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On this "painfully special" episode of
Strangers With Candy
:

    We first meet 46-year-old Jerri Blank at a high school Anti-Drug Rally. Jerri explains that since her recent release from jail she has returned to the old life that she gave up long ago. For 32 years Jerri lived the life of a teenaged runaway, but now she is living back at home and she has re-enrolled as a freshman at Flatpoint High.
    All she wants is to be popular, but nobody in Mr. Noblet's History class is interested in accepting her invitation to the party she's throwing on the upcoming weekend. Even after she tells them there will be "hot fruit" she still has no takers. Jerri seems to be as much of a pariah to the faculty as she is to the student body. Mr. Noblet expresses concern about Jerri's party plans and informs her that she's in danger of failing his class, even though they're just three days into the term.
    At her locker, Jerri tries to ingratiate herself with the popular Poppy Downes by inviting her to Mini Strokes for some putt-putt, but Poppy uses the excuse that she has a fitting for the Homecoming crown.
    Orlando (left), Jerri's only ally, doesn't think that she should be bending over backwards to befriend the popular girls. He tells her that she should hear the kinds of things that they say about her face behind her back. This friendly advice doesn't dissuade her, though.
   Jerri seeks the advice of her art teacher, Mr. Jellineck. He appears to have a soft spot for Jerri and his advice to her is simple, "Go with what you know."
    Jerri runs into Poppy, Cody, and Brittany in the Girls Room and she tries to make conversation with them about cockfights and female troubles. After Poppy's friends slink away, Jerri offers to whip up a batch of drugs that'll make Poppy trip her "tight little ass off."  Poppy seems doubtful, but she accepts the offer.
    That night, after consulting the urn that contains her dead mother's ashes, Jerri concocts a batch of her homemade Glint. She fills a plastic bag with the substance and the next day, in the locker room before gym class, Poppy spreads a little too much of the Glint on her lips and is quickly whisked away to wonderland.
    Poppy then impresses Coach Wolf with her agility, speed, and strength, but she appears to be in a trance. Then, believing herself to be a bumble-bee who must return to the hive, Poppy makes a fatal dash toward the gym doors in an attempt to fly through the keyhole. Poppy ends up in a coma and is hospitalized.
    Principal Blackman wants to find the culprit who supplied Poppy with the Glint, but his investigation is fruitless. He tries to squeeze a confession out of Jerri, but she feigns ignorance. Blackman is certain that when Poppy emerges from her coma she will reveal the name of the responsible party.
    Jerri goes to visit Poppy in the hospital to make sure that she won't open her big mouth. After entering Poppy's room Jerri pulls a plug out of the wall to shut off her life support. When this causes the patient in the next bed to gasp and groan, Jerri realizes that she's pulled the wrong plug and she loses her nerve. Then a male nurse enters the room and, thinking that Jerri is Poppy's uncle, he informs her that Poppy passed away about an hour earlier.
    The next day at school, Blackman gathers the students together to discuss the tragedy and to dedicate a time capsule in Poppy's honor. Jerri takes advantage of the situation and asks for a show of hands to see who would like to attend her "Poppy Downes Memorial" party. Of course, all hands go up for Poppy's sake.
    At the party Jerri tries to make out with Poppy's boyfriend, Brad, and she tries to convince Poppy's grieving parents that she was Poppy's best friend. The party is a success until Amber, one of the guests, tells Jerri that the hot fruit has made her lips numb. Jerri then realizes that she made her hot fruit in the same bowl that she mixed the Glint in. One reveler, named Paul, is obviously under the influence of the Glint and he gets hold of Jerri's pet turtle, Shelly, and starts tossing her around. The turtle meets a tragic end when she's swatted with a golf club and is thrust through a sliding glass patio door.
    In the end, Poppy's parents have lost a child and Jerri has lost a turtle. Who can say which is the greater loss? I don't know, but I don't think that Jerri will be mixing up any more Glint or hot fruit any time soon.


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Episode Title: "Old Habits, New Beginnings"

Tony's Rating:

Original Airdate: 4/7/99

Production Number: 1-01

Directed by: Peter Lauer

Writers: Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris, Mitch Rouse

Regular Cast: AS, DR, GH, LS, MT (background, no dialogue), OP, PD, RG, SC, ST

Featuring:  Jenna Lamia (Poppy), Audrey Owen (Cody), Sarah Thompson (Brittany)
With:  Mitch Rouse (Officer Savillion)
With:  Susan Gordon Clark (Mrs. Downes), Paul Dawson (Paul), Aisha Henderson, Jason Jones, Harry Murphy, April Williams, Scott Parker, Amber Stone (Amber), Louis DeLuca (Orderly), Alex James (Brad), Karen Goberman

Extra, Extra:
·
Liz Fagan can be seen sitting in front of Jerri at the assembly in the opening scene.
· There's a quick shot of Maria Thayer (Tammi) in the tragic gym scene after Poppy goes wild.


Flatpoint Lexicon:

Glint (glĭnt) n. [made-up slang] home-made narcotic, created by mixing common household chemicals: resulting neon blue-green gel is spread on one's lips. (aka Glimmer, Glow, Satan's Harelip)

laminectomy (lă·mĭ·nĕk'·tä·mē) n. the surgical removal of all or part of the bony arch of a spinal vertebra

L-Glutamine (ĕl gloo'·tä·mēn) n. the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is predominantly synthesized and stored in skeletal muscle. The typical dietary intake of L-glutamine is 5 to 10 grams daily and usually comes from animal and plant proteins.

peyote (pā·ō'·tē) n. a small, spineless cactus of N Mexico, and the SW U.S., with rounded stems, whose buttonlike tops are chewed, specif., in religious ceremonies by Mexican Indians, for their hallucinogenic efects; mescal

plug (plŭg) n. an old, worn-out horse

rigamarole (rĭg'·ä·mä·rōl) or rigmarole (rĭg'·mä·rōl) n. a foolishly involved, fussy, or time-wasting procedure

selenium sulphide (sĕ·lē·nē·ŭm sŭl·fīd) n. active ingredient in dandruff shampoos that specifically destroys a type of fungus called dermatophyte and causes a decrease in the production of cells in the top layer of skin, as well as the amount of natural oil (sebum) produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.


 
Additional Episode Information

Trivia:
· When Stephen Colbert was in the eighth grade his teacher warned the class never to do acid because he knew of a boy who took acid, thought himself to be a bumblebee, and tried to force himself through a keyhole.
· Guy Blank's apparent catatonia is a reference to the fact that father figures were often either not present or were weak and ineffectual in the ABC After School Specials.
· At the Poppy Downes Memorial Party at the Blanks' house, Jerri wears a top that was owned by the show's Wardrobe Supervisor, Antonia Xereas.
· Shelly was originally supposed to be killed with a baseball bat.
· Three different endings were written before the show's creative team decided on the one that ultimately was used. In one version, Jerri was to have confessed to giving Poppy the glint at the dedication of the time capsule in the gym. In another, Jerri ran away, just as she did at the end of the original pilot, "Retardation: A Celebration"
· Amy Sedaris wore her own personal fatty suit during the show's first season.
· The name "glint" was a Paul Dinello creation.
· Paul Dinello knew Greg Hollimon (Blackman) from their days together as members of The Yardstick Boys comedy troupe. When he, Amy, and Stephen were creating the character of the school's principal, they knew that they wanted him to be a black man, but they didn't have a name for him. Eventually, just as with Jerri's last name, the placeholder that they'd used in the early versions of the first pilot's script became the character's actual last name.
· The line, "Go with what you know," and the painting that Jellineck was working on, "The Battle of Miami", were derived, respectively, from a piece of advice and a song that the creative team picked up at Second City.
· Jellineck was the name of Paul Dinello's art teacher in grade school.
· Noblet assigns his class to read chapters 15 through 23, "Rise of the Incas".
· The house that was used for the Blank's home throughout the first season was for sale at the time. Sometimes while they were filming, realtors would bring prospective buyers to see the house.
· The school that was used for first season interiors was a former elementary school that was going to be completely gutted, so the SWC crew had permission to do whatever they wanted to walls, doors, etc.
· Jerri buys her clothes at "The Comfort Zone". Amy Sedaris got the name Comfort Zone from an item in a catalog for amputees. It's the name of a brand of sheath that is pulled over the stump of an amputated limb to protect the skin from being chafed by a prosthesis.
· Louis DeLuca, who played the orderly, was Amy Sedaris's boss at Marion's Continental, the bar/restaurant in the Bowery where Amy used to wait tables. He also appeared as an orderly in the second season episode, "The Goodbye Guy", and as a Flatpoint teacher in the original unaired pilot.
· Mitch Rouse was one of the co-creators of Strangers With Candy and was also a castmember of Exit 57, along with Amy, Paul, Stephen, and Jodi Lennon. The name of Mitch's character was given to me by Matt Lappin, the show's Additional Writer & Script Coordinator.
· Amy Sedaris was actually afraid to handle the animals that played Jerri's pets throughout the first season: Shelly the turtle (in this episode), Leslie the albino boa constrictor, Clausen the lobster, and Suki the Japanese Silky. Gregory the woodpecker wasn't real.
· Poppy's friends were named Cody and Brittany in the script, but their names weren't mentioned in the episode. Thanks to Audrey Owen for the information.
· When Shelly crashed through the sliding door, the $1500 sugar glass was supposed to shatter, but didn't. Fortunately the cameras kept rolling and Amy just kicked her way through.

The Best Things In This Episode:
· Jerri's combination of innocent naiveté and deadly worldliness.
· Jerri's belief that hot fruit would entice people.
· The beginning of the tradition, first season only, of Jerri's tragic pets.
· The gym scene, where Poppy thought she was a bumble bee.
· The lackadaisical hospital orderly thought that Jerri was Poppy's uncle.
· Jerri's willingness to pull the plug on Poppy and her gleeful reaction to the news of Poppy's timely death.

Closing Credits Dance Sequence: The cast boogies to the "Funky Beat" in the gym.

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