Seriously…Shandling’s rendition of Larry Sanders is probably one of the best portrayals of a “loveable asshole” (no offense to the Shootin' Surgeon) that has ever been seen on TV. Rip Torn lives the part of Larry’s producer Artie, swearing, drinking and smoking like a sailor but ultimately standing up for his boy no matter what. And Hank…aaaah, what can you say about Hank? Once again, you have a great character actor in Jeffrey Tambor, who presents Hank as one of the most pathetic morons on television, while at the same time, conveying the poor sap’s greater qualities and extracting moocho sympathy from the viewer (he’s also extremely funny in a dead-pan type of way).
But the show’s greatness only begins with the characters but ultimately comes alive with its scripts, each of which is original, provides for interesting new topics and inputs enough celebrities and behind-the-scenes neuroses into each episode, to satisfy any movie, TV or celebrity geek (guilty!). Some of the first’s year episodes include appearances by such stars as Robin Williams (who tells Larry to “blow” him at one point), David Spade, Mimi Rogers (who wants Larry to cheat on his wife with her), Billy Crystal, Richard Simmons and William Shatner, just to name a few. The range of topics which they cover is also quite comprehensive, with episodes about the “network” coming down hard on Larry to do live commercials on his talk show (“What Have You Done For Me Lately”), a female guest flirting for real with Larry (“The Flirt”), Carol Burnett catching a peek of Larry’s testicles during a show sketch (“Spiders”), a spat with Larry’s wife leading to problems on his show (“The Talk Show”) and how a simple run-in with a woman in a grocery store, could lead to a major story for the tabloids as Larry gets into big shit (“A Brush With the Elbow of Greatness”)
To be honest, they’re all great episodes, but if I had to choose a couple of my favorites, I’d tell you to watch the first episode because it really does give you a good sense of all the characters, is packed with laughs (“Knowing the sponsors the way that I do, I think they would respond more to the handjobs”) and has a neat premise. As well as the final episode (which was originally shot as the series’ pilot show) because it’s a little darker than your usual shows, and features a very good butting-of-heads between Larry and Hank.
All in all, you can’t really go wrong with any of the episodes on this 3-disc set, so if you haven’t already dipped into the world of “The Larry Sanders Show”, I would suggest that you take this great opportunity to find out about this consistently funny, dry-witted and creative television program. Oh yeah…and did I mention the swearing? Fuck me!!
Thankfully, Garry is funny and does give us plenty of insight into the real behind-the-scenes of the program during the first season, including the fact that his friend and actor David Duchovny was the one who came up with the concept to have himself come on the show and have a “crush” on Larry. He also discusses the casting of the show and reflects on its success (which he attributes to the characters all interacting like many contemporary families). A good feature but not enough to entirely satisfy folks who want to know much more about the show and its background.