×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Sandra Bernhard Experience

Sandra Bernhard, known for campy self-indulgence and an attitude as prominent and blunt as her proboscis, isn't so much a talent as a personality. That makes her a worthy entrant into the talkshow-hosting biz.

With:
With: Sandra Bernhard, Sara Switzer, Mitch Kaplan

Sandra Bernhard, known for campy self-indulgence and an attitude as prominent and blunt as her proboscis, isn’t so much a talent as a personality. That makes her a worthy entrant into the talkshow-hosting biz. Free-flowing and casual — sans studio audience — “The Sandra Bernhard Experience” can be so mellow that it flirts with the soporific, but debut effort also shows sporadic signs of being amusing, candid and sharp. Aside from Bernhard’s following and her ability to draw some name guests from among her friends, the show, receiving an experimental weeklong run, has a few other things going for it: It’s different from its latenight competish; A&E seems, as Bernhard notes, to want to “hip” itself up; and latenight cable shows can survive on small numbers.

As she informs us in her opening, Bernhard had an Internet show, and “The Sandra Bernhard Experience” derives from that, as well as her one-woman show. Her first two guests, Edie Falco and Steve Van Zandt, immediately reveal Bernhard’s obsession with “The Sopranos,” although the conversations range from politics to fame to music history.

It’s not until the Pretenders’ Chrissy Hynde comes on in the second half, though, that we really see Bernhard as a conversationalist par excellence. It’s not just that what they talk about is interesting and different — why are there so few great women guitarists? — but that you get the sense they could talk forever and never be dull.

Co-host Sara Switzer sits next to Sandra, in silence so complete that we would forget she’s there if the camera didn’t cut to her once in a while, smiling and nodding. Switzer was an editor at Harper’s when Bernhard wrote a piece on the millennium, and Bernhard took to her.

Switzer’s also the head writer for the show, and Bernhard insists she’s young and smart and “fresh,” but in this first TV outing the co-host comes off like Ed McMahon without the guffaw and with, apparently, even less to say. She just sits innocuously and shakes hands with the guests when they leave.

Bernhard also has music director Mitch Kaplan onstage — whom she calls “Mitchy” and feels free to make fun of when she needs to — so with Switzer there, too, Bernhard has over-accessorized.

The set consists of three chairs, a grand piano and a background composed of triangles and hexagons that looks like a wall of Stars of David –intentionally or not. The clothing of the regulars is all black, with Bernhard wearing a leather jacket zipped down to reveal her cleavage.

And speaking of cleavage, Bernhard says “tits” a lot — in the first episode alone, both Britney Spears and Sara MacLachlan have their breasts discussed, although in very different contexts.

Spears seems to personify Bernhard’s greatest pet peeve, the pre-packaged fakeness of popular entertainment. “The Sandra Bernhard Experience” certainly isn’t pre-packaged — it’s not genuinely surprising or provocative either, at least not yet.

Bernhard can be intellectual or, especially when she sings, just plain silly in an offbeat manner — giving it her all, regardless of whether she’s any good. She ends her first hour in a duet of “I’ll Stand By You” with Chrissy Hynde. Then they express their love for each other. As the show closes, and the camera looks at them from afar, we hear their last bit of dialogue: “This is corny,” Bernhard says. “But it works,” Hynde says. At moments, at least, it does.

The Sandra Bernhard Experience

A&E; Mon., Aug. 27; 11 p.m.

Production: Taped in New York by A&E Network and Half Baked Prods. in association with Sandra Bernhard Inc. Producer, Elyse Roth; director, Brad Nathanson; head writer, Sara Switzer; writer, Henry Tenney.

Crew: Set, Jim Fenhagen, lighting, Bruce Ferri; music director, Mitch Kaplan; talent executive, Carin Zaleski. 1 HOUR.

Cast: With: Sandra Bernhard, Sara Switzer, Mitch Kaplan

More TV

  • WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01

    BBC Takes Stake in New Company Set Up by ‘Luther,’ ‘Bodyguard’ Exec

    BBC Studios has taken a minority stake in Firebird Pictures, the new drama indie being set up by BBC execs Elizabeth Kilgarriff and Craig Holleworth. Kilgarriff’s credits include “Luther,” “Poldark,” “McMafia” and upcoming Richard Gere-starrer “MotherFatherSon.” She commissioned breakout drama hit “Bodyguard.” Holleworth will be the new company’s COO, having run business and operations for [...]

  • Punisher Jessica Jones

    Marvel's 'The Punisher,' 'Jessica Jones' Canceled at Netflix

    The last of Netflix’s Marvel shows are officially ending. “The Punisher” has been canceled after its second season, and the upcoming third season of “Jessica Jones” will be its last, Netflix confirmed on Monday. The announcement comes after Netflix gave the ax to its other Marvel series: “Daredevil,” “Iron First,” and “Luke Cage.” More Reviews Sundance Film [...]

  • SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake'

    SND Boards Comedy Series 'Family Shake' With 'Desperate Parents' Producer

    SND, the commercial arm of the French TV network M6, has acquired worldwide distribution rights to “Family Shake,” a comedy series written by Baya Kasmi and Michel Leclerc. SND is the latest vertically integrated French film group to start handling live-action series, following TF1 Studio, Studiocanal and Gaumont, among others. Produced by Gaëlle Cholet at [...]

  • 'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by

    'Super Shiro' Anime Series Inspired by 'Crayon Shin-chan'

    The enduringly popular Japanese cartoon franchise “Crayon Shin-chan” has inspired a new animated TV series, “Super Shiro.” “Crayon Shin-chan” has been on air since 1992 and inspired 26 feature films. “Super Shiro” is a fast-paced chase series, for kids, based on original IP by Yoshito Usui and scripted by on Kimiko Ueno.  The series is [...]

  • Us Television Writers and Producers Maria

    Mad Men’s’ Andre, Maria Jacquemetton Set for Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus

    MADRID — André and Maria Jacquemetton, the Emmy and WGA Award-winning writer-producers of AMC’s “Mad Men” and consulting producers on Amazon Studios’ “The Romanoffs,” will serve as Guests of Honor at Series Mania’s UGC Writers Campus, a workshop whose participants include Denmark’s Christina Miller-Harris and Israel’s Noy Carmel. The Jacquemettons will deliver a masterclass and [...]

  • China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel

    China Plans Remake of BBC Time-Travel Cop Show ‘Life on Mars’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    A Chinese “Life on Mars” is in the works after BBC Studios and Phoenix Entertainment inked a deal to create a Mandarin-language version of the time-travel cop series. BBC Studios will officially unveil the format deal at Showcase, its annual programming market for international buyers, which is now underway in Liverpool, England. “Life on Mars” [...]

  • DF-10193 – L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor),

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Leads MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed up love from Cinema Audio Society sound mixers with a pair of honors at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 66th annual Golden Reel Awards Sunday night. The musical biopic scored wins for dialogue and ADR as well as sound editing in a musical. The film is nominated for sound editing at the Oscars [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content