Monday, August 06, 2007

French in action

Spoilers for, in order, "Flight of the Conchords," "The Kill Point" and "Entourage" coming up just as soon as I ship out to Iraq...

Continuing my theory that everyone in the TV business is watching "Flight of the Conchords," earlier this week I heard "SportsCenter" anchor Scott Van Pelt, while narrating footage of Ozzie Guillen being ejected from a White Sox-Yankees game, say "Be more constructive with your feedback, please." Renewal can't be too far away; will world domination be next?

Not a great episode last night, and I'm noticing that the show usually stumbles a bit while doing storylines about the guys and their girlfriends. At first I wanted to blame it on Rachel Blanchard, but this one was entirely Blanchard-free and still felt flat, even with the attempt at gender role reversal between Bret and his special lady friend. Even a weak "Conchords" is worth watching, though, because there's always going to be something funny on the margins.

Here I was especially fond of the '60s-style French video (comic fanboy moment: if someone is ever demented enough to make a movie based on Garth Ennis' "Hitman," seeing Bret in that striped shirt convinced me he's the man to play Jean De Baton-Baton) and Dave giving Bret sausage advice. (Dave's a really nice color for the show to use, as he's more worldly than any of the New Zealanders and yet dumber.)

"The Kill Point" continues to intrigue me, especially after I watched last week's first Summer Burn-Off Theatre episode of "The Nine," which was almost entirely about the bank robbery. As I've said, I'm a sucker for bank robbery hostage stories, but with rare exceptions like "Dog Day Afternoon," they work best at a plot-driven, B-movie level. By starting at the end and working our way backwards over 22 episodes, "The Nine" sucked most of the tension out of the format. (There was a sequence in the latest episode where there's supposed to be some suspense about the fate of Scott Wolf's character, only we know he survived the siege intact.) "Kill Point" doesn't have the ambitions of "The Nine," but it's doing a fine job of singing a straightforward, eight-hour version of the old tune. We're halfway through now, and the creators have done a good job of populating their storyline. They can take someone like the real estate developer dad off the board in time -- the Wahlberg character is so smart that it would have gotten frustrating if he hadn't figured this out by now -- and still have the outside ex-military guys floating around to provide the next potential exit strategy.

Finally, I'm running on fumes with "Entourage." Self-contained Ari subplots don't work, even one that's more work-related than the stuff with his kids' private school, Gary Busey was funnier the last time he was on, and once again there's a lot of hand-wringing about the Variety story (which didn't seem particularly unfair to me) and everything works out fine in the end. Meh. M-E-H, meh.

What did everybody else think?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

"'Meh. M-E-H, meh' says Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger."

Somehow I don't think we'll be seeing that blurb anytime soon.

JZ said...

Funny. I thought this was the best Conchords yet. Sure, it's all done by formula, but the formula works.

The two songs were fantastic, the role-reversal was jaded dry comedy at its best, and Murray now typing meeting minutes on his 1982 monitor, coupled with Mel, of course, buying a CD, was perfect.

Abbie said...

I usually watch Jemaine in the songs, as his expressions just slay me, but he had nothing on Bret during the French song.

Stacie said...

Alan, am I reading between the lines correctly? Are they showing the remaining episodes of "The Nine" somewhere? If so, when and where? I really liked the show and was sorry it was cancelled. Thanks

Andrew said...

The French video from Conchords made up for any plot deficiencies in the rest of the episode. Sure, the plot was trite, but enough of the little things were well done that it didn't bother.

Entourage doesn't have those same moments of beauty at the margins, but this episode at least managed to have some vague resemblance to the show as it was in the first couple of seasons. Vince and Eric have no character so they need to be put in as straight men for the entertainment. Here some moments-- with the ad sales person at Variety being more knowledgeable about the industry than Eric-- came close to providing some vague approximation of the quality of the margins as FotC. I find it hard to remember why I liked Entourage in the first place.

Ryan said...

I think Van Pelt, but I'm not 100%, said "It's business time." while doing a highlight.

Edward Copeland said...

I thought it was a little bit of a letdown following last week's great one, but I still loved it a lot. I'm gonna miss this show when my HBO goes away later this month.

Anonymous said...

...you had sex on me...

dez said...

The French song killed me. And I sing "It's Business Time" everyday at work. In my head, of course!

Anonymous said...

With regards to the whole "everyone in TV is watching the Conchords" thing, it was the same in the UK a few years ago when they hit the British comedy scene.

They weren't wildly popular, but everyone in the industry loved them. Their Edinburgh shows would just be packed with stand-ups and stars, like Chris Morris and Steve Coogan). It also meant that just as the HBO show has great New York comedians like Mirman, Schaal and Ansari, their BBC radio show had people like Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Daniel Kitson and others (including a recurring turn by Crowded House's Neil Finn).

Sean said...

"I'm noticing that the show usually stumbles a bit while doing storylines about the guys and their girlfriends."

I completely agree, and that's been four out of the eight episodes so far. These guys need to write some new stories - it's only the first season and they're rehashing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, am I reading between the lines correctly? Are they showing the remaining episodes of "The Nine" somewhere? If so, when and where? I really liked the show and was sorry it was cancelled. Thanks

Sorry for the delay in responding, but yeah, the remaining handful of episodes of "The Nine" are airing on ABC Wednesdays at 10.

dez said...

Re: "The Kill Point," is it bad of me that I want the "bad guys" to get away with it? John Leguizamo is such a good dramatic actor (and a fine and funny comedian) that I'm totally on Wolf's side. Rabbit could die, though, and I wouldn't mind too much.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I thought I read somewhere that Entourage is down like -25% from last season or last year, which is a pretty sizable drop. Just wondering if you'd seen that too and if it's more than just you tuning out. like any articles about entourage sucking anywhere?

Steven said...

"SportsCenter" anchor Scott Van Pelt, while narrating footage of Ozzie Guillen being ejected from a White Sox-Yankees game, say "Be more constructive with your feedback, please."

I don't know if it was Van Pelt, but the other day I had SportsCenter on in the background and I heard one of the anchors commenting on a baseball player's stocking saying "Those must be his business socks..." and then as the player hit a home run "BECAUSE IT IS BUSINESS TIME!"

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at your reaction to what was a perfect Flight of the Conchords. Try the first scene again-- the shifting contexts make every reaction a weird and surprising. A brilliantly pitched little conversation.

wcarnold said...

My feelings on Entourage this season can be summed up as follows: I laughed more at the ten second preview for Flight of the Conchords than I di for the entire 28 minute (or so) episode of Entourage.

Anonymous said...

Alan, in regards to your Garth Ennis/Hitman reference: that property would work better as a premium cable series than a moive, dont'you think?