Network: MTV; Genre: Reality/Comedy; Content Rating: TV-PG (some language and scatological humor); Available: DVD; Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);
Seasons Reviewed: Complete Series (3 seasons)
Just when you thought MTV was a lost cause, professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek comes along and, armed with his best friend and bodyguard Big Black (aka Christopher Boyken), a skateboard, and a bulldog named Meaty, gives us a reason to tune in again. "Rob & Big" is a buddy comedy to end all buddy comedies. Cameras follow the duo living together in Dyrdek's Hollywood mansion off DC shoes royalties, with nothing to do all day except follow their every whim. This can include buying a mini-horse, attending a turtle racing tournament, trying to travel through time and trying to break a few world records.
"The Osbournes" was groundbreaking, but ran out of steam quickly. "Daria" and "Sifl and Olly" where fun, but "Rob & Big" is from start to finish the best bit of business that MTV has offered us to date. I have never, on MTV or otherwise, seen a reality/comedy as original, creative and thoroughly entertaining as this one. Behold as the duo almost get blood from a turnip, turning everyday hobbies like flying helicopters and or being harassed by Spiderman on the Walk of Fame and spin them into little epic adventures. If the situations are at all staged or designed (and some are to perfect to not be) that doesn't nail the show down to a format. "Rob & Big" is at all times a free-wheeling, live-wire comic funhouse ride in which Rob & Big are up for anything. It certainly gets weird at times and there are a few misfires in the hijinks (Rob & Big audition to be cereal box models), but the show's anarchist energy and slacker wit never flags.
Unlike all of the corporate hipsters on MTV, it is refreshing to watch Rob and Big not trying to act cool. They truly don't appear to care what anyone thinks. They speak in their own shorthand, filled with quotable lines and infectious catchphrases. There is a rare and unexpected sweetness to the show. The interactions between Rob, Big, Meaty, Drama and everyone in their lives feels genuine. This may sound basic, but it's something almost unheard of on MTV or in the reality genre. Imagine it: a reality show where the subjects are actually likable! And in the case of "Rob & Big", lovable.
Most episodes involve Rob & Big simply finding something to do with their days. Other episodes shift in to "Penn & Teller: Bulls***" area where the two find themselves dealing with stuff like mail order time machines, psychics and lie detectors. In one, Rob finds a "do do" in the pool and turns his house into a full scale security fortress, and arming himself with a net gun in an attempt to capture the culprit. In another, he dons a blonde wig, giant sunglasses and a white sport jacket to become Bobby Light. Bobby shoots a music video about Dirty Girls in which Dyrdek waves a flashlight necklace and Big for some reason spends the entire video sitting on the toilet.
"Rob & Big" doesn't have the surreal polish of "The Hills" or "Laguna Beach" and it's guerilla, scattershot style works for it. The show is a firecracker, edited (or wrangled together) into the most satisfying 30 minutes reality cameras have documented. If it isn't quite perfection, it proves that with a little imagination, you can get something out of nothing. "Celebreality" shows are never, ever, this much fun. Long live "Rob & Big", a little cult show that created it's own universe and gave us the first reality/comedy that actually is funny. But it's not just funny, it's a riot. Highly recommended.
* * * ½ / 4