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SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM

Comedy Central• Thursday, Feb. 1 (10:30 p.m.)

Comedy Central's new series The Sarah Silverman Program opens with its eponymous star introducing herself to viewers. “I'm Sarah Silverman, and I'm just like you,” says the deceptively sweet-looking actress, writer and comedienne. The line is meant to be ironic — unless you happen to have an original, uncommonly skewed comedic sense that's as unnerving as it is hilarious.

Pushing no-holds-barred comedy as far as basic cable will permit (and seemingly then some), Silverman revels in tackling every taboo imaginable as she cheerfully goes about insulting everyone, regardless of race, religion, age, physical handicap or life-threatening disease.

The series revolves around Silverman, her sister Laura (played by real-life sibling Laura) and their gay-couple friends Brian and Steve (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee). In the episodes reviewed, main plot points concern Sarah's quest for replacement batteries for her TV remote control, Laura's falling for a police office that her sister can't stand and Brian's insistence that he's not gay, but bisexual. There is also a subplot involving a sexual encounter that gives new meaning to the phrase “divine intervention” and a musical number about flatulence gone wrong.

Needless to say, The Sarah Silverman Program will not be everyone's cup of herbal tea (Sarah's drink of choice when taking her pills). Silverman devotees and fans of shock comedy, rejoice! All others, beware.

George Vernadakis

TOP DESIGN

Bravo • Wed, Jan. 31 (11 p.m.)

Bravo, which has mined the competition-series genre with Project Runway and Top Chef, is poised to see how home interiors stick on its viewers screens.

A fair amount of it does with Top Design. During the premiere, affable host Todd Oldham splotched encouragement and tips to the 12 contestants, who were teamed to create an “inner sanctum” based on five objects owned by an unseen client.

Per usual, personality traits were revealed, tempers flared and anguish invoked during the process, aided by $50,000 worth of goodies from L.A.'s Pacific Design Center.

The finished interiors, though, proved interesting with recessed walls, a Chinese bridal bed and a swing on display for the three regular judges and the mystery client.

One team was eliminated from a chance to take home a $100,000 grand prize from LendingTree, a new 2007 Acadia from GMC and an editorial feature in Elle Decor.

If it sounds like a lot of product integration, judge Margaret Russell, the title's editor in chief, may very well be the show's top placement. Patrician and snooty, Russell's praise came qualified, and she may just rate as someone viewers — like on another competition show — love to hate.

Mike Reynolds

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