There are four general axioms for The Sarah Silverman Program here at TV Club:
1) The SSP's B-stories are typically funnier than the A-stories.
2) The SSP feels labored when it tackles ostensibly taboo subject matter.
3) The SSP is funniest when it's silliest.
4) Laura Silverman is the cuter of the two Silverman sisters.
Thursday's SSP speaks directly to those edicts by eschewing envelope-pushing in favor an episode devoted to piss (and beards). It also may be the show's most ambitious episode to date, with its musical numbers and mixture of live action and animation. With all of that going for it, "Pee" could very well have been the funniest episode of the season or series. It wasn't, but it still gets points for ambition.
And it begins ambitiously, with live-action half-mermaid Sarah swimming in an animated underwater world, singing a jaunty song. She gets a little chilly swimming around, but soon feels a soothing warmness. That's the cue for Sarah to wake up and realize she pissed the bed.
She makes a hysterical call to Laura (of course) about an "accident," so Jay and Laura race over in the police cruiser, lights and siren wailing, Jay storming the apartment with his service weapon. Sarah never takes her eyes off the TV she's watching, but directs the duo to the bedroom–where they discover a giant wet spot on the mattress, and not the good kind, am I right everybody? And have you ever noticed how men always leave the toilet seat up? What's the deal with that? (Jay sniffs his fingers–twice–to verify it's urine.)
Jay of course chastises Sarah, who of course denies any wrongdoing. "Well if you're gonna say it like with that inflection, anything's gonna sound bad. [Dumb-sounding voice] 'Uh, you just planted a tree in Israel?'"
Cue the Brian-Steve B-story: The schlubs are heading to the mall to take their ironic Christmas photo. Cue the standard Brian-Steve conflict: Steve hates Brian's long, crazy beard! Actually, aside from their awesome ironic outfits–Steve in the red turtleneck with holly broach killed me–the usually funnier Steve-Brian B-plot was not better than the A-plot. The part where Brian got his beard stuck in the escalator was interminable, and I have yet to see any contrary evidence to my belief that Adam Carolla is not funny. His bit part here didn't change my mind, though I heard that movie he did was funny. (But funny if you consider it stars Adam Carolla, or genuinely funny on its own terms, unrelated to the abject horribleness that was The Man Show?)
After Sarah pisses the bed again the next day–via another animated dream sequence–Laura tries to tell Sarah she has a problem. "It's not a problem, Laura–I'm kind of great at it!" she says. This causes strain with Laura and Jay, as Sarah's shenanigans always do: They're going on an overnight trip, and they need someone to look after Jay's beloved pet turtle, Toot. But Sarah can't stay over, because, as Jay shouts in the café, "I just don't want our mattress soaked with her disgusting urine, oooookkkaaay?" (Embarrassed and feeling guilty, Jay tries to console Sarah afterward by saying, "My urine is no prize, either.")
Sarah tries to get a handle on her problem via a solution proposed by a young girl she meets at the grocery store: Stay awake by eating jellybeans and ice cream. (Cue another song-and-dance number and lots of Ben & Jerry's product placement.)
And when Jay gives in and lets Sarah babysit Toot, the stakes get higher.
The SSP can be really funny when the cast just gives in to whimsical silliness, and Toot the turtle's turn for the sinister had some inspired randomness: "We'll have children together, Sarah. The boy will be named Seth, and the girl Mandy Moore." Rob Schrab's voice made it extra creepy. (The SSP director also had a cameo as one of the maintenance men in the mall.)
Sarah suffers a sleep-deprivation psychosis and of course ends up shooting Toot with the very gun he told her she needed for protection. When Jay discovers the turtle's carcass later, Sarah has tried to put it back together with masking and duct tape. Once again, Jay has been burned by his girlfriend's sister. Is it worth it, Jay? (Answer: yes.)
The episode ends as it began, with Sarah singing a jaunty song in an underwater world, this time with an animated Toot and Doug the dog driving a wee yellow submarine. Here's hoping you like all this animation: The next episode, "There's No Place Like Homeless," has more, but in more of a Roger Rabbit scenario, with animated animals mingling with the cast. Stay tuned for hilarity! Grade: B
— That deliciously cheesy synth-rock song that plays when Brian and Steve get to the mall is by flamboyant "teen music sensation" Scotty Vanity. (His EP Eyeliner Is Spiffy available now! Other tracks include "I Like Your Hair" and "I Wanna Do Your Make Up.") Here's his super-low-budget video "Let's Go To The Mall":
— Every episode has at least a couple surprisingly artful shots. This one's was the first shot of Brian and Steve going up the escalator at the mall. That creepy turtle does good work!
— This picture kind of rules: