“No flipping, we’ll be right back.”
While everyone is binging on the latest and greatest off of Netflix (which is understandable; some great shows are being produced), I’ve started to “re-binge” on an old favorite of mine: The Larry Sanders Show.
I adore this show in a way that can only be compared to my love for the first decade of The Simpsons. Much like those first Simpsons episodes, TLSS was experimental and raw when it initially aired. It captured the atmosphere of a growing culture and allowed it to tap into that generation’s crave for late night programming.
We all know that feeling, that sort of ambiance a show can have when it permeates the here and now of an audience. Breaking Bad is another prime example. It was new, exciting and addicting, but it does not feel out of place within a cultural context. I think that Breaking Bad is capable of sitting alongside The Larry Sanders Show as a series that can be enjoyed long after it has ended. We can still be enthralled by the story and characters. I do not doubt that, like TLSS, the only components to really stand out in the future will be the clothing, hairstyles and technology. These are the things we tend to not recognize in the moment.
Funny enough, when I do bring up TLSS to people that I know, there tend to be two responses: Familiarity with the show comes from vague memories in their childhood or only hearing the mention of it by a parent. It is not a show someone of a more recent generation would watch; certainly not something a person in their teens would watch, or even know of, these days. It tends to sit in that place that only true comedy, or television, aficionados would come across. Most likely it would be found late at night, resulting from a Google search on “Top 10 most influential comedies” or something along those lines.
TLSS can speak comedically to those of us familiar with 30 Rock. They are very similar in form and style. Tina Fey’s comedic sensibilities sometimes cross more into cartoonish comedy, where as Garry Shandling’s (Larry Sanders, himself) sits in the dry and awkward area. Maybe Arrested Development (Jeffrey Tambor is in the main cast) or The Office are better examples of a direct descendant. As you can see, I keep mentioning comedy shows that don’t quite fit the norm of an average, prime-time network line up.
I guess I’m bringing it up with hopes that a few of you might like off-beat single-camera sitcoms, compared to other shows, and pick this up as something new to binge-watch. You’ll have to do a bit of searching for the show as it is currently no longer on Netflix and other similar venues. But, you can buy a cheap box set for about 20$ on Amazon.
Like so many other talents in 2016, Garry Shandling passed away unexpectedly. I would otherwise say it’s rather immemorial for myself, and others, to give it another watch. However, for me, it seems to be a yearly ritual.
Anyway, if I still haven’t sold you, look at some of the people involved. I’m not going to mention anything about plot, other than it is very close to 30 Rock. My reason for this is that I think it is best to jump into television shows.
With no more interruptions, here is the main cast: Garry Shandling, Rip Torn (best name ever), Jeffrey Tambor, Janeane Garofalo, Penny Johnson Jerald and Jeremy Piven. Not too mention a great, sleazy recurring character played by Bob Odenkirk. Some celebrity guest stars (which happens A LOT): Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Dana Carvey, Sarah Silverman, Steven Wright, David Duchovny…. Are you getting the point?
How about some writers/directors: Judd Apatow, Jon Vitti, Paul Simms, David Mirkin, John Riggi, Adam Resnick.
Yeah, go watch it.