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July 14, 2024, 11:50:55 PM

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I've decided The Larry Sanders Show is a masterpiece

Started by Kelvin, March 24, 2024, 07:25:26 AM

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Hank the Rapper



thr0b

Quote from: Endicott on March 24, 2024, 12:56:25 PMIf I remember correctly it's mostly cuts for non UK cleared musical performances. Although
Spoiler alert
I wonder if they have Hank saying cunt?
[close]

Don't quote me though it may be more than that. I recommend the R1 DVD full box set if you can get it. Also has some great extras.

Yeah, the ITV4 edits also didn't go out particularly late, so they'll be shaved. Plus the rips aren't the best quality anyway - I grabbed them from UKNova a few years back. They're serviceable enough, but it's one of those shows that deserves better than a low Bitrate Avi.

BennyHedgehog

I think Hank's Sex Tape is the most perfectly structured sitcom episode of all time.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3cy1mb


madhair60

never watched this, just start at season 1 i assume? anything to know going in?

Proactive

Nope, just watch from the beginning. In starts strong and stays there.

Video Game Fan 2000

#37
there are loads of comedies that get praised for having great characters

but its no slight on any of them for saying that they don't touch Larry Sanders, a league of its own. Seinfeld/Simpsons/Sanders/Silvers might be the holy four of american comedy but two of them are out in front of the others, one for pure laughter (Simpsons) and the other brilliance of writing and performance (Sanders)

I think about how Arties Gone, which is a premised on the non-appearance of the show's biggest fun factor, is in fact one of the better episodes since when you see the whole premise from a different side it all seems fresh.

a lot of the comedies that seem directly inspired by it are really good, but there's a key difference in quality for me. for example i love IAP and TTOI a lot, they're both top drawer for me. but the realism and believability of the characters, and therefore the jokes, is based on cunning slight of hand. we only ever see Alan working when its funny and revealing to see him working, we only see him interact with Lyn when its revealing to see his reactions. in TTOI the camera only follows Malcolm when Malcolm's got something to say. and it generally doesn't matter where exchanges take place so long as the characters are built up in the viewers and eye and the jokes land. its a format thats built on manipulating suspension of disbelief into tricking the viewer into thinking they're see a network interrelated character clashes and the same characters in different, real locations where they have to act differently. the genius of IAP is that Coogan becomes the focus, we're so taken in by 'partridge-esque' that the nonsensical, contrived nature of his world doesn't matter. we don't notice he's disconnected from the world because he's so funny we don't have to notice. the world around Alan isn't 'written' as such, its cooked up in the moment as a backdrop to character based bits that flesh him out. everything we see is ultimately only there to be funny and sustain rolling of the partridge snowball

but with Larry Sanders, its different. every single part works and works independently. the different levels of sincerity in Artie depending on his physical location - whether he's backstage, in the corridor, in Larry's office or talking to the staff. the contrast between Hank's arrogance and entitlement in Larry's office versus his horror if anyone goes into his. the way Hank's relationship to the audience goes on at a different level to the ratings/reactions that Larry and Artie care about. the writers room is contrived as a creative sanctuary but we're aware that its a paper thin contrivance that depends on phils ego. we know how over worked beverly and darlene are. we know Larry has insulated himself from his bosses and relies on Artie as a middle man. we have the monologues, the interviews, the pre-show schmoozing with guests. we see the vending machine and the photocopier. there is a complex pecking order but we know it could collapse at any moment. its a whole. in the Simpsons it doesnt matter to us if we don't see Skinner and he hasn't turned up for work that day, and in Dads Army we don't care if Jones had a row with Godfrey before the platoon fell in. but in Sanders it 100% matters and we can imagine that if Phil had a off-camera bust up with Beverly, the show would have to tell us and it would influence the behaviour of every character we see.

every possible relationship we're shown is real, every space is inhabitable and has an obvious effect on the characters when they walk into it. its an intricate machine. and they always leave room for sitcom antics on top of it. when Seinfeld managed to pull that off about two thirds of the time with two members of its main cast. Sanders does with its entire cast in every episode - and its not even the point, that's just the backdrop for Hank's breakdowns and Larry's spiraling person life. the whole thing is so well conceived top to bottom its a marvel, and every one of the combinations is overdetermined with potential laughs and character moments. it gives the illusion of an overburdened wheel that moves by itself. and that is perfect for the concept, since you through an unpredictable element into it, a celebrity or a scandal, it you're not just seeing how Larry reacts or how Hank reacts, you're seeing the whole machine take the hit and that effects of it reverberate through the most fucking A++++ comedy performances you'll ever see anywhere. nothing happens exclusively to Hank, Artie and Larry in the show: things happen to fictional show as a whole and we see what happens to Hank, Larry and all as a result. its a wonder to me and no other american tv show lives up to it. most things are like kids tv to me after Sanders. its the most mature feeling comedy show ever made because it speaks up to the audience and not down, it presents a whole and not 'here's the character you love' (even though it could have got by on this easily and still been funny) - its never spoonfeeding the funny parts like the Office or nudging you to notice character conflicts.

dr beat

^great post, thanks.  The Grand Opening is my favourite.  OK maybe a total crowd pleaser but it delivers even more than the premise of a Sanders/Seinfeld crossover (which is sort of what it is) would suggest.

Quote from: Proactive on March 24, 2024, 04:23:55 PMNope, just watch from the beginning. In starts strong and stays there.

one note of caution: the early seasons especially were broadcast wildly out of order (eg Larry gets divorced and is later married to the same wife), and it makes more sense in production order.

Armin Meiwes

Great time capsule of early 90s stand ups appearing as not themselves as well.. Silverman, Barry, Odenkirk, Garofolo and prob some others I've forgotten.


Kelvin

#42
Quote from: mr. logic on March 24, 2024, 12:31:04 PM'I'm pissing my pants, conceptual flaw and all!'

I think that is the best series of words in comedy ever. Pleasing writing aside,  it also displays the duality of the character:  A kiss arse, obviously,  but also a sharp producer who recognises that the sketch doesn't actually work and agrees with the arty reservations of Larry. But also ultimately knows that it doesn't matter all that much in terms of the audience and viewers who will laugh at any old shit, something he doesn't just accept, something he welcomes. In one line.

Hmm. I'm not sure Artie holds the audience in such contempt. Artie just knows that individual moments won't matter too much, hence him never dwelling on minor issues for too long. But I think he sincerely wants the show to be as good as possible within it's limitations and restrictions. He wants to be doing the best possible job as producer for Larry. He takes pride in his own work. And I think he respects the talk show format, and Larry as a performer and host. Artie just knows that they can't dwell on any one aspect for too long, and knows that the bigger picture matters more than an individual sketch, monologue, interview, or episode.     

Kelvin

Quote from: Video Game Fan 2000 on March 24, 2024, 04:27:10 PMthe different levels of sincerity in Artie depending on his physical location - whether he's backstage, in the corridor, in Larry's office or talking to the staff.

The whole post was great, but I loved this specific observation about location.

mr. logic

Quote from: Kelvin on March 24, 2024, 06:38:29 PMHmm. I'm not sure he welcomes the audience being idiots. Or even that he holds them in such contempt. Artie just knows that individual moments won't matter too much, hence him never dwelling on minor issues for too long. But I think he sincerely wants the show to be as good as possible within it's limitations and restrictions. He wants to be doing the best possible job as producer for Larry. He takes pride in his own work. And I think he respects the talk show format, and Larry as a performer and host. Artie just knows that they can't dwell on any one aspect for too long, and knows that the bigger picture matters more than an individual sketch, monologue, interview, or episode.     

Interesting! You're probably right, but there's definitely a fake laugh and look of genuine concern before he delivers the line. Possibly feeds into both of our theories.

What a terrific show

Kelvin

Quote from: BennyHedgehog on March 24, 2024, 03:58:13 PMI think Hank's Sex Tape is the most perfectly structured sitcom episode of all time.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3cy1mb

"Sex is not a crime. It's a loving act between two or more consenting adults."

Kelvin

Quote from: mr. logic on March 24, 2024, 06:48:41 PMInteresting! You're probably right, but there's definitely a fake laugh and look of genuine concern before he delivers the line. Possibly feeds into both of our theories.

What a terrific show

Oh he's lying through his teeth, no question. He just doesn't want to get bogged down with the sketch - especially when it impacts Larry's performance when he obsesses over things like that.

Artie generally doesn't seem to focus on issues with an individual monologue or sketch, but he always bollocks the writers when he notices a decline in the writing over a few shows.

BennyHedgehog

Quote from: Kelvin on March 24, 2024, 06:56:13 PM"Sex is not a crime. It's a loving act between two or more consenting adults."

I love the couch segment with Norm, Fonzie and drunk Hank



Magnum Valentino

Has anyone read It's Garry Shandling's Book? Been interested in getting it for a few years.

McChesney Duntz

If I absolutely had to choose a "bad" episode of TLSS - I mean, gun to the head, children die if I don't answer sort of thing - I guess "Larry's New Love," the season-five finale, would come closest. Not that it's even that bad, or bad at all really, but it's the one episode that skirts melodrama and plays the end-of-season semi-cliffhanger game without really making too much comedy out of it. And any quality issues are only really noticable because it's coming at the end of a season that pretty much serves up nothing but classics up to that point. So, yeah, pretty much a perfect show, then.

Anyway, whatever mild concerns that one episode engenders are blown away by the whole of season six, which is about as brilliant as any show ever was in sticking the landing. Even more impressive, Shandling managed to do this while embroiled in a personal/professional nightmare that, at this distance, only reinforces the verisimilitude in the theme underlying the whole project: as Garry once said, it's a show about people who love each other but show business always gets in the way.

So, favorite (not necessarily best, though in most cases, they probably are) episodes? Here's my rough list of ten (leaving the finale out, because last episodes feel like their own thing to me rather than a "standard" installment - you'd have to go all the way back to the last Mary Tyler Moore Show to find a better conclusion to a sitcom, though. Seinfeld [which ended its run a mere two weeks before Sanders did] didn't stand a chance by comparison), in chronological order -

The Spider Episode (s1, s3) (features one of the show's greatest sight gags [think Hank/tarantula], and Carol Burnett sets the bar high for all the celebs who would play themselves thereafter with just four simple words:
Spoiler alert

Off Camera (s2, e15) (first of two great show-falls-apart-backstage-in-front-of-reporter episodes: "Make a Wish" (s5, e7) may even be a little better, but I have to give this one the edge lest I fall prey to the curse that took out every male guest star in it)

The Grand Opening (s2, e16) (one of many strong Hank's-in-over-his-head episodes, with the best use of another sitcom's set ever)

Hank's Night in the Sun (s3, e6) ('nuff said)

Arthur After Hours (s4, e3) (a Rip Torn tour de force)

Hank's Sex Tape (s4, e7) (one of the best payoff/punchlines of the whole run, and this classic exchange to boot EDIT: which I see someone already posted while I was hacking away at this post)

Everybody Loves Larry (s5, e1) ('nuff said)

My Name is Asher Kingsley (s5, e2) (trying not to fill the list with Hank episodes, but this is a good one - deals with the thorny issue of religious faith and showbiz without outright dismissing/belittling those who practice it; Hank gets to be laughable and cringy [he is Hank, after all] while still being sympathetic and relatable; and, while the fact of and circumstances behind Linda Doucett [Darlene]'s departure from the show is regrettable and unfortunate, I doubt she would have been as hilarious as her successor Scott Thompson is reading Hank's hate mail)

The Beginning of the End (s6, e2) (not the funniest episode of the last season, though it's plenty funny [Bob Odenkirk's Stevie Grant, in a brief appearance via speakerphone, gets one of the biggest laughs with a line that - all together now - you couldn't do nowadays], but it's a pivotal one, where excessive meddling by a pair of network execs [one is played by underappreciated that-guy character actor Bruce Greenwood, the other bears an uncanny resemblance to the reporter in "Off Camera"] pushes Larry to make a drastic decision. Shandling does some of his best acting in this episode as he seems to cycle through the whole Kubler-Ross five stages thing in about ten minutes of screentime before his sidekick inadvertently hands him the key that resolves his existential crisis; Torn and Tambor have a great scene together and equally great ones with Shandling in the last act, including a very Hank denouement. Lots of big words here; guess I like this one)

Adolf Hankler (s6, e6) (now this may be the funniest episode of the last season - just non-stop great scenes as heir to the desk Jon Stewart fills in for Larry [who is at home trying desperately to bond with his non-showbiz brother] and the dry run for his takeover goes about as badly as it could. The whole Wu-Tang Clan chunk of the show is pure gold, but absolutely everything works brilliantly)

...and after that, I guess we basically have 80 runners-up tied for 11th place. Here endeth the blather.

McChesney Duntz

Gotta throw this clip in as well, with an all-timer of an Artie remark at the end:


Kelvin

Quote from: McChesney Duntz on March 24, 2024, 09:57:23 PMMy Name is Asher Kingsley (s5, e2) (trying not to fill the list with Hank episodes, but this is a good one - deals with the thorny issue of religious faith and showbiz without outright dismissing/belittling those who practice it; Hank gets to be laughable and cringy [he is Hank, after all] while still being sympathetic and relatable; and, while the fact of and circumstances behind Linda Doucett [Darlene]'s departure from the show is regrettable and unfortunate, I doubt she would have been as hilarious as her successor Scott Thompson is reading Hank's hate mail)

The moment when Thompson lifts up a letter and

Spoiler alert
there's a swastika drawn on it
[close]

Kelvin

Quote from: McChesney Duntz on March 24, 2024, 10:05:15 PMGotta throw this clip in as well, with an all-timer of an Artie remark at the end:


Fucking hell. I only watched that one a few days ago, and I still just roared with laughter at Artie.

McChesney Duntz

Quote from: Kelvin on March 24, 2024, 10:12:16 PMThe moment when Thompson lifts up a letter and

Spoiler alert
there's a swastika drawn on it
[close]

Definitely that, but even better was Thompson's delivery of
Spoiler alert
"Dear Jew..."
[close]


Oosp

I was literally about to start a Larry Sanders thread. Knee-deep in it after a few years away and every rewatch is gold, Larry, gold! It's just supreme television, groundbreaking, completely assured, tight, perfect, perfect as a show can be. Everyone in it is important to the Show. TV for grownups

EDIT: Ah yes - all of this:
Quote from: Video Game Fan 2000 on March 24, 2024, 04:27:10 PMthere are loads of comedies that get praised for having great characters

but its no slight on any of them for saying that they don't touch Larry Sanders, a league of its own. Seinfeld/Simpsons/Sanders/Silvers might be the holy four of american comedy but two of them are out in front of the others, one for pure laughter (Simpsons) and the other brilliance of writing and performance (Sanders)

I think about how Arties Gone, which is a premised on the non-appearance of the show's biggest fun factor, is in fact one of the better episodes since when you see the whole premise from a different side it all seems fresh.

a lot of the comedies that seem directly inspired by it are really good, but there's a key difference in quality for me. for example i love IAP and TTOI a lot, they're both top drawer for me. but the realism and believability of the characters, and therefore the jokes, is based on cunning slight of hand. we only ever see Alan working when its funny and revealing to see him working, we only see him interact with Lyn when its revealing to see his reactions. in TTOI the camera only follows Malcolm when Malcolm's got something to say. and it generally doesn't matter where exchanges take place so long as the characters are built up in the viewers and eye and the jokes land. its a format thats built on manipulating suspension of disbelief into tricking the viewer into thinking they're see a network interrelated character clashes and the same characters in different, real locations where they have to act differently. the genius of IAP is that Coogan becomes the focus, we're so taken in by 'partridge-esque' that the nonsensical, contrived nature of his world doesn't matter. we don't notice he's disconnected from the world because he's so funny we don't have to notice. the world around Alan isn't 'written' as such, its cooked up in the moment as a backdrop to character based bits that flesh him out. everything we see is ultimately only there to be funny and sustain rolling of the partridge snowball

but with Larry Sanders, its different. every single part works and works independently. the different levels of sincerity in Artie depending on his physical location - whether he's backstage, in the corridor, in Larry's office or talking to the staff. the contrast between Hank's arrogance and entitlement in Larry's office versus his horror if anyone goes into his. the way Hank's relationship to the audience goes on at a different level to the ratings/reactions that Larry and Artie care about. the writers room is contrived as a creative sanctuary but we're aware that its a paper thin contrivance that depends on phils ego. we know how over worked beverly and darlene are. we know Larry has insulated himself from his bosses and relies on Artie as a middle man. we have the monologues, the interviews, the pre-show schmoozing with guests. we see the vending machine and the photocopier. there is a complex pecking order but we know it could collapse at any moment. its a whole. in the Simpsons it doesnt matter to us if we don't see Skinner and he hasn't turned up for work that day, and in Dads Army we don't care if Jones had a row with Godfrey before the platoon fell in. but in Sanders it 100% matters and we can imagine that if Phil had a off-camera bust up with Beverly, the show would have to tell us and it would influence the behaviour of every character we see.

every possible relationship we're shown is real, every space is inhabitable and has an obvious effect on the characters when they walk into it. its an intricate machine. and they always leave room for sitcom antics on top of it. when Seinfeld managed to pull that off about two thirds of the time with two members of its main cast. Sanders does with its entire cast in every episode - and its not even the point, that's just the backdrop for Hank's breakdowns and Larry's spiraling person life. the whole thing is so well conceived top to bottom its a marvel, and every one of the combinations is overdetermined with potential laughs and character moments. it gives the illusion of an overburdened wheel that moves by itself. and that is perfect for the concept, since you through an unpredictable element into it, a celebrity or a scandal, it you're not just seeing how Larry reacts or how Hank reacts, you're seeing the whole machine take the hit and that effects of it reverberate through the most fucking A++++ comedy performances you'll ever see anywhere. nothing happens exclusively to Hank, Artie and Larry in the show: things happen to fictional show as a whole and we see what happens to Hank, Larry and all as a result. its a wonder to me and no other american tv show lives up to it. most things are like kids tv to me after Sanders. its the most mature feeling comedy show ever made because it speaks up to the audience and not down, it presents a whole and not 'here's the character you love' (even though it could have got by on this easily and still been funny) - its never spoonfeeding the funny parts like the Office or nudging you to notice character conflicts.

prelektric

Ahhh - an awesome thread. Good work everyone.

There are few things you could throw the word "masterpiece" at, without it being cloying hyperbole, but in this case it is totally, objectively deserved. For all the reasons already stated. I'm yet to find anyone who likes comedy, sitcoms, and the technical aspects of it who doesn't love it. It is the gold standard - often imitated, never bettered.

Gets a full re-watch at least once every couple of years in this household. I could do it more often, but it's SO good, it needs to be savoured in a way that it doesn't become TOO familiar.

I have to concur with some of you that Artie is probably my favourite. The layers within that character would, and should shame any writers even trying to emulate the depth there - and Rip Torn performs it to perfection. Rip Torn made me cry. On a few occasions.

This was a man who gleefully threw children in to a pit of fire in "The Beastmaster" (1982) - I was terrified of him as a kid. What an about face then to finding myself feel real fondness for him in this.

I could go more into it, favourite episodes etc, but need to have a think about that. Some of you have already covered what I'd want to say.

Petey Pate

Hank's Night in the Sun really is an amazing episode of television. They manage to pull off a character arc where Hank becomes an outright villain in just 20 minutes, and it's completely convincing due to Tambor's brilliant performance.


QDRPHNC

Hank: How would you feel if Beverley was a gay?
Larry: A gay? What are you, Italian?

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