Mr. Show: The Complete Third Season

The tightest sketch comedy show in recent memory arrives on DVD with its third season, all ten half-hour episodes of it. Mr. Show with Bob [Odenkirk] and David [Cross] took pilot money from HBO and squeezed its four-episode debut season out of it; after a six-chapter second season, here they're finally getting a bit of cash and the cast and the show's vision has solidified and you could bounce a quarter off the writing's ass. Drawing some of its character-driven inspiration from Canada's own SCTV, and its absurdist take and transitions from Britain's Monty Python crew, Mr. Show is distinctly not an American sense of humour: clever trumps gross, smart beats out mean and subtly political is chosen over lowest common denominator. In other words, no way would it make it to network TV and it wasn't likely to find a big enough audience to last. (The show squeezed out one more season after this.) Due to its small production run and now-expanded writing staff, an average episode is tightened up to within an inch of its hilarious life — each half-hour is like the best 90 minutes of Saturday Night Live (for whom Bob wrote) boiled down like soup stock. It necessitates repeat viewing, because laughter is sure to drown out at least a couple of jokes every few minutes. Sadly, the commentary is Kevin Smith to an extreme: too many participants talking over each other and not contributing much beyond their own in jokes. The "Aspen" promos are quite brilliant though; a clip episode made between season one and two, called "Fantastic Newness," rounds out the extras. Extras: commentaries on each episode; 1997 U.S. Comedy Art Festival promos and performance; "Fantastic Newness" best of; instrumental score to "Drugachusettes" sketch; more. (HBO/Warner)