Monday, February 23, 2009

Flight of the Conchords, "Love Is the Weapon of Choice": Brahbrah in the house

Spoilers for last night's "Flight of the Conchords" coming up just as soon as I go to jazzercise class...

Last week's episode was about as perfect as "Conchords" gets, with a very funny storyline balanced by two catchy songs with memorable music videos(*). "Unnatural Love" was going to be a tough act to follow under any circumstances, so I suppose I should be glad that last night's show was still relatively amusing and had some good videos. (The video for the title tune had a real Queen circa 1982 vibe to it.) But it was very inconsistent and the songs themselves have already completely vanished from my head.

(*) I may need an intervention to stop watching those two on YouTube. In particular, ever since a commenter last week pointed out that the cowboy from The Village People is leading the conga line in "Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor," it's become this huge obsession of mine. It very well could lead to divorce, and the only thing saving me is that my wife keeps humming the tune from "Carol Brown." In fact, I just watched "Too Many Dicks" again after I went to get the proper link. Dammit.

I like Kristen Wiig a lot, even though I think "SNL" is now leaning on her so heavily that it's diluting a lot of what makes her funny. My problem with the episode is that the writing tried to have it both ways with Brahbrah(**), who at times was just as crazy as all the regulars in Conchords world, and who at other times was supposed to be the straight man who pointed out how bizarrely Bret and Jemaine were acting in their attempts to seduce her. The insanity -- like the various photos of Charlie the dog in disguise, and her unexpected explanations for each one (gourd party?)-- plays to Wiig's strengths, and I'd have preferred if they went entirely in that direction. Instead, it felt awkward whenever she was relatively sane and questioning why Jemaine suddenly had a beard.

(**) After she confirmed the pronunciation of her name, I went back to the beginning of the episode to check how she said it there, and it's impossible to tell. Probably why Barbara was a good name to goof on.

On the other hand, I thought it was a wonderful touch that Murray, for all his obliviousness -- he's a band manager who doesn't understand the concept of backing tracks -- was the one to cut through all the posturing and explain to Brahbrah what the guys were up to. It's those rare and unexpected moments of insight from the main characters that makes their eccentricities work. I know that seems contradictory to my complaint about Brahbrah, but the rules are different for ongoing characters versus one-offs.

Also, maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention, but I hadn't realized there were a lot of dogs (epileptic dogs, at that) in the audience for the benefit, and so the joke about the strobe light giving them all seizures took me too long to process for me to laugh at it. I'll blame that one on Oscar fatigue, though.

What did everybody else think?

28 comments:

Mike said...

Some things I really liked...

* Murray suggesting Jemaine write a song about sailing dogs.

* Mel revealing she lays in bed and thinks of what a Jemaine/Brett baby would look like.

* Murray thinking Brett is playing piano with his feet

* Pro-AIDS vs. Anti-AIDS

* At the end, Brahbrah -- an ode to Bob Lablah? -- saying that her dog has been missing for 6 years, when the first time we see her, it appears as if the dog had just vanished.

* I still laugh at the other things going on at Murray's office building: Full Asian Massage, Escott Sausage Casings, and Cremation Services lol

Texany said...

This season in general has been weaker than the first season, and last night's episode was the weakest yet.

They set the bar extremely high, especially the first season; practically impossible to recreate that combination of musical/comedic genius, proving there is actually a limit to their amazing abilities.

I agree that Brahbrah's character was uneven; it was hard to tell where she was going, so that the punchline never really hit home (or was there supposed to be one with her? I'm still not sure.)

But Mel was back! (Did anyone else miss her last week?) Somehow, her eccentricities add a lot of stability to the show.

Aimee said...

Not as strong as last week's, but I did like Wiig's explanations of the dog photos. I also found the continual mispronunciations of 'epileptic' to be very funny. Pepileptic, prophylactic. Whatever...

Grimoald said...

It was still fairly funny, but I thought that was the worst FOTC episode that has been broadcast. Still entertaining but for the first time I have no desire to rewatch even bits of an episode.

There were some really good visual gags, like Bret's beard, the photo of them as a couple and some of Murray's benefit powerpoint, but the writing wasn't there.

Alan Sepinwall said...

They set the bar extremely high, especially the first season; practically impossible to recreate that combination of musical/comedic genius, proving there is actually a limit to their amazing abilities.

I think we're looking at the first season with rose-colored glasses a bit. The songs were uniformly outstanding, but the storytelling was really uneven -- I look back at my reviews of those episodes and there were only a handful of episodes where the show was firing on all thrusters.

I think comedy-wise, the show has been much stronger this year -- though this episode is a bad example of that -- and it's the songwriting that's been hit-or-miss.

belinda said...

I couldn't figure what about Wiig I found to not work in the episode, so I was glad that you've put it all in words. Yes, that. It's not like Wiig didn't do a good job, because she did, but I don't think she (the actor and the character) fits in well with the tone of the show as a whole, and it really drained on the plot in this episode.

The songs, definitely weaker than last week's, but I found the whole epileptic dog song performance/sequence to be quite hilarious (shades of pokemon. :D).

It is pretty much comedy 101, I laughed really hard at Jemaine (as Bret) asking the coat rack for water.

And it was nice to see them out and about in the park.

Kalman said...

"Weapon of Choice" screamed late-career "Meat Loaf" to me, far more than mid 80s Queen. And it was almost as unenjoyable as watching the real thing. It certainly was the low point of an otherwise middle-of-the-road episode. But I'm still giggling about last week's, so it's cool.

Anonymous said...

Alan, i think we need to start a youtube/FOTC support group.
I've watched last week's music videos way too many times...it's burned on my retinas.

I liked this week's episode when I watched it, but nothing really made an impression.

Ted Kerwin said...

I think Total Eclipse of the Heart was an influence as well on that video. The second poster in Murray's office this week said New Zealand more Down Underer I also thought the love child image was great.

Meeg said...

The only part of last night's episode that really made me laugh out loud was the end when she picked Bret and told Jemaine that her name was Brahbrah.

And hey you can also watch the video for the hysterical answer phone message from "Unnatural Love" on YouTube. Don't forget about that!

Anonymous said...

The video was an homage to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". One of the writer's discussed this on NPR a few weeks back. Said they all thought it was the funniest video ever (the original Bonnie Tyler video, not their version) and said they would be borrowing from it in an upcoming episode. Frankly, I expected a little bit more based upon how much time he spent gloating over their love for it. But it is what it is I guess.

Carol Brown from last week might be song of the year, and I don't just mean for the FoTC, I mean for music in general.

Myles said...

I think Total Eclipse of the Heart was an influence as well on that video.

This was my immediate thought: the use of mirrors, and Kristen Wiig's getup, and the use of stairs, and the lighting, all of it seemed to add up closer to this Bonnie Tyler classic.

But whatever you do, don't go look up the video to check - it is horrifying. You've been warned.

Review hit the nail on the head, Alan - Wiig weirdly playing straight and crazy was a bit offputting, and the songs were entirely unmemorable, but as a comic whole the episode was solid enough to keep the comedy alive.

Anonymous said...

I actually thought this was quite entertaining, but it came at an expense.

This was one was pretty packed with music. I laughed at monotonous, almost hookless song-speak "Trapped in the Closet" vibe of the first song, and the "We Are the World"-y benefit song. Both were lyrically-focused, and were a change of pace in terms of musical genres.

The episode undercut the characters a bit.
*Aside from the "pre-create" punchline, I didn't like the Daveatronic 5000 at all. Too self-aware.
*The fashion swap was great, but the mind-swap didn't work so well. The vaccine thing would've been funnier coming from the real Jemaine.
*The fact that Mel's obsession didn't have the usual sexual undertones was jarring, especially given themes of the episode.
*I thought the different fatherly mode Murray adopted this episode worked well enough, like Paul Simms was channeling Jimmy James through Murray.
*But the ending was the worst part for me. Noone's supposed to have a clue. Noone's supposed to learn their lessons. And noone's supposed to get the girl. At least on-screen.

But quite a bit of it worked. "Eugene, stop the track" was actually my favorite moment of the episode. And I don't think any problems with Brahbrah had much to do with Kristen Wiig, who I thought meshed better than Will Forte.

Anonymous said...

OT: Why are the CBS sitcoms in reruns tonight for the second Monday in a row? Isn't this still a sweeps month?

So Cal said...

Anon:

As discussed before, the Feb sweeps were pushed back to March because the digital transition was supposed to happen this month.

It didn't, but the networks are going with their original schedule. Look for lots of new episodes in March...

Jeff W. said...

Here's a higher quality YouTube of "Too Many Dicks" for you, Alan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5aY0CAtvsk

Otto Man said...

I think Total Eclipse of the Heart was an influence as well on that video.

The doves. My God, the doves.

Anonymous said...

Why are the CBS sitcoms in reruns tonight for the second Monday in a row?

People actually watch CBS sitcoms?

Tom said...

Solid episode, in my book. Brahbrah's character, as revealed in the end, wasn't inconsistent. She thought the boys were gay, so her reactions to their various gambits were perfectly understandable. Even a crazy person will act confused when her new gay friend shows up with a false beard.

Criticizing the episode because it let the boys 'learn a lesson' is utterly unfair. Sure, Brett 'gets the girl' -- and he's oblivious to the fact she's mad as a hatter.

Murray's Powerpoint during the benefit was the evening's highlight.

Wholi said...

Not the strongest episode but still good.

Was Brahbrah winking at the guys in the park?

Loved that they included Murray in the "can't understand your name" joke - Hi Mary!

Totally thought TEOTH when I saw the doves. Nice '80s tributes between TEOTH and Flashdance from a previous episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You guys are all right on. It's definitely "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and not Queen.

mike said...

Murray's Powerpoint during the benefit was the evening's highlight.

It would have been a nice callback if Murray used his overhead projector -- from the episode with the friendship chart -- for the visuals during the benefit.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the R. Kelly inspiration was probably his duet with Usher, "Same Girl." I remember reading about Bret wanting to do an R. Kelly homage, and I guess that was it.

Anonymous said...

Glad I wasn't the only person to pick up on the R. Kelly influence for the first song. Brilliant.

Loved Bret asking Brahbrah if Jermaine could come with them to get coffee, after he had spent the whole episode dueling with Jermaine for her affections.

par3182 said...

last week - best episode ever
this week - worst episode ever

the difference was so jarring it almost induced pepilespy

vinny said...

this episode had me crying, it was great, i missed some of the gags when i was laughing. I like how, in retrospect, it makes sense for brahbrah to be talking up B to J and vis a versa since she thinks they are a couple.

Anonymous said...

send us some money, to stop these dogs from acting funny.....priceless.

Katz said...

Not the best episode of the season, sure, but I can't be the only one who cracked up when the guys dropped the remix and sent the dogs into epileptic seizures.