‘W/ Bob and David’ Review: Netflix’s ‘Mr. Show’ Revival Picks Up Where Original Left Off

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross draw plenty of laughs on new series

Sometimes all you want from a property is for it to scratch that familiar itch, to do exactly what you expect it to do. In that vein Netflix’s new “W/ Bob and David” succeeds.

Did you like “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” the late-90s scatterbrained HBO sketch comedy series from Bob Odenkirk and David Cross? Then you will most likely enjoy “W/ Bob and David,” not so much a reboot or reimagining as a direct continuation of the previous show, minus a 17-year gap and a few words from the title.

Odenkirk and Cross have, of course, gone on to make their respective marks on pop culture through other means–Cross on “Arrested Development,” Odenkirk doing a great enough job on “Breaking Bad” to earn his own spin-off with “Better Call Saul.” So it’s somewhat odd to see them back doing what got them started. Like, don’t they have better things to do? (They do, in fact, which might explain why this run is only four episodes long.)

But that sense of outsized fame fades away pretty quickly, and they’re soon back to their old tricks of absurd wordplay, bizarre characterizations and great faux-advertisements. Odenkirk’s first freelance, work-from-home Jewish Pope, for instance, is pretty spectacular. And the porta-potty time machine they use to jump from one era of the show to the other mines probably the most laughs you can get out of a simple hyphen.

And along the “some things never change” line, Paul F. Tompkins — who gets a generous almost leading role in the debut episode — is still as dapper and sophisticated as ever, and Brian Posehn can still make people burst out laughing by simply opening his mouth.

What’s most endearing and reassuring, though, is that despite the 17 years that have passed since the end of “Mr. Show,” the format still works and the guys are still funny, despite not doing much to get with the times. It feels good to realize that when a brand of sketch comedy is truly great — like Monty Python or the Kids in the Hall — it doesn’t have to worry about getting with the times. It’s safe to say that Bob and David don’t have that particular worry — if you like that sort of thing.

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