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The Larry Sanders Show: Season 1
DVD | Box Set
EPISODE 1 "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY": Guest Star - Robert Hays. Larry finds himself in opposition to a network executive who wants him to do live commercials for "The Garden Weasel."
EPISODE 2 "PROMISE": Guest Stars Dana Delany, David Spade and William Shatner. Larry can't decide what he should do when a comic scheduled for the show appears first on a rival talk show.
EPISODE 3 "SPIDERS": Guest Stars Carol Burnett, Jon Lovitz, Steve Duchesne and Steve Kutcher. Larry battles his reluctance when real live spiders are scheduled for the show, and he tries to find a sketch to do with guest Carol Burnett.
EPISODE 4 "THE GUEST HOST": Guest Star Dana Carvey. Dana Carvey's success as a guest host on the show makes Larry very, very nervous.
EPISODE 5 "THE NEW PRODUCER": Guest Stars Robert Morton and Jeff Cesario. A friend of Larry's replaces Artie temporarily as producer, but schemes to make the job permanent.
EPISODE 6 "THE FLIRT": Guest Stars Mimi Rogers and Michael Richards. Jeannie becomes very jealous and accuses Larry of flirting with a playful Mimi Rogers on the show.
EPISODE 7 "HANK'S CONTRACT": Guest Stars Robin Williams and George Foreman. It's contract negotiation time for Hank and he's going for a raise, and a golf cart.
EPISODE 8 "OUT OF THE LOOP": Guest Star Peter Falk. Larry feels out of touch when he's the last to know that his head writer is having a torrid office affair.
EPISODE 9 "THE TALK SHOW": Guest Stars Billy Crystal and Catherine O'Hara. An argument at Jeannie's home causes Larry to lose his concentration during the show that night.
EPISODE 10 "THE PARTY": Guest Star Martin Mull. Larry's little dinner at home with Arthur, initiated by Jeannie,escalates into a full-blown party and causes Larry to become extremely paranoid.
EPISODE 11 "WARMTH": Guest Star Richard Simmons. Worried about his ratings, Larry hires a focus group to help tighten up the show.
EPISODE 12 "A BRUSH WITH THE ELBOW OF GREATNESS": Guest Star Bela Shaw. Larry makes the tabloids when a woman claims he knocked her into a magazine rack and neglected to apologize.
EPISODE 13 "HEY NOW": Guest Stars Bob Saget, Ray Combs and Earl Holliman. Hank falls asleep during the show, which is just the last straw for a fed up Larry.
Hey now! Now that even Green Acres has its own boxed set, it's time for the The Larry Sanders Show to hit DVD! Join Larry and his guests Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Peter Falk, Mimi Rogers, Billy Crystal, Catherine O'Hara, Richard Simmons, and Bob Saget for one of the '90s best and brightest comedies. Before The Sopranos and Sex and the City, this was HBO's must-hook-up series. The 13 episodes (on three discs) that comprise the first season brilliantly set the stage for what was the funniest and savviest show business comedy since The Dick Van Dyke Show (but with way, way more of an edge). Go backstage and meet the people who toil on "The Larry Sanders Show," the quintessential late-night talk show. Series creator Garry Shandling's Larry is so self-centered and neurotic, he makes Alan Brady look like Mister Rogers. Emmy winner Rip Torn is Artie, Larry's "always ready to jump in" pit bull of a producer, with Jeffrey Tambor as sidekick Hank Kingsley, former cruise director and "poor deluded bastard." The flawless ensemble also includes Penny Johnson as Larry's indispensable secretary Beverly, Janeane Garofalo at her deadpan best as talent booker Paula, and Jeremy Piven as cocksure head writer Jerry. With its unflinching portrayals of ego clashes, petty jealousies, and office politics and paranoia, this hyper-realistic series produced more hilariously awkward and squirm-inducing moments than The King of Comedy. But the boundless pleasures of The Larry Sanders Show make each episode ripe for repeat viewings (in which you can catch and savor the nuances of the performances or the throw-away brilliance of the dialogue). Adding to the fun and verisimilitude are the celebrity guest stars who tweak their personas. There's a less-than-gracious Burnett in the episode "Spiders," a duplicitous Carvey in "The Guest Host," and an insecure Williams in "Hank's Contract." The first disc contains an interview of Shandling conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic Tom Shales. No flipping, lest you miss the great "Rip Torn story" on how the formidable actor was cast. --Donald Liebenson
- Featurette: Garry Shandling Talks. No Flipping
- Summary - Garry Shandling and Tom Shayles (Washington Post TV Critic and Pulitzer Prize Winner
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The show starts strong and fully formed from the first episode, and remains so through the last episode, without a bad episode to be found. The style of the show was groundbreaking, and those who watch The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm will see that they are direct descendants of this show's style, which used handheld cameras, real locations (no sets), no audience (er, kinda sorta, more on that below), and a combination of scripted and improvised dialog.
The show is about the goings-on behind and in front of the camera of a late night talk show, where Larry Sanders is a competitor of David Letterman, Jay Leno, and the late night bunch. Garry Shandling plays Larry as a funnily neurotic genius narcissist who lives in the bubble of fame and money created by network television stardom.
Rip Torn plays Artie (no last name ever given) who has been a television producer since forever, knows everyone in the biz, and keeps the show successful by being charming, vulgar, diplomatic, omniscient, and scary in just the right combination.
Jeffrey Tambor plays Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley, Larry's feckless sidekick. One of the great conceits of the show that I only perceived after having re-viewed the entire series recently is that although Hank is a buffoon and deserves every bad thing that happens to him, when he is on camera on the show within a show he is nearly perfect - he has a fantastically smooth announcer's voice, and he's engaging and funny on the show-within-a-show, although off-stage he's just a jerky dope.
There are more, but naming all the great actors and roles on this show would take more time than I have to invest. Suffice it to say that if you watch this series you'll be astounded at the seemingly endless parade of well-known entertainment folks that pass through the show, either as actors playing roles or as 'guests' playing themselves on the show.
The show is shot in an interesting manner as well, with the show-within-a-show shot on videotape, and the backstage shenanigans filmed on film (seemingly), which highlights the contrast between onstage and offstage. When the show-within-a-show is being taped, there is an actual live studio audience, and an actual (condensed) talk show is put on for that audience.
However, when the show is backstage or offstage there is no audience or laugh track. At the time, this was all unique and groundbreaking stuff, and it set the stage for many of today's shows, as noted above.
On top of everything else, the show is painfully and consistently funny. It may be the most well-written show that's ever been put on American network television.
If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and give it a shot for a few episodes. And if you're like me and already knew and loved it, watching it again is still enjoyable. We introduced my mother-in-law to the show a few months ago, and we watched it again from first episode to last over the course of a couple of months, and it was a joy to re-watch, and also to see a new convert to the show being born.
on DVD. They're a must for the cutting edge comedy fan!