Working in the comedy salt mines, looking to break out into the superstardom they so richly deserved, Bob Odenkirk (The Larry Sanders Show) and David Cross (Men In Black) were hard at work doing writing for other shows, including Saturday Night Live, before finding one another. The two worked together, writing for the short-lived Ben Stiller show on Fox in the early 90’s, and a friendship bloomed, along with a working relationship. After doing some nightclub appearances, an ex…cutive offered them the chance to shoot a small group of shows for HBO. For lack of a better title, they called it Mr. Show, a sketch comedy series unlike any other. Maybe the words of Odenkirk may help, from bobanddavid.com:
“Try to explain HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David to someone who hasn’t seen it. Just try. There was this hunger striker, see, who wanted to be buried in mashed potatoes, and an evil genius who hosted a doomsday telethon with a sidekick who sounded like Charlie Callas. It loses something in the translation. Actually, it loses everything in the translation. But Bob Odenkirk and David Cross know that. “If you hear about it, it’s so weird,” says Odenkirk. “But if you see it you don’t think that for a minute.”
It may not help you much, but it’s hard to try to explain to people who haven’t seen it. HBO did such an outstanding job of marketing the show that it was supremely difficult to try to watch, as it was frequently on in the 11pm or later timeslot. I guess when you’re doing sketches like the “Mom and Pop Porn Shop,” there’s bound to be people who will have trouble figuring it out. Despite its late night runs, it’s amassed a fairly significant cult following, and HBO finally gave in and decided to put the shows out on DVD, with all four episodes Season 1 on Disc 1, and all six Season 2 episodes on Disc 2. HBO gave the pair lengthier runs of 10 episodes on Seasons 3 and 4 before their comedy hearts gave out, but just seeing these shows on shiny silver discs is a welcome sight.
Let’s not gete ahead of ourselves here. We are still talking about a television show, and as is the case with most television shows. If you really want to hear Van Hammersly in 5.1 Dolby Digital, you really need to get out more.
I’m not quite sure what you’re doing still reading this. It is still a television show, and you won’t get anything more than the usual 1.33:1 full frame video presentation here. Move along.
In a bit of a surprise, the set includes commentaries from Bob, David, and other members of the cast. Done around the time that Ghost World was to open (Cross appeared in it), they talk about the inspirations for some of the sketches and characters involved. One of the cast members does a great Billy Dee Williams impression which must be heard to be believed – it’s that good! They also identify friends, or famous people that appeared on the show. The pair also talk about how they found each other and created the show (Cross’ occupation may be a little tough for those to swallow). As different people show up for the commentaries, it does get a little bit livelier, but there’s nothing particularly special about the track. And remember, count the high fives kids!
There are additional extras as well. Disc 1 includes biographies on Bob and David, written by Bob and David. There is also the full sketch for Fuzz: The Musical Featuring Ronnie Dobbs, its inclusion here is a bit odd, seeing as it’s A) a sketch from Season 3 and B) probably better suited as an extra to the Run Ronnie Run DVD that some of you may have. Before It was a Show features a handheld camera filming a Bob and David stage show, and it’s a 3 minute introduction into the mind of Bob. The Best of Mr. Show is a full length show at almost 25 minutes, but it’s style is reminiscent of What’s Up Tiger Lily? as Bob, David and others redub a local 70’s news broadcast, while editing in clips from the show, most of which are also from Season 3. 10 TV spots round out Disc 1, some of the spots are (again) from Seasons 3 and/or 4, and some are ones that Bob and David created, and are pretty funny.
While some people may think I’d be crazy to recommend buying a 2 disc set on sketch comedy for a above average price, since the humor IS a bit hard for people to get. It’s still great comedy, a great alternative to the “characters made for movies” feel that Saturday Night Live still has, and is worth a rental for fans of quality sketch comedy.
Special Features List
- Episode Commentary
- Additional Footage
- TV Spots