It's hard to appreciate It's Garry Shandling's Show's initial impact in 2011 because we're all well versed in self-aware media these days, not to mention sitcoms of all shapes and sizes, and with that in mind forgive me for not gushing about how important and influential the show may have been at the time, because if it wasn't as funny as it was it wouldn't have mattered. To some extent this is true of the first series, whose earliest episodes perhaps rely a little too heavily on the show's convention of breaking OTHER shows' conventions and making a bit of a fuss of it. By this, the second season, this had become cleanly integrated so it wasn't so much of a focus, no longer the main reason to watch the show, which had become so loose in its integration of metaphysics and comedy in a way that had to come naturally and couldn't easily be quickly forged.
So, instead of Garry explaining the tropes of sitcom structure and narrative (which, don't get me wrong, is amusing in itself) like he does so often in season 1, we instead witness his bathroom/library (complete with librarian) with no mention of the inherent surreality of that concept, and that's what makes this season superior to the first: it no longer panders to potential new viewers and just indulges itself, its own whims let loose with little regard for whether they're understood or not. I'm not saying it's 'wacky' in some way or another; this isn't another effort from a group of Python-worshipping Americans. Quite the opposite in fact; Shandling's Show's writing staff, though young, clearly come from an older school of comedy, and while it feels dated at times it's no less funny for it. Acceptance that certain jokes wouldn't be welcome in today's shows is not reflective of their worth. That the staff went on to such great successes in Seinfeld (which owes at least a little debt to IGSS) and The Simpsons should tell you something of the quality on offer.
Highlights include the Schumakers' trip to Hollywood to attend a TV recording of the very show they are stars of, the appearance of Jeff Goldblum in "Go Go Goldblum" (because he's Jeff Goldblum), Garry's brief spell at the bottom of a hole and the confusion of the opening credits that his absence causes and an excursion into poignancy in "Nancy Gets Amnesia".
I should mention that I came to this after finishing The Larry Sanders Show and the two are wholly different beasts despite the obvious blurring of reality and fiction that each presents. IGSS is an excellent program but it is not in the league of Sanders, so be forewarned: liking one may not guarantee you'll like the other.
There's a decent set of extras on offer here with commentary on selected episodes (listed below), a 26-minute featurette on the cast with new interviews, a selection of outtake reels (which offer a glimpse at the improvisation process more often than a glimpse at an actor messing up their lines) and a few of the original promo ads that aired when the show started airing on Fox.
At the moment, Fabulous Films has released the first two seasons of the show, but when asked if they had plans for future releases told me they were unsure. The complete series is available to import, so you'll have to weigh up whether or not you want to wait it out or just plump for the American set. Either way the extras and presentation are identical. It's just the price you'll have to contend with.
A final note before the set details: the appearance by 'The Turtles' listed on the DVD cover is sadly not by the heroic anthropomorphs but rather by the also-excellent recording artists responsible for the classic "Happy Together".
"Who's Poppa?"- With outtakes
"No Baby, No Show"- Commentary with Shandling and Alan Zweibel
"The Shumakers Go To Hollywood"- Commentary with Ed Solomon, Tom Gammill and Max Pross
"Nancy Gets Amnesia"- With outtakes
"It's Garry And Anjelica's Show" Parts 1 & 2
"It's Garry Shandling's Christmas Show"- With outtakes
"Killer Routine"- With outtakes
"Mr. Sparks"- Commentary by Pross and Gammill
"The Soccer Show"
"Save The Planet"- Outtakes
"The Grant Shuffle"
"Go Go Goldblum"
"Garry Falls Down A Hole"
"Mr. Smith Goes To Nam"- Commentary with Zweibel and outtakes