Mr. Show With Bob & David

Title: Mr. Show: The Complete First and Second Seasons
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: June 4, 2002
Running Time: approximately 288 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Bob Odenkirk and David Cross created some of the funniest television in the nineties, writing to their own skewed vision.

  • Bob & David Trading Card
  • Audio commentary by Bob & David and a variety of cast and crew, some real, some not
  • HBO Commercials For Mr. Show
  • Fuzz: The Musical
  • Bonus episode: The Best of Mr. Show
  • Bios of Bob & David
  • "Before It Was a TV Show…" rare footage of their first stage appearance

    Choice Scene:The casts performs a traveling salesman joke as a full-blown musical, guest-starring Jack Black.

    Tech Specs: Full screen, Close-captioned

    Individually, you've seen members of the Mr. Show ensemble quietly subverting otherwise normal entertainment. Though they never quite reach a punch-in-the-nose impact on their own, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk always make their presence felt. When together, supported by friends like Brian Posehn, Tom Kenney and his wife Jill Talley, Cross and Odenkirk make you laugh at things you can't believe you're finding funny. And you still want more.

    Creating a sketch show as consistently brilliant as Mr. Show takes time and energy, and after four short HBO seasons, the group called it quits. Never a ratings blockbuster, HBO let it go without much of a fight. As is too often the case, a truly great show just didn't get much respect. Last summer at the San Diego Comic-Con, some of the cast gathered to hype up their imminent film, Run, Ronnie, Run (still not released). While there, they lamented how HBO had no idea that they had fans who wanted the series for their very own.

    Clearly, somebody raised the right clamor in the right place.

    Last month, HBO released the first two seasons of Mr. Show with Bob and David in a two-disc set with all the respect it deserves. If there's a failed moment in those two seasons, I haven't found it yet. Even when it's not funny, you know it's all in the service of building to a huge punchline, all of it performed with a strange earnestness that both mocks and respects everything that came before in sketch comedy.

    Unlike shows like Saturday Night Live and Mad TV, Mr. Show doesn't depend on specific cultural references. In fact, when Kenney makes a topical joke in a sketch, it's jarring. Odenkirk even notes this in one of his commentaries. Because of it, the sketches remain as fresh in 2002 as they were in 1995, pointing out painful truths that just get funnier.

    Ten episodes in all are on the discs, each one biting and sprinkled with cameos from a lot of counter-culture comedians like Janeane Garafalo and a pre-Tenacious D Jack Black. Having toiled in the trenches of L.A. and New York for a lot of years (both Cross and Odenkirk wrote for SNL at different times), the masters of the show had a keen eye for talent over the ability to generate a catchphrase.

    Various cast and crewmembers contribute commentary to each episode, necessitating watching each one twice. The first time around you get to laugh at the finished product. However, in the commentary track the cast isn't so interested in providing insight as completely ripping themselves to shreds. Cross and Odenkirk introduce completely fabricated behind-the-scenes personnel, improvising new characters on the fly. Most of these faux participants find the whole experience rather unpleasant. It's like having a whole other episode overlaid onto the original.

    Packed onto the first disc are some extras that make up for the brevity of the first season. Here you can find brief bios on Odenkirk and Cross, though neither are very truthful. Another section offers every promo ever done for the show; play them all because they're worth it, especially a lengthy "HBO Behind-The-Scenes" parody. Also included here is a compilation of episodes, The Best of Mr. Show that HBO Comedy broadcasts pretty frequently. It will give you a taste of later episodes, and true to its name, does include some of their best pieces. (Both NASA's quest to blow up the moon and the lie detector test sketches are here; if you don't know what I'm talking about, you really need to watch this.)

    The crown jewel of the Mr. Show output is here, too: Fuzz: The Musical. Beginning as a parody of COPS, it quickly turns into a documentary on the documentarian Terry Twillstein (Odenkirk), a British cameraman who gets the idea of melding the reality series FUZZ with the brilliance of Broadway musical theater. Focusing on the most arrested man in the history of the show, Ronnie Dobbs (Cross), Twillstein feeds into a cycle of domestic violence that is just damned hilarious. And Cross may look like slightly gnomish, but he has the voice of an angel.

    Why include this now if it HBO plans another DVD release? Because Ronnie Dobbs is the central character of the first Mr. Show film, the aforementioned Run, Ronnie, Run. With the film currently stuck on New Line's shelf, it's clear that putting this classic snippet of Terry and Ronnie should garner the characters some attention and hopefully get the movie studio in gear.

    By all means, get this collection. It's the funniest thing you'll see all summer.

    Buy Mr. Show - The Complete First and Second Seasons from Amazon

    For more information on Mr. Show, Bob and David, Run, Ronnie, Run, or their upcoming tour, click here.

    Derek McCaw


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