The Larry Sanders Show No flipping! In August of 1992, HBO aired the very first episode of The Larry Sanders show. The premise of the show can be described as nothing short of brilliant. Instead of creating just another talk show for a pay-cable network, HBO took on the idea of creating a sitcom about Larry Sanders, a talk-show host. It was a show within a show exposing the true demons that run in entertainment circles. The show was an instant success, and became the most talked about show on television. Each episode usually started with "The Larry Sanders Show", as Larry (Garry Shandling) gives us his daily monologue, introduces the day's guests, and then as the talk show ends, we go behind the camera and up to Larry's offices where he interacts with Paula (Janeane Garofalo), the shows booking agent; Jerry (Jeremy Piven), the shows writer; and Larry's Producer and guardian angel, Arthur (Rip Torn). Least I forget Larry's bumbling co-host, Hank (Jeffrey Tambor), the show's most memorable character. In essence, every week the show examined the fictional life of Larry Sanders both on and off the set. Some of the greatest names in show business appeared in its 6 seasons, including William Shatner, Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, David Duchovny, Billy Crystal, David Letterman and so on and so on. When Larry wasn't seen in front of the camera during his show, we got an intimate look at the problems plaguing his personal side from troubles with his love life to problems with his staff, to guests that walk off the show. By the year 1998, the show was still at its peak, but Shandling and company decided to go out on a high note, and a piece of television history soon went into retirement. How is the transfer? I'm afraid I have good and bad news. The good news is that the audio on this DVD sounds very good. Presented in 2-channel Dolby, I became part of the show as the action remained in the front soundfield and audience applause clearly rose in the rear channels. Sadly, it seems that the only time we hear any rear activity is during the talk show sequences. The bad news is the transfer. Being that the show was originally shot on both video and film, the talk show sequences (shot on tape)look much better than the backstage sequences (shot on film) which are slightly unfocused. There is also a noticeable element of grain in the filmed portions. Was this intended to be presented this way? With the talk show sequences having a more polished look, I would tend to think so. However, the rest of the show just looks so "blah" when compared that I tend to think there were some mastering problems. Special Features First, let me talk a little about the packaging. The Larry Sanders Show opens up to a 3-gatefold package that looks and feels rather cheaply produced. It's basically thin cardboard with black plastic housing inside that stores each of the 3 discs. The 3 discs hold four 30-minute episodes each with the exception of disc #3 which has a fifth episode. A total of 13 episodes comprise Season 1. Inside the packaging is a small card that gives a summary of each episode and its guest stars. I was a bit upset to find that original airdates weren't even listed. The only extra feature in this set appears on Disc #1. Garry Shandling Talks is a very candid 27-minute interview with a Washington Post reporter. Garry talks about how the idea of the show came to be. Since Garry was a regular co-host on the original "Tonight Show", he had years of talk-show experience on his belt. He decided to take that experience and do a show about a talk show host. Garry talks about how if he had done just his own straight talk show, how much different it would have been from his alter-ego, Larry Sanders. Garry reflects how much experimentation went into the show before the airing of the very first episode. Also, just as interesting is Gary talking about how difficult and time consuming it was to shoot the show on both video and film. Using footage from the show, Gary shows us the many camera tricks and techniques used to produce the show. One of the most interesting stories of this interview is the Rip Torn story. Garry reflects upon his first meeting with the renowned actor who refused to read or audition for the part. Garry tried to ease this situation by arranging a one-on-one meeting with Rip, which ended on quite an interesting note. Final Thoughts My overall impression of this set is that it's "okay". It seems to be a set that was thrown together without really complimenting the show itself. The packaging is very plain, tells us nothing about the show itself, and whose transfer is somewhat questionable. I think the problem is that we have seen studios like Fox and Artisan do far better with their television product from menus that go beyond being basic, to packaging that really compliments the product. Still, this is Larry Sanders we are talking about, and it is really nice to see that Columbia chose [/i]this[/i] show as their very first DVD television entry. There's nothing like revisiting old friends and hearing Hank belt out his infamous "HEY NOW!" Available NOW!