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Flight of the Conchords aired from June 2007-March 2009 on The HBO Cable Network.
Flight of the Conchords followed the trials and tribulations of a two man, digi-folk band from New Zealand as they tried to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City. The band was made up of Bret McKenzie on guitar and vocals, and Jemaine Clement on guitar and vocals.
Bret and Jemaine had moved to New York in the hope of forging a successful music career. All they managed to find in the beginning were a manager, Murray ( Rhys Darby) ,whose "other" job was at the New Zealand Consulate, one fan, Mel ( Kristen Schaal) who was married obsessive and one friend , Dave ( Arj Barker), who owned the local pawn shop -- but not much else.
A Review from Variety
Flight of the Conchords
(Series -- HBO, Sun. June 17, 10:30 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are the stars of HBO's 'Flight of the Conchords,' which works best when the boys are singing.
Filmed in New York by Dakota Pictures and Comedy Arts Studio. Executive producers, James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Troy Miller, Stu Smiley; co-executive producer, Tracey Baird; producers, Anna Dokoza, Christo Morse; director, Bobin.
Cast: Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Kirsten Schaal.
There's a long and venerable history of musical-comedy duos, from the Smothers Brothers to Tenacious D. At first, this New Zealand-imported tandem seems like any of the cut-rate slacker comedies that overpopulate Comedy Central -- until they burst into song and madcap lunacy ensues. Hardly a great show, those eclectic musical numbers nevertheless yield some extremely clever moments, and if nothing else, there aren't many places you can hear a love song with lyrics like, "You're so beautiful ... Like a high-class prostitute ... You could be a part-time model."
Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are your typical sad-sack, self-absorbed struggling musicians, trying to get laid and book club gigs where they might actually get to play after dark. (Their manager makes the daft agent on "Extras" seem helpful by comparison.) It's all pretty standard stuff, shot on a dime against grungy New York backdrops.
"Flight of the Conchords" only takes wing, as it were, once Bret -- he of the tousled hair and four-day beard -- and Jemaine, adorned with sprayed-on 1970s sideburns and thick glasses, lapse into their strange ditties. Along the way, they cover an impressively wide range of genres, ranging from a Pet Shop Boys homage to ballads to reggae to R&B.
Based on the four episodes previewed, the plots are almost wholly irrelevant, though there are a few wry recurring gags, like a married fan (Kirsten Schaal) who's clearly obsessed with Bret on a groupie-like level.
Still, like a review that once referred to "Jaws" as "a thriller at sea and a bore ashore," "Flight" is pretty much a snooze until the music starts, at which point the show kicks up into something quite weird and occasionally wonderful.
Even then, this is a slight diversion, aimed toward that younger quadrant of potential subscribers that HBO chased after by signing a multifaceted deal with Dane Cook, the inexplicably popular comic who plays arenas with his club-sized act.
Then again, not everything has to be "The Wire," and this is HBO's dartboard summer, where the pay service throws various new programs at its schedule, hoping to find a few that will stick and help fill the void left by Tony You-Know-Who and the gang.
From that perspective, it's easy to see why the channel would take a flier on "Flight." Sure, the show isn't much to look at, but thanks to those musicvideos, there are moments when it sounds like a gem.
A Review from The New York Times
TV Review | 'Flight of the Conchords'
The New Zealand Invasion:
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: June 15, 2007
It sometimes seems as if there is only one joke, and it's innocence. From Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton to Jerry Lewis, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell, a comedian is as funny as he is unknowing.
The humor can be physical or verbal, the character boorish or endearing, but the key is a childlike lack of self-awareness.
The heroes of Flight of the Conchords, a new series that begins on HBO on Sunday, are as witless as they come. Jemaine and Bret are young New Zealanders adrift in New York who hope to break into the music industry with their digi-folk two-man band, also named Flight of the Conchords.
They passively bumble through life and the shabby downtown apartment they share without money or contacts and with barely any friends. They have a fan club of one, Mel (Kristen Schaal), a female stalker; and a band manager, Murray (Rhys Darby), an officious deputy cultural attach at the New Zealand consulate who promises to find them gigs but refuses to book anything after dark because New York is too dangerous.
You could be murdered, Murray warns. Or even just ridiculed.
Flight of the Conchords is funny in such an understated way that it is almost dangerous to make too much of it it could collapse like a souffl when the door slams. It's much slighter than HBO's big production comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. It's also a little sweeter, less a satire of show business than wry self-parody.
And that seems to be the way HBO comedy is headed in the post- Sopranos era. The network hasn't found its next big thing and is instead trying out new material in modest bites. Conchords is a summer fling of a series, but it is funny, at times very funny.
As in The Office, or Ricky Gervais's Extras, the humor lies in a deadpan exchange of inanities, punctuated by long, puzzled silences. It's a comic style that's been around a long time and served up many ways since the 1984 mock-documentary This Is Spinal Tap.
What distinguishes The Conchords from other, similarly dry, sardonic comedies is that at certain junctures the two heroes freeze the action and burst into song in subtle parodies of pop music videos that are almost plausible and deliciously absurd. The range is impressive, everything from David Bowie-style 80s pop to rap and reggae.
Jemaine, smitten by a pretty girl he sees across the room at a party, croons:
You could be a part-time model
But you'd probably still have to keep your normal job
A part-time model
Spending part of your time modeling
And part of your time next to me
My place is usually a little tidier than this.
Jemaine is played by Jemaine Clement, the taller, bespectacled half of a real-life music and comedy duo from New Zealand with a cult following in the United States. Bret is Bret McKenzie, the duo's shorter half. In interviews they have said their series was partly inspired by Cop Rock, an ill-fated 1990 show by Steven Bochco that was part crime series, part musical, though even this could be a joke.
Both men are mild and shaggy-haired and speak in flat New Zealand accents that American characters on the show find baffling.
Bret gets a job holding a hot dog sign near City Hall and befriends Coco, a fellow sign holder. When he gives his name, she thinks he has said Brit. He explains he is from New Zealand. Oh, New Zealand, she says brightly. There's Vikings there, right? Bret politely agrees.
The two friends compete over girls in a subdued, clueless way and sometimes quarrel, but never raise their voices or demand explanations. Nothing seems to perturb their placid befuddlement, not even Murray, who demands a roll call at band meetings in his office, even though it's just the three of them in the room.
Bret comes home one day with a grocery bag and hands Jemaine a thick sandwich, which he promptly begins eating. When Jemaine asks Bret how he paid for the food, Bret blithely explains that it was free, that he found the bag lying on the street. Jemaine rushes to the sink to spit out the hand-me-down meal, but stops himself.
I was going to spit it out, he says calmly. But I think I'll just eat it.
After agreeing that they are quite poor, the duo break into a song, Inner City Pressure, in the style of a Pet Shop Boys video.
You know you're not in high finance
Considering second-hand underpants
Check your mind
How did it get so bad
What happened to those other underpants you had.
The music parodies are clever, but part of the series's appeal is the sheer novelty of New Zealanders as comic heroes. New Zealand as an obscure and backward country that no American can find on a map is a recurring joke. On the phone Bret assures his mum that no, he doesn't need a gun, and that she would be amazed at how many television channels there are. He's not sure how many, actually, but wows her with the assurance that it's more than four.
Flight of the Conchords is cockeyed and a lot of fun. To say much more might ruin it.
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
HBO, Sunday night at 10:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 9:30, Central time.
Created by James Bobin, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie; Mr. Bobin, Mr. Clement, Mr. McKenzie, Troy Miller and Stu Smiley, executive produceres; Tracey Baird, co-executive producer; Paul Simms, consulting producer.
WITH: Jemaine Clement (Jemaine), Bret McKenzie (Bret), Rhys Darby (Murray) and Kristen Schaal (Mel).
A Review from The S.F. Chronicle
Flight of the Conchords: Comedy. 10:30 p.m. Sunday on HBO.
There's really no better way to put this: Whatever you do, make sure you carve out some time to watch "Flight of the Conchords" on HBO Sunday night.
At 10:30 p.m.
Sure, that's not the sexiest start to a story you've ever read, but it's the essential element. "Flight of the Conchords" may well be the funniest thing you've seen in ages and -- at least for a half hour -- answers the question of whether HBO has any good shows left.
"Flight of the Conchords" stars Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as the "digi-folk" band of the same name. They're from New Zealand -- you know, not Australia -- and they have come to New York to make it big.
Of course, nobody knows them and they're broke. Wait, that's not exactly true. Mel (comedian Kristen Schaal) knows them. She's their No. 1 fan. And, as the band knows only too well, their only fan. Mel is completely obsessed with the duo. Her husband, however, is not so keen on her fixation. But she browbeats him into driving her around New York in search of her heroes.
The broke part -- that's all true. Bret and Jemaine are living in a dumpy New York apartment, scrounging for jobs, scrounging for food, trying to meet girls and get gigs.
They are not very successful at it.
Part of the problem can be traced back to their manager, Murray (Rhys Darby), who -- not unlike Darren (Stephen Merchant) in "Extras" -- is quite possibly the worst manager ever. At least Murray is a stickler for band meetings (he takes roll call) and keeps a positive attitude even though the band has almost no chance of getting a respectable gig.
"Flight of the Conchords" comes from the same lineage as Tenacious D -- two mostly loserish musicians trying to make a living. But while Tenacious D was all testosterone and drive, Flight of the Conchords is a band that plays more laid-back (but no less hilarious) numbers. They have ambition to practice and be successful, but mostly they sleep or sit around or hang out. They are very Zen in their poverty and failure.
It's a great conceit for a series because both McKenzie, with his slacker mentality, and Clement, with his nerdier cluelessness, are instantly likable. You root for them in everything, even if it's something as mundane as having enough money to get food. You want them, via Murray, to get the gig of their lives. You just know it's not going to happen. They shot a video once but had to use a cell phone because they couldn't afford to rent a real camera.
It's that kind of life.
Both McKenzie and Clement have superb timing and an effortless way with brilliant, subtle jokes (they're also the writers). The series floats by like some lo-fi laugh fest captured by a documentary camera, but no doubt tons of work has gone into getting the tone exactly right.
And the skimpy premise works beautifully. Murray has a day job at the New Zealand Consulate, which gives him all the time in the world to manage the band from his desk (New Zealand is the recurring punch line and it never fails). Mel's obsessive creepiness and meritless optimism about the duo's chances of success comes in small bunches when needed. And the band's other (only?) friend in New York, Dave (comedian Arj Barker), gives them advice about America and girls and such as needed. That's it. That's the show. Nothing is forced. Simplicity is its master. Everyone involved is understated and hilarious, letting McKenzie and Clement's writing shine through.
Of course, you can't discount the music. The duo break into song (little videos, essentially, that fit the plot) a couple of times an episode, and each is a slice of ridiculous genius that will leave you gutted with laughter. McKenzie and Clement can sing (Clement has the added benefit of his character thinking he's sexy but coming off, as the show's description says of his geeky glasses and mutton-chops, like "an ogre who works in a library"). Never have absurdity and self-deprecation worked better.
(It's best not to oversell the songs -- or the series, for that matter -- because both are exceedingly more great than you expect going in, though this sentence probably ruins that surprise. Oh well.)
Though Tenacious D is long gone and premature retirement of "Extras" bolstered Ricky Gervais' and Merchant's philosophy of getting out while you're ahead (sadly, no Season 3), it just means "Flight of the Conchords" is even more welcome. There's always a need for songs about part-time models, robots, standing around bored and such. And there's always a welcome mat out for series about show-business failure, particularly if the people involved seem really nice (but not remotely cutthroat enough to make it happen).
"Flight of the Conchords" takes a little and makes a lot. Who knew that jokes about New Zealand (an overreliance on "Lord of the Rings" references to promote tourism, a disdain for the more popular Australia and the silent suffering of Americans who think you're English) could be so pitch-perfect funny? Or that two earnest and likable guys from a tiny country coming to New York City with big dreams (and acoustic guitars) -- and failing spectacularly, but doing so with a Zen mind-set and a laconic, breezy acceptance of their fate -- would be such a wonderful idea?
An Article from Time Magazine
Return Flight for the Conchords
By James Poniewozik Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009
If you think you have to be a slacker yourself to make a comedy about two slacker folk musicians, consider the plight of Bret McKenzie. It's late afternoon on the set of Flight of the Conchords, and McKenzie is hanging, duct-taped, on the back of a door.
The setup (spoiler alert! not that plot twists are that vital on FotC): McKenzie's character, also called Bret, has been robbed in his apartment by a group of thugs, including the new girlfriend of his bandmate/roommate Jemaine (Jemaine Clement). Jemaine, who's been out sulking over problems in his new romance, walks through the door and finds Bret affixed. Bret calmly tells Jemaine that his gal pal has robbed them. Jemaine stares at Bret and asks, "Did she mention me?" (Video: TIME visits the set of Flight of the Conchords.)
The duo who also co-write the show and the songs they perform in it try out a slew of gags over numerous takes. Finally a crew member calls a break. "Can we relieve Bret's arms for a bit?"
For Season 2 of HBO's eccentric musical comedy (Sundays, 10 p.m. E.T.), the slackers are working harder than ever. Season 1, in 2007, took FOTC's off-kilter songs, which the duo had been playing onstage for years, and built a winningly grotty sitcom around them. Bret and Jemaine are obscure musicians on New York City's Lower East Side; their version of a big gig is playing a public-library reading room, and they're so poor they share a tea mug, for which they've drawn up a schedule. They're supported by incompetent manager Murray (Rhys Darby) by day a bureaucrat in the New Zealand consulate and obsessed fan Mel (Kristen Schaal).
The premise, the pair say, is an exaggerated version of their early days playing shows in Wellington, N.Z. One episode, Clement says, features a concert in which "we start off, and there's one person, and then we turn the lights on at the end, and that person has left. That was a real gig that we did." But a passionate cult audience discovered FOTC's deadpan humor and the interspersed music videos for songs like "The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)," a sexy soul ballad to attainable beauty. ("You're so beautiful/ You could be a part-time model/ But you'd probably still have to keep your normal job.")
HBO ordered a second season. The problem? FOTC had exhausted most of its song catalog which meant writing a 10-episode season and the equivalent of a comedy album at the same time. "We're going into the studio on the weekend," McKenzie says, "and we might be finishing a song or even writing a song for that next week."
On top of that, says co-writer James Bobin, are the show's production demands. "We're shooting a sitcom and two music videos in five days. Usually you have a day or three days for a video, and you have six days to shoot a sitcom. So we basically have half the time required to do that sort of work."
You wouldn't know it to watch the show, which is rich with visual allusions. When Jemaine tries to pick up girls in a coffee shop by ordering a croissant in French, the scene shifts into a video for "Foux du Fafa," a conversational-French lesson set to '60s Europop and filmed in the grainy color of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. "In the two or three minutes of a music video," McKenzie says, "the world can just explode open. We can get really surreal or abstract, then drop back into the world of the characters." (Michel Gondry, whose videos and films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind share FOTC's playful aesthetic, guest directs an episode this season.)
Keeping FOTC grounded are Bret and Jemaine, who depart from the Spinal Tap rock-parody standard with their deadpan manner. They're both straight men, and thus both hilarious when they earnestly deal with absurd situations like trying to write a jingle for women's toothpaste. (As they brainstorm about things that interest women, Jemaine suggests weaving. No, Bret solemnly corrects: "Weaving's a man's game.") HBO grows most of its comedy worldly and edgy; FOTC's naifs inhabit a world smaller than Carrie Bradshaw's shoe collection, but their show has a refreshing innocence.
Clement and McKenzie considered quitting after Season 1, knowing it would be a tough act to repeat. In the early Season 2 episodes, the strain shows in the songs, which service the plot but aren't as memorable as the old ones. But the scripts are as funny and tightly written as ever, like an episode in which Bret buys a second tea mug, a "$2.79 spending spree" that causes their checks to bounce and sends them into a spiral of poverty.
So will the duo come back for a Season 3? Ask them after this one's over, they say. As long as they keep slacking this well, let's hope they don't quit their day jobs.
To watch some clips from Flight of the Conchords go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=flight+of+the+conchords
For The Official Website of Flight of the Conchords go to http://flightoftheconchords.co.nz/
For The label site of Flight of the Conchords go to http://www.subpop.com/artists/flight_of_the_conchords
For a Page dedicated to Flight of the Conchords go to http://www.whatthefolk.net/hbo.html
To listen to the theme song of Flight of the Conchords go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Flight_of_the_Conchords.html and to hear Frodo don't wear the ring go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Flight_of_the_Conchords_-_Frodo_Dont_Wear_the_Ring.html and http://www.televisiontunes.com/Flight_of_the_Conchords_-_Frodo_Dont_Wear_the_Ring_-_2.html
· Date: Sun August 12, 2007 · Filesize: 351.2kb · Dimensions: 626 x 414 ·
Keywords: Flight of Conchords