HTF REVIEW: NOT JUST THE BEST OF THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Richard Gallagher, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show




    Studio: Sony
    Year: 1992-1998
    Rated: Not Rated
    Length: 577 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Languages: English Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: Spanish



    The Program

    Let’s start off by agreeing that what we really want to see is all six seasons of Gary Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show released on DVD. However, whether that will ever come to pass remains to be seen. Until then, we have Season One and we now have this outstanding “best of” collection. What makes it outstanding isn’t so much the collection of episodes included here, but the incredible array of extras which Shandling has put together for this release. No fan of the series will want to be without it.

    Those of you who are familiar with The Larry Sanders Show need no commentary from me. For those who have never seen it, suffice it to say that it is one of the smartest, funniest shows ever to appear on television. Everything about it is brilliant, from the exceptional acting to the fabulous writing to the incredible array of guest stars.

    The following episodes are included in this collection:

    What Have You Done for Me Lately? (Season One)
    The Spider Episode (Season One)
    The Hey Now Episode (Season One)
    The List (Season Two)
    The Hankerciser 200 (Season Two)
    Life Behind Larry (Season Two)
    The Mr. Sharon Stone Show (Season Three)
    Hank’s Night in the Sun (Season Three)
    Office Romance (Season Three)
    Hank’s Divorce (Season Three)
    Hank’s Sex Tape (Season Four)
    I Was a Teenage Lesbian (Season Four)
    Larry’s New Love (Season Five)
    Everybody Loves Larry (Season Five)
    My Name is Asher Kingsley (Season Five)
    Ellen, or Isn’t She? (Season Five)
    Pilots and Pens Lost (Season Six)
    Another List (Season Six)
    The Beginning of the End (Season Six)
    Adolf Hankler (Season Six)
    The Interview (Season Six)
    Putting the “Gay” Back in Litigation (Season Six)
    Flip (Parts 1 & II) (Season Six)

    Those who, like me, already own Season One will happy to see that only three of those episodes are repeated here.

    As collections go, it represents an excellent cross-section of the entire series. Every major recurring character that appeared during the run of the series is represented here.

    The Video

    The Larry Sanders Show was presented in a combination of film and videotape. Scenes which represented actual clips of Larry’s late-night talk show were shown on videotape in order to re-create the look of a real talk show. All of the other scenes were shown on film. The film scenes are somewhat grainy, but my recollection is that is how they appeared when the show first aired on HBO. The images are sharp and colors and flesh tones appear to be accurate. The videotaped scenes are notably brighter than the filmed scenes, and I believe that was probably intentional.

    The Audio

    The Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack is fine. The show is primarily driven by dialogue, which is intelligible throughout. Surround effects are largely limited to the music and the sounds of the audience during the talk show scenes. Virtually all of the action takes place indoors, so no one should expect to be knocked out by the audio mix.

    The Supplements

    This DVD set is really all about the extras. In a word, it is loaded.

    Gary Shandling has done audio commentaries with his producers and writers for four episodes: What Have You Done for Me Lately? (with Peter Tolan); Hank’s Night in the Sun (with Todd Holland); Putting the “Gay” Back in Litigation (with Judd Apatow); and Flip (with Peter Tolan). I learned some interesting facts about how the shows were put together, such as they fact that they hired a service to assemble a live studio audience for the talk show scenes. Shandling also mentions that he feels that the shows which focused on Larry’s domestic life, away from the studio, were the weakest of the series.

    There is an interesting documentary, The Making of The Larry Sanders Show, and a segment where Gary Shandling sits down with co-stars Rip Torn and Jeffrey Tambor to reminisce about the show.

    Gary Shandling conducts separate interviews with eight of his guest stars – Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, David Duchovny, Tom Petty, Jerry Seinfeld, Sharon Stone, Jon Stewart and Carol Burnett. Some of the interviews are unlike anything you have seen before. The interview with Alec Baldwin, for example, takes place in a boxing gym, and Shandling and Baldwin discuss the show and their personal relationship while sparring with each other. The interview with David Duchovny takes place on Shandling’s home basketball court. The “low-tech” interview with Jon Stewart is very amusing, and the interview with Ellen DeGeneres ends on a hilarious note.

    There are also interviews with cast members Penny Johnson, Wallace Langham, Scott Thompson, Janeane Garofalo, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Sarah Silverman, Jeremy Piven, Bob Odenkirk, and Linda Doucett. The interview with Linda Doucett is particularly fascinating because of her complicated relationship with Shandling. When the show began they were living together, they later were engaged and broke two wedding dates, and after she left the show she filed a lawsuit against Shandling and co-creator Brad Grey. At the conclusion of her interview she sits down with Shandling and they discuss their relationship. It is the first time they had seen each other in a couple of years, and while their lives have gone in different directions it is good to see that they have put the bad memories behind them.

    If all that were not enough, the DVD set also includes a number of deleted scenes and alternate takes.

    Other Features

    Most of the extras can be accessed in conjunction with individual episodes or by themselves. For example, at the conclusion of the episode The List you have the option of then playing Gary Shandling’s bizarre interview with Alec Baldwin. Or, from the main menu you can go directly to the extras and access the Baldwin interview there.

    The Packaging

    The programming is spread over four discs, two discs apiece in two slimcases which come in a slipcase. There is also a printed insert which lists all of the episodes which appear on this DVD set.

    The Final Analysis

    Notwithstanding the disappointment at not yet being able to purchase the entire series, fans of The Larry Sanders Show will not want to miss this set. Garry Shandling has put a lot of time and effort into assembling the many extras which are featured here, and that time and effort has really paid off. As a die-hard fan of the show, I found the interviews, commentaries and other supplementary materials to be thoroughly entertaining and informative. Buy this set and then tell Sony and Gary Shandling that you want the rest of the series, as well.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Cambridge Audio DVD-89 DVD player
    Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
    Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
    BIC Acoustech speakers
    Interconnects: Monster Cable

    Release Date: April 17, 2007
     
  2. Jeff*H

    Jeff*H Supporting Actor

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    The Shandling interviews with Baldwin and with Sharon Stone are both downright strange. He and Stone obviously have a lot of history between them that is alluded to with the bizarre looks and uncomfortable smiles they give each other. Baldwin is hysterical, particularly when he comments about his ex-wife's divorce attorney while getting ready to spar with Garry. Very funny, but very uncomfortable. The viewer truly feels like a fly on the wall. Haven't watched the other interviews yet, but I'm looking forward to them. What a great set!
     
  3. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    I agree -- very bizarre and very unique interviews.

    I intended to have the review up before the release date, but an intestinal bug knocked me out for a few days!
     
  4. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Rich, thanks for the well written review. I hope you are feeling better!

    Even though I loved this show, and still think it was one of the most innovative and funniest sitcoms ever, this "best of" approach is not enticing me to buy.

    Various accounts repeatedly say "that's what Garry wants" so no season sets. My question: does Mr. Shandling have an ownership of this show so that he can actually make the final call on this? Could Sony overrule him if they wish?

    I have S1 and am hesitant to spend about $40 to rebuy several episodes plus take the risk that the others wil be available on their own seasons at some point. Also, there were several story arcs throughout the series and seeing random episodes will take some of them out of their context (in my opinion).

    Steve
     
  5. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I agree. I never saw the series until I got this set, and the changes in relationships etc. between episodes could be jarring. I connected the dots as I went, but occasionally I'd wonder what happened to somebody and be confused by a new person...
     
  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Personally, I can't imagine that Garry Shandling has control of the episodes. I think that Sony just happens to be respecting his wishes because it fits with their own view of how expensive the music rights will be versus what they expect to make from season sets. If this set blew expectations away, I think Sony would tell Garry to go to hell and release whatever they wanted to.

    All that being said, this is a great set that every Larry Sanders fan will enjoy if only for the extras.
     
  7. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    re: Music rights. There were some musical performances throughout the series. Most of them were self contained so if money was an insurmountable obstacle, their removal would not be all that noticable. Regrettable, yes, but not anywhere near the impact the butchering of WKRP.

    This set has gotten a fair amount of publicity so let's hope it does lead to season sets. The seasons weren't all that long to begin with so combining a couple into one release doesn't seem all that unreasonable.
     
  8. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    Normally I say BOO! to "best of's". However, this looks like it will be a good one & that it's success might lead to further season sets. Hey Now !
     
  9. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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