The Larry Sanders Show/The Garden Weasel
The Garden Weasel is the first episode of the first season of The Larry Sanders Show, and the first episode overall. The new head of late night programming forces Larry to do live commercials for a gardening tool despite his protests.
Guest Stars: Robert Hays (Himself), Deborah May (Melanie Parrish), Sam Whipple (Makeup Artist), James Karen (Sheldon Davidoff), Rif Hutton (Executive), Harley Venton (Man in Commercial), Kathy Kinney (Dog Trainer)
After his show, Larry is cornered by Arthur and forced into a network meeting where his fate is spelled out by Melanie Parish, a new vice president in charge of late night television. He's told that he's going to have to start doing live commercials during the show for a product called "The Graden Weasel," or else the network owners will drop his program rather than continuing to support a show that's operating at a loss.
After the meeting, Larry shows his wife Jeannie exactly why he doesn't want to do a commercial: his last commercial work from the 1970s was so terrible that it was borderline traumatic and no good can come from him trying to sell people on a garden weasel. She suggests that he tell them no, but that isn't in the cards; Larry's afraid of looking like an asshole. In the end, he decides to do the spots even though he can't stand the thought of it. Although Larry doesn't want to do the spot, Hank is excited. He offers to do the commercial, but the executives already said that he's overexposed from his commercial work, especially the "Green Giant" commercials. Hank advises Larry to never take a commercial where he has to put on green tights, no matter how much they offer him.
Meanwhile, Robert Hays is a guest on the show, but he's apparently delirious from falling in the bathroom earlier that day. During the interview, Larry's producer tells him offstage that he needs to go to commercial and "Pop Goes the Weasel" starts playing. He walks across the stage to a large Garden Weasel set piece and struggles through the commercial, which comes off as a sketch instead of a legitimate advertisement. During the break, Melanie chastises Larry for not saying the commercial copy as it was written, even if it was funny. She suggests that next time he do the commercial straight and not bring up Jimmy Hoffa.
The next day, the woman Larry and Jeannie see about having their gymnast dog deprogrammed mentions that she bought a Garden Weasel because of him and that she can't do anything for them because the dog was expertly trained by a professional trainer who was on the show once. In the next show, Larry tries to get through the commercial copy but winds up going off script to call it "the amazing rat stick." Melanie screams at him and they get into a fight which ends when she punches him in the face for insinuating that she slept her way to the top.
To prevent getting punched again, Larry tries to get some advice from Hank. He suggests that if he can't get excited about the product, that he think about "America and all that it stands for." During the third spot, Larry calls in Hank for help on air in order to get out of doing it himself. The spot is a success, but that won't get Larry out from under the live commercial weight so easily. Instead of pawning the entire thing off on Hank, the Garden Weasel people wind up asking that he and Hank do more as a team. This is what causes Larry to put his foot down. He refuses to do any more commercials because, clearly, he's terrible at it. Just as he's gotten one over on them (and after Artie threatened Melanie), Larry recants as Shel is walking out the door.