DVD Review HTF DVD Review: THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW The Complete Series

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  1. Timothy E

    Timothy E Supporting Actor
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    Larry Sanders Show, The: The Complete Series


    The Larry Sanders Show The Complete Series Set


    Studio: Shout! Factory

    Year: 1992-1998

    Rated: Unrated

    Film Length: 40 hours

    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

    Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0

    Release Date: November 2, 2010


    The Series


    The Larry Sanders Show is a TV show within a show; The Larry Sanders Show aired originally on HBO from 1992 through 1998 and was a documentary-style series detailing both the on-screen and backstage drama of Larry Sanders(Garry Shandling), a late night talk show host with a series also called The Larry Sanders Show. The amusingly foul-mouthed producer of the show within a show is Artie(Rip Torn), who expertly shields Larry from all of the distractions that would prevent him from doing his best job as host. The character of Artie was reputedly based upon and modeled closely after Johnny Carson’s legendary producer Fred De Cordova. Every late night talk show host needs a sidekick, and Larry’s is Hank Kingsley(Jeffrey Tambor), a performer who craves affection and respect, yet rarely receives it. Other players behind the scenes during the 6 season run included Larry’s assistants Beverly(Penny Johnson) and Paula(Janeane Garofalo), Hank’s assistant Darlene(Linda Doucett), and writers Phil(Wallace Langham) and Jerry(Jeremy Piven). Bob Odenkirk(Mr. Show With Bob and David), Mary Lynn Rajskub(24), Sarah Silverman(The Sarah Silverman Show) and Scott Thompson(Kids In The Hall) also played regulars on the series during its run.


    The Larry Sanders Show created a style of series that is still popular today, as it influenced the creation of such other TV series as The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, 30 Rock, and many others. The Larry Sanders Show was one of the first TV shows to have famous people play roles as fictional counterparts of their real selves, either in self-parody or in spot-on imitation of real life, or sometimes both. The list of actors who played themselves on The Larry Sanders Show includes Alec Baldwin, Warren Beatty, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Petty, Sharon Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, Howard Stern, Dana Carvey, David Duchovny, Jon Stewart, Rob Reiner, and many others. The series was created by Garry Shandling and Dennis Klein, and included writing from Judd Apatow(The 40 Year Old Virgin).


    Has it really been 18 years since The Larry Sanders Show premiered on HBO? The comedy has aged well and is just as timely today as it was when originally aired. The references in the show to Larry’s competitors Jay Leno and David Letterman demonstrates how little things have changed in late night talk shows, since these gentlemen are still around and on the air. The surreal drama behind the scenes of The Larry Sanders Show is apropos, given the recent real-life drama behind the scenes of actual talk shows, such as NBC’s aborted efforts to replace Jay with Conan O’Brien in the 11:35 time slot.


    The Larry Sanders Show received 56 Emmy Award nominations and was the recipient of Emmy Awards, Peabody Awards, CableACE and TV Critics Awards. Most of the series has been unavailable on DVD until now. The first season has been released in a couple of different formats, and a "best of" collection entitled "Not Just The Best of The Larry Sanders Show" was released in 2007 along with the second repackaging of the first season. Many fans had abandoned hopes of seeing the entire series released until Shout! Factory acquired the rights and released this complete series collection.


    Video


    The series is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Most of the series was captured on film in a grainy documentary style for the "behind-the-scenes" footage with the show-within-the-show filmed on video to duplicate the look of a late night talk show. Unfortunately, the video elements have not aged as well as the jokes on The Larry Sanders Show. In 2010, even grainy film tends to have substantially more detail than standard definition video. This is not so with the video elements of The Larry Sanders Show. The "film"portions of the show regularly have less detail and more compression artifacts than the "video" portions. The film portions are exceptionally grainy, to the point of losing detail rather than preserving it. Black levels suffer the most, often appearing in hues of gray.


    I would be interested to know if the film elements still exist for this series. Given the number of outtakes and deleted scenes that have survived to be included in this collection, it seems likely that the film elements still exist.  If so, then the potential exists in the future for The Larry Sanders Show to be remastered in high definition. Granted, the standard definition video footage probably looks as good now as it ever will, but most of the series was captured on film and has much room for improvement, depending upon the format and condition of archival elements. Fans who already have the first season sets previously released will observe that the video elements are of the same quality as those collections.


    Audio


    The English Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are fine, given the time when this series was produced. The sound mixes have apparently not been remastered, but the series did not sound any better or worse than when I used to watch it on HBO. Dialogue is always appropriately audible over music and sound effects.


    Special Features


    Shout! Factory certainly deserves credit for the comprehensive special features that have been included and created for this collection. Most of the special features from previous collections have been ported over to this release, with the exception of the Garry Shandling interview conducted by Washington Post film critic Tom Shales.


    The special features are broken down here by disc and include all of the following:


    Season 1, Disc 1: Is This The Intro? (2:02): Recent introduction filmed by Garry Shandling.

    Commentary on "What Have You Done For Me Lately" by Garry Shandling and Peter Tolan.


    Season 1, Disc 2: Personal Visit With Carol Burnett(15:39)

    Interview With Jeremy Piven(6:00)

    Deleted Scene(1:38)


    Season 2, Disc 1: Deleted Scenes(13:35): This consists of rehearsal footage and extended scenes from season two.


    Season 2, Disc 2: Deleted Scene(0:58): This scene is from the episode "Broadcast Nudes."


    Season 2, Disc 3: Gary Lectures at USC(42:20): Howard Rosenberg hosted Garry Shandling at USC in a presentation filmed on April 19, 2010.

    Personal Visit With Alec Baldwin(18:53)

    Personal Visit With Jerry Seinfeld(23:42)

    Interview With Bob Odenkirk(4:52)

    Outtakes(5:05)


    Season 3, Disc 1: Commentary on "Hank’s Night In The Sun" by Garry Shandling and Todd Holland.

    Deleted Scenes(5:51)


    Season 3, Disc 2: Deleted Scenes(16:45)


    Season 3, Disc 3: Interview and Personal Visit With Linda Doucett(11:26)

    Interview With Penny Johnson(10:03)

    Personal Visit With Sharon Stone(22:28)

    Deleted Scenes(8:06)

    Outtakes(9:49)


    Season 4, Disc 1: Commentary on "The Bump" by Todd Holland


    Season 4, Disc 2: Commentary on "Hank’s Sex Tape" by Todd Holland

    Deleted Scenes(5:16)


    Season 4, Disc 3: Interview With Janeane Garofalo(7:31)

    Interview With Scott Thompson(8:52)

    Interview With Wallace Langham(6:30)

    Deleted Scenes(4:47)

    Outtakes(5:35)


    Season 5, Disc 1: Commentary on "Where Is The Love" by Todd Holland

    Deleted Scenes(23:06)


    Season 5, Disc 2: Deleted Scenes(2:26)


    Season 5, Disc 3: Personal Visit With David Duchovny(9:55)

    Personal Visit With Ellen DeGeneres(4:39)

    John Markus Story(3:18): This is a brief anecdote from writer/consulting producer John Markus.

    Deleted Scenes(2:31)

    Outtakes(9:04)


    Season 6, Disc 1: Deleted Scenes(15:03)


    Season 6, Disc 2: Commentary on "Putting The ‘Gay’ Back In Litigation" by Garry Shandling and Judd Apatow.

    Commentary on "Flip" by Garry Shandling and Peter Tolan

    Interview With Sarah Silverman(9:02)

    Interview With Mary Lynn Rajskub(7:43)

    Deleted Scenes(23:07)

    Outtakes(4:00)


    Bonus Features Disc: The Making Of The Larry Sanders Show(1:10:45): This informative and entertaining documentary is hosted by Greg Kinnear.


    Personal Visit With Tom Petty(20:45)


    Personal Visit With Jon Stewart(10:15)


    "The Writers’ Process" with Judd Apatow and Gary Shandling(8:23)


    Rip and Jeffrey Visit Larry in his Living Room(11:28)


    EMMY Print Campaign Gallery: This feature is navigated by use of the arrows on your remote control.


    The Journey Continues(2:09): This brief featurette shows Garry Shandling pursuing his worship of Buddhist faith.


    Credits for Special Features From "Not Just The Best Of The Larry Sanders Show"(2:30)

    Also included with this set is a profusely illustrated 60 page booklet entitled "The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Guide" with episode synopses and airdates as well as articles written by Jeffrey Tambor and Howard Rosenberg. The booklet is the same size as the plastic clamshell cases housing the discs, and the booklet and the discs are housed in a sturdy black cardboard case.


    Conclusion


    The Larry Sanders Show is an entertaining and hilarious look behind the scenes at an imaginary late night talk show. This is one of those rare shows like I Love Lucy that is not dated, even as it reflects the style of its era, and this series has jokes and humor that have stood the test of time. The video presentation has unfortunately not aged as well as the humor in the show, although the series looks and sounds as good as it ever did when it originally aired in standard definition in the 1990s. The special features are about as comprehensive as a fan might hope for, although the Tom Shales interview with Gary Shandling from the season 1 sets has not been ported over to this collection. That interview may not be missed much, however, given the number of special features included with this set. Although the video presentation falls a little short of modern standards, The Larry Sanders Show The Complete Collection comes highly recommended for anyone with a funny bone. 

     
  2. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

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    Has anyone actually confirmed that the "film' portions of the show were actually shot on film? My understanding is that it is possible to shoot video with a 'filmic' look, and I suspect this is what was done with Larry Sanders given the real lack of detail in those scenes that would surely look better if sourced from genuine film. Unless I misread something, I thought this was the reason Paramount could not produce a high-def version of Star Trek : Next Generation as the entire show was shot on standard-definition video with that faux-film setting.
     
  3. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    ST:NG was shot on film, but post-production (editing, SFX, titles, etc.) was done on video—causing the resolution of the overall program to be degraded. I'd imagine the same applies to Larry Sanders. The mid-80s ushered in the era of video post-production, and with it, a fairly drastic drop in the presentation quality of filmed programs.
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Except for the talk show segments, The Larry Sanders Show was definitely shot on film. If it was shot on tape, the episodes wouldn't look as relatively good as they do and the switch between the filmed scenes and the video taped talk show segments wouldn't be as pronounced.
     
  5. Farnsworth

    Farnsworth Auditioning

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    Travis is correct. Sanders was shot on film and video. But the stock changed as did the post production workflow after S2. By S3, they were using digibeta to transport the film into the avid and out again instead of 1" or some other analog source. This kept the picture quality more uniform and crisp across the board. If you'll notice, from S3 on there is a bump up in quality from S1 & S2.
    Has anyone listened to the audio under the main menus? Good stuff.
     
  6. Mike*SC

    Mike*SC Second Unit

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    As others have confirmed, the film portions were indeed shot on film. The process you're referring to is now obsolete in the days of hi-def video, but back at the time of "Sanders," it was called "film look" and it was applied to standard definition video to sort of mimic film. it involved muting the colors somewhat and repeating every fourth frame to emulate the natural stuttering that occurs when 24 frames-per-second film is transferred to 30 frames-per-second video. The thing about this process was that the illusion vanished when movement in the frame stopped. If two people were siting and chatting in a static environment, the frame-repetition did not trick the eye because the effect was near-impossible to notice.

    The reason the film portions of "Sanders" look sub-par on today's sets is because that film was transferred to standard def video, and all the extra resolution you get from film was therefore lost. Didn't matter on CRTs in 1992, but you sure notice it now Presumably, the film elements do exist somewhere, but to retrieve them, rescan them at high res, and recut them into the show would be prohibitively expensive, especially for a show like "Larry Sanders" which, despite its brilliance, has never been a hit.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Been watching this set daily while doing my treadmill workout.


    It's finally great to have the complete series available after having

    just the first season for all these years.


    ....but I do have a major gripe. No subtitles.

    I depend on subtitles when watching television shows because

    the sound of the treadmill can often drown out soft-spoken parts

    of the show.

    Wish Shout Factory did a more complete job by providing
    subtitles throughout.


    Otherwise I suppose I should just be thankful that we finally
    have the complete series to watch.
     
  8. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Another show that I thought wouldn't see a complete release on DVD (going back to some of Shandling's comments around the time of the release of Not Just the Best Of...). Glad to see this is out. Haven't starting watching it yet but I have it waiting on my shelf. Looking forward to it.
     
  9. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    This set is like a goldmine for me. I not only got it for myself, I purchased two sets as gifts.


    There are all kinds of fun episodes I've missed for years - like Larry quitting and moving to Montana ("Live from Montana, because he made a big mistake...") or Paula producing the show, or Larry making Warren Zevon play "Werewolves of London", etc. Great, great stuff.


    I agree with Ron that not having the subtitles is a pain in the neck, though. I'll take the trade-off, but I wish this was something that could have been included.
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Haha.


    Just watched that today while on the treadmill.


    Warren was not happy.
     
  11. Farnsworth

    Farnsworth Auditioning

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    There are closed captions included. Try that.
     
  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Amazon has this for $60 right now.
     
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Just finished watching the final episode of
    The Larry Sanders Show, thus completing

    the entire set in a few short months.


    The first 5 seasons are really the most

    enjoyable. As the fictional show fell apart

    in Season 6 so did the quality of the episodes.

    Really found no gems in the final season.


    Brilliant show. I need not say that. Everyone

    is aware of it. I am so thankful that Shout

    Factory was finally able to get this put out.


    That being said, I wish a better job was done

    subtitling the set. The close captioned option

    did not work despite the fact I have a button

    on my remote to bring it up. Not sure if this
    is the fault of my portable DVD display that
    I use for the treadmill or a defect in the disc.


    I am thinking of ordering It’s the Gary Shandling

    Show as well, but the price of that set is just

    exorbitant. I am hoping Amazon eventually

    offers a Gold Box deal on it. I remember watching

    that show on HBO and really enjoying it. I would

    love nothing more than to see it again.


    Can't recommend Larry Sanders enough. One

    of the all-time greatest series ever produced.
     
  14. Timothy E

    Timothy E Supporting Actor
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    This is the Amazon.com deal of the day today for $59.99. This comes highly recommended at this price.
     
  15. Richard Gallagher

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    A funny, funny series. I've watched every episode but haven't gotten through the disc of extras yet.
     
  16. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    I still can't the theme song out of my head, and it has been years!


    ...this is the music that you hear / as you watch the credits / it's almost half-way finished / how do you like it so far? / this is the theme to It's the Gary Shandling Show... /
     
  17. MattAlbie60

    MattAlbie60 I Work for Mr. E. H. Harriman of the Union Pacific

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    I completely disagree with that. Season 6 is actually my favorite, I think -- its kind of the logical "final address" of all the themes of the show over the years, complete with the one and only time Larry's "on screen" persona and his "off stage" persona kind of mix during his final address.


    We can both agree that the show is brilliant, though, so that's good enough for me. :)


    THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW is my favorite television show of all time, and I honestly do believe its the best sitcom ever. The best American sitcom, at least. Other shows like ALL IN THE FAMILY are certainly groundbreaking and fantastic, and a show like SANDERS couldn't have existed without everything that came before it, but I still think SANDERS is the pinnacle.
     
  18. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I also enjoyed the final season of the show.


    Specifically, "Pilots and Pens Lost", "The Interview", and the series finale "Flip". The very ending of the last show was a nice wrap-up to the Larry-Hank-Artie arc.

    The nice thing about this full set is that you can go diving in and find gems of episodes from everywhere in the show's pantheon. I just watched the 2nd season ep of Paula producing the show while Artie's stuck in traffic, and while the picture quality of the "reality" section is pretty bad, the episode itself is still really funny. Even now.
     

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