No flipping!

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phillipellis's review of Larry Sanders Show

“No flipping!”


written by phillipellis on 16/02/2018

Star – Gary Shandling
Genre – Comedy Box set
Run Time –13 x 30 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.S.A
Amazon – £4.98 DVD – Blue Ray £15.89
Awards – 46 Wins & 135 Nominations
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The Larry Sanders Show was probably the rebirth of comedy back in the 1990s and the first comedy cable TV show to get a Primetime Emmy award nomination a right award for its genius and vision. The big American sitcoms had all but peaked and satire was pushed online by the lawyers and Hollywood was taking itself way too seriously. So Gary Shandling and Dennis Klein decided to send them all up by creating a sitcom around a made up TV talk show that would invite those big film and TV stars playing a version of themselves on to the show. And they positively lapped it up with everyone from Alec Baldwin to Billy Crystal on the couch plugging their real wares in that fictitious show. In fact Shandling’s Larry Sanders character was so realistic one network offered him a real chat show before Jay Leno got it instead.

The show would run for six seasons with 187 celebrities appearing on it. It would win 24 major awards including three Primetime Emmys and a BAFTA Award and three Golden Globe nominations and still listed in time Magazine’s top 100 comedy all time TV programs list. But Sanders real punch was inspiring the likes of Larry David to write the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm and Ricky Gervais with The Office, and not forgetting 30 Rock. I think we can forget Jack Dee’s ironically titled Lead Balloon.

The basic set up is Larry is the host of a network talk show alongside his sofa sidekick Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor). Embattled Rip Torn as the shows boss Arty is trying to keep the show on track off screen as guests cancel, staff misbehaves and all manner of things go wrong, not least the network putting pressure on the show to boost ratings.

Larry’s team of writer’s battle to get their jokes heard every day on the monologue and Janeane Garofalo as Paula books the talent. Hanks sexy assistant Darlene (Linda Doucett) pines over him (she was actually dating Gary Shandling in real life at the time) whilst Larry’s PA Beverly (Penny Johnson) struggles with his mood swings and needs, which is wrecking Larry’s marriage to Jeannie (Megan Gallagher).


Garry Shandling as Larry Sanders, the eponymous talk show host
Rip Torn as Arthur ("Artie"), the talk show's producer
Jeffrey Tambor as Larry's sidekick, Hank Kingsley
Penny Johnson as Larry's personal assistant, Beverly
Janeane Garofalo as the talent booker Paula (first five seasons)
Mary Lynn Rajskub as the booking assistant/booker Mary Lou (final two seasons)
Jeremy Piven as head writer Jerry (until season two episode "Larry's Birthday")
Wallace Langham as writer/head writer Phil
Linda Doucett as Hank's personal assistant Darlene (first three seasons)
Scott Thompson as Hank's personal assistant Brian (final three seasons)
Megan Gallagher as Larry's wife Jeannie (first season and "Jeannie's Visit")
Kathryn Harrold as Larry's ex-wife Francine (second season)
Deborah May as network executive Melanie Parrish
Bob Odenkirk as Larry's agent Stevie Grant
Sid Newman as Sid the cue-card guy (various episodes)


Larry: You know in fact, Hank, what I was thinking was next year when we have the going away party, let me and Artie take care of the stripper because we can probably find one that doesn’t know ya.

===The episodes===

"What Have You Done for Me Lately?"

"The Promise"

"The Spiders Episode"

"Guest Host"

"The New Producer"

"The Flirt Episode"

"Hank's Contract"

"Out of the Loop"

"The Talk Show Episode"


"The Warmth Episode"

"A Brush With (the Elbow of) Greatness"

"The Hey Now Episode"


I have enjoyed this one from day one back in 1994 when I first saw it America and haven’t stopped loving it, enough to track down DVDs of the shows on Ebay and Amazon. Trust me they are hard to come by on Region 2 although a box set of the whole season was released recently on multi region. It’s just a smart, funny show that the entertainment industry seriously needed and I believe the birth of that reality TV where Z-List celebrities are routinely humiliated on TV for our leisure and ‘here here’ to that. Nothing more rewarding than seeing some nobody from the Only Way is Essex smashing his leg up on The Jump.

The show was ahead of its time and essential viewing and if you had more than two brain cells to rub together you needed shows like this as an antidote to the swathes of banal patronizing sitcoms stuffing our TV channels full of dross. The jokes were aimed at you and me for once and you were in on the joke with the guest celebrities playing an exaggerated version of themselves and that was something new. Larry David perfected that with ‘Curb’ but this broke the mold. We have a lot to thanks it for. Shandling is almost ‘knowing’ in that he has seen the future where celebrities could not get away with living in their ivory towers for much longer as social media and camera phones to come would make them more exposed than ever and so why not expose themselves on Curb and co to counter that? It’s a must see show folks!

===RATINGS=== – 8.4/10.0 (6.234votes) – 93% critic’s approval – 84% critic’s approval

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