“The Larry Sanders Show” is probably one of the best shows ever made about the entertainment industry. A sort of edgier “30 Rock” for the 1990s, it’s a workplace comedy that happens to be about the entertainment industry, following the goings-on of a late night talk show and extracting significant laughs about the backstage politicking of this ferociously competitive world. In the lead role, Gary Shandling (who turned down a real late night show offer and instead developed this as a semi-parody instead) is perfect for the role, capturing the crushing insecurities and staggering arrogance that go hand-in-hand with many major media personalities, and he’s surrounded with an excellent supporting cast. In particular, Jeffrey Tambor’s performance as Shandling’s sidekick Hank Kingsley is memorably brittle and volcanic, while Rip Torn steals scenes left and right as the show’s acerbic producer Artie. The format of the show also allows for a cornucopia of celebrity guest stars, each of whom willingly exploit their public personas for effective laughs, with Rosie O’Donnell, Roseanne and a pre-“Daily Show” Jon Stewart emerging as stand-outs among a wide berth of appearances. Highly recommended for fans of dark comedies and take-downs of the entertainment industry.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)