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The Larry Sanders Show: The Entire First Season

"And now, because we tried it with just the desk and it wasn't the same, it's Larry Sanders." Welcome to the first season (1992) of the hilariously funny HBO talk show send-up, The Larry Sanders Show. The brainchild of the show's star, Garry Shandling, Sanders was the forerunner for a string of hip shows like Sex in the City and The Sopranos, which proved that the cable networks were ready to go head-to-head with the big networks. Shandling describes Sanders as being "patterned after a combination of Johnny, Dave, Jay, and Sally Jesse Raphael — but mostly Sally Jesse." Larry is a hapless talk show host surrounded by a studio of dysfunctional schemers full of both fear and bravado. As the center of this TV world, Sanders is like an empty vessel ready to believe whatever his producer, co-host, wife, assistant, or cue-card holder tells him. Constantly in a state of worry, he's bolstered and protected by producer Artie (Rip Torn, who is beyond brilliant in this role), a take-no-prisoners negotiator with a veneer of sincerity that makes him irresistible. Larry's spineless co-host Hank (Jeffrey Tambor), the butt of endless jokes from the cast and crew, suffers from low self-esteem, an inflated ego, a penchant for strippers, and the desire to host the show. Peripheral characters like talent-booker Paula (Janeane Garofalo) and writers Jerry (Jeremy Piven) and Phil (Wallace Langham), along with real-life celebrity guests including Carol Burnett, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, and George Foreman, keep the confusion and humor at a maximum. Sanders is full of running gags, one-liners, and the self-indulgent attitudes we have come to love in spoofs about insider Hollywood. The 13 episodes on Columbia TriStar's three-disc Larry Sanders: The Entire First Season include "Promise" with David Spade as a two-timing comedian on the make; "The Guest Host" starring Dana Carvey as a replacement host so popular that his success as a stand-in sends Larry into a tailspin; "The Flirt" with Mimi Rogers coming on to Larry, much to the irritation of Larry's wife (Megan Gallager); and "Warmth," wherein Larry hires a focus group to find ways to boost the show's ratings. All episodes are preseneted in full-frame (1.33:1) with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a featurette with Shandling and Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales discussing the background of the show. It's great item for fans, as well as for those who missed the series when it first aired. Three-DVD digipak in paperboard case.
—Kerry Fall

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