March 15th, 2009
At the end of the first act of “Wingmen,” Murray brings Bret and Jemaine in for an entirely unnecessary band meeting: he had, in fact, only called the meeting so he could tell him that there was no need for a meeting. Murray quite wisely noted that sometimes you fall into habits and patterns, and it’s just hard to break them.
For Flight of the Conchords, that pattern is the structure that the show used in its first season, building episodes around songs, and nine episodes into its second season it feels like it is finally falling into a slightly different pattern. There are still songs, but they’re being used less as the meat of storylines and more as points of introduction or conclusion, letting the comedy fill in the gaps. While “Wingmen” wasn’t a comic highlight as far as the season is concerned, the way it used this structure was very effective, and an example of how the show has found new strength in a new structure.
March 1st, 2009
There are two stories in “Prime Minister,” and each of them is absolutely perfect for this surrealist world we’ve created. The show has leaned heavily this season on the humour to be found in New Zealand’s low level of cultural awareness, and less on the Conchords as an actual music duo: here, both of these elements are brought together with Bret and Jemaine spiraling into the world of cover bands while we get to meet Murray Hewitt’s own Murray Hewitt, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
They end up coming together better than one might expect, especially late in the episode where the “lookalike” culture moves from one storyline into another, and both end up going in directions that are awfully nutty but in a way that is always noticed by the characters, either because they were responsible for its execution or because they are sober enough to realize that Art Garfunkel showing up at your girlfriend’s door while you’re in an Art Garfunkel wig is about time to hightail it out of there.
Yet, the episode was nonetheless another sign that while the comic foundation of the show is perhaps better than other, the songs just aren’t there: here is an opportunity to potentially have the episode soundtracked by Simon & Garfunkel-esque hits, and yet instead we get a Korean karaoke song and a 90s rock song with a nice hook but nothing to really connect it to the episode’s identity. And while I’m all for the show projecting such comic confidence on one end of the spectrum, I’m still left wanting for an episode that brings the two parts together.
“Love is a Weapon of Choice”
February 22nd, 2009
After last week was, without question, my favourite episode of Flight of the Conchords’ second season, “Love is a Weapon of Choice” has a lot to live up to. Not only did last week’s “Unnatural Love” give us two of the season’s better songs, but it also delved into the wonderful Australia/New Zealand feud that has often underscored the series. It was vintage Conchords, directed by Michel Gondry, so expecting another episode to compare to it is probably unfair.
As a result, it is with tempered expectations that “Love is a Weapon of Choice” succeeds, if not overwhelmingly. Kristen Wiig proves that she fits well into this universe, something that we could have called based on her great work on Saturday Night Live, and while none of the three songs in the episode prove especially groundbreaking they fit into musical genres the show hasn’t often delved into, and were connected well enough to the romantic hijinx of the episode that I’ll forgive the lack of outright quality.
It’s not one that we’re going to remember, but it’s at least one that get a few laughs, a few catchy lyrics, and a commendation for some cleverness.