THE SHOW W/Bob & David
WHEN | WHERE Starts streaming Friday on Netflix
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) and David Cross are back, in this new version of their HBO cult comic-sketch series, “Mr. Show with Bob and David” (1995-98). Same weird vibe, and some of the beloved cast from the past are here, including: Paul F. Tompkins, Jay Johnston, Jill Talley, Brian Posehn, Scott Aukerman, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Tom Kenny (you now know him best as the voice of SpongeBob). First sketch: The boys turn up in 2015 in a time machine.
MY SAY You asked for it — you got it! (At least if “you” are someone who wishes “Mr. Show” would come back because, after all, there’s nothing else on TV to watch).
But seriously, why is “Mr. Show” back?
Because in the new age of TV, beloved series from the past never entirely go away but instead sit around, waiting for the pitch meeting with Netflix. The streaming service hedged its bets here, ordering only four half-hours, so as binges go, this will be a quickie. But it also serves as a reminder — a cautionary one — that some reboots are best left unbooted.
At its best, “Mr. Show” was absurd and smart. One mind-bending specialty was the comic application of the so-called “Droste Effect,” in which one version of something appeared in another version, which then appeared in another, and so on. A famous example: The talk show with live call-ins. Because the show was taped, the host had to remind callers to direct their questions to the previous week’s show, ad infinitum. (Like I said: Mindbending.) The key influence on “Mr. Show” was “Monty Python.” “Mr. Show” influenced many in turn: “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” “The Sarah Silverman Program,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and just about everything on Adult Swim owe some allegiance.
There’s some funny stuff on the Netflix version (two episodes were made available). Truthfully, just not enough. In fact, “W/Bob & David” can be more tedious than inventive, and tedium is never a strong selling point. What happened? TV’s moved on, and so have Bob and David, now iconic stars in their own right. This blast from the past feels more like a relic from the past.
BOTTOM LINE Some funny stuff, not nearly enough, although the wigs are fabulous.