Monday, July 30, 2007

Every dragon's a little bit racist

Spoilers for "Flight of the Conchords" and "Entourage" coming up just as soon as I call in tech support...

As I often mention when discussing the problems with the Emmys, people who work in television don't spend much time watching television, yet nearly every TV person I chatted with at press tour asked me what I thought of "Flight of the Conchords" and confessed that the show was really growing on them. I don't know if it'll ever be a mainstream hit, but in terms of industry buzz, it appears to be doing well enough that I can't imagine HBO not renewing it.

And a good thing, too, because I'm not sure I can live without the minds who gave us "Albi the Racist Dragon" (now in Davey and Goliath-Vision!), Murray's lonely ode to the leggy tech support girl (in the most technically impressive video by the show's admittedly modest standards), and, especially, the sequence with Dave teaching the guys how to flip the bird, even as they protest that the gesture seems neither obscene nor appropriately bird-like. (The bird montage, oddly, went on so long that the gesture began to lose all meaning, like that time Jon Lovitz kept saying "Tartlets" on "Friends.")

I do wonder, though, whether the boys will be able to come up with enough new music for a second season, since they told me they'll have used up about 98% of their catalogue by the end of this season. But at the moment, no show makes me happier than "Conchords."

I think "Entourage" made me happy once upon a time, but I'm struggling to remember when or how. I suppose I should be happy we got a break from one-note Billy Walsh, and the scene with Ari attempting to be a good dad was unexpectedly sweet, but I'm going to be scarred for life by Drama having furry sex (and by his reference to the meanest thing he ever did to a girl), and E is just a waste of oxygen and screen time. (The funniest part of the whole episode was the preview for next week, where the lady on the phone pointed out that Eric's job is irrelevant.) This wasn't Worst. Episode. Ever. territory like, say, the trans hooker episode, but I'm just not feeling this show at all anymore.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Actually, I enjoyed this episode of 'Entourage' more so than the previous few. Ari, Drama, and Turtle along with Loyd tend to be the most fun in my view.

What's missing? Not sure, possibly the "we're rooting for our bros as the underdog aspect" or "Wow, how lucky are they!" element of surprise and fun. I miss the inside Hollywood jokes and star cameos which used to be fun.

Or maybe, we have just come to see them all as selfish moochers with no redeeming qualities and Vince as a really boring person and actor.

I thinks this is called lack of charisma and creative writing, but I haven't given up hope yet that things may turn around.

Anonymous said...

Last night's episodes were complete opposites but for different reasons than usual.

Entourage was a show I usually hate with a surprisingly entertaining episode with one bad element holding it back (Ari's stupid subplot that, in typical Entourage fashion, got suddenly wrapped up for no reason).

And FotC was a show I usually love with a surprisingly unfunny episode (even with Aziz) that fortunately had one element I absolutely loved (Murray sings!)

No Mel = Not Good

Anonymous said...

Entourage was okay, and by that, I mean better than the dreck from the past few weeks. Ugh.

I think that Entourage could become a good show again if E got fired and went back to making pizza, Turtle died, Vince became more like post-Gigli Affleck, and Drama became a mega-success. More Ari, but his interaction should be with the other characters, not standalone misadventures.

cass said...

Hi Alan, got into the Conchords after reading your reviewing - I've been catching up over the weekend (I'm a Brit so the episodes aren't easy to get hold of). It's a really funny show, and it reminded me a lot of a current BBC programme called The Mighty Boosh. I'm not sure if it aired in America, it's about these two guys who have adventures, and there's always a song and dance in the half-hour show. It's more theatrical than Conchords but if you like that you'll probably be interested in the Boosh!

Kensington said...

Could it be that the problem with Entourage is that the show is too eager to maintain its status quo, and consequently there really aren't any stakes to invest in? That might be fine for John Q. Sitcom, Anynetwork, USA, but HBO has a reputation for testing the boundaries and limits.

Maybe if Vince were actually to experience career fizzle and really lose his Hollywood mojo there'd be some spark. And maybe if the money were really to dry up, forcing the boys to face getting civilian jobs there'd be something for them to fight against.

But then it wouldn't be Entourage, would it? Of course, maybe a show like Entourage can't sustain itself indefinitely.

I still like it, overall, but it's always been kind of a background show rather than something that gets my full attention when it's on.

That said, I was truly taken aback by Ari's attempt to become a different dad and when he started crying at the Headmaster's house. That was startling, but then they take it all away within a minute by revving up the deal factory again.

I liked the vulnerability.

Edward Copeland said...

Last week's Conchords was the first one I wasn't crazy about, but this week's more than made up for it. I think it was the best one yet. Too bad I'll no longer have HBO in a month.

Anonymous said...

Bret in a Box is one of my favorite moments so far. I started giggling as soon as he said, "It's my favorite box."

No Mel did make me sad, though, but it's good to stay away from running gags once in awhile, no?

Murray singing was a pleasant surprise.


Anonymous said...

Someone please answer this question for me? Had they even mentioned before this season that Ari had a son? I don't remember them having a son before these past few episodes and I've been watching this show since it started. That's why these Ari subplot with his son are ridiculous to me. It just looks like they're trying to find something for Piven to do.

Anonymous said...

I just want Ari to spin off and be done with the boys.

Anonymous said...

I just want Ari to spin off and be done with the boys.

Anonymous said...

My husband has been bailing out (i.e. going to bed) after Entourage, because he says he can't stomach Concords. I really think he missed out last night, though. I was giggling all through Concords, especially the "racist dragon."

To me, Entourage has really degenerated into a career snafu each episode for E and Vince, subplotted by some stupid misadventure with Drama and Turtle, with a little Ari sprinkled on top.

Anonymous said...

Alan, have you watched Kill Point? I thought that might get added to your Sunday night viewings if only because there are two Wire cast members in it: Bodie and Omar. Unfortunately, no one said "Omar's Coming!" when that actor first appeared in the pilot.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I intend to get to Kill Point eventually, as I've heard lots of good things and it sounds like a show right up my alley. I've just been swamped with press tour stuff, not to mention watching ongoing series and pre-existing projects like the Freaks and Geeks recaps, that I haven't had the time yet.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it. It's not bad. It's not great, but it's kind of fun, and Donnie' Wahlberg's quirk that he is a grammar nazi is amusing (somewhat). But I think there is some cosmic force that will make me watch any show with at least 2 cast members of the Wire. Omar's coming! Got these tees!

Anonymous said...

I spotted 4 Wire actors in Kill Point actually: Omar, Bodie, and then Brianna Barksdale (Micheal Hyatt) playing the SWAT leader, and Bubbles' old pal Johnny as one of the more hesitant bank robbers. Apparently only those from the Wire's drug trade can be employed by Spike.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, you are right. I knew I recognized that guy but couldn't place him! It was Bub's friend! And how did I miss Briana Barksdale!

Anonymous said...

FOTC I gave up on after last week because of that tedious Bowie episode, but I'll give it one more try and hope it sparks something.

And nah, they never mentioned Ari having the son (who knows, maybe he made some appearance during the daughter's Bat Mitzvah, but I have no idea). With comedies in particular, it's not a huge thing to stress over, but it does feel a bit tacky when they invent people or situations (see: most of all this season of Entourage) just to create drama.

Not as egregious as the daughter disappearing on Weeds, but close.

Anonymous said...

And on a related Wire note, Alan, do you have any idea when the fourth season DVD will be coming out?

Anonymous said...

Wow if you didn't like the last Entourage give up on it. It was a "water cooler" talk episode at my large office. When Turtle first tried on the bunny suit I was laughing out loud by myself (which is the true test of comedy). You guys are mean, but not as mean as Drama was to Jen Mancini (my favorite line of the season).

Abbie said...

Re: FOTC and the use of their back catalog for this season

I obsessively searched YouTube for FOTC clips before the show even aired, and it's my reasoning that the ratio has been one old song for every new song in each episode.

And their new songs are usually better suited to the episode than the old song, unless they write an entire episode just to justify a "David Bowie in space" song.

I think it could be a great second season, especially if it's all new songs. The old songs helped usher me into this season, but I've mostly preferred the YouTube versions over the show versions.

Blankity-Blank said...

It's pretty hilarious when everyone can assail Entourage for doing the same thing every week when Flight of the Conchords has already repeated its own plots twice in seven episodes.

This week wasn't nearly as annoying as it has been but The Rascist Dragon? Really? What is the fascination? Because animated things shouldn't do bad things? You really haven't had enough of that yet? That still feels new?

The very point of Entourage is that none of it means anything. It's been (mostly) bad this season, sure, but to call it one-note or repetitive or unsurprising and then turn around and say Flight of the Conchords has none of the same trouble in a more protracted time on the air is ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

Except that FOTC is hilarious no matter how much it's repeating itself, while Entourage is merely tedious, even when it's not.