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117 of 121 found the following review helpful:
Extremely Funny, Raunchy Show Jul 19, 2003
I really loved "Strangers with Candy" and was sad when it was cancelled prematurely. The series ran for 30 some episodes, and the first 10 episodes (season 1) are included on this 2 DVD set. "Strangers" stars Amy Sedaris (sister of auther David Sedaris), Steven Colbert (seen on the "Daily Show"), and Paul Dinello. These three worked together for years (e.g., "Exit 57") before creating this series.
Amy Sedaris plays Jerri Blank, a 46-year-old loser who returns to high school after being a teenaged runaway for 32 years. Her father is immobile, and her step-mother and half-brother hate her. The series is patterned after an after-school episode, and each one ends in Jerri learning a "lesson" (as well as participating in funky dance sequences!). The humor is sometimes bizzare, often raunchy, and always politically incorrect!
Episode 1: Old Habits, New Beginnings. Jerri tries to fit in by mixing up some drugs (glint) for a popular cheerleader (Poppy), with tragic results. Jerri loses the first in a long series of pets and does her first "I got something to say!" bit.
Episode 2: A Burden's Burden. Jerri is given a 10-pound baby (whom she dubs "Dizzy") by her health teacher. She fails miserably and is paired up with Tammi Littlenut to complete the assignment. Teacher Noblet and Jellineck begin their unusual "relationship." This episode is hilarious and presents a new, more demented side of Jerri.
Episode 3: Dreams on the Rocks. Jerri get a leading role in the school production of "A Raisin in the Sun," beating out several African-American students! This acting success leads Jerri's step-mother on a "hilarious" alcolohic bender.
Episode 4: Who wants cake? Jerri is asked to determine whether her lockermate, Kimberly, is "[mentally challenged]." If she doesn't cooperate, she'll miss the school trip to Good Time Island.
Episode 5: Bogie Nights. Jerri falls for the new kid in school (Ricky, played by Chip from "Kate & Ally"), much to the consternation of her fellow students.
Episode 6: Jerri Is Only Skin Deep. Jerri runs for Homecoming Queen. She tries to increase her "inner beauty" by doing volunteer work, with tragic results for a chicken.
Episode 7: Let Freedom Ring. Jerri is suspected of writing a racial slur on a school wall, and she tries to seduce a student who supposedly witnessed the event. Jerri famously asserts that she likes the "pole and the hole."
Episode 8: Feather in the Storm: Jerri wants to try out for the debate team, but everyone tells her that she's too fat, leading her to develop an eating disorder.
Episode 9: To Be Young, Gifted and Blank. Mr. Noblet tries to turn Jerri into a violin prodigy, driving a wedge between himself and Mr. Jellineck.
Episode 10: The Trip Back. Jerri becomes attracted to a young female stoner and begins doing pot.
Extras: Sedaris, Colbert, and Dinello do audio commentary for four episodes. They are hilarious together, and the commentaries help shed some light on their bizarre senses of humor.
The original, unaired pilot is also included. The plot is similar to the "Who Wants Cake?" episode, but there are quite a few differences. Notably, Jerri has a volunteer job at a genertonology rehab center and Dinello and Colbert have dual roles. The pilot is not as good as the later episodes, but it's interesting to see how the series evolved.
46 of 46 found the following review helpful:
The bacon strip is sizzling Jul 06, 2003
By Daniel Jolley
I had almost forgotten how much I loved this show until Comedy Central released this Season One DVD. Strangers With Candy was an absolutely brilliant comedy that took the concept of After-School Specials and turned it on its head - then gave it a wedgie - and then gave it a swirlie. A decidedly weird parody of this respected but stereotypical genre, one which never feared to go farther than most people could even conceive of in its inanity and bold disregard of political correctness necessarily plays to one of two extremes: either you hate the show and refuse to watch anything so ridiculous again in your life or you, like me, develop an obsessive fascination and love for it. I'm frankly rather surprised to see this Season One DVD released, but my reaction to the news, alongside a mad rush to get it in my hands as soon as possible, was, to quote a favorite line from lead character Jerri Blank, "Good times. Good times."
Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) is rather amazingly representative, in her own special way, of your typical high school student. What makes this so amazing is the fact that she is a forty-six-year-old freshman. After thirty-two years of drug abuse, prison time, and who knows what else, she has returned home to pick up where she left off when she ran away from home. Flat Point High School is not your typical educational oasis, as becomes obvious immediately. Mr. Noblet (Stephen Colbert) and Mr. Jellineck (Paul Dinello) are two unique teachers who play a big role in Jerri's life, dispensing such tidbits of advice as "No one makes friends with a failure" and "You're only as attractive as we think you are," while enjoying an openly "secret" relationship of their own. The towering force at the school, however, is Principal Blackman (Greg Hollimon), whose educational theories are, in a word, unusual and whose narcissism knows no bounds. If you thought your old teachers were weird, you ought to take a look at these guys.
Jerri deals with many issues routinely covered in after-school specials: trying to be popular, dating, racism, dealing with peer pressure (as well as pressure from the principal and teachers), accepting a new student, coping with an extremely dysfunctional family (the most normal member of which, her father, appears only in immovable poses), and, of course drugs. In the very first episode, she turns to what she knows - brewing up drugs - in her effort to become popular, only to watch a stoned girl try to fly through a keyhole. Jerri can be a sympathetic character dealing with her step-mother's alcoholism one minute, and then the next she is assuming the role of an abusive husband to her baby care partner. This really is one of those shows you can't describe; you have to see it to understand it.
There aren't a lot of extras on the DVDs, but what is there is fantastic. The unaired pilot of the show was strange indeed, as it featured a much different look for Jerri, a step-mother played by the woman who would end up being Jerri's gym teacher, an after-school volunteer job for Jerri at a home for senior citizens, terrible music, and a completely different feel to the whole viewing experience. The commentary provided by the creators and stars of the show, Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, and Paul Dinello, is great fun. While only four of the ten episodes from Season One include a commentary, the information, reference to gags and side jokes that I had missed up until now, stories about the sometimes seat-of-your-pants manner in which everything came together for each episode, and general humor they expressed at the sight of old scenes takes a Strangers With Candy fanatic such as myself to even deeper and more appreciative heights of humor and fun.
What is perhaps most strange about Strangers With Candy is its success at making good and relevant points about some of the serious matters it subjects to a humiliating treatment in the name of comedy. I'm not entirely sure it does this intentionally, though, because the main point of concentration oftentimes seems to revolve around seeing just what they could actually get away with doing on television. If you are content with the same old predictable humor that the networks recycle year in and year out, you probably should avoid diving into the deep end of the humor pool, but if you yearn for something else, something different, something so stupid that its brilliance shines forth like a shooting star zooming across a horizon populated by distant glimmers of comedic light, then you may just find something strange and beautiful and hilarious in this unforgettable show.
32 of 33 found the following review helpful:
I'm so jazzed! Sep 02, 2003
By W. Davidson
There has never been a character quite like Jerri Blank (unless you're familiar with the REAL woman she was based on - Florrie Fisher), and there's never been a show like Strangers With Candy (unless you've seen... nope, there's never been a show like Strangers With Candy).
SWC is impossible to do justice to in a review, but I like a challenge. The basis of the program is a very dark take on "after-school" TV specials, the ones that teach you a valuable lesson about being nice to people and doing the chores, that sort of thing. This idea mutates into some very blackly comic situations as Jerri Blank (the anti-hero who remains strangely sympathetic despite being completely devoid of morals and quite replulsive really) learns a lesson, albeit the wrong lesson usually, each week about topics such as buying friends with drugs, parenthood, racism and more. It's hilarious (sorry "hil-LAR-ious), throroughly quotable and something that will probably be discovered in 15 years time for the incredible work that it is.
The DVD brings extras such as the pilot episode and 3 episode commentary from the main cast. Get this or be the laughing stock of Flatpoint High!
21 of 21 found the following review helpful:
Blank YOU!!! Jun 22, 2003
By Daryl B
Comedy Central's cult classic has finally made its way to dvd, something I pictured never happening. After being cancelled, with only three seasons to its credit, I was afraid that "Strangers With Candy" might fade into obscurity. Luckily, there were lots of fans out there who, like me, found it's dark, insane humor riotously funny. This dvd offering gives us the first 10 episodes, introducing us to Jerri Blank, a 46 yr old ex con, ex prostitute, ex drug user---ex you-name-it! as she struggles while returning to high school where she left off after running away 32 years ago. As a freshman, Jerri must deal with trying to fit in, wanting to make friends, be popular---all the things a typical freshman wants in school. Told in the format of the old afterschool specials that warned us of drugs, unwanted pregnancy, etc., this series worked brilliantly. Thanks mostly, of course, to Amy Sedaris who plays Jerri Blank to perfection. Add in Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello as teachers (and closeted lovers) and an array of other characters and the show always hits the mark. I love the relationship between Jerri and her step mother played by Deborah Rush, who plays this role to a tee. The dvd offers a few extras such as running commentary during episodes and a bonus unaired pilot. It was interesting watching this pilot, seeing how that changed Jerri and some of the situations she was in for the actual series. If you are a fan of this show, this dvd is a MUST!!! I've read that if this dvd sells well, the other two seasons will be released as well. I hope that is true because there were so many classic moments in seasons 2 and 3. Go out and buy this dvd now---run, don't walk! You won't regret it.
13 of 13 found the following review helpful:
Who Wants Cake? May 27, 2003
A true gem of twisted and very politically incorrect humor. Jerri Blank is a 46 year old bisexual high school freshman who was a teenage runaway for 32 years, during which time she was a prostitute, a thief, a baby seller, a drug addict, etc.
The biggest complaint I've heard about this show is that the lead character is too ugly. It's all makeup and facial contortions, folks. Part of the brilliance of the show is while Jerri Blank is hideous and dresses about 25 years out of fashion, she thinks the world of herself and is incredibly selfish and self-serving. After accidentally making out with her long lost son, she says 'I didn't GIVE you away, I traded you for a guitar. And all these years I've wondered... what happened to that guitar?'
Comedy Central foolishly cancelled this brilliant series after three 10-episode seasons, apparently because it wasn't as 'funny' as Adam Carolla being a chauvanist (The Man Show) or Julie Brown showing her breasts (Strip Mall). They are finally doing something right by releasing the first season on DVD (it is unclear if the other seasons will follow). These discs will include commentary tracks for the first four episodes from the three primary actors (Sedaris, Dinello, and Colbert). It will also include the pilot. I am thrilled to finally have crisp, clean copies of this series, as I've worn out my VHS tapes.
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