Sunday, February 22, 2009

If you haven't succumbed yet to HBO's Flight of the Conchords, it may just take a bit more exposure

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Smitten with his new (shudder) Australian girlfriend, Jemaine -- with help from a chorus of his ex-girlfriends -- reflects on his, er, ill-starred romantic history in last week's Flight of the Conchords episode.

earlier in that episode, "Unnatural Love":

JEMAINE [in bed, playing the guitar, to Bret, in the bed opposite, whom he has just awakened to ask "a hypothetical question"]: What would you think if I did go out with that . . . [vaguely sinister tone of voice] Australian?
JEMAINE [who has already had sex with "that . . . Australian," more than once]: I'm just saying that if you were to go out with an Australian --
BRET: Well, I would never go out with an Australian.
JEMAINE: If you were to, I would be fine with it.
BRET: When I first met you, you tried to have me deported from New Zealand because you thought I was an Australian.
JEMAINE: That was a misunderstanding. You were wearing a vest top.
BRET: My mom gave me that. She thought it made me look like Bruce Willis.
JEMAINE: Well, it didn't. It made you look like an Australian.

by Ken

Open admission: The first season of Flight of the Conchords was a long haul for me. I only sort of "got" this half-hour comedy detailing the misadventures of two hapless young New Zealand singer-guitarists, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, who make up a "band" of the same name (described as "New Zealand's 4th most popular parody duo"), making no visible progress -- for screamingly obvious reasons -- toward their ambition of making it in the music biz in the all-too-alien environment of New York City. The humor was so low-key as to be barely detectable with normal measuring instruments.

Yet something did keep drawing me back, more or less. And as I think about it, I'm not sure it wasn't the third and by far most clueless and ineffectual member of the band, manager Murray (Rhys Darby), whose day job is some undefined flunky position in the New Zealand consulate. (Oops! I see from the show's HBO webpage that Murray is the New Zealand consulate's cultural attache, "leaving him plenty of time to serve as the band's manager.")

The astonishing thing is that Murray somehow manages to hold onto his consular job, since it seems inconceivable that he could be doing it any better than he performs his manager's role. Whereas Bret and Jemaine have at least the excuse of some sort of musical talent and the saving grace of some modest level of personal charm, or at any rate helplessness (sometimes these can be pretty much the same thing), Murray functions on nothing more than his doggedly misplaced faith in his own acumen. He's giving it his all. Why, look how much energy it costs him just for the ritual of taking attendance at band meetings, despite the membership roster's grand total of three.

The results of Murray's initiatives are almost always confounding, and sometimes wildly unpredictably so, as when he had to admit to the other members that the band's reserve fund was temporarily unavailable because he had invested it in an opportunity he found on the computer, with -- yes! -- a Nigerian gentleman. But wouldn't you know it? Murray's Nigerian gentleman turned out to be not only for real but a moralizing scold who wound up berating poor Jemaine and Bret.

Still, Murray's initiatives can usually be counted on to be as unfortunate as they are preposterous. Case in point: The only reason Jemaine found himself in shocking consort with that (shudder) almost certainly Australian woman last week was that Murray took it in his head that the lads needed to go nightclubbing, although they would both far rather have been doing, well, almost anything else. (Actually, Jemaine asked if they could watch a video instead, while Bret wanted to "go home and have a sleep.") The next poor Jemaine knew, he was waking up to the humiliating reality of a night of lustful abandon with this female person who gave more and more potent indications -- subtle stuff like the giant photo of Ayers Rock on the wall -- of (shudder) Australianness. (To those who would complain of anti-Australian bigotry, I should point out that we have seen Jemaine and Bret victimized by crushing anti-New Zealand prejudice, not least by smug Australians.)

I have to say, I wasn't looking forward all that eagerly to this second season of Flight. In fact, I was kind of surprised to discover that there was to be a second season. Then I read that the show is in fact a cult hit, for its apparently cunningly apposite musical parodies. Since the pop musical genres being parodied mean nothing to me, and in fact seem to me by and large parodies themselves, this whole element of the show was whizzing over, or around, my head.

Still, it has helped me a lot to know this, and now the show's musical numbers are much less of a drag for me. I can at least appreciate their ingenuity. But I have to say, the characters themselves finally won me over. And I think I can pinpoint the plot line that finally bagged me.

It was in this season's second episode, "New Cup," in which Bret, throwing all caution and fiscal prudence to the winds, went out and for $2.79 (that was plus tax, wasn't it?) bought a second mug, introducing into the boys' impoverished NYC existence the giddy possibility that they could both drink at the same time! Jemaine was horrified by this mad act of spendthriftitude and reproached Bret for his wanton wastefulness, reminding him of the careful schedule according to which use of the existing mug was shared. Not surprisingly, Murray was even more shocked.

It's not something that's often mentioned in human rights discussions, but once the matter has been presented to you, can you deny that reasonably high on the list of Basic Human Dignities is the right to a Cup of One's Own? And yet, as often happens in the upside-down, or wrong-side-round, or merely topsy-turvy world of Flight of the Conchords, it turned out that Jemaine and Murray were right about Bret's heedless hedonism. It set off a chain of catastrophes that made their former spartan lifestyle seem like the life of Riley, until . . . well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen the episode.

And if you haven't, I urge you to -- either via HBO's On Demand, or eventual reruns, or even more-eventual DVDs. (Season One is available now.) It may take awhile for Flight of the Conchords to burrow inside your brain, but once it does, I'm afraid you're going to be stuck with it.

New episodes of Season Two of Flight of the Conchords continue to air on HBO Sunday nights at 10 ET/PT, with repeats throughout the week.

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At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the 2moons dil which make me very happy these days, my brother says 2moons gold is his favorite games gold he likes, he usually buy some 2moon dil to start his game and most of the time he will win the buy 2moons dil back and give me some cheap 2moons gold to play the game.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Fireblayde said...

It was a pretty sweet episode. The Australian anti-NZer episode (Hurt Feelings) was brilliant, and made me as a NZer kind of annoyed at aussies because alot of them are actually like that! bastards.


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