Sunday, June 24, 2007

Live or on tape?

Quick spoilers for, in order, "Entourage," "Flight of the Conchords," "Meadowlands" and "The Loop" coming up just as soon as I check the Urban Dictionary definition of "ungumly"...

After last week's Colombian hijinks, "Entourage" returns to America for some half-predictable, half-not adventures. On the predictable side, we have Drama going to absurdly anal lengths to keep his new condo pristine while throwing Vince a welcome-home bash. On the not-so-predictable, we have the very real possibility that "Medellin" sucks, and that Vince's career could go the way of the Affleck if Walsh can't salvage it. I expect everything to turn out well in the end, simply because that's how this show always works, but I've always thought it would be an interesting diversion to spend a period with Vince's career on the skids and the other guys having to survive without their meal ticket. Not really wild about the Ari subplot, which reminded me of that episode from earlier this year where his old college buddy came to visit. It was just filler, something for Piven to do early in a season that doesn't seem to have much room for Ari.

While "Entourage" has become a diversion, at best, "Flight of the Conchords" keeps rattling around in my head, making me smile or laugh at random (and sometimes inopportune) moments. Where I thought the pilot was stronger on the songs than the action, this one has the opposite appeal. Bret's "Boom King" song was amusing (and reminded me, oddly, of "Here Comes the Hotstepper," though I'm sure there's a more contemporary inspiration), but the real fun came from the way he began to treat the sign-holding gig as a major career (I particularly liked him getting a Bluetooth and not knowing what it was for) or Jemaine and Murray's love of The Tape. (And loved the deadpan exchange, after The Tape broke: "Does this mean I'm not in a band anymore?" "I'm afraid not, Jemaine.") We're only in episode two and already there are good running gags, like New Zealand's inferiority complex towards Australia, or Bret's hair-helmet (seen here on the mannequin Jemaine was trying to turn into his new bandmate). I'm really very fond of these guys and this show.

My thoughts on "Meadowlands" are going to be extremely brief. Where "Conchords" has taken up residence in my brain (the catchy songs help), I find that I've forgotten nearly everything about "Meadowlands" only a couple of weeks after I first watched this episode. All that really remains is the cross-dressing almost-rape and its aftermath. I guess weirdness for weirdness' sake can be interesting in the moment, but it has no shelf life.

Finally, Fox just can't wait to get "The Loop" off its airwaves, dumping three episodes onto its Sunday lineup, with the final three coming next week. (Last week's Entertainment Weekly had a full-page ad for the show, tied to the Stride Gum product integration plot from the third episode; clearly, the whole deal was money well-spent by the Stride people. I think Fienberg is still going around saying "ungumly," but I didn't even know it was a real brand until I saw that ad.) While I'm not going to miss the show overall, season two has given me a newfound appreciation for Joy Osmanski as Darcy -- her "Music Man"-style song 'bout the alley out back in the first episode was brilliant. I hear there may be some minor retooling happening on "Reaper" -- maybe it's not too late to find a part for her there.

What did everybody else think?

17 comments:

Andrew said...

On Entourage, the Ari thread was trite, but it was still the most satisfying part of the episode. The Drama/Turtle plot was meh. As for Vinnie and Medellin, 3 seasons of Entourage have threatened to put Vinnie on the outs, but never delivered on that promise. Something always comes through in the end, and there's never been any move towards really taking away the Entourage's meal ticket. On the one hand, Vince's success is the entire premise of the show, but it's hard to consistently threaten bad things without having bad things actually happen.

Anthony Foglia said...

Just seconding the "Conchords" love. Not only did Bret have a bluetooth headset, but he was wearing a suit that was too big. And the Mel scene was hilarious.

From the teaser, next week they perform one of my favorite songs of theirs, and with the plot about Murray too scared to get them night gigs, it looks like there'll be a good balance between the songs and the plot.

Jon Delfin said...

Sigh. Trying to love "Conchords," but it reminds me of advice I was given back in my stand-up days. Some things make you think, "That's funny"; some things make you laugh. So far, this show is living mostly in the former category for me.

JZ said...

I forgot the Entourage was on last night. That pretty much sums up how I feel about the show this season.

Curious George said...

Conchords is certainly getting mileage from the HBO special. Both "The Humans are Dead" and "Boom Boom" were songs that they have performed before, and there are some upcoming songs that are being similarly recycled as Anthony Foglia notes. What is going to happen when they run out of pre-existing material to plug in?

aimee said...

The line in Conchords last night that I loved me was the sign guy calling Jemaine Enrico Fermi after he suggested that a lamppost could hold the sign. That SLAYED me.

aimee said...

... that I loved, not loved me. Sheesh. I love me some grammar.

Elwood said...

The "Stride" episode of The Loop was so over the top, I loved it. Nice dig at the Orbit Gum commercials, and an indecent joke slipped by S&P all at the same time? Awesome.

As for Entourage, I liked the Ari subplot, and look forward to Eric and Vince's first real lovers' quarrel over the quality of the film. Billy Walsh needs to go away soon, though. His one-note character is becoming increasingly annoying, which is saying something for a show that isn't known for deep characters.

I got a kick out of Anthony Michael Hall's cameo, drunkenly urinating off the hotel balcony. Since he's been sober for almost 20 years now, it made the joke that much funnier.

Edward Copeland said...

I'm really enjoying Conchords' innate goofiness. In a way, it reminds me of the short-lived Comedy Central comedy Stella.

Curious George said...

I agree with Elwood on the Walsh character. We went through this nonsense on Queens Blvd. and there is no reason to rehash it now.

Abbie said...

Just "me too"ing the Conchords love. I like the episodes but am really surprised to find myself thinking about the episode later on. Certainly much more so than Entourage.

I also am looking forward to their performance next week of "Think About It, Think, Think About It"- one of my favorites. I'm sure they're using their familiar material to draw us into the show, but they'll have new funny stuff.

Sandi said...

Billy Walsh is a one-trick pony that should have been put out to pasture a long time ago. We can't tell what QB did for VC's career since they sabotaged it two seasons ago, so I have no idea why they (E&V) were so hot to work with Billy again. This show was great when it came on after the Sopranos, but now that it's appointment viewing, I might end up forgetting it's on, like JZ.

Anonymous said...

In flight of the conchords, was that gruff rhys from super furry animals who wasn't the most talented but had the right look at the audition?

Fred App said...

My favorite part of this week's Conchords was the list comparing Bret with the tape. Under Bret were the entries "alive" and "stage presence" -- and "stage presence" was in quotes.

ooda said...

The problem I have with Billy Walsh is that while conflict and grandiosity is the norm with certain types of directors, with him it's just being taken too far. I hated seeing him waiting outside of the screening room doing pushups and the like. We get that he's stressed, we don't need it telegraphed in.

I liked the Johnny stuff, and it didn't feel as far strung as it did last week with him desperately trying to get on screen. The Turtle stuff I really don't give a f**k about.

The Ari stuff was good, and while it's predictable, it's always fun when he has some sort of nemesis where it calls for him to swagger. Not an amazing storyline, but something that's a bit fun.

FOTC I still love, and what got me the most was the Mel scene, where the sexual innuendo is just taken to extreme lengths, and made even worse when you consider her babyesk speech and appearance, and the fact her husband is driving the car. As far as a second favourite scene, I'd say the one where Jermaine has created the fake Bret (Brit), complete with hair helmet, and is trying to hide him.

ooda said...

Oh yeah, and as far as one liners... "She's so hot she's making me sexist".

Anonymous said...

The Ari thread was horrible to me because correct me if i'm wrong but have they ever mentioned Ari having a son before? I watched every episode of this show and can't remember a single time they mentioned or shown Ari having a young son. It just seems incredibly lazy to me to suddenly give Ari a son just so he has something to do for an episode.