NETFLIX AND JAVID #1 – w/Bob and David

After two failed attempts I’ve given up trying to write a succinct blog about the events in Paris, so it’s on to Plan B.

Now that I’m attempting to start writing again (and after so long it’s proving difficult to do so regularly), I’ve decided that as well as my occasional rants I’m going to use this blog to review EVERYTHING I can, but primarily television/movies/music and other media (which may result in a rebrand, but not yet).

Essentially it’s going to become a living application to the likes of IGN and other review-based websites, just with a bit more swearing sometimes.

So without further ado I introduce: NETFLIX AND DAVE; where I watch and review as much Netflix content as I can so that you can base your own decision to watch or not on my own one-sided opinion.

First up: W/BOB AND DAVID

with-bob-and-david

Like most Australians, I never really watched ‘Mr. Show’ – I don’t even know if they showed it over here. If they did, it was probably on Foxtel and I’m from the western suburbs, so there goes that. I’ve seen a multitude of clips on YouTube though, and to me some sketches were hits, and others were… not quite misses, but they weren’t hilarious either.

My introductions to David Cross and Bob Odenkirk came about through Arrested Development and Breaking Bad respectively. Does this mean that I lack credibility as a judge of this show without knowledge their earlier work? Perhaps, but I prefer to think that it gives me a more neutral foundation for my critique. Some of the reviews I’ve read seem to think that merely reuniting an old cast is enough to boost a score, but I don’t know any of them as an ensemble and have no attachment or fond memories to taint my perception.

The very first sketch is an apt demonstration of why not being familiar with their past work could be a bad thing. It doesn’t land and I personally found it quite underwhelming given the hype surrounding the duo’s return, but old fans were probably spending the first few scenes revelling in the fact that the old crew was back together again. The whole first episode, in fact, takes time to get into gear, but the unique sketch style of setting up characters in an early scenes and referring back to each of their ridiculous narratives is a great touch that wasn’t a prominent feature of Australian sketch comedy when I was growing up. It give the show a natural feel and continuity that makes sketches that might normally appear out of place feel far more like they belong.

From the outset my biggest problem in watching w/Bob and David was the laughter track. The opening scenes told you that they were filming in front of an audience a lot of the time, and in the sketches that were shot live the laughter works well (the New Year’s resolution and Good Cop/Bad Cop skits are great examples), but with the skits filmed off-set the laugh track can really affect your own appreciation of the writing and performances. Perhaps it’s too loud in the audio mix, but at times it almost feels copy/pasted, and the laughter can feel disproportionate to parts in the sketches that are obviously still building.

Like my thoughts on Mr Show, some of the sketches don’t land that well, but there are others that are impeccable on all fronts. There’s a fantastic tempo to the majority of them, particularly one of the final ones involving door-to-door salesmen. The sketch in episode three built around that famous four letter c-word is fantastic because it goes well beyond using the word for shock value and gives it a magical quality. The tech-savvy triplets, the guy attempting to film police brutality and the contestant who is desperate to develop a compelling enough personal narrative to win a reality TV cook-off build beautifully while also having a point to make (although you can still laugh without appreciating it at the time). There are A LOT of good sketches. Einstein’s tongue – hilarious.

That was something I came to understand of the series as well. The first episode is probably the worst of the bunch, though the whole series seems to get better and better throughout. Each episode has its peaks and lulls, but the quality keeps improving before BAM – you realise they only made FOUR EPISODES and you’re left thinking “but I was really starting to enjoy that”.

At the start of the series I wasn’t sold, but by the end I was lamenting the short run. Perhaps Netflix was testing the waters before ordering a longer second season, or perhaps both guys are so busy with other projects these days (which is given a nod as well with the 72 virgins bit) that they were only ever going to make four. Either way, that’s the biggest disappointment.

IN CONCLUSION: W/Bob and David certainly has its lulls, but the good bits are excellent and more than make up for them – and I’m saying that with little exposure to their previous work.

THE GOOD: Many well written sketches and story arcs, fantastic character acting.

THE BAD: Laugh track gets annoying fast, some sketches miss the mark, ONLY FOUR EPISODES!

OVERALL: 7.5/10

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