The Sarah Silverman Program entire first season consisted of only six episodes and seemed to be off the air as fast as it arrived. I was slightly surprised to see it return—not because I didn’t enjoy the show, but because the show was so off-beat I didn’t think we’d see any more of it, similar to what Comedy Central did with Stella. And, like most Comedy Central shows that get picked up for another season, the first season of The Sarah Silverman Program arrives on DVD one day prior to the second season premiere on October 3rd.
The The Sarah Silverman Program is a show that is hard to describe. It’s almost like a big comedy bit that’s extended to a twenty minute broadcast and early episodes certainly feel exactly like this. It’s only later in the series do we see that things start to pull away from Sarah a bit and focus on the secondary characters, including her two gay neighbors (or “gaybors” as her grandmother calls them), Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee). As evidenced by their names, nearly the entire cast of the show is named after themselves, so in essence they’re playing overblown versions of themselves. Obviously it’s not a direct adaption of any of their lives, as evidenced by the absurdity of some of the episodes.
While I had initially watched only the first episode to air (“Officer Jay”) and a bit of the second one (“Humanitarian of the Year”), I held off watching anymore as Silverman’s comedy stylings became a bit obnoxious for my liking. I decided to give it another shot on DVD and while she still manages to take things a bit far with some of her dialogue, it wasn’t nearly as annoying as before. Especially in later episodes (or earlier ones…the show aired completely out of production order), where we get to see more of Brian and Steve. Especially hilarious was the “Muffin’ Man” episode, where Brian becomes obsessed with the “Tab” soft drink.
There’s no doubt that the show will be offensive to many (and simply “stupid” to others), but that is part of where the charm in the show comes from. At times the “offensive” material will be unintentional and other times it’ll be completely in-your-face, like the AIDS episode. The show is nothing to be taken seriously in the least and while the writing isn’t always wonderful, it’s still an entertaining show to watch. Hopefully the second season is more focused and tightly written—the show has a ton of potential, but I didn’t laugh as many times at the show as I have at Silverman’s other roles in films or stand up specials.
Packaged in a clear amaray case, the DVD comes with plenty of box art and even some interior art with a backsplash of Sarah beneath the DVD and to the left a list of the episodes (including their episode numbers—listed in the wonky airdate order). An insert for other Comedy Central DVDs is also included.
On the DVD itself is a simple DVD navigation menu that almost seems amateurish at first, although the layout of it becomes clearer after you see the opening credits for the series. The video and audio for the release is standard Comedy Central fair—the video is interlaced and sometimes heavy on the compression and the audio is crystal clear. Better than broadcast, but why the Comedy Central releases always have such a weak visual transfer I’ll never know. Chapters are included in the episodes as well, although not after the intro—which is fine, the intros short and often varies from episode-to-episode, so you’ll want to watch it anyway. With only an English Stereo language track and no subtitles, this release isn’t exactly foreign release friendly either.
Moving onto the special features we get commentaries on every episode, aside from the pilot. Why is there no commentary on the pilot? Who knows. It’s an odd trend I’m seeing on first season set DVD releases (notably on the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia first and second season set). Still, the other five episodes have commentary, some with two. Actors, writers and directors inhabit the commentaries and, predictably, they’re a riot to listen to. They do let the salty language fly, however, so be careful not to watch the commentaries with young ones around.
The other extras on the set are far less impressive than near a dozen commentary tracks on five episodes. Musical performances and Karaoke sing-a-long are fun to listen to but are ultimately empty; in fact, it feels the two of them could have been combined.
Despite an enticing “Never Before Seen Extras”, these are actually the same Comedy Central extras that have been splashed around recent releases. This collection includes a clip from the Colbert Report talking about breasts, one from South Park discussing essays and a Reno: 911! clip featuring a chatty Junior.
Overall the commentaries make up for the lack of making-of or other behind-the-scenes extras. I’ve no doubt future releases will have a bit more meat to them; for now, however, for a six-episode season this set is just about as packed as can be with extras for a single disc release. Recommended for fans of Silverman or those who know what they’re in for; others may want to Rent the release first.
The Sarah Silverman Program – Season One is now available on DVD.