Monday, July 09, 2007

Coco, beware

Spoilers for "Flight of the Conchords" and "Entourage" coming up just as soon as I finish my tour of local bandshells...

When I wrote my review of "Flight of the Conchords" a month ago, I complained that they were already repeating themselves by the fourth episode, with another storyline about a relationship getting in the way of the band, not to mention a reprise of the gag where we see one of the guys out on a date followed by the reveal that the other one has tagged along. But "Yoko" grew on me on second viewing, and not just because it took me this long to realize that Coco was being played by Sutton Foster, who starred in the last Broadway musical I actually saw, the awesome "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Yes, the plot's similar to the pilot -- and the previews for next week suggest that the two storylines are going to converge -- but I think we've realized by now that "Conchords" isn't so much about the stories as the fuzzy details on the margins, the way Jemaine crows "favoritism!" right before Coco gives him his own sandwich, or how quickly Mel's mood shifts when she comes to the topless photo of Murray that he slipped in the stack. I got a kick out of both yellow legal pad gags, first involving Jemaine's notes on Bret's two-hour performance of the rough draft of "If You're Into It," then with Jemaine skimming his way through Bret's Norman Mailer-length goodbye note (that he apparently scrawled in the five minutes between storming out of Murray's office and when Jemaine followed). Both songs were catchy (I wandered around the house this morning singing, "Brown paper, white paper...") and silly (particularly Jemaine's baritone choruses and toy piano playing on "If You're Into It"). I am really just very fond of this show right now.

I wish I could say the same about "Entourage," but the show continues to bug me. Last night's episode wasn't as excruciating as the Lisa Rinna horror show from a week ago, in that it had some (minimal) Ari/Lloyd interaction, M. Night Shyamalan doing one of the better self-parodying cameos and Maury Chaykin taking his scenery-chewing Harvey Weinstein tribute to the next level. But the stories involving the four main characters are now so toothless (the real Harvey would ensure that none of them ever worked again) and predictable that I don't care about anything that happens to them. If it wasn't summer and "Entourage" didn't air in between two shows I like a lot more, I'd be inclined to just delete it from my DVR season pass list.

What did everybody else think?

35 comments:

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, can anybody with a better knowledge of New York geography identify the bandshell where Jemaine and Murray first broached the Yoko issue?

Abbie said...

Again, I liked the YouTube original of the "If You're Into It" song better than the show version, but this is by far my favorite show on the air right now so this is just a petty quibble.

Homertojeebus said...

Alan,
I might have to stop watching "Entourage" because of this episode. There was a really ugly homophobic edge to the stuff at the end with Annika. I kept waiting for something in the narrative to mitigate it, but none materialized. It seems that it's "OK" to dehumanize transsexuals/transvestites now. This seems to happen every time one form of hatefulness becomes unacceptable, a more marginal group becomes the surrogate. I was really, really offended.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm actually burnt out on tranny humor, as two and maybe three of the fall pilots have similar "he's a she" punchlines.

Matt said...

Why doesn't Sutton Foster have her own sitcom? Seriously, she'd be great--gorgeous, can do physical comedy exceedingly well, and sharp. (And even more astoundingly, why hasn't she done TV before this?)

Edward Copeland said...

The repeating of story strands didn't bother me (especially with the great throwaway line at Bret reminding him that he just quit the band last week). I'm finding this show just an inexplicable joy. It's got a rhythm all its own and I haven't been bored during it or unhappy by the end of it. I love it.

notjon said...

The only thing that would have made the tranny storyline funny would have been if they only alluded to something being off about her and didn't show what that was until the end reveal in a kind of comedic "Crying Game" twist.
Another problem with the episode was the complete failure to capitalize on a genuinely funny idea (Ari getting caught up in a stranger's marital problems when he just wants to leave). Had he been stuck in the house with the wife waiting for the husband, things would there could have been so many more cringe-worthy moments.

Great FotC though.

JZ said...

The thing about FotC that astounds me is I did an On Demand marathon on Thursday, and each episode ended almost as soon as it began.

I found myself so immersed in this brilliance that a half-hour was gone before I knew it.

I s'pose that's the true test of a show. The Wire is the only other one recently that has come close.

amy said...

Ditto on Sutton Foster. I thought she was great -- someone write a show for her!

Nothing else on TV right now makes me as happy as FotC. I'm bored by most of the summer stuff -- and increasingly so by Entourage, which is just lacking so far this year -- but FotC is a joy.

Daniel said...

I'm inclined to wonder if M. Night Shyamalan thought his cameo last night was self-parody or not. This is a man who has never had an iota of self-awareness or self-deprication previously. Or maybe his agent and manager were able to convince him that the only way to recover from "Lady in the Water" was to take the piss out on (of?) himself... It was definitely funny on "Entourage," but I wonder if he thought it was...

-Daniel

Bobman said...

homertojeebus - I think you need to lighten up a tiny bit. What exactly was so offensive about it to you anyway? Transexuals do exist, they do pick up unsuspecting guys, and it usually ends a lot uglier than it did on Entourage, where they showed the "Mayor" as actually accepting of it.

If a straight friend is about to unsuspectingly hook up with a GUY, would you expect a different reaction?

I'm amazed you even watch Entourage if you're so touchy.


Moving on, loved Flight of the Conchords, which is just getting better and better. The best part of the show is the rewatchability of it - between the songs and the subtle background humor, every episode just gets funnier on the second and third viewing.

Anonymous said...

"It seems that it's "OK" to It seems that it's "OK" to dehumanize transsexuals/transvestites now".... that's becuase it is okay to transsexuals/transvestites. It's funny every single time.

anon said...

Alan,

Does this description of the bandshell location help? If not, it may be mentioned here , if you use your TimesSelect access.

Murray and Mel owned that episode.

Anon

anon said...

And please note, for hilarity purposes I choose to believe that Murray's description of the bandshell was basically accurate. To specifically mention Vaughn, Papp, and 1957 and have the wrong bandshell...Why go to the effort in the first place?

Anon

Anthony Foglia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon said...

I sense that someone on the show went to this exhibit. That's showing a lot of love for Queens, which I'm cool with.

Anon

Anthony Foglia said...

I just deleted a long comment describing the bandshell because I couldn't find it, but I just did. It's the Amphitheater in the East River Park. Photo
View on Google maps

I wasn't sure if Murray was right, if only because I always considered Papp and Shakespeare to be "Shakespeare in the Park" in Central Park, and this park obviously was looking across the East River. But he was correct:
"An amphitheater was built in the park in 1941, along with an adjacent limestone recreational building, as part of an urban renewal project for the Lower East Side. Joseph Papp (1921-1991), founder of Shakespeare in the Park and the Public Theater, staged Julius Caesar there in 1956."

(Next week, it's "Business Time!")

Andrew said...

Not sure if this was touched on last week, but it's blatantly unrealistic for anybody to expect a film to sell for more than $25 million at Cannes.

Anonymous said...

When is something actually going to HAPPEN on Entourage? Everything so far this season has been so completely inconsequential. Plus, this episode felt like a bad Three's Company rip-off with all of its wacky misunderstandings.

jdj said...

Although I still enjoyed the episode, when the "reveal" that Jemaine had tagged along on Bret's date was shown, I had the thought "Wait, is this a rerun?". Makes me wonder about the shelf life of the series.

Anonymous said...

Entourage has become basically unwatchable. What began as a wonderfully funny and sly parody of superficiality has turned into a sadly forced and, um, superficial show. I think I'm giving up on it.

It was up to FOTC to once more erase the bad taste in my mouth and, despite the fact they're already repeating themselves four shows in, it did the job admirably. Actually, midway through my second viewing of last night's show, it dawned on me that I don't care if they repeat themselves in every episode for the rest of the series. It's still funny as hell. The expressions on their faces at the very end as they realize they've ascended above the street were priceless.

Anonymous said...

Considering that they weave their existing songs into the show, and a lot of their songs cover that theme, I'm willing to cut them slack song-wise. I want to see if they do something with their hilarious "Bowie" song. He was on Extras, so HBO should have his number for a guest spot.

Anonymous said...

plot-wise not song-wise

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not sure if this was touched on last week, but it's blatantly unrealistic for anybody to expect a film to sell for more than $25 million at Cannes.

That's a huge logic gap -- that, and Vince's automatic assumption that the movie must be good since it got into Cannes, when Cannes excepts lots of stinkers. (Two words: Brown Bunny)

ooda said...

FOTC I like, but for me, no episode as of yet has had me laughing as much as the pilot. Favorite point was when he meeting with Mel and Murray was going on, and when she found out about Bret having the girlfriend, he inner rage took over in the form of a pencil being broken. That said, as far as improv-esk comedy goes, I'd put it just behind Always Sunny, which is a good thing.

Entourage I'm surprised how much I'm not liking. The script thing just felt way too shticky, as was the Deadwood/John from Cincinnati cursing going on by the wife of the apparent affairee. A few months in preproduction really would not have hurt at all.

Probably a bit much to wish that they'd kill off Turtle...

curious george said...

Entourage is just lame now. They are going back to recycle all the jokes and parodies of seasons past, from the primadonna arty director and the producer/mogul we all love to hate. Plus, the humor has gotten so much more vulgar of late that it seems that they suddenly deciding that their target audience was ten or fifteen years younger than those who have been watching for the past several seasons. Suggestive is fine, occasionally outrageous is great, but crude/dumb/stupid humor is for Jason Biggs, not Doug Ellin.

Q. Entourage's new season? Is that something you might be interested in?

A. No.

Ryan said...

I just got your post title. Nicely done.

JZ said...

So now that I actually watched it...

Brett's sandwhich whip is the funniest thing I've seen on the telly this year.

I had the choice of watching Entourage on On Demand last night, or going to bed.

So I slept really, really well.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I just got your post title. Nicely done.

Longer than I thought it would take someone to spot the reference, but still under 24 hours. Good on ya. I shall now proceed to walk around the newsroom while flapping my arms.

Andrew Dignan said...

Not only is a 25 million advance for a film sight unseen absurd but Vince and the gang would do wise to observe the cautionary tale of Richard Kelly's Southland Tales which I believe is still sitting on a shelf of Sony's Home Video division. They should have just sold the film to Harvey. If anyone could push Vincent Chase for an acting award it would be him (and for the record, I will vomit when we get to that episode).

I really do hate this show and yet I'm compelled to watch. Baffling.

rukrusher said...

So I finally get around to watching Entourage and about six minutes into the episode, I thought I should just head over hear and read the spoilers and just save the the next twenty minutes of my life. Instead I watched and just felt that this show refuses to let these guys face any real conflict. How much better would it have been if Eric was a man who confronts Harvey and deals with the fallout? I mean, this episode is a microcosm of the whole show, four guys refusing to get serious and getting by on marginal talent and one pretty face. Too bad for HBO that this show did not wait 18 months to recharge the batteries and actually figure out where this show needs to head.

Ted F. said...

This was an exceptionally bad episode of Entourage, and I've been one of its more fervent... well, not defenders, but tolerators. Not enough Piven (as notjon notes, they missed an opportunity), and Tobolowsky was criminally underused for a cheap and crass gag. The whole dis Harvey for the sake of it (and undoubtably without consequence) plotline is beyond fantasy, and Eric does Vince a huge disservice by not immediately taking the heat. (And wouldn't it be so much easier to send a lawyer over to work on the paperwork, and then crater the deal that way so that Vince takes no heat whatsoever?) As someone else noted, $25M is a spectacular price for a speculative Cannes piece given a director who will do counterproductive publicity.

par3182 said...

FotC: murray the manager makes me laugh with every single line he utters. i'm loving this show

Anonymous said...

Thought this might help some of you Entourage fence-sitters. I took it off the season pass about five weeks back. I've noticed no adverse side effects whatsoever. Bad TV is a terrible addiction, but I think it's quite easy to kick. Give it a shot, and report back in a few weeks and let us know if your experiences are any different than my own.

Anonymous said...

I didn't notice it until I watched it a second time while recording it for a friend but there was a major continuity problem with the last Entourage. Check the scene where "E" is getting a shave and is talking on the phone. Notice the differing amount of shaving cream on E's face as they keep cutting back to him in the shot. Sometimes he has a lot. Othertimes, very little.