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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Larry Sanders Show
The Complete Second Season


Starring: Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn and Penny Johnson
Mediumrare Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 25 October 2010

The Larry Sanders Show was the original meta-sitcom - a wish fulfilling peak behind the chat show curtain into a hilarious world of egos, backstabbing and paranoia. It was the best, nastiest, and funniest comedy program on either side of the Atlantic during the 1990’s. This is where it all began, the whole postmodernist, self-reflective fact fiction sitcom thing - loudly claimed by the likes of Alan Partridge, Entourage, Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and 30 Rock began...

The Larry Sanders Show ran for six seasons, with season two originally broadcasting in 1993.

As with season one, the show stars Garry Shandling as chat show host Larry Sanders and each week the viewer is allowed on the other side of the cameras to see what goes on behind the scenes of Sanders's show. On screen, Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) is Larry's sidekick. Hank is responsible for warming up the audience and keeping the show running smoothly should Sanders hit a problem. Rip Torn also stars as Sanders's producer, helping to pull the whole show together and Kathryn Harrold plays Sanders's first wife, Francine, whose back in his life.

This 3-disc collection includes all 17 shows (the first of which is a double length episode) from season two. Highlights include:

The List which sees Larry and his ex-wife, Francine, getting it together. However Larry discovers that Francine used to date Alex Baldwin - who is Larry's guest that night. The interview goes embarrassingly and Larry also discovers that yet another one of his guests has also dated his ex.

The Hankerziser: Hank endorses a cheap fitness product which is lethal. But that doesn't stop him plugging it at every opportunity. Hank also uses the "C" word in a violent outburst.

Life Behind Larry sees the network trying to decide who should host the show that follows Larry's. Bobcat Goldthwait seems to be Larry's choice, but his off-the-wall humour may be a little too much for the network to handle. Meanwhile someone sabotages Hank's fan newsletter to include rude words. Hank goes ballistic and storms around the studio blaming every member of the crew.

Larry's Partner: When Larry's old standup partner comes back on the scene Larry has a problem saying no to him. He has a serious drinking problem, but before Larry knows it he's working on the show's writing staff and almost gets to perform the show's opening monologue.

Broadcast Nudes sees Hugh Hefner appear on the show. Eager to get into the Playboy mansion, Hank underhandedly manipulates Darlene into appearing in Playboy magazine. In reality Linda Doucett (who played Darlene) did go on to appear in Playboy.

Larry's Birthday: With Larry's birthday around the corner everyone is busy trying to work out what to buy him. Meanwhile one of the writing team is about to get fired. What's interesting is that the reason Jeremy Piven's Jerry left the show was because the actor was concerned that his character wasn't really progressing much. So it's great to see that he's given a powerful episode in which to leave.

Performance Artist sees Larry bored of having the same guests (eg George Segal) on week after week. He asks his booking agent to find some new and interesting talent. They book a gay performance artist who is a little too risque. They ditch the show and instead run a repeat, which causes outrage amongst the press and Larry's future guests (with Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold telling him he should be ashamed of himself).

The Grand Opening: After months of preparation Hank's "Look Around Cafe" (a restaurant with a revolving floor) is finally due to have its opening night. However, as this has been delayed so many times, none of the crew can attend. This sends Hank overboard. So when everyone change their plans to be there for Hank they are a little surprised to discover he hasn't turned up himself.

There isn't a bad episode in this collection and it's interesting to see some of the characters developing more fully - especially Hank, who moves further into git territory. In the first season he was a little selfish, but more of a thoughtless buffoon. However, in this season he's definitely started to show his true colours, which adds some additional comedy to the episodes.

Notable guests include Helen Hunt, Teri Garr, Alec Baldwin, Barry Levinson, David Letterman, Hugh Hefner, Gary Kemp, Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold, Jay Leno, George Segal, Adam Sandler, John Ritter, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern.


Darren Rea

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