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It’s Garry Shandling’s Show: The Complete Series (DVD Review)

12 Oct, 2009 By: John Latchem

Street 10/20/09
Shout! Factory
$159.99 16-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Garry Shandling, Molly Cheek, Michael Tucci, Scott Nemes, Paul Wilson.

The self-referential opening theme song tells you “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” is going to be different right off the bat. The show doesn’t just break the so-called fourth wall, it shatters it — if it was even there to begin with. The result is one of the most inventive and irreverent comedy shows of its time.

The 1987-90 series ran for 72 episodes on Showtime, while edited versions became one of the central shows of the then-fledging Fox network.

Shandling basically plays himself as a stand-up comedian with his own off-kilter situation comedy show. He routinely talks to the camera to tell jokes and advance the narrative, and readily acknowledges the studio audience. In one episode, he even invites the audience to make themselves at home in his apartment while he’s away, leading to an impromptu party. In later episodes, Garry takes advantage of the fact that he lives in a studio by walking between sets to cut down on travel time. The conventions of the sitcom have never been so exposed.

The central conceit of “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” stemmed from a series of sketches for Michael Nesmith’s “Television Parts,” about Shandling showing the inspiration behind his stand-up comedy bits. A few of these sketches are included on a DVD set that, typical of a Shout! Factory release, is loaded with extras.

The primary extra on the DVD set is a great three-part making-of documentary spread over the first three seasons. “Getting There” covers events that led Shandling and Alan Zweibel to create the show, “Being There” focuses on the cast, and “Still There” deals with the show’s writers and creative direction. Many of the writers went on to other shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Full House.”

The fourth season includes the featurette “Try to Remember,” a good interview with Shandling and Zweibel.

There are also interviews with other crew members, plus 18 commentaries and outtakes from select episodes.

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