Saturday, August 8, 2009

8-8-09: Flight of the Conchords, Season Two

Over the past few days I was able to watch Season Two of Flight of the Conchords, an HBO comedy series starring Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, who comprise the real life New Zealand comedy-folk duo of the same name. I really enjoyed Season One a couple summers ago, back when I had access to HBO. Nowadays, I have Netflix instead of the movie channels, so I saw Season Two a bit later on.

It was surprisingly good, better than expected, but I don't think Season Two quite met the level of Season One. I think it was summed up well by McKenzie before Season Two began, immediately after they were signed on to continue the show by HBO, when he remarked how surprised he was that they got the extension, since they had already run out of songs.

The show is based in an alternate reality of the duo's life, set in the hard-knocks environment in modern day Manhattan. Their characters' names are slight variations of their real names (Clement -> Clemaine; McKenzie -> McClegnie). In the show they are naïve, luckless, desperately poor musicians living out of a studio apartment in Chinatown. Their manager, Murray (played by Rhys Darby), works for the New Zealand consulate, and is even more naïve. Their gigs are outrageous, including one where they play on an elevator at the consulate, and another at a local library where they are constantly told to keep quiet. They make little to no money, and their gigs are frequently poorly attended (one gig in an episode in Season Two ends with zero audience members). Each 30 minute episode typically consists of two to three short songs, virtually music videos, that don't interact with the plot. The songs usually have something to do with the current situation, but the really funny ones are usually complete tangents.

Season One ended with Murray being marvelously successful with a group called the Crazy Dogs, a rival duo to the Flight of the Conchords, who record the international hit "The Doggy Bounce." Murray tags along with them, and the first season ended with him arriving home from a world tour, and has begun to virtually ignore Brett and Jemaine.

Season Two began with the same scenario, which eventually led to Murray being fired and the duo managing themselves, with relative ease and success. Alas, it didn't last. Murray lost everything when, as it turned out, "The Doggy Bounce," which had won various awards, was actually a direct copy of a decades-old Polish song. Around the same time, Jemaine and Brett get into some trouble with their immigrant status (they are illegal immigrants) while filming a toothpaste commercial, and Murray comes and saves them (by suggesting they run away). So, the trio ends up back together, and go through various lady troubles and bad gigs and general innocent foolishness.

What surprised me was that the songs remained pretty clever and funny. There weren't as many great songs like in the first season, such as "Business Time", "Inner City Pressure", and "Think About It," but Season Two held it together pretty strong overall. The plot got old after a while, though. They recycled a couple themes, though it wasn't so bad that I didn't keep watching. But, after a while, the naivety does get old. The season did end well, though. And, best of all, I think they won't come back for a third season. It's not that I wouldn't watch it; it's just one of those situations where you can see that a show has run its course, and it's best to just end it on a good note.

Thank you, Flight of the Conchords, for your brilliance. I'm going to end this post with two of my favorite songs from the show:

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