Another shock comic tries to reinvent the situation comedy. "The Sarah Silverman Program" (9:30 p.m., Comedy Central, TV-14) stars Silverman as herself. She's an unemployed woman who sponges off her sister, Laura (portrayed by Silverman's real sister, Laura), who works as a nurse when she's not doting on the slightly childlike Sarah. Brian Posehn and Steve Agee portray Sarah's two gay and nerdy neighbors.
If "Seinfeld" was a show about nothing, "Silverman" takes us into negative numbers. The action is stripped down to the level of a preschool special. In the first episode, Sarah becomes frantic when the batteries in her TV remote control die. Her trip to a convenience store turns into an epic odyssey involving a street blocked by a wheelchair marathon, a child-like "accident" at brunch and a musical fantasy number that invokes the kindly intervention of God himself. In a later episode, Sarah drinks too much cough medicine, hallucinates and drives her car into a playground. It's a good thing the local cop has a crush on Laura.
Despite scant action, one doesn't know what to expect as the show bounces from the silly to the scatological to the sexual to the blasphemous and offensive and back to nearly childlike innocence, sometimes all within a few seconds.
Silverman has made a career of acting like a foul-mouthed and precocious adolescent. If you're a fan of her brand of audacity, don't dare miss the "Program." Others may find it a little too impressed with its own cleverness.
¢ With the Oscars just three weeks away, Turner Classic Movies celebrates its 13th annual 31 Days of Oscar film festival (running through March 3). Every day this month will showcase films nominated for a particular Academy Award. Every film shown on TCM today was nominated for a best director Oscar. Tomorrow celebrates cinematographers. Other days will highlight nominees for actor, actress, song, costume design and other awards. TCM will air a 72-hour marathon of best-picture winners beginning on Thursday, Feb. 22, concluding at 8 p.m. on Oscar night, Sunday, Feb. 25.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Earl tries to make amends with a former foreign exchange student on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m., NBC).
¢ A scandal rocks the industry during fashion week on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ Michael brings questionable entertainment to Phyllis' bridal shower on "The Office" (7:30 p.m., NBC).
¢ On two episodes of "CSI" (CBS), the team investigates a hip-hop homicide (7 p.m.), a black market in cadavers (8 p.m.).
¢ The battle to replace Chief begins in earnest on "Grey's Anatomy" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ Paul Reubens guest stars as foreign dignitary on "30 Rock" (8:30 p.m., NBC).
¢ Sebastian prosecutes the murderer of a despised real estate developer on "Shark" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Meg falls victim to foul play, and Sam has a hunch about the perpetrator on "ER" (9 p.m., NBC).
¢ An overnight date brings complications on "Men in Trees" (9 p.m., ABC).