Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Best of Larry, Volume 2

Not Just The Best of The Larry Sanders Show is finally out on DVD, and it's a must own. This despite the fact that the set "only" includes 23 episodes (never mind the fact that all of the episodes are currently available, unedited on youtube.com). Why only 23, when I found ten more that I absolutely can't believe aren't included here? Lots of reasons, but the main one has to be the extremely bitter feud between Garry Shandling and former producer Brad Grey, one that's obviously taken a physical toll on Shandling. So really all of those "reviewers" at Amazon should give Shandling a break. But still:
  • Of the 23 episodes, 3 are from season 1 (which is already available on DVD), and 7 are from the final season (which Grey wasn't a part of). Most of those 7 (except for the brilliant final episode, "Flip", aren't nearly as impressive as the ten we're listing below that aren't included. I'm sure getting the 13 others to come out was time consuming (therefore we had to wait ten years to get those in DVD format).
  • To make up for not including everything, Shandling went out of his way on the extras. As in, he goes back and interviews almost everyone who was ever on the show, including his ex-girlfriend, Linda Doucett, who was also a major part of the Grey lawsuit. That one alone is difficult to watch as Shandling and Doucett share everything regarding their breakup. And to make amends with Alec Baldwin, he and Shandling actually get in a boxing ring and fight (Seriously, this is one of the extras).
  • It's amazing how many people started on this show, including Jeremy Piven & Sara Silverman (both included in the bizarre Shandling interviews). For whatever reason, Shandling feels he needs to apologize to some for not giving a proper goodbye (to which Jeffrey Tambor says, "You have nothing to apologize to me for, you changed my life.").
  • Did I mention how the years since the show went off the air have not been a friend to Shandling? Nowhere is this more evident than on the recent HBO Special that honors Jerry Seinfeld with some comedian award. The guests include Chris Rock, Robert Klein, and Shandling. Poor Garry doesn't even try to look good, his hair's a mess, and he looks like he just rolled out of bed. He's still funny, but Seinfeld looks every bit the "Master of his Domain", dressed to the nine's with his two inch lapel and looking better than he ever did on his sitcom that ended the same time as Shandling's. But this DVD set, even with only 23 episodes, proves that The Larry Sanders Show was and is miles better than Seinfeld -- the most impressive part is how well the show holds up after all these years. Seinfeld the show is finally showing signs of being dated. Sanders simply looks ahead of it's time and would be a bigger hit if it aired today.
  • But don't gripe, there are still 23 episodes here of the greatest sit-com of all-time. Shandling does include the no-brainers ("Hank's Sex Tape", which has to be one of the all-time top 3 greatest EPISODES of any series, and the legendary "Penis/Vagina" one).
  • Finally, there's undeniable proof that HBO is responsible for the three greatest television characters ever: Tony Soprano, Hank Kingsley, and Artie (who's last name we never learn of).
Order this must-have set now. More importantly, I'm sure that if this one sells well, they'll come out with a Volume 2, which must include these 10 episodes that I can't believe aren't available on DVD yet:
  1. Off Camera: Not including this episode on a best of set is like the Rolling Stones not including "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" on their Greatest Hits. After Hank's Sex Tape, this should have been the first episode selected. It's gained legendary status because it features Warren Zevon, Gene Siskel, and John Ritter (who all died within a relatively short time of one another), but in many ways, it's the quintessential Larry Sanders episode. Features Siskel trying to explain The Crying Game to Hank and Rip Torn's finest hour, trying to keep an entire show together backstage.
  2. Hank's Wedding: A spoof on the Tiny Tim wedding from the old Tonight Show, even includes Ed McMahon in a cameo and Alex Trebek in charge of the wedding.
  3. People's Choice: One of my personal favorites. Larry and Hank argue over the line, "Mmm, tastes a little like chicken" and Artie tries to get Larry to host the People's Choice Awards show with Rita Moreno and Dean Cain.
  4. End of the Season: Not having this one is like going to an Eagles concert and not hearing "Hotel California." Larry is addicted to pain pills, and he's forced to lam it home with Roseanne to get clean. Includes this classic exchange:
    Larry: Somebody's been sitting in my chair.
    Hank: Maybe it was Mama Bear.
    Larry: You're a talentless fat fuck.
  5. Roseanne's Return: If for nothing else, proof that Chevy Chase has a sense of humor as he goes to a shrink to discuss the disaster that was his talk show. Also includes some of Tambor's finest work as he can't believe OJ would be guilty of murder because "He's always so nice to me." Hank also can't believe he can't park in a handicap spot. "It used to be you had to have talent to get good parking, now all you have to do is dive in a shallow pond."
  6. Arthur's Crises: Artie sleeps around with a CBS executive who wants him to come work in New York. Great comedy as Larry tries to run the show with Artie away.
  7. Eight: During the taping of the 8th anniversary special, Larry tries to take a piss to no avail. Great guest spots, including Hank demanding k.d. lang use capital letters for her name like everyone else, and another reminder that at one point in time, Rosie O'Donnell was actually funny. I can't believe I wrote that last part myself.
  8. Make A Wish: Larry wants to be on People Magazine's Top 10 Sexiest People in the World while some dying kid's last wish is to meet Larry. Hank smuggles in Cuban cigars, and when the feds come in, Larry immediately rats him out.
  9. The Young Intern: Also known as "0.409" for whatever reason. An emotional Hank tries to hug Larry during Shawn Colvin singing "Polaroids" (Good God did this show find talent early). Larry dates a much younger intern named Nina, and he's all excited to meet her sisters the Pita and the Santa Maria.
  10. The Book: Larry decides his memoirs would make for a best seller, but he locks himself in supply closet when he realizes his life is shallow. Everyone from Marlee Matlin to Brooke Shields tries to get Larry to get out and host, but the best exchange comes with Hank.
    Hank: Larry, come on buddy, we haven't missed one yet.
    Larry: Hank, is that you, can you hear me?
    Hank: I sure can buddy.
    Larry: Go fuck yourself Hank.
    Hank: Hey Larry, you didn't put that stuff in that book about me, did you?
    Larry: Buy the book Hank!

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