1) The comedy - 'The Larry Sanders Show' is quite simply one of the funniest and most brilliant series ever to come out of the US. It's art imitating life in such a way that it is highly believable and realistic too.
2) The cast - Larry Sanders is but a thin disguise of the real Garry Shandling. Neurotic, self-obsessed, and barely able to hide his contempt for the entertainment industry (and his rivals), Sanders is, however, instantly likeable. Rip Torn plays his producer, Artie, the 'old campaigner' who knows every trick in the book. Despite embodying everything that Larry hates about the industry (double-dealing, two-facedness etc.), he would be lost without him. Many of the funniest lines are reserved for Artie, and Rip Torn's comic timing is simply brilliant. And then there's Hank Kingsley... played by Jeffrey Tambor, Hank is Larry's put-upon sidekick, who is generally not good for much, and not very good at that either. Despite having a minor role in the 'Show', Hank's character is a major part of this series, and again, some of the best lines are reserved for poor old Hank. Indeed, my favourite episode on here is 'Hank's Sex Tapes', which concerns the finding of an illicit video Hank has made of himself with a couple of hookers, which threatens his career and threatens to embarrass Larry to boot.
3) The guests - Despite being a 'spoof' series about a chat show host, 'Larry Sanders' always has genuine guests, usually of the highest calibre. But instead of watching their interviews, you are mostly treated to the behind-the-scenes aspects. You name them, and they have probably at one point or another been on 'Larry Sanders'. Again, you never quite know if a star's relationship with Larry is really that tense (or that good)
BAD BITS (In order of importance):-
1) The picture quality is dreadful. It's like watching a DVD through a net curtain. This is partly understandable because this DVD was made a while ago, but it really looks like someone has put it through Photoshop and clicked on 'Posterize'. Also, the sound quality is not great.
2) Are these 7 episodes really 'The Best Of Larry Sanders'? I don't think so. Don't get me wrong, any Larry Sanders is better than none (and most other comedies as well), but around half of these episodes don't really merit 'Best of' status. Indeed, 'Hank's Sex Tapes' and 'Montana' are truly hilarious and typical of the rest of 'Larry Sanders', but the others are not very well chosen for a disc that most people will buy to get a taste of what this magnificent series is all about. Generally, the episodes do work as stand-alone shows where you don't need to know any background, but some of the episodes in this particular selection are more dependant upon the viewer's understanding of the characters, and as such, may not be a great place to start for the uninitiated.
3) Extras - apart from a trailer for a stupid movie starring Garry Shandling, there are no extra features at all.
4) (A personal gripe!) Why don't Columbia Tristar get off their backsides and give us the full series releases that this award-winning and brilliant show deserves, instead of this 'stop-gap' measure? This disc should really be obsolete, and isn't great value for money.
All in all, 5 star comedy, but a 2 star DVD... but since it's my favourite series, I can't bring myself to give this anything less than 4 stars.
Larry and Hank are the two 'stars'. Both are unbearable human beings - insecure, letcherous, selfish, fickle, rude, idiotic - and yet you feel a real affection for them after a few episodes. Their fragile egos are constantly shaken - their flimsy characters are ridiculed and exposed. There is no sentimentality in the show. There is no canned laughter. Let me shut up and give you an example of what to expect:
Larry is told the shocking news that Sid (the card-flipper) has committed suicide. Larry says; "Who else knows about this", Arty (the Producer) says "Everybody," and Larry then says "Good, because I don't want to have to break it to anyone." Then at the after-funeral drink get-together Arty makes a long speech about Sid. Larry follows him and makes a silly joke - no one really laughs. Larry sits down very grumpy indeed, turns to Arty and says; "It's your fault with that speech. You killed the audience."
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