Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling) has a modestly successful talk show. With his co-host “Hey-Now” Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor) and his manager Arthur (Rip Torn), Larry tries to bring in the stars while balancing his home life with his wife Jeannie (Megan Gallagher). Larry has issues and people like his assistant Beverly (Penny Johnson), his booker Paula (Janeane Garofalo), and his writers Jerry (Jeremy Piven), and Phil (Wallace Langham) are there to clean up Larry’s messes.
The Larry Sanders Show—Season 1 aired from August 15, 1992 to November 7, 1992 on HBO. The series was well received and gained a cult following. It was nominated for Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Sanders), Outstanding Support Actor in a Comedy Series (Tambor), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Torn), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Dana Carvey “Guest Host”), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Carol Burnett “The Spider Episode”), Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series (“The Hey Now Episode”), and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series (“The Spider Episode”).
I loved It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and found myself wishing I had HBO when I heard he had a new series airing there. When The Larry Sanders Show began airing on HBO, it was a rather new thing to have new shows on HBO (along with shows like Tales from the Crypt). The Larry Sanders Show doesn’t disappoint though it has dated a bit.
The show is a rapid half-hour series. The writing is tight and I can imagine that most of the episodes could have (and maybe should have) been even longer. Sometimes it feels like the episode is getting in the swing when it abruptly ends…it is still solid, but it always leaves you wanting more. Shandling was hands on with the series and does receive writing credit on many of the episodes.
Shandling also is perfect. Much like It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, it feels like Larry Sanders really is just Garry Shandling and play up events that occurred with him in years of stand up and “celebrity” life. He’s back up by a great supporting cast with Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn and the supporting characters of Penny Johnson, Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven, and Wallace Langham which continue to develop through the course of the series. Guest stars for the season include David Spade, Robin Williams, Robert Hays, James Karen, Cindy Morgan, Dana Delany, William Shatner, Jon Lovitz, Carol Burnett, Dana Carvey, Herve Villechaize, Mimi Rogers, Michael Richards, George Foreman, Peter Falk, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Mull, and Richard Simmons…sometimes playing themselves and other times playing roles.
The show unfortunately wasn’t as top quality as HBO’s later series. The shooting style of the show looks good, but the actual quality of the series (every time it is released) never seem great quality. It is too bad with the guests and the writing.
The Larry Sanders Show is a quick watch and the first season is one of the shorter seasons of the series. The series is pretty topical and many of the jokes might go over the heads of younger viewers. It is sad to know that Garry Shandling is gone, but revisiting The Larry Sanders Show is definitely worth the trip to honor a great comedian…he just might not be for everyone.
The Larry Sanders Show—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 The Garden Weasel Airdate: 08/15/92
Larry (Garry Shandling) is pressured to do commercials during the show by the network who demands he make up for sagging ratings. When Larry is considered “mocking” the Garden Weasel during the broadcast, he and Arthur (Rip Torn) face off against the network.
1.2 The Promise Airdate: 08/22/92
David Spade breaches protocol by appearing on Leno before Larry Sanders and Larry questions if he can bump him from the show.
1.3 The Spider Episode Airdate: 08/29/92
Larry is forced to face his fears when a spider-wrangler is booked on the show. Passing the duties off to Hank (Jeffrey Tambor), Larry thinks he’s gotten out of the problem…until he’s challenged by Carol Burnett.
1.4 Guest Host Airdate: 09/05/92
Dana Carvey fills in for Larry despite Hank’s request to substitute. When Dana proves to be popular, Larry worries Dana could be become a competitor.
1.5 The New Producer Airdate: 09/12/92
Arthur’s out from an emergency appendectomy, and Larry’s friend Jonathan Litman (Ian Buchanan) fills in for him. Jonathan’s got new ideas for show and it throws the staff into a panic.
1.6 The Flirt Episode Airdate: 09/19/92
Mimi Rogers appears on the show, and Larry’s flirting causes problems at home when the flirting is obvious.
1.7 Hank’s Contract Airdate: 09/19/92
Hank’s trying to get a new contract, and Larry might be forced to put himself on the line to keep Hank under contract.
1.8 Out of the Loop Airdate: 10/03/92
Larry realizes he’s out of touch with his staff and worries that he’s not connecting. Jerry (Jeremy Piven) is having sex with a showrunner Sally (Kimberley Kates), and Larry finds that it’s creating a distraction.
1.9 The Talk Show Episode Airdate: 10/10/92
Jeannie (Megan Gallagher) is threatening to leave Larry, and Larry finds that he can’t discuss the issue because he’s doing a show.
1.10 Party Airdate: 10/17/92
Arthur is invited to Larry’s for dinner by Jeannie, and the invitation spike a demand to be invited to the party by the other members of the staff.
1.11 The Warmth Episode Airdate: 10/24/92
Harry worries that he has an image problem when his likeability rating is lower than he expects.
1.12 A Brush With (the Elbow of) Greatness Airdate: 10/31/92
Larry Sanders accidentally knocks a woman named Carol Biederman (Suanne Spoke) into a magazine rack and a video surfaces putting Larry in a bad light. PR man Norman (David Paymer) has an idea for Larry and how he should handle the situation.
1.13 The Hey Now Episode Airdate: 11/07/92
Larry worries that Hank’s time is being monopolized by his freelancing and orders him to stop using “Hey Now” anymore…creating a rift between them.