Mr. Show: Season 4

Bob Odenkirk and David Cross are well aware that they've created a masterpiece, that there is nothing else like Mr. Show. While the first couple of seasons showcased actors seemingly amazed with what they were allowed to get away with and spent a significant amount of commentary time making fun of themselves, Season 4 is much more confident; it's more polished and less erratic. They have a firmer grasp on direction for each episode and the links between sketches are smoother. One of the many things that placed Mr. Show in a league of its own (aside from the fact that few things are as funny) is that their sketches require acting rather than exaggeration (or simply maintaining a straight face). It doesn't fall into the SNL trap of Jimmy Fallon always playing Jimmy Fallon in a different outfit. Mr. Show's cast are actors rather than comics and it's evident with the variety and quality of each sketch. A prenatal beauty pageant, taint pornographers and crapping in a wooden box are moments that might "literarily be a miracle." Once again, every episode is accompanied by commentary by various cast and crew, and as anyone who has listened to previous Bob and David commentaries knows, they get weirder as the episodes progress. (Although there seems to be less drinking involved this time around; there isn't that familiar crack of the beer bottle every few minutes.) There are times when the commentary is as funny as the original sketch, as they show open disdain for Saturday Night Live and Dennis Miller's acting skills. The philosophy behind most of the extras seems to be "give the kids what they like," which means repeats from previous seasons. Blooper reels may seem a bit too Dick Clark but, c'mon, it's Mr. Show! Their "jukebox" compiles all the hits songs for quick and easy reference and might be as funny as any of the episodes. The one disappointment is the "Grand Reunion" featurette, which feels like little more than filler. It's a joke that isn't particularly funny and one that goes on too long. The sad truth is that nothing can compare to the first time. I do miss the flat out weirdness of Pit Pat and "Any cock'll do!" (and don't even get me started on the "United State of Druggachussettes") but that in no way means that Season 4 disappoints. It still asks the question, "Mommy, what's a gagortion?" and that's more than enough for me. Season 4 is darker, perhaps a little meaner, and produces a few uncomfortable laughs but those are the most memorable moments. My theory that late 20th century comedy almost entirely revolves around Bob Odenkirk is proving to be true. Plus: blooper reel, 1998 Comic Relief Appearance. (Warner)