On this "painfully special" episode of
Strangers With Candy:
The original pilot has never aired, but at one time clips could be seen on the Comedy Central SWC page. Elements from future episodes are combined. Jerri Blank is the new old girl at Flatpoint High (see "Old Habits, New Beginnings") and her day is started when she's awakened by her alarm clock and her bellowing stepmother (played here by Sarah Thyre). After she's dressed she bounds into the kitchen and says goodbye to her father, stepmother, and brother Derrick. Then Jerri arrives at school and greets Principal Blackman in the lobby. In history class she listens to Kimberly Timothy's report about America's WWII Japanese Internment Camps, then presents her own report about an incident that led to a laminectomy, a report that was supposed to be about Brazil. When the bell rings Mr. Noblet gives a reading assignment and announces that any student with information about the school's missing mascot, the Concrete Donkey, should report to Principal Blackman. After class Jerri is recruited by Noblet to spy on her lockermate, cheerleader Kimberly Timothy, to determine whether the girl is retarded or not (see "Who Wants Cake?"). Jerri sees Kimberly at her locker and confronts her. Jerri says something vague that Kimberly doesn't understand and Jerri assumes that this lack of comprehension is a sign of mental deficiency. Then Jerri takes her turtle, Shelly, out of her locker and heads to her after-school job at the Fossilton Rehabilitation Center For The Ancient. Her supervisor, Dr. Brabham, had just broken up an encounter between two orderlies. One orderly, Laughton, had determined that the other, Troy, has been abusing patients medication. Laughton tried to convince Troy to end the abuse, but Troy just forced Laughton into a locker. The themes of friends, betrayal, and lockers remind Jerri of her situation at school. After work Jerri seeks advice from her catatonic father, Guy. Her annoying half-brother Derrick enters the room and instigates an argument so Jerri taunts him by mentioning the stolen school mascot. Her stepmother intervenes and during her scuffle with Jerri, Shelly escapes through the front door and gets run over by a semi (see "Old Habits, New Beginnings"). The next day, Jerri seeks advice from Sears, the school librarian, and he suggests that he and Jerri listen to a Wilford Brimley-narrated cassette called "Retardation, A Celebration". Meanwhile, Principal Blackman and Noblet enjoy a shower in the Teachers Lounge (see "Let Freedom Ring") and discuss whether Jerri has made any progress at playing "pin the tail on the retard" yet. Before going to bed that night Jerri discusses her quandary with her real mother's cremated ashes and talks about how she would have dealt with the problem in the past. She tosses and turns throughout the restless night, seeing visions of Kimberly, Noblet, Blackman, Shelly, her druggie past, and hearing the words of Wilford Brimley over and over. The next day Jerri visits Principal Blackman to find out what he'll do to Kimberly if it turns out that she actually is retarded. He tries to coerce Jerri into cooperating by informing her that she has been getting failing grades, even though it's only the third day of the school year. He assures her that they only want to find a way to harness Kimberly's tremendous strength. Jerri's parents have been summoned to the office to pressure her into complying. Sarah insults Jerri's ability to even take care of a turtle, which causes Jerri to run out of the office in a rage. While running down the hall Jerri sees Kimberly eating cake, which is a sure sign of retardation according to Wilford Brimley. Before they leave his office Principal Blackman offers the Blank's a shower, but they decline. Blackman immediately picks up the phone, dials the Blank's number, and lets the phone ring until they get home and pick it up. Guy ends up insulting Blackman for causing Jerri to run away. Jerri goes to Fossilton and Laughton helps her give a patient a sponge bath. He volunteers to "cradle the delicates", then asks Jerri for advice about whether he should squeal on Troy or not. After advising Laughton to turn snitch, Jerri decides to do the same. When Jerri returns home she finds that Blackman, Noblet, and Sears have paid a visit. They had been enjoying fondue and all was civil, but things turned ugly when Blackman suggested that Guy should tame his wife by taking a strap to her backside. Jerri enters to see Noblet and Blackman trying to convince Guy to put down his nunchaku. Jerri breaks the tension by announcing that she's free to betray whomever she wants and she's going to start with Kimberly. "I'm not the same Jerri Blank who found those bones on the side of the freeway and didn't report it. I'm not the same Jerri Blank who watched those women drown. And I'm not the same Jerri Blank who took a crap in the Fleischman's holly bushes... last night." Jerri also tries to announce that she knows that the whereabouts of the missing Concrete Donkey, but nobody is left to hear her. Perhaps they would have been interested to know that the story involves a Filipino, but they've all gone off with their flaming potato/caramel fondues (see "Feather In The Storm") to bag themselves a retard. In the final scene Jerri gets her uterus scraped and reflects on the events of the week. "My father just got his pilot's license and my stepmother still aggravates the hell out of me. She grounded me for letting that Indian stay in our basement. He didn't even have all his fingers. How was I supposed to know he could start a fire? Derrick's still a poo-hole. And as for Kimberly Timothy, they went through extreme measures to unleash her apelike strength and now... she's dead." At least Jerri can look forward to tonight's Barnacle Dance, just as long as they don't set up a craps table to tempt her gambling addiction. When Jerri looks down to check the progress of her uterus scraping, she gets a little concerned to see that Nurse Chestnut has worked up a lather, "That is lather, right?"
"Retardation: A Celebration"
aka "The Trip Back"
aka The Lost Episode of Strangers With Candy
Directed by: Adam Bernstein
Writers: Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Mitch Rouse, Amy Sedaris
Regular Cast: AS, GH, LS, PD, RG, SC, ST
Guest Cast: Laura Bell Bundy (Kimberly Timothy), James Murtaugh (Dr. Brabham), Joseph Scott (Fossilton patient),
Evelyn McGee (Nurse Chestnut, uncredited)
Extra, Extra: Louis DeLuca, who was Amy Sedaris's boss at Marion's Continental, is sitting in the Teachers Lounge when Noblet gets in the shower with Blackman. He'd later play a hospital orderly in "Old Habits, New Beginnings" and "The Goodbye Guy".
Brimley, Wilford (brĭm'·lē) b. Sep. 27, 1934 in Salt Lake City, UT; Actor (Cocoon, "Our House") best known for hawking diabetes testing supplies on TV.
delicates (dĕl'·ĭ·kĕts) n. male genitalia
|Additional Episode Information|
Jerri's stepmother is played by Sarah Thyre, who will play gym teacher Coach Cherri Wolf in future episodes.
The "hubris, overweening pride" line was inspired by Chicago's former mayor, Harold Washington.
Jerri has pictures of Marlene Dietrich, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Stein in her locker.
Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello play dual roles. Stephen plays Mr. Noblet at Flatpoint and Laughton at Fossilton. Paul plays Sears, the school librarian, and Troy at Fossilton. Laughton and Troy actually appeared in one of the final episodes of "Exit 57" a couple of years earlier. The main difference in the characters' situation was that instead of working in a hospital they were supermarket employees, and their boss, Mr. Brabham, was played by Mitch Rouse. Otherwise, the dynamic of their relationship was the same.
This original pilot, "Retardation, A Celebration", was shown as a "short film" on 3/13/99 at the New York Underground Film Festival, one month before SWC premiered on Comedy Central. It was shown during the 11:00pm portion ("All That Spazz") of the day's events, but was advertised with the title "The Trip Back". "Wheels of Fury" was also included within this block of shorts.
"Retardation, A Celebration" was also shown at the wrap party for the final episode of SWC, 9/16/00, at Opaline, 85 Avenue A in the East Village. It was followed by a documentary-style video montage of outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage, which was edited by Pam Arnold.
On 4/2/01, the pilot was shown at the "Strangers With Candy" seminar at New York's Museum of Television & Radio
Evelyn McGee (Nurse Chestnut) is Stephen Colbert's wife and the mother of their three children. She appears again in episode 1-09, "To Be Young, Gifted, and Blank", as Noblet's mother.
Paul Dinello's character Sears is named after the Sears List of Subject Headings that has served the needs of small and medium-sized libraries since it was developed by Minne Earl Sears in 1923. Thanks to Laurie Northrup for this tidbit.
On The 'Flatpoint High School' Sign: "HOME OF THE CONCRETE DONKEYS"
The Best Things About The Pilot:
It's familiar, yet different.
Shelly's fatal escape and the fact that Jerri and her Stepmother couldn't stop her.
Troy's (Paul Dinello) prescription drug abuse.
We actually get to witness Jerri's legendary uterus scraping.
Closing Credits Dance Sequence: Jerri and Blackman dance among other students in the school lobby.
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