It's Garry Shandling's Show (Review)

Shout Factory, 1986-1990, Not Rated

There are many reasons why you might not have heard of this fine sitcom. It initially ran on Showtime, before pay cable was a hip destination for original programming. A broadcast outlet picked it up, but FOX was only two years into its existence and audiences were still finding out about the “fourth network.” The show did last four seasons, but only produced 72 episodes, far short of the magic number (100) to make a successful run in syndication, which is a real shame. Shandling left the cue for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show seat to do this program. At a time when the sitcom had been creatively beaten out, Shandling and co-creator Alan Zwiebel (ex-SNL) turned the genre on its ear. It wasn’t that Shandling broke down the fourth wall by talking to the camera (a few shows had done that before); he bulldozed it. As a child of the sitcom generation, he instinctively understood how to parody the form without being cynical. This set contains six featurettes, outtakes and commentaries. There’s also a booklet of episode summaries that features essays by Larry Gelbart, the M*A*S*H producer, and Judd Apatow (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, Knocked Up, etc.). Genius is a word that is thrown around rather loosely these days, but if this isn’t it, then it has never existed in television. Grade: A