THE SCREENING ROOM
By Bill KallayTime has a funny way of making shows less funny than you remember them. But you still admire their charm.
"It's Garry Shandling's Show" is now available on DVD.
Back before my parents finally got cable, the most daring television we got was via our antenna. We only got television from CBS, NBC, ABC, some local stations, and the fledgling Fox Network. One of the early shows they picked up was an oddball comedy with a comedian named Garry Shandling. It appeared on cable's Showtime Network.
This was an unusual, almost cute show that broke down the supposed fourth wall between the on-screen actors and television viewers. Shows and movies have had narrators, hosts or lead actors break the fourth wall and speak directly to an audience, but not as much as Garry Shandling did. It was part of the show's charm, and part of Shandling's personal touch.
Shandling was an interesting guy who's adventures in dating and his friendships gave us an inside look into his life. He wasn't your typical leading comedic actor. One could see how Shandling could be a bit polarizing to an audience. He looked at the camera with a smirky smile and told jokes that either you got, or you didn't. He had a whiny voice. Yet there was something about Shandling's charm and wit that made the show enjoyable.
Back in those funny days of the 1980s, I'd laugh out loud at Garry's misadventures and his jokes. I thought the gags using walking between sets, the small cars and Shandling's flashbacks or flash forwards were very funny. I got to know the cast of characters and felt right at home with the show. Almost 25 years later, I popped in the DVDs for a hearty laugh.
The show wasn't as funny as I remembered it. This couldn't be! This was one of the show's in the Fox lineup that I watched regularly and wasn't disappointed in. The more I watched it, the more I felt my memory betraying me. Was it Shandling? Was it his crazy neighbors? Was it the guest stars? It was neither. I got Shandling's comic routine and I got what he and the writers were trying accomplish. This was supposed to be a silly show that didn't make much sense. And I used to laugh at Shandling's jokes about his hair. It was funny stuff! Yet I found going through the episodes, I wasn't laughing like I once did.
The show has its funny moments that hold up today. One of my favorites then was "Laffie" that featured a dog that resembled "Lassie." It's still very funny. I enjoyed seeing the cameos by Rob Reiner and Tom Petty. To think that when Reiner did his cameo, he was in the middle of his own golden age of feature film directing.
"It's Garry Shandling's Show" is still a nice trip down memory lane. The clothes are enough to get a laugh. Shandling's pants are priceless, as is his hair. The jokes may not seem fresh anymore, but the good nature of the show's cast and the excellent writing make the trip to Shandling's Sherman Oaks worth it.
Special thanks to CSPR Communications
Photos: © Shout Factory. All rights reserved.