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Sarah Silverman in a publicity shot for “The Sarah Silverman Program”
Sarah Silverman in a publicity shot for “The Sarah Silverman Program”

ANDREW RYAN: TV ON DVD

Sarah Silverman makes fun of God and gets away with it Add to ...

The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Series

It’s true: The adorable can literally get away with anything.

Witness the strange course of Sarah Silverman’s life. A raunchy nightclub comic trapped in a gamin’s body, Ms. Silverman has constructed her entire career around “Oh-no-she-didn’t” moments. She always gets away with it because she’s so darn adorable.

But what to do with such a gift? Silverman first raised eyebrows with her one-woman show/film Jesus is Magic, but she’s not quite a standup comic. Her caustic digs at Paris Hilton and Britney Spears at various MTV award shows cancelled any future as a pop-culture commentator. Girlfriend went viral with her 2008 video I’m F---ng Matt Damon, but that was a breakup ode to ex-boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel. How many times can you do that?

To date, the only proper fit for Silverman’s unique skill set has been this bizarre sitcom that ran for 32 episdoes over three short seasons on the U.S. cable channel Comedy Central. Silverman co-conceived the concept, along with Community creator Dan Harmon, hence she’s perfectly cast as a childlike, unemployed, aimless and wildly self-centred young woman who’s seemingly without a care in the world.

Life is good for sitcom Sarah, who lives with younger sister Laura, played by real-life older sister Laura Silverman, and spends quality time with her gay neighbours Brian (Brian Posehn) and Steve (Steve Agee), whom she cheerily refers to as her “gaybours.” How cute is that?

But darkness lurks. The series tone is set in the very first show when Sarah ingests too much cough syrup and drives her car onto a children’s playground. She’s arrested and charged with driving under the influence, but charges are dropped when her sister begins dating Officer Jay (Jay Johnston). Sarah doesn’t care much for Officer Jay, but hey, life goes on.

It gets darker. By the third episode, Sarah is trying to become a spokesperson for AIDS awareness (even though she doesn’t have AIDS); by the sixth show, she’s lobbying against a TV fundraising telethon for terminally ill kids, and then has a one-night stand with God.

So goes Sarah’s personal growth for two-dozen more episodes, each one more outrageous than the one before. Among other highlights: Sarah dons blackface, accidentally joins a radical anti-abortion group and, several episodes later, realizes that she’s nine-months pregnant (she thought it was just bloating). In the series finale – titled Wowschwitz – she’s competing with her sister to see who can create the coolest Holocaust memorial.

Naturally, Silverman is sweetness personified in this ersatz sitcom format. It’s impossible to think of another comic actress who could pull off this type of material without raising hackles. Her portrayal is that of a truly blithe spirit.

The boxed set comes with a steamer trunk of extras, including the original pilot episode, behind-the-scenes clips and the short “Stay Away from the Bad Stuff! Safety Tips with Sarah St. Claire.”

Also nestled among the extras is the featurette “Cookies Come Alive,” a collection of perky animated scenes culled from sitcom Sarah’s very favourite TV show, Cookie Party, an Iron Chef-style cooking competition in which contestants make cookies.

Like Silverman, it’s beyond adorable.

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