The Sarah Silverman Program Season Three Early Review

After a wait of more than a year, The Sarah Silverman Program is finally returning to Comedy Central with its third season premiere tonight at 10:30 PM ET. As part of their new deal, episodes will re-air the following Tuesdays on Logo, also at 10:30. Comedy Central offered us an early look at the first two episodes of Sarah's latest ventures.

If you've had trouble stomaching The Sarah Silverman Program in the past, you might want to keep staying away. It's just as bizarre and odd and shocking and hilarious as the show has always been. I'll give kudos to the cast, though. With each season their skills as actors actually improves. I don't even know if Silverman wanted everybody to get better, as the awkwardness in line delivery at times added to the humor of it, but it happened anyway.

Of the two episodes featured, I preferred the second one. In the first, Sarah grows a mustache after her sister cuts her off financially -- which is gross, but then you find yourself weirdly used to seeing it on her face. The primary focus of the episode is in Laura's attempts to teach Sarah to take financial responsibility for herself. Basically, she wants her to "man up" and take care of herself. Maybe if she told Sarah that she was in fact part man, even going so far as to give her her little severed baby penis? There's no way Sarah would take that information and run with it in a ridiculous direction.

The B-story involves Brian and Steve, haunted by the ghost of a neighbor who was killed by their flying remote control. The whole thing is so ridiculous, but worth it solely for the moment when they debate whether they have time for this whole haunting thing right now in their schedule.

With the second episode, though, the show is really back to doing what it does very well. Satirizing everything that is supposed to be good and decent on television. This time, they do so directly by having a misguided network executive actually give Sarah her own show. Even worse, it's a children's show. What surprised me was that Sarah actually did a fairly decent job at it, for the most part, despite being distracted by a hit show, and needing to take a dump while taping.

It was when she was advised to put a message into the show that things went off the rails. But before that, she got to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher to fight with Jay's advocacy group intent on shutting her down for having no healthy message for children. Maher was clearly having a lot of fun, and put on a good performance for the episode. Is that really all it takes to get on his show?

As always, Sarah has plenty of goofy songs and crazy moments in each episode. The opening sequence of the second episode alone, when she wakes up hoping for pancakes, only to find the pan empty, is classic Sarah Silverman. That this mundane event led to a musical number, and ultimately her getting her own children's show worked seamlessly for the episode.

Right now it looks like this ensemble is clicking very well. The characters are well-defined, and able to sustain scenes and storylines independent of the main one, all the while keeping the jokes and laughs coming. The Sarah Silverman Program isn't for everyone, but then again neither is the real Silverman, but she's the best at what she brings to the table. It's crude, vulgar, immature, stupid ... and yet surprisingly smart.