It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series


This is the review for Garry's show, the DVD review for Garry's show. These are the words that you read as you consider a purchase. We're almost halfway finished. How do you like it so far? How do you like the review for Garry's show?

Any fan of cable TV's late-'80s breakthrough sitcom "It's Garry Shandling's Show" gets the joke above. If you're not among that select group, time to catch up! The complete series is now available on DVD in one heavy, 16-disc set from the ace tube archivists at Shout! Factory.

Comedian Shandling played himself in the series that so broke the fourth wall, there probably wasn't one there ever. From his living-room set, Garry addresses the audience and tells some jokes, and then the other characters filter in for that week's story. After there, it's more talking to audience "? done throughout, actually "? and goodnight, folks. It's the quintessential marriage of sitcom and talk show, minus guests hawking product and whatnot. Oh, people drop by, all right "? Jeff Goldblum, Vanna White and, most notably, Gilda Radner "? but it's to be in on one extended, clever, meta joke. 

Much of the show stems from three relationships of Garry's:

with his ever-cheery, ever-platonic pal, Nancy (Molly Cheek); with whatever girlfriend or date his characters happens to have; and with his neighbors, the Schumachers. Michael Tucci's portrayal of Pete struck me as a proto-George Costanza.

But it's the series' sheer experimental nature that made the show stand out, and for which it's remembered today (although perhaps not as fondly as Shandling's Showtime follow-up, "The Larry Sanders Show"). It spoofs sitcoms without demeaning them, and busts rules not out of anarchy, but to wring fun. I'll never forget the episode where Garry recruited the studio audience to help yell "Surprise!" for his mom's party, and doing so gave her a coronary. That's the best kind of comedy: unpredictable, daring, different.

As expected, Shout!'s set comes packed with commentaries, featurettes and other features that pull back the curtain on a show that pulled back the curtain.

"?Rod Lott

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