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Strangers With Candy: Season 2

Comedy Central // Unrated // November 4, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted November 11, 2003 | E-mail the Author
Created by Exit 57 writer/performers Amy Sedaris, Steven Colbert (The Daily Show), Mitch Rouse, and Paul Dinello, Strangers With Candy ran for three offbeat and irreverent seasons on Comedy Central . Basically the shows concept follows a 46 year-old former streetwalker Jerri Blank (Sedaris), who has decided to move back to high school and start over. Each episode has a afterschool special plotline as its set-up, and while there is parody, basically the show is just an excuse for their often weird, politically incorrect, and wonderfully cruel tastes in comedy. I'll repeat myself from my Season One Review- Jerri is a great character because she is an odd mix of complete adolescent innocence yet informed with years of amoral street knowledge. So, as she undergoes the troubles off teen adolescence, she can go from our tread-upon victim to a villain in the blink of eye.

Supported by a great cast, Jerri is aided, thwarted, or chided by her stepmother (Deborah Rush), mean older bother Derrick, best friends Tammy Littelnut and Orlando, history teacher Mr. Noblet (Colbert), art teacher Geoffrey Jellineck (Dinello), Coach Wolf, and Principal Onyx Blackman (Gregory Hollimon). The show also often features cameos, such as this season with former Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter, Winona Ryder, Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney, and Janeane Garafolo making appearances.

Yes, You Can't: It is career week at Flatpoint High. Everyone seems pretty content with working in the local Eterna-Spring plastic flower factory. ("You'll be dead before they are.") But Jerry is not as resigned and wants a life of something more. Unfortunately for her, her career aptitude test says that the job she is most suited for is that of "junkie whore." Inspired by Jerry's desire, Mr. Jellineck quits his job as an art teacher to become a real artist and finds inspiration and artistic skill is very elusive. ("How hard can it be? Even monkeys can finger-paint.") Behind Blank Eyes: Jerry befriends Alan, Flatpoint High's only blind student. Refuseing to let his disability hold him back, Alan wants to join the football team. But, everyone on the school staff and team rejects his dream and Jerry has difficulty sympathizing with his handicap. Courtesy of a blindfold, Jerry enters his sightless world, while the well- meaning Alan tries to change the schools mind and participate in the big game. The Virgin Jerri: Jerri reclaims her virginity by joining the virgin club. Unfortunately she then catches the eye of the schools male slut Drake Rogers. Drake wants to have a "virgin whore" and as Jerri says, "He makes me al puffy down there." Drake asks her out and Jerri must struggle with doing what she really, really wants and risking her reputation or staying with her new chaste crowd.

The Goodbye Guy: Jerri loses her father, who dies after being ripped apart by wild dogs. No one can relate and certainly no one wants to sympathize, especially with the big sack race around the corner. Principal Blackman fears Jerri's ennui will affect the other students, "Grief is the sort of thing that spreads like VD at summer camp." Hit and Run: Mr. Jellineck is involved in a hit and run and has his face ripped off. While he languishes in the hospital, Jerri, the hit and run driver, has a crisis of conscience, as does Mr. Noblet, who ran from the scene of the accident and struggles with revealing that he and Mr. Jellineck are "special" friends. The Blank Page: Jerri wants to be a cheerleader, but the tryouts reveal that she is illiterate. One of her responses to what "V-I-C-T-O-R-Y" spells is "hobo camp." It is up to Mr. Noblet to teach her the skill she should have learned forty years ago.

To Love, Honor, and Pretend: In Coach Wolf's Home Ec class the students are paired off into pretend marriages for a week, except for Orlando, who is the odd man out and declared a widower ("Your wife drowned in a fire."). Jerri takes her fake union seriously, wanting to consummate it, intimidating her pseudo husbands girlfriend, and stating things like, "Babies don't cost money- they make money." The Blank Stare Parts 1&2: A messianic cult moves into town and Jerri is a prime, weak willed target, especially after she is left alone because her family decided to go on a family trip. After meeting The Father at their Safe Trap House compound where "There are no bars on our electrified fences", Jerri is brainwashed and renamed Sycamore. But, Jerri ends up being too needy even for the cult, so they send her back for the faculty of Flatpoint High to deprogram. A Price too High for Riches: Jerri wants to be in popular crowd, which all seems to hinge on getting a pair of Flair sneakers- the sneaker with the extra long lace.

The DVD: Comedy Central

Picture: Full-Screen Standard. Well, it is tv, and Comedy Central at that, so we are not talking CSI slickness here. Still, the presentation is quite good. Thankfully, not as grainy as my tv broadcast and adequately sharp. Colors are good too, well balanced and vibrant, be it the green/brown stains on Jerri's teeth or the baby chick yellow of the cult's clothing. No noticeable technical quirks.

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Once again, for tv audio it is fine. The dialogue comes through nice and clear. The appropriately cheesy scoring is nice and crisp. The Surround doesn't really get any workout, but, hell, it doesn't really need to be extremely dynamic.

Extras: Episode Selections- Commentary for four episodes "The Goodbye Guy, The Blank Page, Hit and Run" by creators/stars Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Steven Colbert. Good anecdotes and funny insights, including stuff like the blistering cold the bikini girls had to endure in "Hit and Run", why the elderly actor who played Guy Blank didn't want to be in the coffin in "The Goodbye Guy" ("Uh, he didn't want to be dead in a casket... basic human fear."), and the fact that sometimes the funny dialogue was courtesy of not correcting typos. --- Museum of Television & Radio Interview (44:07). Excellent little roundtable (sans the table) interview with Sedaris, Dinello, Colbert, a producer, and Hollimon (who actually doesn't say much and stands out in a nice suit. I guess he heard the word "museum" and though it was a more formal night.) They give some funny backstories like run ins with censors and general bits about how the show came together.

Conclusion: The DVD presentation is great. The episodes look fine and we get some nice extras to boot. The humor is for very selective tastes. This isn't standard sitcom humor (Thank God). If you are a fan, get it. If it sounds like your kind of humor, by all means go get the first season and odds are you'll quickly want to get your hands on this one too.

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Highly Recommended

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