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