Tuesday, March 20, 2007

joy pain joy

Fuck me, life can be cruel.
There's never anything on TV when I get in so I end up putting my marigolds on and doing the televisual equivalent of unblocking the sink...


surfing through the Sky EPG down into the unknown, picking through the shards of crispy bacon, old episodes of The Monkees, and a deluge of cookery/travel/lifestyle filler that you just know nobody else is watching. Occasionally there will be a comedy gem, a repeat of an Office episode you've seen twenty five times or a Fawlty Tower or two, sometimes a shiny new morsel, like Badly Dubbed Porn on Paramount which leaves you slightly bemused: are you watching because it's funny or because every 25 seconds somebody gets their kit off and gets down and dirty over a desk? I would ask pal F but she's generally getting the beauty sleep in by this time. Probably best not to disturb her on such a trifling matter.

But whoa there boy!! What's this on Men and Motors at 11.30pm???? It's a stray episode of The Larry Sanders Show, like a cute little lost puppy in your living room, unexpectedly, with a pedigree, not the snivelling mutt that gets chased away from the bins every night.

All I have to do is watch Men and Motors, a channel I can honestly say I have never watched even when I knew the boss there, a singularly attractive women of my professional and platonic acquaintance who determinedly set about "changing the channel" a few years back, ie a few more cars and all the totty on late at night. Anyway, never watched it. At all.

It's 11.20 so I switch on and there's some turgid US tosh where puppets are voicing prank telephone calls, sub Victor Lewis-Smith style, in a faintly rude pastiche of Nick Park's idea for Creature Comforts but without any wit, charm, style, creativity, anything. It's shite. But only 5 minutes to go. Yippee.

Let me explain to the uninitiated. There was once a band called "Pop Will Eat Itself", well the Larry Sanders Show is "Television and All Media Will Eat Itself" dreamt up by the US comedian Gary Shandling and uber-producer Brad Grey to deconstruct the very chat shows that Shandling occasionaly hosted on US TV - Carson, Letterman, the Jay Leno kind of thing. In addition to the best characters and magnificent scripts they got A-list actors to come on and parody themselves, in a way never seen before.
Bob Mills did an LWT version here which was more a homage to the original it was so weak, and Ricky Gervais stole the idea for Extras, I think he openly admits it because he recently interviewed Shandling. Anyway it meant that people like Alec Baldwin would come on, an actor who tends to grab more headlines for his off screen activities than on, and he would be having an affair with Larry's wife before guesting on the show. Jon Stewart was always the guest standin host who Larry was shit scared of because Jon was a better, funnier presenter and really did want Larry's job but always denied it to his face.

The cast of characters playing behind the scenes like Hank the oleogenus support man and Art the foul mouthed boss (who only ever swore gratuitously) were superb. The show was essentially about deceit and being false to your friends and colleagues, about a total lack of moral fibre or loyalty, where everyone smiled at everyone else before knifing them in the back. Television Gold, Pure Joy. BBC2 showed it late on a Tuesday night after Seinfeld, the US No 1 comedy which nobody ever really got here but paved the way for other shows which were about nothing (like Friends) with the exception of a single episode about masturbation which they did without ever actually mentioning the word itself.

Anyway, I digress. Larry Sanders was recently bought by ITV4 but I never watched it and unlike every other hit US comedy/action/thriller/scifi/blockbuster/war after Sex and the City, the boxed set is surely on its way. Yes? No.

The producers never cleared all the music and secondary rights for the series so there are episodes which can never be shown again (some guy's illegally uploaded the whole thing onto YouTube if you don't mind watching in 9 minute bites) and apart from anything else everyone fell out with everyone else at the end. Shandling ended up in court with Brad Grey - one of the most powerful men in Hollywood now who could get anything cleared he wants over a drink in the Polo Lounge - and apparently the cast member Shandling was having an affair with was bumped off the show, and as a consequence hates him, but a mini-boxed set comes out next month with some episodes and Shandling going around interviewing people in an uncomfortable manner for "closure" (and a few bucks). Including the former lover.

So, television joy awaits, any second now. It doesn't matter which episode it is. Every single episode of Larry Sanders is knuckle chewingly funny. It hasn't properly dated yet, so you're still laughing with it rather than laughing at it, and you never know, it could just be the one where Hank is dressed as a mermaid and Art tells him he's a fucking waste of space, which he says every week but never to his face.

But it's now 11.32 and the stupid puppet thingy is still dragging on, although those graphics look suspiciously like opening titles. Check the EPG. "11.30 Men and Motors. Larry Sanders". Maybe they're running late, maybe there was a newsflash earlier in the evening about Iraq. OK about Playboy then. But it's now 11.45 and the fucking puppets are still there.
Panic is setting in. Have another drink. Want puppets off my telly please. Wish to see them dead.

No Larry Sanders. Shit. Will call Men and Motors to complain. (Yeah right, like there's going to be someone there who cares) Or maybe I'll just dig out some soft toys from the back of a cupboard somewhere and set them alight, frighten that fucking mutt out by the bins. I'll think about that later. Have another drink. Bastard. Grrrrr. Life can be cruel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I preferred Jerry Seinfeld, and Kramer and the others. Now they were fun.