Monday, March 09, 2009

Flight of the Conchords, "NewZealandTown": Murray with no Maori, Mel with no gel

Brief spoilers for last night's "Flight of the Conchords" coming up just as soon as I live up to my ancestral legacy by shearing a sheep...
"Forget it, Brian. It's NewZealandTown."
"NewZealandTown" wasn't as consistently funny as last week's introduction of Prime Minister Brian(*), but the passage towards the end with Bret and Jemaine holed up in their apartment, fiending for any kind of hair-styling product as if they were character on "The Wire," was explosively hilarious enough to make up for some slow spots elsewhere in the episode. And the homage to "Chinatown" at the end, with Lucy Lawless walking off as the crane pulled up to show poor Brian alone in this ever-changing world of moral decay, was quite brilliant.

(*) Is it Brian or Bryan? Actor's name is with an I, but the hand-drawn poster was with a Y. Was the Y the error he said he needed to fix?

What I found interesting was that, unless my brain still hasn't properly adjusted to Daylight Savings Time, we only got one proper music video this week, with the totally '80s "Fashion Is Danger." (That song, by the way, felt like a case of the guys doing too good a job of recreating the thing they were spoofing.) We heard snippets of other songs, but they were all things they've played before. With all the discussion we've had this season about whether Bret and Jemaine can keep cranking out funny songs as easily as they and the other writers can keep cranking out funny comedy, maybe one video per episode is a smarter pace, unless great inspiration strikes them in a given week.

What did everybody else think?

23 comments:

Fred App said...

The problem with "Flight of the Conchords" is the comparsions: to last year's shows, to last week's show, to last year's songs. So you're probably right that it wasn't as consistently funny as last week, and there's still no song as memorable as "Too Many You-Know-Whats," but this episode still had me laughing out loud at least a dozen times, and to me, that means it's a pretty damn good show.

I loved the shots of the hairstyles when Bret and Jemaine first started using the gel. The song was an even better Bowie parody than "The Bowie Song," but the best parts were the throwaways -- "posing with my leg" and the random recitation of '80s-era buzzwords like "Thatcher" and "jazzercise." The pillow stuck to Jemaine's hair was great visual gag.

The Maori on the cell phone. The tour bus barely moving. The latest New Zealand tourism poster. Dave manning the information booth. Murray's charts of highs and lows.

It's just a funny show.

kathy said...

Agreed on the video, it would have been absolutely at home on MTV in 1984, and not as a parody...which to me made it kinda brilliant. The thing that slayed me at the end was the naked sheep wandering into the shot.

I love how they have opened up the show this year WRT Murray and the embassy. I hope they re-consider and do 3rd season.

Anonymous said...

This probably does not rise to the level of my spotting the Cowboy from the Village People a few episodes ago, but I am pretty sure Jemaine was wearing a Babylon 5 uniform during parts of "Fashion Is Danger."

dez said...

I think my favorite part was Greg's spazzy dancing during the "concert." Also loved Mel's explanation that she was sleep-walking through the guys' apartment.

I think they were firing on all cynlinders this ep (song- and comedy-wise), and I really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I will happily leave a second song on the cutting room floor if it means getting more of Dave working the New Zealand Information Booth.

JamesG said...

I wasn't too high on this episode. Maybe I'd be more forgiving had the show not hit a home run with "Unnatural Love" a few weeks ago, as nothing we saw this week was as creative or consistently funny, song or comedy-wise. Perhaps that's too high of a standard to expect this show to reach on a consistent basis?

I thought the fashion song was interesting as a parody but lousy as a song. The comedy, for me, was hit-or-miss. I don't know if there is enough to Bryan to warrant more than last week's episode -- he adds little over Murray and I found his "chain of command" routine more irritating than humorous. The premise of a New Zealand Town is actually pretty rich, and I was disappointed that the pay off was limited to a sheared sheep, Mexican Maori, and ill-informed Dave. Those gags all worked pretty well, but I feel like the gang missed some great opportunities with this one.

Steve B said...

I love how the band hit a new low twice during the same show. That's a tough task, not many bands/managers can do that. Also great was the pause between Murray's, "We'll save it for the meeting Jemaine." And his "All right, band meeting."

aimee said...

While I'll agree that my favorite episode so far this season was "Unnatural Love," I thought this ep was very funny. The Chinatown joke at the end floored me (like, we had to pause the show while I picked myself up off the floor), and the stuff with the hair gel was very funny too. As were Mel's "sleepwalking," Dave manning the info booth, the way the bus only travelled about 10 feet from beginning to end of NewZealandTown... etc, etc. I'll be very upset if they don't do a third season

Anonymous said...

One of my dissapointment's was their tossing away some of the most basic character attributes of Mel in order to grab a fairly easy joke. Mel's identity is very wrapped in her obsessiveness about the guys. SHe is at EVERY show. So not only do they have her no-show the early one, so they could make the "We played a gig to no one" joke, but then they had her leave during the New Zealand Town performance. Don't tell me she is having residual feelings for the CrazyDogggz?

Wholi said...

I believe that was Lucy Lawless (Zena the Warrior Princess) as the Prime Minister's second in command. (Ask Murray what time it is.)

Loved Jemaine's bad attitude on the street corner & the two getting paranoid and freaking out without any hair gel while staying in their apartment for FOUR days!
(I don't know who you are any more!)

Alan - any reason behind why the season is two episodes shorter this time around?

Anonymous said...

Was anyone else waiting for the Bus Driver's Song?

It's an older Conchords song and the episode seemed tailor made for it.

james said...

Tailor made?! ;-)

The instant Lucy Lawless' character was called "Paula", I got a little excited. THEN there was a bus!!

Sadly it only played instrumentally at the end, gggrrrrrrr!

Tom said...

Not their best effort, no, not by far. In fact, rather a let down after the brilliant surrealism of last week.

As for the one-song vs. two-song question: I think doing but a single song was a missed opportunity this week. I was looking forward to some junkie/ withdrawal sounds as the boys were holed up in the apartment experimenting with Elmer's. A depraved rave-up ode to hair gel, a la Lou Reed's "Heroin?" A slab of grunge? "Comfortably Gelled"?....

Ah, well. A quarter-speed "Conchords" still beats 90% of the shows on the air.

Anthony Foglia said...

Anonymous said, Was anyone else waiting for the Bus Driver's Song?

Only ever since I stumbled across this episode's title on epguides a few weeks ago. Good song, but very hard to work into the show.

lungfish said...

I think a reason I'm a bit down on the songs this year is because The Lonely Planet guys have stolen some of the Conchords' thunder with their songs and videos. I feel like I would've liked "Fashion is Danger" more, if the 80s look of the guys didn't already get spoofed in "J*** in my pants".

Dennis said...

The Prime Minister is gold but Murray is still priceless.

AnthonyEdwards said...

Jokes were so predictable. I absolutely loved the first season, but the majority of this season's humor has been lost on me. And this episode, well it's a "new low". And it's not the songs, which have universally been panned when in comparison to last season.

The little Chinatown line at the end was delivered well, as always, by Murray. But even his simpleheadedness is becoming just so overdone. I'll stick it out for the final two, but I'm sort of hoping there isn't any more after that.

Steve said...

The episode was okay... nothing special. Well, except for Murray, who is consistently one of the funniest characters on television.

belinda said...

No kidding! What a bus drive song tease that all was. :D At least we got to see the song play out slightly as a story and we did hear those chords at the end of the episode. Which is too bad, because that song is probably my favourite song of theirs.

But all is forgiven. The last line made me laugh for several minutes after the show ended.

I really enjoyed this week's episode, if only because it's always great to see the boys be slightly dumb, but even funnier to see them be really silly TOGETHER. They always play off each other the best.

par3182 said...

i spent most of the episode waiting for brian/bryan to start the bus driver's song - the anticipation distracted me from the rest of the episode, but i did laugh out loud several times (the reveal of gary the sheep, the throwing of the empty gel container "that was VERY dangerous", and dave manning the information desk)

So Cal said...

I loved the 80s song...it was even better than most from that time period...even though, as you said, Alan, that it might be better than the songs it was trying to spoof, doesn't mean it not hilarious.

But i agree...perhaps the one song an episode pace is better...because i think the comedy has been awesome this season...have to agree with Steve that Murray is probably the funniest character on TV and it's great that he is being used so much this season, as well as more Dave

Anonymous said...

This was by far the worst episode of both series. That said, the song was pretty good and there were a few funny moments.

Anonymous said...

I turned this episode off half way through. Right when Paula showed up I knew this was gonna be the Bus Drivers song. The Bus Drivers song is by far the best song but you wont find many( maybe even any) live versions of the song and the only recorded version is on the Folk the World Tour. I couldn't bear to see that gem get torn up by some old guy and I was glad that they didn't put it in and happier that they played a little snippet of it at the end.

Truth is that I believe that the song means alot to those two and I don't think it will be on the show.