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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Larry Sanders Show
The Complete Series


Starring: Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor, Rip Torn and Penny Johnson
Mediumrare Entertainment
RRP: £99.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 March 2011

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, from 1992 to 1998. 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 Megan Gallagher plays Sanders's second wife Jeannie.

For this collection we only received the episodes from season's one to four to base our review on... But to be fair that's more than enough to give an overall flavour of the show. More detailed reviews of Season One and Two are already live on this site, so it seems pointless going over those episodes again. For the purpose of this review I'll give a more detailed analysis of Season Three and Four.

Highlights in season three (which consists of 17 episodes) include:

The Gift: Paula is concerned that she may get fired and promises Larry that Danny DeVito is booked onto the show, even though she has been unable to confirm this with Devito's agent. She ends up stalking Devito in order to get him on the show. Meanwhile Larry constantly ignores warnings that the studio is unsafe and that they should move to another studio while it is fixed.

Hank's Night in the Sun: With Larry off sick Hank finally gets to host the show. Of course, being Hank, this goes straight to his head and he becomes unbearable to work with.

Larry Loses a Friend: John Lovitz stalks Darlene.

Doubt of the Benefit: Rob Reiner cancels his appearance on Larry's show at the last minute because of an injury. Larry is convinced it's because he refused to attend his charity benefit event. There's a great line where Larry says: "Stand up comics who think they're f*cking actors make me sick."

Hank's Divorce: Larry is at Hank's restaurant to celebrate Hank's one year wedding anniversary. But when Hank leaves the table for a moment, his wife confides to Larry that she can't live with Hank any longer. The next day Hank tells Larry they are to be divorced. This may prove to be a bit of a problem for the show, as they are editing the anniversary highlights which include Hank's wedding which was performed live on the show the year before.

Notable guest stars in season three include David Warner, Mimi Rogers, Ray Wise, Jason Alexander, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Walker, Elvis Costello, Sharon Stone, Bobcat Goldthwait, Regis Philbin, John Lovitz, Rob Reiner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Clint Black, Kris Kristofferson and Rosanne Barr.

Highlights in season four (which consists of 17 episodes - of which we only received the first 12 episodes for this review) include:

Roseanne's Return: Larry and Roseanne's marriage hasn't lasted and she has already remarried. This is a little awkward for Larry as he doesn't want to have her on the show again. Meanwhile Hank is of the opinion that OJ Simpson is innocent.

The Bump: After bumping comedian Jeff Cesario from the show once again Larry swears to him that the next day he will definitely be on. He even books front row seats for his parents. However the next day's line up suddenly starts to look really impressive... and there's the added fact that Hank's dad has just died and Hank wants to perform an on air tribute to him. The only way around it is for Larry to rush through his guests (Rob Lowe, David Duchovny and Vendela) as quickly as possible, but that makes him appear extremely rude.

Hank's Sex Tape: Snooping around Hank's office, Phil finds a videotape. When he plays it he discovers it's a video of Hank and two prostitutes having sex in a hotel room.

Larry's Sitcom: Larry teams up with Chris Elliott to produce a sitcom. Elliott has had this idea for some time about a sitcom based around jockeys at a racecourse. But the whole thing is terrible and Larry has to get Phil in to totally rework it. Meanwhile Hank meets his oldest fan club member. He's 100 and a little racist.

Notable guest stars in season four include Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey, Sandra Bernhard, Rob Lowe, David Duchovny, Vendela, Jeff Cesario, Chris Isaak, Larry King, Henry Wrinkler, Jeff Goldblum, Marg Helgenberger, Beck, Jennifer Aniston, Brett Butler and Chris Elliott.

The finished box set contains all 89 episodes spread over 15 DVDs. There are also a few features including Gary Lectures as USC and three commentary tracks with Todd Holland - but as we didn't receive the extras for review I can't comment on those.

Those that watched this on its original broadcast will want to snap this up immediately - especially when most online stores are offering it for under £70. I've already preordered my copy online.


Darren Rea

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