Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First Season

Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First Season
Two New Zealanders walk into a bar, get up on stage and perform. It sounds like the premise for a bad joke but instead it’s the premise for HBO’s latest comedy series, Flight of the Conchords, a very funny pastiche based on the virtually non-existent career of two Kiwis: Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. To their one fan (Kristen Schaal) and many oblivious spectators, they are "New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk parody duo,” an honour they carry with pride. And that’s the joke: they’re from New Zealand and they’re trying to make it in New York City. With their bumbling manager Murray (Rhys Darby), who works out of his office job for the teeny New Zealand consulate, the Conchords spend their days avoiding real life (read: careers), breaking into song when the feeling’s right. That means trying their hand at reggaeton when Bret meets a hot girl ("She’s so hot, she’s like a curry”), Pet Shop Boys-ish synth pop to confront Bret’s gruelling job holding signs, motherflippin’ rap as MCs Hiphopopotamus and Rhymenoceros when they’re mugged and doing their best Hall & Oates (whose Daryl Hall makes a cameo) impersonation when Jemaine sees a girl so beautiful she could be a "part-time model.” The songs are all clever, dry and completely listenable, leaving me wondering why they didn’t include a full-length of every song (an EP on Sub Pop failed to justify their songwriting chops) or, for a riskier venture, release the Crazy Dogggz’s infectious, sure-fire hit "Doggy Bounce” as a single. Conchords’ strongest trait, however, is the type of comedy Clement and McKenzie are pushing; their self-deprecating, no frills jokes use the duo’s fish-out-of-water naïveté, unpopular accents and failure as a band to make us laugh, which feels good and happens often. When they do choose to get nasty, like with the racist fruit vendor (Aziz Ansari) arc in "Drive By,” they use self-defence to humiliate Australians in the most timid and stereotypical ways. Sadly, there are no extras to be found on the disc, which is a disappointment considering commentaries, concerts, a music video option — the list goes on and on — would have been very rewarding. Still, it’s so easy and tempting to go back and view these easily digestible episodes that simply having them on hand is reward enough. (Warner)