Monday, December 28, 2015

The Boys Are Back

Last month Netflix offered all four--count 'em, four--episodes of  W/ Bob & David (as well as an hour-long "making of" special).  It's essentially a continuation of Mr. Show With Bob And David which aired on HBO in the 90s.  I assume they didn't own the original title.  Much of the cast and writers are back.  Not only B & D, but also John Ennis, Jay Johnston, Brian Posehn, Tom Kenny, Jill Talley and quite a few others.

Since Mr. Show both Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have been busy with more high profile projects.  For instance, Cross was Tobias Funke on the Emmy-winning Arrested Development, while Odenkirk was Saul Goodman on the Emmy-winning Breaking Bad, and now stars in the spinoff Better Call Saul.  But can they still do sketch comedy, or is it a young man's game?

The years may have weathered them a bit--they make fun of it in their first sketch where a time machine moves them ahead 16 years into the future except the machine also ages them 16 years--but it turns out they and their team have still got it.

The show is, perhaps, a little simpler and stripped down, but for the most part maintains the high level of the original.  There are some minor differences.  Each episode starts with a seemingly random cold open which is later explained in context.  Also, they don't (and can't?) use the old Mr. Show theme, which I miss.  But, as before, it a sketch comedy show highly influenced by the Monty Python stream-of-consciousness style, where one ideas flows into another, and is a mix of in-studio bits mixed with pre-taped material, all in front of a live audience.   That's fine, but what counts are the comic ideas themselves, and they're still fun.  For instance, in one sketch, Cross plays a character who describes a woman as a C-word only to discover she's standing right behind him.  It turns out he's got a talent for this, so the government has him call terrorists the C-word so they'll magically show up and be taken into custody.

And, as with the original show, sometimes the grace notes are the best parts. In one sketch where Cross is a filmmaker promoting his latest work--which essentially is a whitewash of slavery--he makes a point of printing "The End" at the end of his clips, which causes a fair amount of confusion.

But why describe sketches when it's better to see them yourself.  All it takes are   It'll only take two hours and a subscription to Netflix.


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