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Monday, October 31, 2011

Sandra Lee's Ridiculous Halloween Special: All the Hard Drinkin' Highlights

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 10:09 AM


Do you remember how Joe Camel got into trouble for making cigarettes look like a fun thing for kids? This is a recap of Sandra Lee's Food Network special Sandra's Halloween Wonderland.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The beginning is largely preamble, with Sandra waking up on a lawn, disoriented and disheveled, the Mad Hatter in the foreground, sirens in the background. Tuesday, in other words. "I am Sandra Lee," she whisper-croaks, shaking ever so in the warm sun. "It's gotta be cocktail time first up."

Into a glass goes rum, mint, raspberries, strawberries, and 100mg ephedrine. She uses fancy names for these, like dragon's blood and little blue bombers. Did anybody notice she messed this up, using two different names for raspberries? No? Good for you.

Fortified by the Dreamscape Cocktail, our host performs wind sprints and agility exercises on the lawn, regaling us with tales of eluding suitors at formals of years past, then falls in a hole trying to eat a rabbit. So it begins. Wonderland. She screws a store-bought meringue onto a candy stick, dubs it a Magical Mushroom, shouts an angry "What?" to someone off screen, and throws to commercial.

Sandra reappears dragging a horse past a teepee, dressed as drag-queen Cher, foreshadowing a wrap party with our host lying in a bush belting out "If I Could Turn Back Time." Off screen, a production assistant feeds her lines from Sonny & Cher's Wikipedia page, one [pause] word after [pause] another, for 45 minutes.

I don't know, but if you're going to impersonate Cher, do you really need to talk about how Sonny moved to Rancho Cucamonga after selling his three-bedroom La Brea condo in 1973? Sandra prepares Tehachapi Moon Pies, or rather she throws a box of Ding Dongs at the horse and squirts whipped cream on the ground for three minutes. Then she drags a barrel over and starts making her Firewater martini with a kayak paddle, screaming, incessantly, "They don't tell you what's in black vodka!" If this cooking show had explosives, I like to think they would have exploded right now.

Next, we're in a castle, and Sandra is a drag-queen ghost-pirate, her facepaint not quite concealing the pox, and she's halfway through a mumbly back story about Vienna and bird-stealing and maybe Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo WHO IS HER BOYFRIEND when she completes her White Ghost Cakes by throwing a bottle of Karo Syrup at a box of angel food cake and launches into her cocktail Phoenix Rising, a drink requiring seven alcohols and a gallon of milk -- because "pirates love milk." Right. Some friends and I were just talking about how pirates love milk. After a beauty tip ("Being dead, can I tell you, has been dreadful. It's dreadful on your skin, your eyes. I have been decaying century by century") Sandra climbs onto and falls off a balustrade.

In the next bit -- the next! -- Sandra dresses like Lucy Ricardo stomping grapes, causing her young producer to fall silent, back out of the room, and Search. "What the hell is she doing?" the costume designer asks the makeup artist, who asks the script supervisor, who asks the caterer, and so on and on until, at last, the horse trainer from the Cher bit a dozen years ago ambles into the frame and kindly tells Sandra to get the fuck out of the barrel and make some sangria.

Sandra cries, "Ai ai ai, Ricky!" and dumps a bottle of white wine into a pail, adds some other stuff, drinks it off, and starts chanting Jell-O shots! Jell-O shots! Yes, Sandra makes Jell-O shots on her very special episode, which promises "her greatest party recipes." But it also marks the first occasion that she uses heat on the very special episode. She uses hot water. Sandra spoons one vodka-infused pumpkin spice Jell-O shot onto a plate and it slumps there, crying and war torn. Sandra joins in and throws to commercial.

When the show returns, the president of the Food Network shoots up from the couch -- "There's more?" We find Sandra inserting a Christmas special into her Halloween special, because fuck Halloween.

Dressed as Santa's drag-queen landlady, Aunt Sandy Claus (her words) melts white chocolate chips, which she happily tells us we can purchase from the "Christmas craft store." It's like someone went up to her and said, "Hey, Sandra, I need some white chocolate chips. What do you think, Christmas craft store?" and she just owned it. Sandra considers a Sugar Plum Cake Pop and says it might as well be for Easter, fuck it, and then she fails to make a cocktail in a bucket. What's going on? It's like Italo Calvino had a cooking show, you know?

Finally, Wonderland begins its weary claw back to reality, in which Sandra, dressed exactly as Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter, takes a shot of tequila, a mouthful of rum, and a squirt of coconut (Sandra calls this a cocktail, but I'd prefer you didn't), and says, "I've been considering F-words."

In a studio at Food Network HQ, a sound editor rolls back from his monitor like it just farted. Indeed, it's a tablescape. A Mad Hatter tablescape, full of hats, twigs, dead rabbits, shredded cheese, and burnt potholders. Sandra drifts around it, saying things like "You can buy glasses," "look, another plate!" and "ornaments from a major department store" before finding a last bottle of vodka hidden in her boot, emptying it into a watering can, and following it with a bottle of schnapps, 2C apple juice, 100mg Thorazine, and 1G milk for the pirates.

Thus, the final drink, the seventh, the Wonderland Cocktail, is quaffed off, while nearly off camera, in the hazy distance, upper left, a man steps into the frame, a large man, holding forth a garment of some sort, some kind of white jacket with buckles and straps, it's like he's ambling over the moors, and right before the screen goes dark Sandra finally notices him and turns to him and whispers to him, yes, yes, a present for me -- yes?


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Michael Leaverton


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