Comedy Central: The Sarah Silverman Program / Drawn Together / Reno 911!

Sarah Silverman’s show deals in the same moments of mistaken observation and social faux pas as does Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm—it’s a wonder, actually, that the two comedians haven’t yet collaborated. But where Larry’s foibles in Curb often end with people admonishing him personally (“Get the fuck outta my house, Larry!”), Silverman’s various mistakes and indiscretions have far-reaching socio-political ramifications. Take, for instance, the time she thinks her dog has worms so, innocently sitting on a park bench, she licks his anus. Someone sees the incident, and the dog—not its owner—is thrown in jail and forced to wear a tiny pair of day-glo orange jail shorts. Silverman’s nowhere near as self-hating or self-loathing as Larry David—and she doesn’t commit anywhere near the kind of despicable blunders Larry seems to unknowingly walk into. She does, however, have her share of controversy, and the kind of short stories—mostly involving her two Zack Galafinakis-lookin’ hairy homosexual friends, or her abortion-nurse sister—are well-suited to the 21-minute episode format. It’s situation-based comedy that—somewhat miraculously—never feels as formulaic or put-on as many sitcoms.

The world’s first animated reality TV series, Drawn Together puts under one roof and the watchful eye of “millions” of cameras a range of characters from cartoon history, from Betty Boop to Foxy Brown, Pikachu to a Disney princess, from an Internet Flash cartoon pig to a parodical ‘Superman,’ Captain Leslie Hero. Only vaguely inventive, the series probably worked best when it first aired (in 2004) and the reality ‘household’ shows that it parodies were still popular. The series is too crass to appeal to the mainstream, and has nowhere near the level of fun absurdity of, for example, [adult swim] shows like Space Ghost: Coast to Coast or Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law—shows which take preëxisting Hanna-Barbera characters from the ’60s and put an hilarious new abstract spin on them, using actual comedy instead of blunt appeals to a presupposed juvenile mindset.

Just after the end of Reno 911!’s run—the sixth and final season wrapped last August—the first season is being issued on DVD. This raucous, fake-reality parody of the long-running FOX series COPS follows a group of bad lieutenants in the Biggest Little City in the World as they chase the wrong guys, accidentally shoot fellow members of the fictitious Reno Sherrif’s Department, and generally make stupid mistakes day in, day out. Thomas Lennon, now rightfully being recognised by the mainstream with a growing list of feature film credits, steals the show Lt. Jim Dangle, whose short shorts and even shorter attention span make for some of the funniest jokes in the series.

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