The first episode of season 1 of It's Garry Shandling's Show aired September 10 1986 on Showtime. It was created by Garry Shandling and Alan Zweibel both of whom wrote various episodes of the series. After the first 6 episodes proved successful there was a short break and 10 more were produced. The second part of the first season started airing in January 1987. Three more seasons followed the first and the series ended up with a total of 72 episodes. I didn't start seeing the show until it aired on Fox about a year after it debut on Showtime. I thought it was one of the funniest shows I'd ever seen. I taped it, more than once, and continued to watch the tapes I had over the years. I even tranfered them to dvdr when I got my first dvd recorder in 2005. Shout Factory finally released the complete series on dvd in 2009 but I didn't buy it. It's SRP is $160 and even though it's 16 dvd's that's still a lot of cash. I just looked and it's still pricey; at $131 on Amazon it's still more than I want to pay. If I wait a bit I'm sure I can find it much cheaper. I put the series on my NetFlix queue so I could see what the Shout Factory dvds were like. You know, check out the extras. The extras are pretty good. There are a number of episode commentaries and interviews with the stars, producers and writers. The commentaries on the first season are by Garry, Alan, Tom Gammill, Max Pross and Ed Solomon. If you don't know who the last three guys are I wouldn't fault you but most likely you've seen some of their work. Tom and Max are a writing and producing team. They've written for many shows including Seinfeld, The Ciritc, The Wonder Years, and Monk. Tom and Max have been producers on The Simpsons since 1999. They were writers and producers on It's Garry Shandling's Show from 1987 to 1989. Ed Solomon wrote Men In Black, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and several other pretty entertaining movies. He wrote 8 episodes of IGSS.
The premise is that Garry is doing a sitcom from his new condo in Sherman Oaks. The set condo is patterned on his real condo in the real Sherman Oaks. Garry is playing a stand up comic called Garry Shandling and the fictional Shandling has friends and family that are different than the friends and family of the real Garry. Garry usually opens the show with a monologue to the audience and then they play the opening credits. The show is shot in front of a studio audience which sometimes gets involved with the show. When Garry talks to the audience, either in the studio or at home, it's referred to as 'breaking the fouth wall'. George Burns did it on his sitcom in the 1950's. George would come out and talk to the audience and set up the show's story. Sometimes during the show he'd make a wry comment on the activity on the screen. Garry's show is set up like George's show but it puts a bit of spin on that formula. I mean Garry's show has time travel and a flashback machine. I don't think George Burn's ever had time travel on his show. Mind you he didn't need it, he had Gracie Allen, one of the best dizzy women ever. She was so real to me, it wasn't funny after a while. It's not a show that I ever felt the need to have and re-watch. I saw plenty of re-runs as a kid and a teen. I guess that was enough.
Molly Cheek plays Garry's next door neighbor and plutonic girl friend Nancy Bancroft. Molly started her career in 1979 and did a lot of tv and movies. She's still working. She was the mom on the tv show Harry And The Hendersons, she had a regular role on Ellen, and she plays Jim's mom in the American Pie series. Michael Tucci plays Garry's friend Pete Schumaker. Michael was in Grease, The Paper Chase, Trapper John MD and Diagnosis Murder among other roles. He started acting in 1975 and quit to teach in 2000. Scott Nemes plays Pete's son Grant. His ten year career acting ran from 1983 to 1993. You might have seen him in The Wonder Years. Paul Wilson plays Leonard Smith, Garry's annoying next door neighbor and the head of the condo. Garry and Paul have worked together on other projects and Paul worked on lots of movies and tv shows since he started working in 1970. He was a regular on Cheers too. Bernadette Birkett played Pete's wife Jackie. Her career stated in 1981 and continues to this day. Barbara Cason plays Garry's mom Ruth. Barbara died a month after the series ended at age 61. She did a lot of tv, much of which I never saw, in a career that ran from 1969 to 1990. Geoffrey Blake played Garry's friend Lewis for the first few episodes and then he was written out of the show. He's still working in tv but I don't see much of what he does. There were many guest stars that appeared as themselves or other characters. Rob and Carl Reiner played themselves. Bruno Kirby played Garry's agent. Tom Petty played himself. He lives in a nearby condo and occasionally came over to Garry's and played a song. I'll try to mention the guest in each episode. There isn't a good episode guide online so I'm making my own.
In the first episode, The Day Garry Moved In, Garry moves into his condo on September 10 1986. He develops a crush on the pretty cable lady who's played by Shawn Southwick. She did a fair bit of tv, including hosting Hollywood Insider from 1990 to 1996, and she's been Larry King's wife since 1997. Garry's condo gets robbed and all his stuff is taken. When he has an ackward date with the not so interesting cable lady. Luckily the police find the guys who took Garry's stuff and he gets it back by the end of the episode. Right from the start there's a nice level of unreality mixed in with the humor and heart. The show's got that and often there's a moral or a lesson to learn. It's a sitcom that tries to keep away from using the typical sitcom conventions, at least without twisting them up a bit first.
In Grant Gets Broken Garry tries to show Pete and Jackie he's responsible when he offers to baby sit Grant for the weekend. Of course Grant hurts his eye and Garry's in trouble. Everything turns out ok in the end.
In Garry Throws A Surprise Party Garry has the audience yell surprise when he brings his mom to the condo for a surprise birthday party. She has a heart attack and Garry goes to Father Guido Sarducci for guidence. Don Novello plays Father Guido. Armin Shimerman and Richard Biggs both play doctors on the episode. Armin many will remember from Star Trek Deep Space Nine where he played Quark and Buffy The Vampire Slayer where he played the principal in the first season. Richard played Doctor Franklin on Babylon 5.
The fourth episode was Foul Ball. Garry goes with Pete and Grant's Cub Scout troop to a baseball game. Pete gets hit with a ball in the face. Everyone pokes fun at Pete and Grant looses respect for his dad. Garry get things back on track with the help of some baseball player.
The Graduate is a spoof of The Graduate film and it has Norman Fell as himself. Norman was in the movie too. Garry likes a young lady and her mom likes Garry. It's pretty uncomfortable for Garry, he manages to survive, but the things he sees!
In It's Garry Shandling's Problem But It's Jo-Jo's Show a contest winner gets to spend time on the show. Garry keeps telling Jo-Jo that it's her show but he keeps dumping her onto the other cast members when issues come up. Norm Crosby appears as himself. Garry gets yelled at for not taking better care of his contest winner.
After a three month break the series return January 23 1987 with Garry Met A Girl Named Maria. Garry marries Maria to save her from getting deported back to Guatamala. It doesn't last and he's single by the end of the episode. At least she doesn't die like so many tv wives do.
In Grant's Date Garry agrees to chaperon Grant's date with the pretty girl from his class. Turns out she's a trouble maker and she's only interested in Garry. Grant gets pretty darn mad at Garry. Luckily no one got hurt too badly.
Pete Has An Affair has Pete get so depressed he's no fun anymore. Not that he was a lot of fun to begin with. Jackie eventually forgives him and their marriage doesn't break up.
Fate has Garry try to foil a prediction of doom. Ian Abercrombie appears as the narrator and astronaut Pete Conrad takes Pete and Grant fishing.
In The Morning After Garry wakes up to find everyone is mad at him and he can't remember why. Garry uses his flashback machine to find out he got in trouble because of a dirty trick played on him by Leonard and The Amazing Al.
In Sarah Garry rekindles an old flame but it doesn't go anywyhere because she just wants to be friends. Ed Ames sings a bit of a song and Blake Clark has a small part. Shawn Southwick, who played the cable gal in the first episode, plays a completely different character. Garry often has trouble with dating. After sex he once asked the woman if it was good for her and she replied, "I don't think it was good for anyone."
Laffie has Garry adopt a homeless collie but Leonard won't let him keep it. It's against the condo rules. June Lockhart, Timmy's mom on the Lassie show, is the guest star. You can watch it above. It has one of my favorite jokes in Garry's monologue. It's a cow joke.
In Dial L For Laundry Garry takes a liking to the lady in his laundry room. The lady is played by Claudia Christian who was Commander Susan Ivonova on Babylon 5. She's all flirty with Garry but she's got a jealous boyfriend played by Chris Mulkey who nearly kicks Garry's ass. Rob Reiner comes over, washes Garry's dishes, and knocks Chris out with a bottle. Both Claudia and Chris starred together in the movie Hidden.
Dinner With Garry has Garry try to set up his mom with his doctor. It doesn't go so well at first but it works out in the end.
Force Boxman is the last show of the season and it has Garry doing a new action cop show. Red Buttons takes over Garry's condo and his old show. Garry's new show falls through and he returns to find everyone likes Red better than him. Lucky for Garry Red moves on and leaves Garry his old show.
I added links to many of the episodes but not all. You can find more of them on YouTube or the IMDb to watch for free. Let me know if you like them.