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

    Jerri has a difficult time in Noblet's class when she's asked to read from Moby Dick. She decides to improvise and takes glaring liberties with the text that nobody in the class seems to notice, "I've already read this one. Isn't this about that guuuuuy? There was this, uh, old man, with a beard, and, uh, he became friends with... a big white fish. And, um, they became such good friends that the fish moved in with the old man. But, uh, his old lady freaked out on him. So, uh, the fish, Dick, uh, decided to go on a road trip. And, uh, he got busted because they found out that he had a lot of narcotics, uh, hidden in his, uh, belly. And, uh, so, uh, he'd actually did five to ten at the state pen."  When she realizes that cheerleaders get all the guys, plus they're treated with kid gloves in class, she decides to try out for the Donkettes squad. Her main obstacle, however will be her illiteracy. She learns right away that cheerleaders need to know how to spell (WIN, VICTORY, etc.). Her illiteracy is quickly revealed and Jerri is immediately subjected to complete humiliation. Coach Wolf decides to postpone the tryouts until everyone has a chance to get over Jerri's shame. When word gets out that there's an illiterate student in his school, Principal Blackman is pressured to make sure she learns how to read and write. He assigns Jerri's nemesis, Chuck Noblet, to the task. The students harass Jerri constantly. The cruelest act of all comes when a guy named Daniel seems to take pity on her and asks her out on a date, but rescinds the offer by saying to her that since it's a foreign film she won't be able to read the subtitles. Jerri finds a kindred spirit named Glenn, a busdriver who doesn't know how to drive. The two decide to confront their problems head on and work toward overcoming them. Jerri will accept Noblet's tutoring and Glenn will attend the Spanish-speaking Drivers Education classes (due to budget problems, the Spanish teacher Señora Maria de los Angeles Pons Montez Garcia y Perez is assigned to teach Drivers Ed.). Jerri has a hard time grasping the basics of written language and even has to struggle to spell "O.K."  When Noblet held up flashcards in front of his face to see if Jerri even knew the letters of the alphabet her responses were disheartening: (flashcard): A, Jerri's response: "teepee"; (flashcard): I, Jerri's response: "dog bone"; (flashcard): E, Jerri's response: "pitchfork on its side with the handle torn off". After Noblet pulls the card down from in front of his face, Jerri points and says "Faggot". Then she says contritely, "just a reading joke". Just as she and Noblet are about to give up, she has a breakthrough with the word "CAT". This unleashes a torrent of spelled words from Jerri: C-U-P, "cup"; D-E-S-K, "desk"; P-E-N-S-U-L, "pencil" (close enough). She rushes to the gymnasium to demand a tryout and wows Coach Wolf and Mr. Jellineck with her acrobatics and her correct spelling. She makes the cut. The next day, the squad is on a bus heading for a big game. Jerri decides to use herself as an example and encourage her non-driving busdriver friend Glenn to take the wheel. He proceeds slowly and Jerri offers to read the map for him. She ends up obstructing his view and the bus crashes and overturns. After all is said and done, Jerri has learned that reading and writing are deadly.


Winner of Season Two Golden Donkey Awards
for "Best Episode" and "Best Scene"

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Episode Title: "The Blank Page"

Tony's Rating:

Original Airdate: 2/21/00

Production Number: 2-06

Directed by: Juan Campanella

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

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

With:  Ken Hudson Campbell (Glenn), Ginger Williams (Susie), Jeremy Nagel (Daniel), Rose Abdoo (Señora Maria de los Angeles Pons Montez Garcia y Perez)
Also Appearing:  Christina Ablaza (right), Heather Magee (Shannon Tudyk), Nicole Dalton (Judy Fabjance), Jeff Branson, Patrick Blindauer (Chip Beavers), Chuck Caruso (Trake)

Extra, Extra:
·
Maria Thayer (Tammi) sits behind Glenn in the Spanish/Drivers Ed class.
· Lisa Terezakis is on the bus as a cheerleader.
· Victor Mastroianni and Tim Fagan are on the bus in Glenn's flashback.


Flatpoint Lexicon:

fandango (făn·dāng'·ō) n. 1 a lively Spanish dance in rhythm varying from slow to quick 3/4 time  2 music for this  3 a foolish act  4 what V-I-C-T-O-R-Y spells

hobocamp (hō'·bō·kămp) n. 1 a makeshift ramshackle settlement for indigents  2 what V-I-C-T-O-R-Y spells

Mahabharata (mä·hä'·bä'·rä·tä) n. [Sanskrit: lit. "the great story"] one of the two great epics of ancient India, written in Sanskrit, relating mainly to the wars of the Pandava and Kaurava dynasties of northern India


Additional Episode Information

Trivia:
· The scene in which Jellineck is putting the cheerleader wannabes through their paces was inspired by the opening scene of Bob Fosse's autobiographical 1979 film All That Jazz, even down to the music that was used, an instrumental arrangement of "On Broadway."
· The school bus (#172) at the end of the episode has the same license plate number (79-69SDH) as Guy Blank's old car in "The Goodbye Guy" and the Widow Blank's sporty red car in "Hit and Run".
· The cheerleader Shannon Tudyk is named for the sister of Alan Tudyk who played Father in "Blank Stare" part 1 and part 2. The real Shannon Tudyk is an artist.  Thanks to Kirsty at Alan Tudyk Dot Net for this info.
· On the DVD commentary for this episode, Paul Dinello revealed that he had a grade school teacher named Jellineck.
· Even though Jerri is illiterate in this episode we clearly know that in "Let Freedom Ring" Jerri knew how to spell the "N" word, among others. We've also seen her use her literate abilities in "Jerri is Only Skin Deep" when she wrote Becky Ann Bedecker's name and her own on the ballots for homecoming queen. She was able to read the lines for "A Raisin in the Sun" in "Dreams on the Rocks". In "Bogie Nights" she wrote in both her fake diary and her real diary. Who could ever forget her recitation of "Packing a Musket" in "Who Wants Cake?" (unless she had it memorized or made it up on the spot). She read her debating notes ("rebuttal", "ipso facto", "that's debatable") in "Feather in the Storm". And she was able to read the word "loser" on her locker pad in "Old Habits, New Beginnings".
· There is a Judy Fabjance, 25, who works for the Second City Training Center as an Improv Instructor. She began taking classes at Second City when she was 15 years old. Amy, Paul, and Stephen apparently chose the character name in her honor, although the name ended up being mentioned in the script only and not in the aired version.

On The 'Flatpoint High School' Sign:
·
"SEE SPOT DICK JANE"
· "CHEERLEADER TRYOUTS TODAY -- IT'S SHOWTIME FOLKS!"

In The Background:
· a poster that says, "Bookworm Blackman says 'Read'."
· a sign that says, "If you can read this you are not illiterate."
· a sign that says, "R-E-A-D is not a four letter word"

The Best Things In This Episode:
· Jerri & Mr. Noblet's "Helen Keller / Annie Sullivan / Miracle Worker"-like breakthrough.
· When Jerri is at cheerleader tryouts and the girl before her calls out "W-I-N" and has to say what it spells. Jerri realizes at that moment that she'll have to spell. She has to spell out "V-I-C-T-O-R-Y", but thinks that it spells "WIN", "FANDANGO", or "HOBO CAMP".
· Jellineck's choreographer outfit and his emulation of Bob Fosse's style.
· There were two great tie-ins to past episodes:
    1. Jerri thinks about the chimpanzee and the duck playing in the bathtub, from the scene in "Behind Blank Eyes" where Jerri is supposed to be blindfolded, but can't resist peeking through to watch the funny animals on TV.
    2. During class, Noblet has an earplug in and is listening to Kansas's "Carry On Wayward Son", related to his dream of being a rock star in "Yes You Can't"

Closing Credits Dance Sequence:  Fosse-like choreography, set to the tune of George Benson's "On Broadway"

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