by Julian Spivey
Emmy Award-winning actor, writer and stand-up comedian Garry Shandling died Thursday, March 24 at age 66. Reports are he died of a heart attack.
Some people may not realize this, but there was a time when HBO didn’t have these terrific, award-winning original series. That pretty much all started with Garry Shandling and “The Larry Sanders Show” in the early ‘90s, after a four-season stint doing a Showtime original called “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show!” in the ‘80s.
I can’t pretend to be a Garry Shandling super-fan as I’ve only seen a quarter of “The Larry Sanders Show” episodes (through a ‘best of’ compilation I found cheap at Big Lots featuring the classic or best episodes as chosen by Shandling) and I’ve never seen an episode of “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show!” or much of his stand-up (though I did record a re-run of Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” recently just because it featured him), but I’ve always admired him, found him funny and most importantly understand his impact on television.
If you like anything on a premium television network these days from HBO comedies like “Veep” to even dramas, you owe at least a little bit to Shandling who showed that premium channels just weren’t places to watch the most recent movies or get your late night adult film fix. His shows also influenced irreverent shows with people playing exaggerated versions of themselves like Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” and Ricky Gervais’ “The Office.”
Shandling had this perfect anxiety-ridden, confused, about to lose control of his life style of humor that was popular at the time and you’ll see, although maybe not to the extent, from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser, others I admire greatly. But, he was also terrifically witty, which is why he was one of my favorite comedians to follow on Twitter – I just retweeted a joke of his that he published six days ago: “If I was Kanye I wouldn’t wait for the GOP convention, I’d go make a deal with Mitt right now.” Two days before that he tweeted: “I hobbled today for the very first time – it was for just a very, hair-split second. But it was a hobble. I’m sure of it.” Just the absurdity of that, mixed with the way you can hear him say it in your head makes it a great representation of Shandling’s humor.
“The Larry Sanders Show,” the behind the scenes look at a late night talk show like “The Tonight Show,” which he frequently guested on and guest hosted for Johnny Carson in real-life, was so iconic – specifically his title character – that some people to this day may be unaware that Sanders was a fictional character. Despite being fictional, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see him along the likes of Carson and David Letterman on lists of greatest talk show hosts ever, in fact Vulture recently ranked him ahead of Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson and Stephen Colbert. The article written by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks said: “What ‘Spinal Tap’ is to heavy metal, Garry Shandling’s brilliant HBO workplace comedy ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ is to late-night talk. Shandling knew talk shows; after a stint as a sitcom writer, he turned to stand-up, with successful appearances on ‘The Tonight Show’ leading to a gig as one of Johnny’s recurring guest-hosts in the '80s. In 1992, Shandling mined that desk gig to co-create ‘Sanders’ for HBO, lampooning— with deadpan accuracy — the glorious vanities of late night.”
“The Larry Sanders” show made TV Guide’s list of the 50 Greatest TV Shows of All-Time and TIME magazine’s list of the 100 greatest ever.
As huge of an impact as “The Larry Sanders Show” had on television it’s a shame that the show is not currently available through any streaming service, oddly enough even HBOGO (which has most HBO shows past and present available). A show this important to television and its history really should be more readily available.
Shandling’s catchphrase as Sanders when throwing his talk show to commercial break was “No flipping” and he fittingly ended his final episode (which earned him an Emmy for writing) in 1998 by saying, “You may now flip.”
Thanks Garry for all your hilarious work, but I’d rather continue watching.
by Julian Spivey
We all could see it coming for quite some time now, but on Wednesday (March 16) CBS finally announced the cancellation of the best show currently on network television – “Person of Interest.” The show’s upcoming fifth season will be its last.
“Person of Interest” saw a quick decline in ratings for the fourth season, or really since the midway point in the third season when it killed off one of its original characters played by Taraji P. Henson, who has since gone on to win a Golden Globe Award for her performance on the Fox hit “Empire.”
Another reason some believe for the fast decline in ratings is the fact that the show took on a more serial tone, instead of a procedural episodic style that many viewers of CBS crime shows are used to seeing. While this is really one of the aspects that made “Person of Interest” one of the best shows on television, the lack of a “crime of the week” storyline has evidently run a portion of the live viewers off.
CBS will debut the fifth and final season of “Person of Interest” on Tuesday, May 3 and will “burn off” the 13-episode season quickly airing the show both on Monday and Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. until its series finale on Tuesday, June 21.
The J.J. Abrams-produced drama will in all likelihood at least get somewhat of a worthy sendoff as producers of the show saw the writing on the wall and have reportedly filmed an ending that would work as a farewell to the show if it was indeed canceled.
While fans of “Person of Interest” should be excited that the show’s return is close (although still a month and a half away, when we’ve waited an entire year for new episodes) there is reason for us to still be frankly pissed off at CBS.
CBS essentially has given up on ‘POI’ way too early. The numbers may have been in decline, but there was reason enough to give its fifth season a shot to succeed before cancelling the show. The reasoning being that since “Person of Interest” ended its fourth season last spring the show has both added all four seasons to the popular streaming service Netflix and has gone into syndication, including on the popular cable network WGN. This means that the show has almost certainly gained at least a little bit of an audience, which could’ve boosted ratings come its season five debut. Even a slight gain in the ratings would’ve meant that the show’s Nielsen numbers likely would’ve been comparable to shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and freshman series “Code Black,” which the network hasn’t given up on.
It’s unlikely, but the show’s addition on Netflix and going into syndication could have given ‘POI’ the same kind of boost that CBS’s highest-rated drama for almost a decade “NCIS” got about a decade ago when it entered syndication and gained a whole new audience on the USA Network. People who never knew “NCIS” existed on CBS started watching the show during weeknights and through weekend marathons on USA and then followed the show to its original timeslot on CBS on Tuesday nights and the show’s ratings skyrocketed unlike we’d ever seen from a show four or five season into its run.
The “NCIS” boost from syndication is not a common phenomenon, but it would’ve been nice for CBS to at least give this potential boost a chance to work – who knows, “Person of Interest” may have gone up considerably in the Nielsen ratings.
CBS gave up on this show too early, but executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman are still grateful for the chance to tell their story over five wonderful seasons. The duo told IGN.com: “We’re extremely excited to be able to share this final season with the fans. We’re eternally grateful to our amazing cast and crew, as well as our partners at the studio and network. Most of all, we want to thank the show’s fans – the best fans in the world. This subversive little paranoia-inducing cyberpunk-thriller is for you and would not have been possible without your support. As life has come to imitate ‘Person of Interest,’ it’s been our great privilege to work on the show for the past five seasons. We can’t wait for you to experience this thrilling and final chapter.”
by Julian Spivey
James Corden and his ‘Late, Late Show’ have skyrocketed to popularity and stardom on the back of his supremely popular segment Carpool Karaoke and now that segment has led to an hour-long primetime special that will air Tuesday, March 29 at 9 p.m.
While this is great news for Corden as it will no doubt lead to a bigger audience and is a great way to celebrate his one-year anniversary on CBS it’s also a sign that the segment that made him a viral sensation is going to burn out much earlier than it should have.
Corden has been doing Carpool Karaoke on the ‘Late, Late Show’ almost since his late night variety series debuted last Spring, but it really took off in mid-January when his segment with Adele broke YouTube records for a late night television variety series as it garnered 42 million views in just five days online.
Since it took off Corden has milked the segment, where he is joined by a musical star for karaoke of their hits while driving to work so he can take advantage of the carpool lane, for all it’s worth.
The question I’ve been asking for a while now has been: Is the boost in popularity, YouTube views and press really worth killing off your greatest and funniest segment through overexposure?
I worry about this, because I’ve essentially seen it happen to Jimmy Fallon and the Lip Sync Battle segments that originated on his ‘Late Night’ and moved with him to ‘The Tonight Show’ and led to a series on Spike, which was popular at first, but has waned in both interest and excitement since, where two celebrities compete against each other to see who can lip sync the best. The Spike series has seen its ratings drop from over two million viewers per episode to just barely above one million per episode in just two seasons and Fallon hasn’t used the segment on his late night show in quite a while.
I enjoyed the Lip Sync Battle segment on ‘The Tonight Show’ as much as I do the Carpool Karaoke segment on the ‘Late, Late Show’ and would hate to see ‘Karaoke’ suffer the same fate through overexposure. I wish Corden would put the bit away for a while to breathe a little fresh air into the segment, as well as show the American viewing public that he’s much more than just the “Carpool Karaoke Guy.” After all, it’s his lovable persona that attracted me to his show in the first place and not the fact that he’s good at palling around and singing with celebrities.
The show could be better served by continuing to build and think up other segments that prove that Corden isn’t just a one-hit wonder (because he isn’t).
However, Corden seems like he will continue to milk the popular segment and his show will be airing a new Carpool Karaoke on the March 29th special featuring Jennifer Lopez.
I just hope all this love for the segment doesn’t fade as quickly as it arrived. But, if it does Corden and the ‘Late, Late Show’ will have nobody to blame but themselves.