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On this "painfully special" episode of
Strangers With Candy

    After Jerri pounds on the timpani and refuses to follow Mr. Jellineck's instructions, he is forced to kick her off the school orchestra. After the class ends and the students have all filed out of the room, Jerri picks up various instruments to try them out. Mr. Noblet happens to stop by and hears the horrible sounds she makes, but he's amazed when he hears the sounds she makes with the violin (she calls it the "stringy paddle"). It seems that Jerri is a violin prodigy, so Noblet decides to take her under his wing. When he was a child, Noblet's mother wanted him to play the violin that his father and grandfather had played. Now, Chuck wants to have vicarious success through Jerri, so he pushes her to practice, practice, practice. Chuck stops by to tell the Blanks that Jerri is special, but Sara thinks that he means a different kind of "special". When he explains that Jerri is a violin prodigy, Guy Blank runs off and locks himself in the bathroom. Jerri doesn't want to hurt her daddy, but she has to see if she can become successful at something that comes naturally to her. Mr. Jellineck tries to lure Jerri back to the orchestra, but Noblet dismisses him. Noblet doesn't let Jerri hang with Orlando or do anything else, but practice the violin. At home, Sara makes Jerri groom the family cat and her hands get all scratched up. Back at school, Jerri and Noblet spend practically every minute of the day together, but Jerri longs to be outside smashing Jellineck's car with the other kids. Noblet is about to have Jerri play "Bachianas Brasileiras" (he pronounces it "Brasilieros"), by Villa-Lobos, but when he sees the damage that the Blank's cat did to his hands, I mean Jerri's hands, he tells Jerri that he's going to bring her to live with him. After school, Mr. Noblet brings Jerri home so she can pack her things and while she's in the house he waits in the car with her pet woodpecker, Gregory. After he's attacked by the bird, Noblet kills and stuffs him in the glove compartment. Jerri gets into the car and they back out of the Blank's driveway and into Noblet's driveway, across the street. Time goes by, Jerri and Noblet celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together. On New Years Eve, Geoffrey drops by to give Chuck a fun bucket of assorted popcorn and the two come to blows over Chuck's obsession. The night of the Tri-County Music Championship, after a young boy from Charlaton Elementary finishes his piano solo, Jerri announces her decision to give up playing the violin for a number of reasons: 1. Because she knows that her father disapproves, 2. Because she's not pleased with the toll that the required dedication has taken on her social life, and 3. Because of the effect it has had on the oddly close relationship of her two teachers. The episode ends with Jerri and her dad playing a rousing duet in the Flatpoint High auditorium. It was the first time Guy Blank had played a violin in the 32 years since his prodigal daughter ran away from home and his wife, her mother, died of a broken heart. How touching.

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Episode Title: "To Be Young, Gifted, and Blank"

Tony's Rating:

Original Airdate: 7/5/99

Production Number: 1-09

Directed by: Dan Dinello

Writers: Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris
Additional Writer: Matt Lappin

Regular Cast: AS, DR, GH, LS, OP, PD, RG, SC

Featuring:  Evelyn McGee (Noblet's Mother)

Flatpoint Lexicon:

charlatan (shar'·lä·tĕn) n. a person who pretends to have expert knowledge or skill that he or she does not have; fake; mountebank

stringy paddle (strēng'·ē păd'·l) n. a violin

timpani or tympani (tĭm'·pä·nē) n. a set of kettledrums of different pitches played by one performer in an orchestra

Additional Episode Information

The title of this episode alludes to Lorraine Hansberry's autobiographical "To Be Young, Gifted and Black". Hansberry is best known for her play "A Raisin in the Sun", which featured prominently in episode 1-03, "Dreams on the Rocks".
· The Blank family's cat is named Scabby.
· When Jerri prepares to leave home and move in with Noblet, she packs what appears to be a pair of panties or a hanky (after giving the item a good, long sniff), five assorted condoms, her mother's urn, a pillow, and a sombrero.
· The boy from Charlaton Elementary School who plays the piano before Jerri goes up on stage was named Christopher Surles. I'm not sure if he was played by the real Christopher Surles or not, but there was a baby in the Shock Productions short film, Beyond the Door, who was played by a Christopher Surles, who may have been old enough by 1999 to appear in this SWC episode.
· Principal Blackman calls Jerri by her full name, "Geraldine Antonia Blank". Amy Sedaris has stated that when she first created her character she wanted her to be named either "Jerri" or "Toni".
· In the beginning of the episode, Jellineck's class plays a piece from Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". Jerri plays another selection from the same opus (#67) when Noblet happens by and discovers her "gift". Noblet mentions having Jerri play "Bachianas Brasileiras", by Heitor Villa-Lobos, but we don't get to hear that piece. The rousing song at the end of the episode is the bluegrass classic, "Dueling Banjos".
· Evelyn McGee (Noblet's mother) is Stephen Colbert's wife and the mother of their three children. She also appeared, uncredited, as Nurse Chestnut in the original pilot, "Retardation, A Celebration", and also portrayed Clair Noblet in the Strangers With Candy movie.
· In episode 2-04, "The Goodbye Guy", Noblet's father is still alive, but in this episode it is implied that he is dead.

On The 'Flatpoint High School' Sign:
· (and later...)

The Best Things In This Episode:
· When Noblet backs out of the Blank's driveway and into his own.
· Jerri's yearning to join in the destruction of Jellineck's car.
· Jerri's violin duet with her Dad.

Closing Credits Dance Sequence:  Jerri and Noblet fiddle around on the stage of the Flatpoint High auditorium.

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