
After Laura and Jay elope, Sarah begins seeing her now grown-up childhood imaginary friend (Andy Samberg) and partying with his friends. Steve gets a hit song out of replacing an injured Brian in his band.

6. A Fairly Attractive Mind (21:38) (Originally aired March 18, 2010)
Mistaken for being mentally disabled, Sarah accepts that she is and tries to inspire as a grocery store bagger. A dragon telephone from Chinatown causes Brian and Steve to switch bodies before Brian's father visits.

7. Songs in the Key of Yuck (21:38) (Originally aired March 25, 2010)
Sarah reluctantly joins Steve for a concert by his favorite jam band, only to use the outing as a chance to expose attendees' fandom as the product of drug use. Laura uses Jay's "laughmares" to stage a nighttime talk show in their bedroom. Brian doesn't have enough milk for his cereal.

Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee) have a robot son in "Just Breve." Driving a van of kid-friendly fun changes Sarah.

Disc 2

8. Just Breve (21:38) (Originally aired April 1, 2010)
Steve makes a robot son for him and Brian, but their family plans have consequences. Laura and Jay reveal their secret turn-ons to one another. Mostly absent from this episode, Sarah serves as blind storyteller.

9. A Good Van Is Hard to Find (21:39) (Originally aired April 8, 2010)
After twice being endangered by accepting rides from strangers, Sarah sets out to repair the van's reputation, by driving a fun one around town and giving free entertainment to children. Steve and Brian find creative ways to avoid doing laundry. Laura's clumsiness invites spousal abuse suspicions around Jay.

10. Wowschwitz (21:38) (Originally aired April 15, 2010)
Sarah and Laura plan competing Holocaust memorials. To get them out of their rut, Brian urges Steve to rediscover his playful side. Doug travels through time to historic events.

An Ace Ventura impersonator (Matthew Patrick Davis) joins Sarah and friends as they gather on the steps of Valley Village's town hall for Steve and Brian's gay wedding.

VIDEO and AUDIO

As one of the newest television series licensed to Shout! Factory, "The Sarah Silverman Program" is presented in the present-day standards for TV DVDs: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Lacking any major surprises or concerns, both are just fine, allowing the show to look and sound just like you'd expect a single-camera 21st century comedy series to in standard definition. Also, though unadvertised as such, the show is evidently presented uncensored. While it's often racy and politically incorrect, nothing seems to be unbroadcastable until some surprising profanity casually dropped in at the end of the fifth episode. One disappointment is that the DVD lacks subtitles. It does, however, include closed captioning, a tactic Comedy Central has often taken for its own DVDs.

Dan Sterling, Sarah Silverman, Duck the Dog, and Rob Schrab are among those on hand in this 2012 TSSP retrospective. Cast and crew field audience questions in this 2010 panel at Los Angeles' Largo at the Coronet.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Shout! Factory maintains and even exceeds the high volume of bonus features that Comedy Central provided their Season One and Season Two DVDs.

The extras begin with group audio commentaries attached to four episodes. Sarah Silverman, Steve Agee, Jay Johnston, co-creator/director Rob Schrab, and writer/executive producer/director Dan Sterling
share their thoughts on "The Silverman and the Pillows" and "A Slip Slope." Johnston bows out after those two, leaving the other four to speak over "Nightmayor" and "Just Breve."

These tracks aren't a great deal more than the group having their memories jogged and laughing at their two-year-old episodes, but plenty of fun facts emerge in the warm, profane reflection regarding guest stars, Comedy Central discomfort, and production specifics. For fans, they're well worth a listen.

All video extras appear on Disc 2. They begin with a 2012 discussion (29:11) featuring Sarah Silverman, her real dog Duck (who played Doug), Rob Schrab, and six of their fellow writers and/or producers. Their rambling reunion tackles the show's origins, characters, casting, and battles with Comedy Central's Standards & Practices, before devolving into real-life bathroom humor reflecting that found on the show. There are clips from episodes, other bonus features, and even a deleted scene, as well as reflections on the Writer's Strike and series' cancellation, before the piece closes with a Season 3 highlight reel.

A short 2010 cast and creators Q & A session at Largo at the Coronet (5:38) in Los Angeles follows. Both Silvermans, Agee, Johnston, Schrab and Sterling answer audience questions with plenty of sarcasm.

Steve Agee shows off his beastly make-up in one of Season 3's Odds 'n Ends behind-the-scenes shorts. Childish renderings of the cast illustrate safety lessons in the Sarah Silverman-narrated short "Stay Away from Bad Stuff!!"

Seemingly made for the web back when the episodes aired, "Odds 'n Ends" (29:53) give us making-of shorts for all ten Season 3 episodes. Behind-the-scenes footage and uncensored reflections from cast (everyone but Brian Posehn) and crew lend insight to each episode's stories and scenes.

A "Breve" animatic (2:07) plots out an ambitious but dumb action sequence from arguably the series' worst episode.

"Stay Away from Bad Stuff!!" (2:03) has Sarah's children's show host persona Sarah St. Clair(e) dispense wildly inappropriate safety tips to crude illustrations of the characters.

To the dismay of God (Tucker Smallwood), Sarah is slow to think of others in the original pilot episode. An uncharacteristically slim Steve Agee demonstrates his dry heaving skills while changing his roommate's cat's litter box in his audition short. Sarah enjoys a jam band concert under the influence in Disc 2's main menu slideshow.

Next comes the original pilot episode (21:39), which is very close to the Season 1 finale "Batteries", though it carries a 2005 copyright date and slightly different opening credits. In it, Sarah needs to replace the batteries to her television's remote control and has to cross a wheelchair race to get to the store. She winds up meeting God and having a one-night stand with him.
This episode can also be viewed with audio commentary by Silverman and her co-creators Schrab and Dan Harmon, which runs nine minutes longer than the pilot itself and offers one final reflection on the show.

Finally, we get two audition videos. Jay Johnston (2:19) performs across from the Silverman sisters. A much slimmer Steve Agee than we're used to, meanwhile, apparently got the job through two shorts (3:02), one documenting a litterbox change and the other a phone call reflecting on a day of vampirism.

The main menus uphold the titles' design by playing pictures and the new theme music for under a minute.

The discs are packaged, like most new Shout! Factory DVDs, in a clear keepcase which allows the inside of the double-sided artwork to feature more imagery and episode synopses.

At the end of most episodes, Sarah Silverman reflects on the lessons she learned in the company of her dog Doug. Steve (Steve Agee) and Brian (Brian Posehn) dress creatively while each shuns laundry duties.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If you've been wanting to complete your "Sarah Silverman Program" DVD collection without picking up Shout! Factory's Complete Series set, then this Season 3 release is just for you. A perfect reflection of Silverman's brand of comedy, this show entertains more often than it doesn't, though there is a good chance you'll be offended or disgusted, as intended, by some of the crude content.

Reasonably priced and pretty full of good bonus features, this two-disc set is easy to recommend to anyone fond of the show, especially if they already own the first two seasons.

Buy The Sarah Silverman Program on DVD from Amazon.com: Season 3 The Complete Series

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed November 26, 2012.



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