Monday, February 16, 2009

Flight of the Conchords, "Unnatural Love": Crikey!

Spoilers for last night's "Flight of the Conchords" coming up just as soon as I squint my ears...
"Big J, you couldn't get more Australian than me." -Keitha
After spending the early weeks of season two debating whether the show's comedy had far outstripped its music, "Unnatural Love" gives us both aspects of Conchords World functioning at peak level.

The comedy was a delight as usual, with Jemaine's new girlfriend Keitha serving as a hilarious amalgamation of Aussie stereotypes (ancestors were a rapist and a prostitute, aggressive and slovenly, makes Jemaine start dressing like Steve Irwin, given to crude sayings like going to the bathroom to "murder a brown snake") and her presence bringing out an unexpected judgmental side in Bret. I knew Murray would be horrified by Jemaine dating one of those hated Australians, but seeing Bret reduced to leaving fake break-up messages on the answering machine? Not a side I was prepared for, but a very funny one.

(And I loved that, in that scene, they continued the running gag about Bret's weird, unnecessary fashion inventions, in which he follows up the bike helmet that looks like his own hairdo with a pair of gloves that look like his own hands.)

But the strength of the songs -- and the videos accompanying them -- were what really elevated "Unnatural Love" above the other episodes of season two, and reminded me just how important the music is to making this show special.

In case you missed the credits, this one was directed by Michel Gondry. He's best known these days for eccentric movies like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Be Kind Rewind," but before that, he was a prolific, revolutionary music video director (here's his video for Bjork's "Army of Me"), and his vibe fit wonderfully with the Conchords. "Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor" would be a highlight many weeks, but the "Carol Brown" video was perfection, from the digital projections to Bret and Jemaine using mixing boards tricked out as guitars, to Bret's pointless funky dancing. It's not as up-tempo and joyous as some of the other Conchords songs I love, but the marriage of the music and visuals felt so right that I imagine I won't be deleting this one from the DVR anytime soon.

What did everybody else think?

36 comments:

jim said...

Great episode. My only problem was I found keitha's accent (as I tend to find all Australian accents on American tv) really not accurate. Practically no Australian accents in reality are as, well the word I want to use is ocker but I don't think that translates outside of Australia, maybe redneck would be the closest word but that's not really right. Anyway I just found it really noticable. Still an excellent episode.

Anonymous said...

Well, Keitha was played by Sarah Wynter, an actual Australian.

Steve said...

Huh.

I actually thought the songs in this episode were the weakest of the season.

Actually I didn't much like this episode, at least compared to other Flight of the Conchords episodes.

I think last weeks episode was my favorite of season 2.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't NOT like this episode, I liked it, just not as much as the others. Murray and Brett reacting to Keitha was quite comical, of course.

Anonymous said...

Best episode of the season. I've been pretty disappointed so far but this brought everything together just perfectly.

Fred App said...

Hilarious episode -- due in part, as always, to the little touches (the "Men at Work" poster in Keitha's room, the caricature of Jemaine that someone apparently drew while he was waiting in Central Park).

And the songs were great. As with the best of the Conchords, they had both the spot-on imitations of musical styles and great wordplay. I had to listen to the choir of ex-girlfriends a couple of times to catch everything, and my only regret is that there was so much vocal distortion in "Too Many Dicks" that I missed half the lyrics -- and presumably many of the jokes.

Kevin said...

Best. Episode. Ever. The sight gags of Jemaine waking up were simply brilliant. And Dave's "you're from Austria, and you're from some place no one's ever even f'ng heard of" was a highlight.

I was hoping that Alan's intro would be "more after I go oht and rent Interracial Hole-Stretchers 2".

Matter-Eater Lad said...

The doorman at the nightclub was, I believe, one of the Village People.

Anonymous said...

Carol Brown was a little too close to 44 Lines About 88 Women. Otherwise, great episode.

Wholi said...

Wanted to mention the return of Bret's hairy bike helmet last week and good to see it was used again this week.

This week, I was happy to see the return of the 'camera-phone'!

Wholi (again..;-) said...

Oh, also loved how they turned the - you're accent is so strong I can't understand what your name is joke on Jermaine! Too funny!

Matthew said...

Dave's synopsis of Interracial Hole-Stretchers 2 was classic: "She was white, they were black..."

"Too Many Dicks" is probably my favorite FOTC song since "Boom."

bill p said...

Great episode. Michel Gondry's lo-fi, in-camera fx style was perfect for FotC.

Warning: if you, for some reason, decide to google Interracial Hole-Stretchers 2 you'll learn some things are funny 'cause they're true.

kathy said...

Yep, that was the Cowboy, Randy Jones, from The Village People. Perfect touch. "Too Many Dicks On the Dance Floor" was sublime, I didn't think they could top "Sugar Lumps" this season but they did.

One of my favorite little details is the slogan that keeps changing on Murray's NZ poster in his office. The best one so far was I think in the first episode of this season: "New Zealand: Better Than Old Zealand".

sc said...

a great episode....too many dicks now ranks a very close second behind the rhymenoceros as my favorite FOC song!!

Anthony Foglia said...

I gotta disagree with everyone on this. Unlike the other episodes this season, I found the comedy flat, but the songs excellent. Yes, there were a bunch of good lines, but it never got enough momentum to reach the point where I'm laughing nonstop.

Anonymous said...

i liked the episode but i thought the songs were weak.

Anthony said...

Easily the best of season 2.

Any episode that references "Interracial hole stretchers 2" and has one of the sweetest songs in their catalog is a winner in my book. Part of the charm of his show.

Jordan said...

That was by far my favorite episode of the season; possibly even the series. :)

belinda said...

It took me a couple of viewings to fully appreciate the genius that is the video of Carol Brown, but yes, I think it's brilliant! Though, I didn't enjoy Too Many Dicks... as much because it's not anything too different than the SNL digital music videos.

As for the episode, I liked it - especially all the Australianized things in the apartment - but in some of the scenes (most noticeably the scene at the doctor's office) it seemed a bit too sitcommy. Still funny, but a slight departure from their usual style.

But anyway, all in all, an enjoyable episode.

Tyroc said...

My favorite of the new season.

And Carol Brown is in my top three favorite of their songs (along with the Part-Time Model one of the pilot -- still the best one -- and the French one from some point last season.)

It is indeed a little close to 44 lines about 88 Women, but I didn't mind that. And at some point in the song he says something along the lines of there being 50 Ways to get Left by a Woman, a play off the old Paul Simon song, which made me smile.

All in all, top notch.

Anonymous said...

"It's pronounced aborigines"

Meeg said...

I've been enjoying this season even more than season one and this episode was great too.

nancy said...

I thought this episode was hilarious, especially after last weeks totally unfunny friend graph. The opening with Murray driving Jemaine and Bret to the club like it was their first day of school? Priceless.

Usually Murray steals it for me, but this week it was Dave wishing he could go to New Jersey but he had "things going on in the states." Being a Jersey girl, I rewound that one a few times. Don't drink the water!!

Sophietje said...

OK, my husband is very observative, and realized that for the Carol Brown video, Jemaine's board is controlling the video behind them, and Bret's board is controlling Jemaine (and himself.) I thought that was really cool!

I love this episode, mostly because I love the Aussie/ Kiwi tension. I have a lot of Canadian friends (and I live right on the border), so it really reminds me of the relationship between the US and Canada.

ZeppJets said...

Loved this episode. Great rebound after last week's clunker (too bad because I have love for Jim Gaffigan). Not better than "the New Cup", but one of the best of the whole run.


-Australian accent?
-Yes
-What'd it sound like?
-Kinda like an evil version of our accent.

lungfish said...

I loved when Keitha was pouring the milk for Jermaine's tea!

dez said...

The song is called 88 Lines About 44 Women. And while I liked this ep, it was still a little weak in the laughs department. They seem off their game this season :(

Anonymous said...

By far my favorite of the season, which I think since "The New Cup" has been on fire. I loved the little touches in Keitha's hovel, especially the burn marks next to the barbie and the leftovers piling up everywhere. Michel Gondry is a genius and "Carol Brown" is probably now my favorite video (if not song) of their work.

par3182 said...

even as an australian, i've got to say that's the funniest episode ever

(and yes, i am mocking their accents)

Girly said...

Totally agree.
Like "New Cup," I immediately watched this episode on demand multiple times!

Let me just add that everything out of Murray's mouth has been gold for me. I would seriously love a one-man show of Murray and all his mental musings on live stage!

JamesG said...

No mention yet of another great Dave shirt: "Let's Play Carpenter! First we get hammered, then I nail you."

I second the comment about the great songs in this episode. While I'm guessing "Too Many Dicks" will be the fan favorite, I absolutely loved Carol Brown. I had to watch it about a half dozen times to really pick up on everything, but the video is brilliant and song is excellent. Easily as good as the best songs from season 1.

Alan Sepinwall said...

OK, my husband is very observative, and realized that for the Carol Brown video, Jemaine's board is controlling the video behind them, and Bret's board is controlling Jemaine (and himself.) I thought that was really cool!

Thank your husband for pointing that out. I knew Jemaine was controlling the video, but I hadn't realized until you made me go back and watch again that it's Bret who's making Jemaine shrink, grow, change color, etc.

JamesG said...

After watching the "Carol Brown" video a few more times, I think that's Michael Gondry making a cameo as the man with Jan. Can anyone confirm this?

Texany said...

I love the Carol Brown song, but frankly I am a little disappointed with season 2... especially compared to my full-on love of season 1.

Really appreciated your interview, as well!

Their own answers about the difference between the 1st and 2nd seasons sum up what I liked so much about the first season: their slight fearfulness and lack of confidence (due to inexperience in tv sit-com writing, acting, etc.) created an edgy charm that was irresistible.

That seems to be missing a bit (strangely, now that they are more comfortable with the process), although the show is still one of the best things on tv.

Anonymous said...

In a previous episode, when Jermaine becomes a man whore, he calls an ex-girlfriend asking that she pay him money for the sex they had while they were going out. That ex-girlfriend was called Carol - which I'm guessing is Carol Brown. Very neat.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is Michel Gondry peaking over the edge of the bed in the Carol Brown video.

My favo(u)rite line: "well I say met"