The wittily insightful Garry Shandling takeoff on talkshow maneuvers, “The Larry Sanders Show” returns for another season with a full barrel, taking exact aim at backstage eccentricities, connivances and weaknesses. According to this sublime account, the barbarians aren’t at the gate, they’re already in the living room.
Talkshow host Sanders (Shandling), miserable in his self-imposed exile in Montana, welcomes his producer Artie (Rip Torn), a cunning manipulator who wants his star back in L.A. and on TV. For Artie’s good.
Using a network lawsuit as a lever, he gets Sanders to announce he’s been off in Montana for three months on a detox holiday.
Fawning sidekick Hank Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor), dimwitted as ever, pretends to mull over the idea of coming back, but it doesn’t take him long to decide. Inside topics like network execs, secret meetings, back-stabbings, hypocrisy and disloyalty, pill popping, egos and that book about nighttime hosts are all mercilessly inspected.
Sanders stands in a closet to hear what a network chief thinks of him, suffers pre-show nerves, then laps up applause when it comes. He tries cajoling guest Bernadette Peters into serenading him on his comeback night; the outcome, though expected, is funny.
“The Larry Sanders Show,” which began in August ’92, sustains its original cast and intent with a solid episode. Director Todd Holland works the Garry Shandling-Peter Tolan-Paul Simms script for all it’s worth — and that’s plenty.
Production sails along, shrewdly satirizing entertainment folks and their insecurities; with Shandling, Rip Torn and Tambor zeroing in on their characters , program’s topflight.