Saturday, November 5, 2011

Conclusion To A Repetitive Series, Strangers With Candy Season 3 Is Nothing We Haven't Seen Before!

The Good: Funny bits, Acting, Even more Maria Thayer!
The Bad: Exceptionally repetitive humor, More stale bits, Ridiculously simple plots, No character development
The Basics: In this final season of Strangers With Candy, the show reveals its conceptual flaws, repeats itself and finally ends with a bang.

During the Museum of Television and Radio interview that appear in the second season DVD set for Strangers With Candy (reviewed here!), the show's executive producer, Kent Alterman, declares his belief that the show got better and better each season. He asserts that the show was getting more and more honed and then it was canceled. I respectfully disagree; I believe the second season of Strangers With Candy found the show hitting its stride. It was, quite simply, the one I was most tempted to recommend when writing my reviews.

Moreover, in the third season of Strangers With Candy, there comes something that neither of the previous two seasons had; a dud. The episode "There Once Was a Blank From Nantucket" falls drastically short of the level of humor of most of the episodes of Strangers With Candy. Unfortunate, yes. Inevitable? Possibly. Surprising? Not at all.

The thing that plagued Strangers With Candy from its very first season (reviewed here!) was its repetitive humor. Each episode is a parody of an after school morality-themed movie, like those that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s. The problem has been that while the episodes generally work as individual pieces, when watched sequentially, they quickly reveal a lack of originality between episodes. That is, each one takes the type of after school special it is parodying and mocks it in almost the exact same way as the other ones. So, for example, in "Jerri's Burning Issue," her resolution to her sexually transmitted disease and the way the issue is dealt with is almost identical to how her advice column in "Ask Jerri" is dealt with.

The third season finds Jerri wrestling with issues that are sometimes more nebulous than those in the past two seasons, making it a little harder to see where the show was going and what it was trying to accomplish. For example, in prior seasons, drug use and racism were tackled. In this season, there is an episode focusing on steroid use and one on racial sensitivity when Jerri discovers she is part Native American. Other issues tackled in the third season include: sexually transmitted diseases, censorship and freedom, self-respect (another of the weaker episodes), mental illness, consequences, bullies and popularity.

The only real difference between this season and the other two seasons of Strangers With Candy besides the appearance of cracks in the show's humor and ideas is that the series finale is in this set. And the series finale does bring some resolution to the show, which is nice.

The show gives Greg Hollimon a little more to do in the final season than he had in the prior seasons, which is nice. Hollimon has a great sense of humor and he deserves a lot of credit for being able to deliver some of the most offensive lines and deadpanned responses to other's incredibly insulting remarks. He is a real trooper and he deserves a lot of credit.

Stephen Colbert is wonderful as always, but the third season finds him simply continuing his performances from the prior two seasons as opposed to expanding the role or revealing more of his repertoire. It is unfortunate to see his talent going to waste on something so repetitive. The same can be said for Paul Dinello. The treat of the third season is that my favorite, Maria Thayer - who plays recurring character Tammi Littlenut - is back and she gets more airtime than in previous seasons. She is a treat to watch and she has a genuine quality to her that is quite exciting.

The show, however, hinges on the performances of Amy Sedaris. Sedaris plays Jerri Blank and she is as good in this season as in the prior two. Indeed, in the final episode, she is given the chance to spread her acting wings for the audience farther than we've previously seen. She does an excellent job playing Jerri.

But, at the end of the day, this is a season that merely compounds the problems of the prior two seasons in terms of the show's repetitive nature and tired reuse of the same plot reversals. Even fans of Strangers With Candy would do better with either of the prior two seasons as opposed to this one. Ideal for those with a real demented sense of humor.

For other third seasons of comedy shows, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia - Season 3
The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Third Season
Chef! - Series Three


For other television reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2005 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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