Judge David Johnson is glad he didn't go the drop-out-junkie-whore route in high school.
Our reviews of Strangers With Candy (published November 20th, 2006), Strangers With Candy: Season One (published July 17th, 2003), Strangers With Candy: Season Two (published May 27th, 2004), and Strangers With Candy: The Complete Series (published June 27th, 2006) are also available.
"Lead the way, you stupid junkie whore!"—Principal Onyx Blackman.
The third and final round of Comedy Central's envelope-pushing, decency-skewering after-school-special parody arrives on DVD—and Jerri Blank and her cronies are ready to go out in a blaze of…well, just a blaze actually.
Facts of the Case
For this swan song season, forty year-old Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) will face ten more episodes' worth of adolescent problems. A former doper, stripper, hooker, and loser, Blank decided to return to Flatpoint High and finish up her education. Aided by history teacher Chuck Noblet (Steven Colbert, The Daily Show), self-involved art teacher Geoffrey Jellineck (Paul Dinello), and the power-hungry Principal Blackman (Greg Hollimon), Jerri will traverse the treacherous terrain of STDs, racism, sexual harassment, peer pressure, and family life.
And nothing will be sacred.
I'm a big fan of this series. It's my favorite Comedy Central offering, and one of my favorite TV comedies overall. Sure, I find the writing uneven; but the hits far outweigh the misses. When coupled with memorable characters and absolutely zero respect for anything (there is no "taboo" in the universe of Flatpoint High), the result is an envelope-balling-up-and-lighting-on-fire parody of high school.
Taking a look at the ten episodes, we find:
• "Jerri's Burning Issue"
This is perhaps the most cringe-worthy episode of the set. The sight of
Jellineck's face alone is enough to clean out my stomach contents.
• "Trail of Tears"
As politically incorrect as you can get, this episode parades every Native
American cliché out there, and does so in such outrageous fashion that
nothing can be taken seriously. The final sequence, which finds Jerri as the
lone Indian in a school play, is notable for its callousness. ("Save me
Satan!") And Will Ferrell as a camp director? Priceless.
• "Is Freedom Free?"
Strangers with Candy is notable for its surprising array of guest
stars. Baker's character is a standout—self-involved priest who volunteers
his crucifix to bludgeon Jerri. Yep, that's the kind of show we're dealing with
• "Invisible Love"
This episode is great, and contains the creepiest sequence of the series
(and possible of any series ever). Jerri's best friend Tammy is urging her to
assert herself in the secret relationship, and points to her own relationship
with the science teacher as an example. Watching Tammy make out with the science
teacher at the big Make-Out party is, simply put, awful.
• "Is My Daddy Crazy?"
A so-so episode with a few very funny moments—the educational film
about insanity, Noblet's encounter with the pizza, and a surreal moment of goat
• "Blank Relay"
Girls running track with beards. What more do you want?
• "Ask Jerri"
Any episode with copious Noblet and Jellineck is fine with me. These two are
more visible in this episode, and Noblet's editorial process is hilarious.
("Why don't you go research me up a blueberry scone?")
• "There Once Was a Blank from Nantucket"
One of my least favorite shows in the bunch, this episode's highlights
include Derek wrestling a girl and Jerri's big statement at the end of the jazz
Light on the Noblet, but heavy on the Jellineck, this installment in Jerri's
saga is memorable for the sheer violence. The beating Jellineck takes at the end
is priceless, as are the lessons both he and Jerri learn.
• "The Last Temptation of Blank"
A fine finale that is bursting at the seams with guest stars. Ryder is funny
(and hot!) Rudd is typically great, portraying a cool slacker dude. And then
you've got cameos by Janeane Garofalo, Mark McKinney, and Cheri Oteri. Good
The show is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio, and gets a sharp transfer from Comedy Central. Sound is "meh," as usual for these types of shows. A few extras come with the set, none nearly as cool as those on its predecessors. Sadly, there are no commentaries or making-of features; all you get is a gag reel, a dopey dance sequence compilation (from the end credits), and a storyboard comparison of the opening credits. Blah.
Finally, Comedy Central's cult after-school special send-up is complete. For fans of surreal, subversive comedy I recommend this series. It's not for everyone, but nothing is. I don't what that means.
A passing grade, though the lack of extras will and the accused a week of detention.
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