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This is the episode that introduced me to Mr. Show, and it is one of
In this show you get all the python-style sketch linking, satire to the Nth degree, and the innocence of a low-budget comedy series scraping by.
Jack Black is an "expert witness" desperate for a job. Tom Kenny is Abraham Lincoln with a New York accent. David is "classic" as a terminally ill kid who becomes the "greatest" guitar player ever. Bob is the Pope -- if the ring don't fit...
The yardstick of sketch shows is if you can watch them again and again, and still find something funny about them. This is one of those shows.
Following on from Arrested Development a few years ago, I listened to a
few of David Cross' stand up CD's and found that I really enjoyed his
sharp and unusual humour so I made an effort to seek out this show that
I had heard about from other fans. It took me quite some time and
various different means to get all the episodes and I sat to watch
season 1 recently. What I found was quite rough and ready and perhaps
is part of the season being as short as it was since nothing about it
screams "winner" in terms of viewers for HBO. The structure of each
show is a bit different from most sketch shows since the sketches sort
of flow off one another in a way that kind of gives each episodes a bit
of a narrative flow.
I say "kind of" because it is not as structured or indeed as sensible as all that and it does have a rough energy to it. This is the problem I had with it because it does very much feel like an opening gambit by the makers pretty sure they know what they want to do but still feeling things out to see what works and what doesn't. Mostly I wasn't rolling with laughter but was amused frequently by the ideas and the jokes. Perhaps "bemused" is a better description because the rough edges of this first season do limit the laughs by virtue of the whole thing feeling a bit like a first go. As a result some of the sketches run on too long or lack the sharpness that some of the better ones have. It does feel like nobody is quite sure of where the problems would be and weren't able to see them until the job was done.
The fault is not with the delivery of the cast though because Odenkirk and Cross both do great jobs across the board with the various weird sketches and scenarios. They have a lot of skill and timing but also give themselves over to the material with real heart. The various star guests turns (although I do not think they were stars at the time) are retrospectively distracting in the shape of Sarah Silverman, Jack Black and Rajskub (Chloe from 24) but do not compete particularly with the lead two. Overall the first season of this show didn't make me love it but it did show enough potential to make me come back for the second season. The heart of the comedy is in place but tightening and polishing is required.
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