'Run' to the 'Mr. Show' DVD

BY SCOTT SERILLA

DAILY ARTS EDITOR



Published September 3, 2003

Hey everybody, it's Bob and David!

John Becic

That's right, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, the brilliant comedy minds behind the subversive '90s HBO sketch show "Mr. Show" are back with two new DVDs to appease their feral hoards of loyal comedy nerds.

After enjoying a resurgence of popularity with the release of their first two seasons to DVD and their victory lap of a tour with their live show "Hooray For America," the boys are releasing the 10-episode complete third season of "Mr. Show" and (finally) their aborted feature length film "Run Ronnie Run."

The third season finds Bob, David and their rotating regulars kicking out some of their finest performances, tightest writing and broadest range of references. All while avoiding the cliche traps that plague other sketch shows. No hacky reoccurring characters, no unfunny guest stars and no network suits dictating punchlines.

The inspired part of "Mr. Show," comes from hilariously talented and intelligent people being given the freedom to be utterly and indulgently silly. Like the other acclaimed programming on HBO, the show was freed of network bureaucracy and censors, allowing Odenkirk and Cross to perform cuttingly outrageous satire, such "Hail Satan Network" where televangelists sing the praises the Devil or "Indomitable Spirit" where an upbeat rock band of disfigured amputees play for high schoolers.

As with "Monty Python's Flying Circus," "SCTV" and "Kids in the Hall" before it, "Mr. Show" was really a writers' show. Almost every scene is driven by the ideas and insights, rather than merely being sets up for actors to mug for cameras or trade inane catchphrases.

Other highlights from the '97 season range from the inventively structured "Pre-taped Call-In Show," the ludicrous time-saving condiment "Mustardayonnaise" and the trippy kid show "Druggachusettes." While special features are few (save the epidsode-by-epidsode commentary), the two disc "Complete Third Season" is a must-own for any hardcore comedy aficionado.

But since their TV run was so well put together, "Run Ronnie Run" seems even more like a disappointment. All the rules that defined "Mr. Show" are thrown out the window; main character Ronnie Dobbs and most of the film's plot are recycled from the very first epidsode, outside actors take roles that should have gone to series regulars and well, the irrepressible scamps who brought you "Dying Asshole in Vietnam," are largely sedate.

Blame the lukewarm New Line Films who refused Bob and David the level of control they desevered, only to shelved the picture from major release after their own toned down cut proved unfunny. Bob and David have offically disowned the straight-to-DVD product on their website. Real fans are likely already aware of the damage since a ripped verison has been widely aviavble on the internet for years.

There are bright moments, Jack Black's ala Mary Poppins musical number "Kick Her in the Cunt" being most noteworthy, but the "Its Pat!"-formula storyline and forced reality TV jokes kill most of the picture.

"The Complete Third Season": Five stars

"Run Ronnie Run": Three stars