"I saw it on a sitcom." -BretThis is a dangerous game that clever comedy writers sometimes play, this idea that if they take a standard plot device from traditional, mediocre sitcoms, they can improve upon it -- or, at least, can get away with using it by having the characters reference the fact that it's a bad sitcom plot. Sometimes, it works. More often, you just wind up making a bad sitcom yourself. And that's basically what "Wingmen" was. Because it takes place in the "Conchords" universe where the logic isn't quite normal, there were amusing little touches, like Dave's secret surveillance gear turning out to be a pair of walkie-talkies, or Mel giving Bret advice on how to stalk the pet shop girl, but too much of it was every bit as predictable and lame as the equivalent episode of "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" would have been.
"Did it work on the sitcom?" -Jemaine
"Not completely. But this is real, so I think I have a better chance." -Bret
Because of that, "Wingmen" turned out as the mirror opposite of most of "Conchords" season two. Instead of having great jokes holding up forgettable songs, we had a couple of great songs (really, one good one and one great one) compensating for some underwhelming comedy.
When I saw the Conchords in concert last year, the two songs that really stuck out to me were "Carol Brown" (used brilliantly in "Unnatural Love") and "I Told You I Was Freekie," which I knew they were going to do something awesome with when it became a music video. The final version didn't disappoint, particularly when it ended, Jemaine came home and discovered Savannah painted as wallpaper and Bret covered in honey-money. There's always this question of how much some of the music videos bleed into reality -- in season one's "Mugged" (which introduced John the mugger, making his not-so-triumphant return here), when Bret and Jemaine finish "Rhymenoceros Hiphopopotamus," John asks, "Are you guys dancing a little bit?" -- and I liked discovering that not only had Bret told Savannah about all these fetishes, but that she was, like Coco, into it.
"Bret's Day" was interesting not only as an unexpected Billy Joel soundalike (seriously, play it alongside "Piano Man"), but for being presented relatively unadorned. Just Bret singing and playing as he walks through the apartment, punctuated occasionally by spoken complaints from Jemaine (before Jemaine gets into the spirit and picks up his bass). There are times when the video production winds up overshadowing the songs -- and/or times when the songs need the overshadowing -- but it was nice to hear a simple and clever story-song without outside distractions. It more or less played out the way it would have in one of their stage shows.
Now, this may be the next-to-last "Conchords" episode ever. HBO hasn't decided on a third season, and I'm not sure if the guys would want to keep going. The nature of the show -- writing original comedy, original songs, and filming one or two music videos per week -- gives it one of the higher degrees of difficulty in the TV business, and I could imagine Bret and Jemaine wanting to quit while they're ahead. It would make me sad, but I would understand.
What did everybody else think?