Thursday, December 13, 2007

What I'm Watching: Flight of the Conchords, Season 1

I ingest quite a bit of information, whether it be on the internet, on TV, in magazines, or wherever. In fact, I tend to bombard myself with information stimulation for most of my conscious day. With all that input, I feel I should output something, and the blog shall be my venue.

I don't want to call this a "review." Writing reviews would hold me to a standard of critique and firmness of opinion that my noncommittal nature forbids. So instead, I shall entitle these entries "What I'm Watching." That also frees me to write about anything that appears on a screen, not just movies or television.

So now that you're completely breathless with anticipation, here's the first installment:

I picked up the Flight of the Conchords, Season 1 DVD at Borders the other day with a 40% off coupon (that's how I roll). For those of you hitherto unaware, Flight of the Conchords is a Kiwi (meaning from New Zealand) comic folk duo who double as actors, not unlike America's own Tenacious D. I was first introduced to FotC by my own Kiwi friend, Elric Kane, who sent me a Youtube clip of "Business Time." I remembered Jemaine Clement from his Outback Steakhouse commercials a few years back, which features a Kiwi as an Aussie, which is cross-cultural dynamite. Just imagine a Canadian playing an American. I mean, that NEVER happens and think of the ramifications if it did. Anyway, when I found out that they had a show on HBO, I had to check it out.

The show follows fictionalized versions of Jemaine and fellow FotC member, Bret McKenzie, as they try to achieve rock stardom in New York City. They do this under the hilariously inept guidance of New Zealand Cultural Consulate/band manager, Murray, played by Ryhs Darby. Other major characters in the show are Mel (Kristen Schaal), the band's singular, psychotically obsessive fan, and Dave (Arj Barker), their conniving slacker friend.

The plots of the 12 episodes are not complicated by any means. They typically involve a hare-brained scheme by Murray to promote the band, which fails spectacularly, largely because it wasn't a good idea to start with. If the plot isn't to do with the band trying to become successful, it has to do with Jemaine and Bret trying to get chicks. But the humor of the show comes from the characters themselves. Jemaine and Bret are portrayed as incredibly naive and go along with the most ridiculous situations. Fortunately, they're not made to look like idiots, so the show ends up being quite smart in an absurd way. Each episode usually features at least two musical numbers that always deliver on the laughs.

I can say without reservation that Rhys Darby as "King of the Dicks" Murray is the funniest thing on the program. As the person Jemaine and Bret trust with their careers, Murray proves to be not only incompetent but self-sabotaging. From his flaming red 70's anchorman coif and his rock n' roll goatee to his hilariously thick Kiwi accent, he's a comic gem.

I give full marks for the show, but the DVD is a real bummer as it includes absolutely no meaningful extra features. Flight of the Conchords was a borderline call for HBO going into next season. But, it's a cult hit and far less expensive to produce than some of HBO's other fare. My guess is that they skimped on the DVD. But then, this isn't a review, so I don't feel obliged to do any research to confirm my theory.

1 comment:

JD said...

Maybe I need to watch this more. I saw some of them. Not bad.