Bob Odenkirk and David Cross Are Back And Funny Together Again

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Bob Odenkirk and David Cross return to their Mr. Show roots in W/ Bob & David, a four-episode Netflix series that begins streaming Nov. 13. Do you remember Mr. Show? Seventeen years ago, it was an ahead-of-its-time sketch comedy series that regularly ventured into absurdism. Now, W/ Bob & David is, pretty much, an of-its-time sketch show following the same format as Mr. Show — one sketch leads into the next, in a funny, often tenuous, manner.

The initial conceit of the series is that Bob and David have been trapped in what they think is a “real time-machine” for 17 years, but it turns out, kids, grammar is a harsh mistress, and a misplaced hyphen reveals they were really in a “real-time machine” for 17 years — and so it took a full 17 years, not the blink of an eye that they expected, to come back to us to make us laugh. (No overt mention is made, of course, that in the intervening years, Bob has become well-known for Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, and David for Arrested Development.)

A lot of the comedy hinges on little quirks and whimsicalities. Some of it is a bit tedious, such as the card game that sets up the first episode (hang in there, the episode gets a lot better) and a Big Game Hunter sketch that depends somewhat on your knowledge of the 1932 film The Most Dangerous Game, which was also once parodied by Gilligan’s Island.

But the best stuff is excellent indeed, with that blend of craziness and wit that characterized Mr. Show. A high point is Cross’s wonderful portrayal of a man who wants you to “Know Your Rights,” with inadvertent help from a cop played by Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key.

Following close behind in laughs is the TV-judge-show parody “Judge George ‘No-Nonsense’ Jackson,” and a new, “more uplifting” version of Roots called Better Roots, which is presented via “The Charlene Boyeur Show,” a Charlie Rose parody featuring Paget Brewster as the host. Familiar Mr. Show faces such as Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Tompkins, and Brian Posehn pop up as well.

W/ Bob & David is streaming now on Netflix.