The Larry Sanders Show-Complete First Season (1992)

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Released 4-Dec-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation
Featurette-Gary Shandling Talks..."No Flipping"
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 322
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,4 Directed By Judd Apatow
Brent Carpenter
Dennis Erdman
Paul Flaherty
Studio
Distributor
SONY Pictures
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Judd Apatow
Fred Barron
Dick Blasucci
Kell Cahoon
Jeff Cesario
Richard Day
Maya Forbes
Maya Forbes
Howard Gewirtz
Alex Gregory
Marjorie Gross
Becky Hartman-Edwards
Peter Huyck
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Frank Fitzpatrick
David Tobocman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   So the story goes - one night comedian and sometimes guest talk show host Garry Shandling had a big decision to make. Should he accept an offer from a commercial network to host a late night talk show. Or should he take a chance on his own idea, a comedy about being a talk show host. Fortunately for viewers everywhere he chose the latter and The Larry Sanders Show was born.

    The Larry Sanders Show ran for six seasons on American cable network HBO between 1992 and 1998. It was much loved by the public, the critics and the industry garnering 3 Golden Globes nominations as well as another 24 wins & 83 nominations. It was broadcast in Australia late at night with some profanity filters and drew a mainly cult following.

    As said, The Larry Sanders Show is a sit-com about a fictional talk show. Garry Shandling plays host Larry. He is everything you could expect from a TV god - he is vain and paranoid and deeply riddled with self-doubt. Despite this you can't help but like the guy.

    Every talk show needs a producer. The marvellous Rip Torn plays Artie, a tough nut no-nonsense producer. Every host needs a side-kick, or do they? Jeffrey Tambor, who later went on to star in Arrested Development, plays Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley, Larry's mediocre sidekick. Hank is just as precious and vain as Larry yet deeply worried about whether he will still have a job after each show. As a running gag Hank always sends a young assistant into Larry's office saying that Hank would like to see him. Moments later Hank pokes his head around the corner saying : "Hi Larry, I heard you wanted to see me"!

    As well as the leads there are a group of talented actors playing support roles including Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame as one of the show's writers as well as Janeane Garofalo and Penny Johnson, later the treacherous Sherry Palmer of 24, as assistants. Each episode focuses on the day to day problems of putting on the show. The show created several firsts. The regular uses of swearing was not something that was common on TV in 1992 and was allowable only due to the fact that the show ran on cable. Secondly, the guest stars come on to each episode playing themselves as talk show guests. In a similar way to Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Ricky Gervais comedy series Extras this allows celebrities a chance to skewer Hollywood and make fun of their personas. Thirdly, it was shot on a combination of video tape for the segments where the show is on and film for the backstage scenes (including extensive use of handheld camera), giving it an interesting and different look.

Fourthly, it was shot without a laugh track, giving the show a real edge and forcing the viewer to work out what he or she finds funny. Finally, the wicked inside look at television seemed fresh at the time and still seems subversive today. I wonder if this is Rove's favourite show!

    This is the first season of The Larry Sanders Show and everyone is just slipping into their roles. Traditionally, the show starts with Larry coming out and doing his opening monologue. Be warned that the jokes here (which are intended to be ironically unfunny) are very topical to 1992 and include lots of asides involving Clinton, Quayle, Princess Di's bulimia and other things that might not mean much to a 2006 audience.

    Although 14 years have passed since this season the edginess of the show is undiminished. It is a show high in the pantheon of comedy and no serious comedy fan could afford to be without it. The Larry Sanders Show comes on three DVDs as follows :

Disc One:

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

    Larry is pressured by the network in the form of a tough new boss to do live commercials for "The Garden Weasel." His ironic delivery leads to more conflict. This was presented as the first episode due to the fact that it was seen as less tonally heavy than the original first episode.

Promise

    A young David Spade is up for his fifth appearance on Larry's show. All goes well until they realise that he has broken the unwritten rule by performing identical material on a rival talk show the night before.

Spiders

    Arachnophobic Larry is so distracted by a spider wrangler coming on to the show that he stuffs up rehearsals for a lame Tarzan sketch with Carol Burnett.

The Guest Host

    Wayne's World's Dana Carvey guest hosts the show while Larry is on leave to great success, fuelling Larry's paranoia.

Disc Two:

The New Producer

    The unbreakable Artie is sick. A guest producer produces a memo detailing problems with the show leading everyone to fear for their positions.

The Flirt

    Guest star Mimi Rogers flirts with Larry on air causing problems for Larry at home. Seinfeld's Michael Richards is bumped from the show to make more room for Mimi.

Hank's Contract

    Hank's contract is up for renewal. He plays hardball with the network leading to disastrous results.

Out of the Loop

    Realizing that he is out of touch with his own show Larry struggles to get more involved with the office including the office gossip with some predictable results.

Disc Three:

The Talk Show

    Larry loses his concentration during a show after an argument with his wife backstage. Much to Larry's chagrin everybody notices he is off and tries to counsel him on marital relations. Billy Crystal makes a funny guest appearance.

The Party

    Larry's wife creates problems when she invites Artie over to their house for a dinner party. Soon everyone uses guilt and guile to score an invite. The very private Larry is mortified when his wife tells his colleagues intimate details about him, including that he always cries at the end of Ghost!

Warmth

    In the face of mediocre ratings, Larry seeks advice from a focus group to help make the show more popular.

A Brush with the Elbow of Greatness

    Larry is involved in an accident at a supermarket which is caught on tape. The episode features a great performance from David Paymer as the studio damage control expert who sees a way to use the accident to boost ratings!

Hey Now

    This was originally the first episode shot but was put at the end of the season due to its darker tone. Hank falls asleep during the show leading to real conflict between him and Larry.

    Interestingly, each episode is preceded by a Region 1 FBI warning. The episodes can only be watched individually - there is no "play all" function.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

   Did this show ever look this bad? The Larry Sanders Show is presented on DVD in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

    The show was shot on a mixture of video and film, initially 16mm. As said, when Larry is presenting the show video is used whereas film is reserved for the backstage shenanigans. This has the dual effect that the video shots are blurry and noisy and the film is grainy. In its blown up state the 16mm film looks fairly ugly.

    There are more than a few scenes where the boom mike is visible. Not all of these are where the boom is overhead - some are mirror reflections.

    There is a softness throughout. Both the film and video are faded and the colours aren't quite right. In the video scenes there is some colour blending.

    There are artefacts throughout ranging from slight scratches to odd-shaped blobs.

    I suspect fans of the show will still want to buy the series for the memories but it will be difficult to convert new fans on the strength of the effort, or lack thereof, of Sony in presenting this series.

    Whilst none of the other comedies of 1992 (Cheers, Seinfeld, Home Improvement) were visual stunners I would hazard a guess that this show has received the worst transfer.

    There are subtitles for the hearing impaired and closed captioning which give a good account of the onscreen dialogue although at times they have trouble keeping up with the fast pace of the show.

    Fans in the US were horrified that there were no talks of releasing future seasons on DVD. Now it appears that Season 2 may get a release. If so let's hope that more effort goes into brushing up the presentation.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The Larry Sanders Show comes with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) soundtrack consistent with the original broadcast.

    The show is just talk so I cannot really see much benefit in a surround sound mix, however I could see the virtue in remastering the sound for the show as it is fairly dead and muffled. Part of this was no doubt due to the use of hand held camera and miking but it probably also has something to do with the creative use of overlapping dialogue, another innovative factor about the series.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem.

    In short the sound quality is consistent with the visual transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Animation

    This is simply a dodgy background accompanied by the "night time talk show" music of the series.

Featurette : No Flipping 27.52

    This feature, a 30 minute interview of Garry Shandling by TV critic Tom Shayle, is named after one of Larry's catch-cries. It is a genial chat interspersed with moments from the episodes. Shandling describes the origins of the show and the casting process. In a rarity, HBO commissioned Shandling to produce 13 episodes rather than just preparing a pilot. This gave him the freedom to properly develop the show without having to over-rev the pilot.

    He describes the joys and tortures of using both film and video. It made for complicated shooting with 4 video cameras and 3 film cameras (including hand held) being used during the talk show segment.

    Shandling describes his aim with the show to create something both edgy and believable, combining the most pathetic human foibles with characters who do actually care for each other a great deal.. The interview is fun to watch although Shandling does go into some detail about two of the funniest plot lines from future seasons of the show. He also mentions watching some old episodes for "the commentary" but viewers will search in vain for commentaries on the episodes in this set.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The Region 1 season 1 DVD is precisely the same. Browsing on the internet I noticed similar comments about the quality of the Region 1 DVD.

Summary

   The Larry Sanders Show was a revolution in television, blurring the lines between fact and fiction and in so doing creating one of the funniest shows on TV.

    True fans of the show will buy it anyway but all should be warned that the video and sound transfer are sub-par.

    The sole extra is fun to watch and interesting although something more specific to the first season would have been nice.

    Only recommended for the true fan of the show.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Will there ever be a season 2 DVD? - zooty REPLY POSTED
It should probably be mentioned that this disc is in NTSC format. - grug (there is no bio.)