The Larry Sanders Show - DVD boxset (5 stars)

The Larry Sander's Show - complete series (DVD)

Garry Shandling's superior sitcom, starring Jeffrey Tambor and Jeremy Piven, gets a new lease of life

In the summer of 1998, the final episode of a beloved, long-running American sitcom was aired but with a conclusion hated by so many that continuous talk of a reunion seemed fuelled purely by a desire to right some terrible wrongs. That show was called Seinfeld. Two weeks later, The Larry Sanders Show also wound itself up, but with a denouement that had most critics dubbing it the ‘best finale ever’.

Curiously, that last episode featured Jerry Seinfeld appearing as himself. But then almost everyone played a variation of themselves on Larry Sanders, a trick which set the template for later hand-held classic comedies Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras and, more regrettably, the vast majority of the reality TV genre. Naturally, British TV treated this gem largely with contempt, BBC Two shoving it onto a late-night double-bill slot with, yup, you guessed it, Seinfeld, before a repeat showing was facilitated by little-watched and short-lived digital channel Play UK.

Now the entire series is available on DVD, and the chance is here to meet the neurotic, mercurial chat show host (played with nuanced brilliance by Garry Shandling), his gormless sidekick Hank ‘Hey Now’ Kingsley (Jeffrey Tambor), and the imperious, no-nonsense producer Artie (Rip Torn), plus a host of talent including Entourage's Jeremy Piven and Janeane Garofalo and reams of quality guests (Sharon Stone, William Shatner and Ben Stiller for three). Once you get your mitts on this unmissable collection, just remember: no flipping.

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