Although it’s always been available on DVD — and for cheap, too! — the absence of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ “Mr. Show With Bob and David” from streaming services has caused its cultural currency to dwindle, even as “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” have made Odenkirk a star in his own right. HBO, who originally aired the show, lacked the right to add it to its streaming services without additional payments, which they were apparently unwilling to make, but they were able to keep anyone else from buying it. Odenkirk and Cross weren’t even allowed to use the “Mr. Show” name, as last year’s cheekily titled Netflix revival “W/ Bob & David” demonstrated.
The buzz around the Netflix show does seem to have done its job, though, as HBO will (finally!) be adding “Mr. Show” to HBO Go and HBO Now in May, a development that surprised even Odenkirk:
FOR REAL?! THEY’RE GOING TO SHOW EVERYONE OUR BEST CRAZINESS! GOD BLESS YOU MR. HBOGO https://t.co/1i3g40rlp9
— Mr. Bob Odenkirk (@mrbobodenkirk) April 19, 2016
Looking back, it’s astonishing how many future stars passed through “Mr. Show’s” doors, a tribute to the richness of the Los Angeles alternative comedy scene, circa the mid-’90s: In addition to Odenkirk and Cross, Paul F. Tompkins, Tom Kenny, and Brian Posehn were regulars, and Jack Black and Sarah Silverman made memorable guest appearances. The talent behind the scenes was no less impressive: Comedy Bang Bang’s Scott Aukerman was a core writer, as was Dino Stamatopoulos, aka “Community’s” Starburns, and a founder of the animation studio that produced Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa.”
“Mr. Show’s” best sketches have been ranked and re-ranked dozens of times — Vulture’s is perhaps the best, properly giving “Mafia Mathematicians” and “Blowing Up the Moon” their due — and many have been available online in bootleg YouTube copies, but it’s a special treat to watch the episodes as they originally unfolded, especially since the show’s writers frequently employed callbacks to earlier moments that make no sense when the individual sketches are divorced from the whole. May’s still a long way off, so here are a few sketches to tide you over, but only if you promise to go back and watch the whole thing when it’s available.