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Fans of ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ have been cheering since last Tuesday, when the complete series was released on DVD from Shout Factory! – also releasing hoards of other cool titles, including the Roger Corman Cult Classics. We watched ‘The Evil’ last night and laughed all the way through it. The people trapped in the house didn’t seem all that freaked out about their friends perishing by spontaneous combustion. But I digress…

the-larry-sanders-showThe Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series’ is a 17-disc boxed set that includes all 89 episodes and tons of bonus features, including the documentary ‘The Making of The Larry Sanders Show,’ in which Ricky Gervais proclaims it “how good television could be.”

More kudos from TV Guide, which included ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ in their top 50 TV series of all time (ranked number 38, just behind ‘The X-Files’ and ahead of ‘The Rockford Files’).

The show revolves around Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling), a neurotic late-night talk show host; his foul-mouthed producer Artie (Rip Torn); and his hopelessly insecure sidekick Hank “Hey Now” Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor). Off-air? Their lives are a hot mess of a train wreck, but when the lights go down and the theme music kicks in, they’re in go mode. It’s a brilliant Hollywood satire, because you have to think that a lot of people in Tinseltown fit into this mold.

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Garry Shandling and Ellen DeGeneres on 'The Larry Sanders Show'

I missed the series when it originally aired on HBO from 1992 to 1998, but I’m part-way through season one and loving it so far. You can see how it helped to shape shows like ‘The Office’ and ‘Arrested Development’ — though I know a lot of folks don’t like those comparisons, putting ‘Sanders’ in a class of its own.

Not only that, though, it’s fun to see big stars acting like complete jerks, not to mention that many of them have a LOT more hair – and ok, a lot less fat — back then.

And the list of players is nothing short of impressive. Janeane Garofalo, Penny Johnson, Wallace Langham, Bob Odenkirk, Jeremy Piven, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Sarah Silverman, and Scott Thompson are among them, but the list of celebrity guest stars is equally impressive and includes David Duchovny, Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stone, Roseanne, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams and Alec Baldwin.

Written and produced by Garry Shandling, Peter Tolan (‘Rescue Me’) and Judd Apatow (‘Knocked Up’ is among his credits), ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ is proving itself to be one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. I’m already mourning the final episode, even though I’ve heard it’s a great ending.

Bonus Features:

  • Introduction by Garry Shandling
  • All-New Deleted Scenes
  • All-New Outtakes (bloopers)
  • Garry Lectures At USC
  • 60-Page Collector’s Book featuring essays from Howard Rosenberg and Jeffrey Tambor
  • The Making Of The Larry Sanders Show: Feature-Length Documentary
  • Garry Shandling and Judd Apatow on “The Writer’s Process”
  • Interviews With Cast
  • Garry Shandling’s personal visits with guest stars Alec Baldwin, Sharon Stone, David Duchovny, Tom Petty, Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld and Carol Burnett
  • Commentaries by Garry Shandling, Judd Apatow, Peter Tolan and Todd Holland

Here’s a little clip from Shout Factory! about the history behind Hank’s “Hey Now” catch-phrase. I had to search long and hard to find a ‘Larry Sanders’ clip I could put on a family site! The show is rated TV-MA and has lots of language and sex banter.

Image: Shout Factory!/HBO

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