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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Hollywood > Media > Talk Shows > Cable > The Larry Sanders Show – The Complete Series (1992 – 1998/HBO/Shout! Factory DVD Set)

The Larry Sanders Show – The Complete Series (1992 – 1998/HBO/Shout! Factory DVD Set)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B-



When The Larry Sanders Show was such a big hit, it was not universally acclaimed, but it had a big fan base and strong enough viewership to keep it a hit for six seasons.  The show essentially was a sly send-up and recreation of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson that was still a recent phenomenon that came to an end around the same time, with Garry Shandling as a parallel Carson.  This was nothing new (Jerry Lewis did the same in Martin Scorsese’s dark The King Of Comedy), but the show went way out of its way to recreate this world.


Running 89 episodes, all six seasons are now on DVD from Shout! Factory in a heavy 17 DVD box set with a booklet and hardcase that is not unlike a big black brick.  The discs are in the ever-convenient slimcases and the show has some good things going for it even after all these years, but I was not its biggest fan because it was often too coy and maybe almost smug about how it was imitating Carson.  There was not enough ironic distance and plenty of missed opportunities here, but that was not the show they were making.


Rip Torn as the announcer and Jeffrey Tambor as the sidekick, splitting the role of Ed McMahon variant are a big plus to the show, but the guest stars throughout the series played by actors and performers playing themselves too often seem more like the performers that had trouble making in on Carson and though some appearances (I will not say which) work very well because the talent is there), it is too often a pale imitator of Carson and many of the people showing up as themselves are boring.


However, you can see for yourself and see how much of this you can take and enjoy yourself.  Outside of the superiority of the Scorsese film in dealing with some of the same material, the show is at least consistent in what it wants to be, even if this is somewhat narrow in the long run.


The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on both 16mm film and analog NTSC videotape as the Carson series (and every other talk show of the time) was being shot.  The good news is that the video footage is colorful and looks really good, but the film has a terrible harsh digital look that shows how old the transfers otherwise are with digital strain, telecine issues and bad color throughout.  The solution is to retransfer the episodes for Blu-ray and High Definition, which would make the filmed footage look great and the video would still retain about the same qualities, despite being a bit more dated looking.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is better with good recording quality throughout, including some location audio issues that are pretty much intended.  The combination is good, but could be better.


Extras are extensive and include a booklet with tech information and an episode guide, while the DVDs have deleted scenes, outtakes and audio commentaries on and related to select shows, DVD 2 has more with Carol Burnett and Jeremy Piven, DVD 5 has Garry Lectures at USC & pieces with Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Odenkirk, DVD 8 has Linda Doucett, Penny Johnson and Sharon Stone clips, DVD 11 has Janeane Garofalo, Scott Thompson and Wallace Langham clips, DVD 14 has the John Markus Story, plus David Duchovny and Ellen Degeneres clips, DVD 16  has Sarah Silverman and Mary Lynn Rajskub clips and DVD 17 is all extras including a making of documentary, Tom Petty and Jon Stewart clips, a piece about the Emmy campaign, Rip & Jeffrey Visit with Garry in his Living Room and “The Writers’ Process” with Judd Apatow and Shandling.


Did they forget anything?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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