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TV at its most innovative, packaged at its worst.
The Larry Sanders Show (DVD)
Member Name: alexandjef
The Larry Sanders Show (DVD)
Date: 04/02/12, updated on 04/02/12 (10 review reads)
Advantages: One of the best TV shows created
Disadvantages: Terrible collection does not do the show justice
This a review of two very different sides. Firstly its an amazing show. Innovative, hilarious and totally landmark. The influence this show had is seen in comedy around the world, and will be seen for years to come. Some shows make the influence this show had obvious with clear nods to the style of comedy it affirmed, and some shows were simply created in the environment Larry Sanders cultivated - their influence being much more in the background, but ever present.
Garry Shandling is the mastermind both on and off screen. He is both cast in the lead role, heads up the writing and it generally feels like his show. The autocratic presence he has is welcome, he makes it what it is.
The premise is a little confusing - he plays a character who feels very real - a late night talk-show host, on a fictional talk show. Every effort is made to make the talk-show and Larry seem real. The show has actual music guests from real life, real life celebrities and if you didn't know otherwise at times you would find it difficult to tell the difference between this and Conan. Garry Shandling has even worked as a late night talk show host, and written a book from the perspective of one - even more confusing when you see its not real. The show is fact fictional, the guests simply playing themselves and the real action is what goes on off screen.
The Larry Sanders show is not a throwaway comedy about the tensions of behind the scenes of a talk-show, although it has that. Its much more than that. Its about the workplace, the nuance of everyday life and its about character. There is a lot of humor surrounding tension between workers, pressure from the network and the constant fear that the jobs of the staff are always on the line due to the nature of the business. This only scratches the surface of what makes this show.
A good place to start off in describing what makes this show are the central characters. The three main charachters, and I'm defining them as main on their impact on the show not just screen time are Hank (Jeffery Tambor) Artie (Rip Torn) and Larry (Garry Shandling) Hank is Larrys co-host, college and friend, and Larry is Hanks boss. The relationship is very much like that, its not a two way thing at all. And Artie is Larrys boss, working for the network hosting the show.
Each charachter brings something great to the show, but its how they work together when comedy magic is made. All three fight their own little corners to great comedy effect, and the supporting cast bounce off this too. The supporting cast are great as the serve to pad out the jokes when needed, but never seem too far in the back ground - helping drive the story and deliver the jokes.
This show ran for six years bang in the middle of the 90s, with the celebrity and music guest confirming this, but its comedy styling leaves you confused. A show almost 20 years old can still feel this fresh and innovative. The jokes have not ages, where some of the reference have (and where some of the supporting cast absolutely have - Jeremy Piven...) Its timing was essential for a lot of reasons. The Talk Show format in the US was big business and a show lampooning it was a great opportunity. But more importantly, US comedy needed its creditably reassuring. In the UK, American sitcoms got a bad name in the early 00s. The clogged up daytime TV, the clogged up almost all of Channel 4 weekend programming and UK views were boredom with lifeless actors shouting wafer thing jokes at us under the pretense it was comedy. However, not all US comedy is like this, just the one that get aired at peak times in the UK. The good stuff either gets aired at hours when no one is watching, or never gets aired and only makes itself known upon it arrival on DVD.
The Larry Sanders show was both of these. The BBC and ITV4 both aired this at unusual times and no one really watched - its name getting most of the attention when in post Office dust Ricky Gervais stated how much of an influence Larry Sanders had on him and made a documentary (a VERY awkward one) with Gary Shandling.
So, it wasn't really until the DVD of The Larry Sanders Show made there way to the UK, could UK audiences really see what the fuss was about - and help dispel the myths Friends was helping create.
Unfortunately, this isn't really one of those DVD. Its is in part - as it gives you a taste of what to expect, but you will struggle to see what the fuss is about with only 7 episodes, despite them being billed as 'the best of'. To my mind, the who series is a best off. The seemed to have actually picked the episodes with the biggest guest starts (Robin Williams, Courtney Cox etc). Its such a frustrating DVD, you need to see story arcs to get the picture -its not quite as bad as 'The Best Of Lost', but its still quite frustrating. I would say watching these episodes as stand alone episodes you are only really going to get about 50% of the fun out of them than you should.
To make matters worse, this DVD had hardly any extras and the transfer quality of the picture is poor (its much better on later DVDs), and the packaging is very standard. Its got very much a budget release feel to it. It goes without saying, don't bother with this. You could argue it serves as a introduction to the show at a good price, but there are other collections out there at good prices with way more episodes and extras (Not just the best...being the big one). The entire collection is available, it not cheap but is worth it if you are a serious comedy fan looking to make sure you comedy collection has one of the most important series of ll time. This DVD is cheap, but will not do much for the serious comedy fan, and hardly anything for a causal viewer.
Summary: Save up and splash out on a more worthy collection