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New series review: The Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central)

An unsettling apprehension creeps in and quickly claims squatter's rights: Anyone who watches The Sarah Silverman Program surely is going straight to hell.

It's way too late for this reviewer, who's already both laughed and cringed his way through the first two episodes of Comedy Central's diciest effort ever. Even South Park must bow to the sheer audacity and bad taste of a show whose heroine beds the very amorous "Black God" and then dumps him in Thursday's first episode (9:30 p.m. central, 10:30 eastern).

Just to be clear, we're not talking euphemistically here. This really is an all-powerful Supreme Being from on high who had a "really, really good time" with Sarah and wants to take her on a second date to heaven, where he'll introduce her to Thomas Jefferson. Her disinterested response: "All right, so I guess I'll see you around some time."

It won't get any tamer in next Thursday's second episode, which bitch-slaps viewers with this opening ditty from the comedian also known as Jimmy Kimmel's girlfriend: "I always wake up with the morning sun. I always take my pills with herbal tea. I always never cry and I've always wondered why I always have to watch myself when I go pee. I really love my life and I'll also tell you what. If I find a stick I'll put it in your momma's butt. And pull it out and stick the doody in her eye."

That pretty much covers the landscape of a show that just doesn't give a damn whom, what or when it offends. There's value in that and box office multi-millions in Borat. But Silverman is no Sacha Baron Cohen when it comes to turning outrageousness into mega-belly laughs. She shoots and scores, but only about 20 percent of the time.

Otherwise her comedy clangs and bangs away, with a seemingly brilliant mind lurking beneath bits that should be beneath her. These include a merry farting contest at a diner between gay friends Brian and Steve (Brian Posehn, Steve Agee). Sarah gamely joins in but instead ends up singing, "I just tried to be like the others but I pooped instead." Not exactly a gas.

Sarah's character, named Sarah Silverman, is an intensely self-absorbed, jobless slacker who sponges off her nurse sister Laura (real-life sibling Laura Silverman). Thursday's opener more or less is built around the title character's attempt to buy batteries for her TV's remote control. Unfortunately for her, the entrance to Fan-Tasti-Mart is being blocked by a wheelchair race and two wisecracking cops. (Look for Masi Oka, now a hot star on Heroes, in a brief role as the convenience store clerk.)

Black God eventually gives battery-thieving Sarah a reprieve, turning the two cops into boxes of Bugles. She quickly snacks on them, which is funny. Then it's time to hit the sack with the Creator in a sequence that just might lead to no small number of thundering pulpits this Sunday. Silverman clearly could give a crap.

The second episode finds Sarah with a cold and sister Laura again providing the scratch she needs to buy some cough syrup. She happily slugs down some industrial strength, nighttime-only stuff, sending her on an inventively funny hallucinatory trip to outer space in which she meets a friendly orange Loch Ness monster.

Soon, though, we're back to fart and vagina humor. Sarah also messes up Laura's budding romance with Officer Jay (Jay Johnston). She can't stand it that her sister is going to dinner with him on a night when they always watch Cookie Party! together on TV.

Through it all, Silverman is thoroughly unafraid to make an ass of herself, both as the character she plays and the material she purveys. There's no other comic like her, which in a way is a good thing. Still, she's got balls as well as the vagina to which she regularly refers. And sometimes that's a winning combination.

Grade: B-minus