The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
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The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
The Larry Sanders Show is "how good television could be." So proclaims Ricky Gervais in the definitive documentary "The Making of The Larry Sanders Show" included in this 17-disc boxed set that would be essential even without the prodigious bonus features. After the welcome but woefully inadequate Season One and Not Just the Best of…. sets, this long-overdue complete collection takes full measure of the groundbreaking series TV Guide listed 38th (just behind The X-Files and ahead of The Rockford Files) among the top 50 TV series of all time. One could only imagine the exquisite ego-pierced pique that Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling), the angst-ridden, neurotic, and self-absorbed late-night talk show host, would exhibit upon learning of that ranking. It was Larry, in one of the series' most memorable episodes, who went to desperate lengths to get Ben Stiller bumped so he could take Stiller's place on People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive list. The bracingly funny and show business savvy Larry Sanders Show set the stage for later classics of discomfort television Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, and Extras with its unflinching documentary style that captured the raw personalities and the chaotic process behind the production of a late-night talk show. How real did this show seem? To this day when I watch The Daily Show, I still harbor some resentment toward Jon Stewart, who in the series is tapped by the network to be Larry's replacement. The talent in front of and behind the cameras is staggering. The seamless ensemble includes Emmy® winner Rip Torn as Artie, Larry's old school producer; Jeffrey Tambor as clueless sidekick (and "poor deluded bastard") Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley; Penny Johnson as Larry's indispensable secretary Beverly; Janeane Garofalo at her deadpan best as talent booker Paula (followed by 24's Mary Lynn Rajskub); Jeremy Piven as cocksure head writer Jerry (followed by Wallace Langham); and Scott Thompson as Hank's sensitive assistant. The writers included Peter Tolan (Rescue Me), Jon Vitti (The Simpsons), Adam Resnick (Late Night with David Letterman), Steven Levitan (Modern Family), Paul Simms (NewsRadio), and Judd Apatow (you know). Adding to the verisimilitude are the scores of celebrity guest stars (David Duchovny, Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stone, and Roseanne are standouts) who sportingly tweak their personas. The topical jokes and pop culture references are necessarily dated, but some have a longer shelf life than others. When one particular joke bombs, Larry recovers with, "And Conan O'Brien thinks this is going to be easy." One doesn't have to be a Hollywood insider to fully appreciate The Larry Sanders Show. This is a workplace comedy whose portrayals of ego clashes, petty jealousies, and bureaucratic B.S. will be relatable to anyone who's ever worked in an office. Among the highlights of the bonus features are intimate, hilarious, and, in the case of Linda Doucett--who portrayed Hank's New Agey assistant Darlene, and was at the time Shandling's girlfriend--achingly personal interviews. The Larry Sanders Show never earned an Emmy for best comedy series. As Larry insincerely remarks at one point, "I prefer to let the work speak for itself." Here's the work. It speaks volumes. --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
As for the good... everything else! This is one of the most well written shows Television has ever seen. The show centers around Larry Sanders, a talk show host on a rival network (the network never seems to get named) to NBC and CBS, so he competes with Leno and Letterman. It's filmed in the single camera style that's become hugely popular these days with shows like The Office and Modern Family, and follows the day to day workings of a talk show as well as the personal lives of those involved with the show. Guests on the show play humorous send-ups of themselves, and as a fan of late night talk shows in the 90's, everything here seems genuine. The box set comes with every episode, all of the extras from previous box sets, new extras (including commentaries on select episodes and an introduction from Garry himself who's seen better days for sure) and a booklet about the show. If you enjoyed the show when it was first on, you'll really enjoy this. If you've never seen the show, get ready for a treat, assuming you have the right sense of humour (if you enjoy the UK version of The Office or Canadian shows like "Made in Canada" and "The Newsroom" which took on similar material, you'll enjoy this).Read more ›
There is a lot to love about this show, but I will mention inly a few gems. First, there is the loving relationship between Larry and Artie. The show takes pains to depict false and temporal relationships in Hollywood, but that cannot be said about the bond between Larry and Artie. They have genuine concern and affection for each other.
Second, there is the highly insecure Hank Kingsley, a man huge on ego but short on talent. He could be quickly dismissed as a mere buffoon, but that would be too harsh and inaccurate a judgment. In fact, the man's career is tied to Larry's, and his orbit is limited so as to never be greater than Larry's. I am sure the second banana is always a tough role for anyone because he or she is constantly on a short leash. For what it is worth, Hanh's struggles on the show are often hilarious.
Finally, the celebrities on the show play themselves. However, we are never quite sure if they are portraying their true selves or some caricature of themselves. For example, would Elvis Costello in real life knowingly sell a dodgy car to someone and then refuse to own up to it being a lemon and refund the buyer?
If you are already a fan of the show, I can say nothing about the show's brilliance that you don't already know. For people unfamiliar with it, if you like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," you might want to preview Larry Sanders.
Lots of comments about the poor video quality of this set.Read more ›
Note: amazon has grouped all the reviews together for the old "Complete Series" and the new one. They are quite distinct products with different features and different video quality. If you're considering the Mill Creek version, only look at recent reviews, as it was released June 16, 2015.
Most recent customer reviews
This show was ahead of its time. Very funny as it was when it aired on HBO. If you are a fan of late night, Carson, Letterman, Leno et. al., this one is for you. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Rick Lippens
Probably the best first Mockumentary showing a Hollywood talk show behind the scenes. Humor comes from a self absorbed insecure talk show host and his staff of equally insecure... Read morePublished 5 months ago by B.B. Jr.
Disc 5 "Headwriter" is the wrong episode, it's the same as Disc 1 "The New Producer"
Disc 4 in the menu it says "Hawk's Night in the Sun" and should be... Read more
One of the best damn shows to ever be on TV, Larry Sanders is just as funny and sharp now as it was over 20 years ago. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Horrormeister