It’s summer, which means different things to different people. To me it means watching entire TV shows on DVD. This summer I believe I may watch Hex, Battlestar Galactica and Twin Peaks. Or I could get a girlfriend, I haven’t quite decided. But I’ve started off with the Larry Sanders show.
I’ve been vaguely aware of the Larry Sanders show for some time. I can’t name a single thing that Garry Shandling has done and it’s been interesting to learn about a moderately famous person who had somehow slipped completely under my radar. But in the last week I’ve watched 4 DVDs worth of the show (which is all that has been released) and I assure you that it is hysterical.
I’m not entirely sure why the show is funny. There are certainly a great many things working against it. The picture looks horrible. It certainly doesn’t help that I have a HD TV and a near HD DVD player. The show started in 92 and they simply didn’t plan on me watching it in this manner. It’s also a problem that the show is set in 1992. A lot of the humor is very topical and I just don’t catch all the jokes that were funny to those familiar with show business 15 years ago. This also influences the guest appearances. I don’t really care about Sharon Stone. She may have been huge 15 years ago, but I know that her most recent work was the villain in the Catwoman movie, who was made of stone due to prolonged super-makeup use. Yes, incidentally I have seen the majority of the Catwoman movie. The show also aired on HBO and relies on a bit of shock value with swearing, which gets tiresome.
But as I mentioned earlier, the show is hysterical, and I’m not sure if I can convey why. The main cast of Garry Shandling, Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn are each amazing in their own way. They’re horrible people that you love anyway. I’m pretty confident that The Office wouldn’t exist without this show. These characters are very grounded in reality, but end up having very extreme reactions to some absurd events in their lives. I particularly loved Rip and if the complete series is ever released I may very well buy it to see more of him. The format of switching between the talk show that they run and showing their personal lives is very effective. The bits with celebrities on the talk show are funny, but not nearly as funny as the celebrities making fun of themselves in backstage footage. And although the celebrities themselves are often a bit dated (I love that David Duchoveny is a recurring guest on the show, but he certainly lacks Hollywood clout these days) the bit parts are a veritable who’s who of modern celebrity. Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, Jeremy Piven, Janeane Garafalo, Scott Thompson, the list is pretty endless. Ok, so that list probably doesn’t wow you, but it’s fun that pretty much everyone that shows up on screen is recognizable.
If you can handle Rip’s dirty mouth the show is must-see TV. TV from 15 years ago, but better than the majority of today’s programming.