The Sarah Silverman Program: "The Mongolian Beef"
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The Sarah Silverman Program: "The Mongolian Beef"


Sarah and Laura Silverman, they're a funny duo. They probably have all sorts of inside jokes from the nearly 38 years they've spent together. You know, like how Laura looks vaguely Asian and Sarah doesn't? Wait a second… what if there was a whole episode built around that premise?
That's how the second part of the The Sarah Silverman Program's "special 2 night Premiere Event" felt: like an inside joke between the Silverman sisters stretched to episode length. I didn't say it wasn't funny, but it felt especially fast and loose for a show that already operates with minimal logical cohesion. In its own way, though, it only makes sense that an episode that begins with a stranger speaking Chinese to Laura would end with a lawsuit by the "Mongolian Board Of Tourism" and a rockin' party straight out of an '80s teen movie. Fast and loose, like I said.
Race is Sarah Silverman's favorite comic well, and she returns to it so much that it's gotta be running dry sometime soon. This time, it centers on the high cheekbones and exotically shaped eyes that make her sister look "vaguely Asian." It comes from the Silvermans' ancestors, Russian Jews who were raped by Mongol invaders back whenever that stuff happened. (We strive to spread the knowledge of history here at TV Club.) "You get mom's chin and her rapist's eyes," Sarah says, acting as if Laura herself was raped by the Mongolians. Soon, yesterday's evil appears today: Sarah's landlords, a nice Asian couple, are raising her rent $15, like they do every two years. But they're not only Asian–they're Mongolian!
Thus begins Sarah's war against the Mongols. Her opening salvo? A giant billboard of Laura's face saying "Product of a Mongolian rapist!" ("You cannot run around so casually using that word," Jay admonishes Sarah. "Rape is for special occasions!") A lawsuit follows, with the Mongolian Board Of Tourism responding with their own billboard: a picture of Sarah that says "I am similar to bowel movement."
At this point, I should mention the Steve-Brian B-plot, which begins with Brian walking in on Steve sitting in a cardboard box, with a motorcycle helmet on backwards, in front of a green screen.
"It's not what you think," Steve says, embarrassed.
"I think you're filming yourself being retarded," Brian responds.
"Yes, it is what you think."
To scratch an itch he had for web video, Steve has secretly been making low-budget sci-fi shorts called Steve Racer: Adventures In The Rad Zone. The shorts fall into the same bad-yet-also-pretty-awesome zone that has produced thousands of web celebrities, and Brian encourages Steve to keep doing it, especially because there's so much stupid crap online. To prove his point, he pulls up some web video that counts as this episode's funniest scene: an orange that's supposed to be Anthony Edwards but sounds like Bill Cosby. The sheer randomness of it is inspired, and if there's extra footage of Orange Anthony Edwards, it had damn well better be on the DVD extras, Comedy Central!
Steve's flair for video comes in handy during Sarah's trial with the Mongolian Tourism Board. She, Steve, and Brian film a psychedelic sci-fi re-enactment of the Mongol invasion–still not as funny as Anthony Edwards orange–but it proves unnecessary. When Sarah goes to the board's hotel room to confront them about the bowel-movement billboard, she ends up joining in on their party, which eerily recalls the one in Back To School with Oingo Boingo. Everyone parties together, and all is forgiven–so much so that they forget to show up for the judge's verdict in the morning. It doesn't matter, Sarah and the tourism board drop their cases, and all's well that ends well.
Summing up her day with her dog, as she does every episode, Sarah says what the experience taught her: "I learned that for people who are called 'nomads,' they can actually get pretty angry." That joke makes me think of one my favorites from season 2A: "I may have had an abortion, but at least I'm not a bore, son!"
This episode felt like it went off the rails in its final third, but maybe that was an homage to those Rodney Dangerfield films where everything's solved with a big party, and it doesn't have to make sense. (Or maybe that only occurred in that episode of The Simpsons, which closes with everyone drinking fruity cocktails and rocking out to Journey's "Any Way You Want It.") Whether it stayed on the rails or not, I'll be laughing about the Anthony Edwards orange that talks like Bill Cosby for a while.
Grade: B
All night, all night, all ev'ry night:

— Sarah to Laura: "Okay, maybe you look the tiniest bit Chinese, but it's not like I go around speaking Hebrew to every guy with an oily nose."
— The whole scene of Jay at the urinal with the Mongolian guy seemed completely unnecessary. Though this exchange made me laugh:
"Camels in Mongolia, right? Two humps?"
"Oh yes, they are hairy and have two humps."
— Comedy Central didn't post any video from this episode, but here's a season preview:

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