Thursday, July 08, 2010

Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First and Second Seasons w/CD

Jermaine and Bret are a pair of New Zealand musicians, living in New York City and hoping to hit it big. Yeah, "Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Collection" sounds like a terrible generic sitcom, but instead this series is one of the most hilarious comedies of the last decade -- a quirky, weird, tongue-in-cheek little show with hilarious dialogue. Think a musical version of "The Office."

Folk-pop group Flight of the Conchords is Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie (played by themselves), who came all the way from New Zealand to New York. They are being managed by the ineffectual New Zealand Consulate official Murray (Rhys Darby), and they have exactly one fan/stalker, Mel (Kristen Schaal). They don't have many gigs, and even fewer successful ones.

As they chase elusive fame'n'fortune, the guys have to deal with girlfriend woes (dating the same girl, a "Yoko", a girl who just wants to use Bret for sex), financial difficulties (Bret bought a cup!), jobs, muggings, anti-Kiwi racism, a problematic rock'n'roll tour, two new fans with impure intentions, a semi-professional actor/compulsive liar who makes Murray think they've got a multimillion-dollar deal, the Crazy Doggz, Australians, epileptic terriers, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, hair gel, and a stage musical based on their misadventures.

If I had to come up with a description for "Flight of the Conchords," it would be that they're the folky New Zealand love child of Spinal Tap and "The Office." No laugh track, rambling dialogue, and the main characters tend to spontaneously break into song-and-dance at pivotal parts of the plot. And it's brilliant.

The writing is brimming over with effortless weirdness, as the guys encounter everyday problems (threesomes, girlfriend woes, weird dreams) which soon turn into hilariously surreal situations (the disturbing children's show, "Albi the Racist Dragon"). The dialogue is amazing ("When I first met you you tried to have me deported from New Zealand because you thought I was an Australian"), and full of rambling conversations that just get stranger with every line ("Have you ever had a threesome?" "Nearly." "What do you mean, nearly?" "I've had a twosome").

The songs are gutsplitting as well, since they're all about homicidal robots, mermaids, toothpaste, hip-hop spoofs, hermaphrodites ("Oh you sexy hermaphrodite lady-man-ladies"), rappers, cannibalism, and the hiphop-potamus. Not to mention "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" and its accompanying music video, which are a nod to McKenzie's role as the elf Figwit.

But none of this would be even half as funny if it weren't for the actors -- Clement's self-named chatacter is stoic and kind of weird (he writes a song about putting a wig on Bret), while McKenzie's is more childlike, naive and likes to sit in a cardboard box. Darby rounds out the cast as their harried, rather pathetic manager (who isn't even supposed to be managing a band), and Schaal is also quite funny as a woman who has a creepy sexual fixation on the guys.

This edition also comes with the "Distant Future" EP, which is a nice addition if not a full soundtrack -- it has the hilariously faux-seductive "Business Time," the equally hysterical "If You're Into It" ("Is that what you're into/him and you, in the nude?"), the sad "Not Crying," and live versions of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room."

"Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Series" is one of the rarest kind of comedy out there -- steady, hysterical, and only gets better with repeated viewings. And boy, are you sorry when it's over.

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