Monday, August 20, 2007

Flight of the Conchords: Everyone eats at Mel's

I'll get to the other weekend stuff later, but I wrote so much about "Flight of the Conchords" that I felt it deserved its own post. Spoilers coming up just as soon as I finish up my cool ideas list...

First of all, apologies to anyone offended by my, um, alteration of the above photo (the blue dot's a tribute to "I'm With the Band"), but I wanted to find a way to include it without further ruining my attempts to soften my NC-17 rating. That sketch was disturbing, it was riveting, it was hilarious, it was Mel. And our first Mel-centric episode was a winner, with her presence overriding the show's usual problems with episodes about Bret and Jemaine dating.

There was the usual silliness on the margins -- Daryl Hall randomly hosting the world music-fest (and shutting down the guys in mid-song when it became obvious they don't play world music), Dave living with his parents and loaning Jemaine one of his mother's blouses (plus the awful mouse shirt), Murray having a piece of straw in his mouth during the final band meeting, Murray being completely oblivious about his e-mail and webcam shenanigans, etc. -- but Kristen Schaal was the star. Oftentimes, characters that broad only work in small doses, but I was laughing throughout, even as we revisited a lot of familiar Mel topics (how she destroyed Doug's career, for instance). Loved her going on and on to Bret about how she respects their boundaries and then immediately unlocks the bathroom door so she can watch him pee.

I do have one small concern about the threesome plot. On the one hand, Bret and Jemaine arguing about who should do it and why was funny, and as I said in my "Superbad" review yesterday, funny covers for a lot of sins. At the same time, though, Bret's eagerness to get to business time with a lady he just met flies in the face of his sexual skittishness back in the wingman episode. I don't want to be Comic Book Guy or the kid who complains that the same bone in Scratchy's rib cage played two different tones, but part of what makes this show work is its weird internal logic; if the characters' behavior starts bending and twisting to fit the needs of each script, the scripts will eventually suffer for it. I was okay with it here, but don't do it too often, you know?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I haven't laughed so hard since the pilot. Mostly at all the visual gags. Jemaine in the blouse was just too much.

Abbie said...

Both of the songs were from their catalog, and they worked here. I especially liked that they had to make that "I'm the Pretty Prince of Parties" song an acid trip, because it is bizarre. Does anyone know what that song is referencing?

I had "Something for the Ladies" in my head all night. I'd wake up singing it.

Abbie said...

Murray. With horns. He had horns in that video. Just had to say it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Does anyone know what that song is referencing?

The Beatles' Indian period (think "Within You, Without You"), as made clear by the lyrical reference to Ravi Shankar.

Abbie said...

Yeah, I got the general reference with the sitar and all that, but I wondered if there was a more specific homage being made in the video. I was amazed to find out that the Kiss is not a Contract video was almost a shot-for-shot remake of this French song:

Anonymous said...

At the same time, though, Bret's eagerness to get to business time with a lady he just met flies in the face of his sexual skittishness back in the wingman episode.

In his defense, he was still high. Even a small hit of acid lasts for hours and hours (or so I've been told).

Alan Sepinwall said...

In his defense, he was still high.

But he and Jemaine bolt out of Mel's house to get to business time well before they sample the acid.

Anonymous said...

Mel holding a screwdriver might be the funniest of the funny moments this show has had.

And I actually said, "Awww," when Brett exposed the "Sorry, Mel" t-shirt during the credits.

I know most of us have been hating on Entourage all season, but I've found the last two episodes OK to watch. Eric is bordering on going completely Hollywood, and if they ever pull the trigger, it'd be interesting.

Until then, the hero always wins in the end, and I was really hoping Walsh would cap himself in the bathtub.

Anonymous said...

"But he and Jemaine bolt out of Mel's house to get to business time well before they sample the acid."

Yeah, but with them, it's not really the anticipation of sex that's a problem, it's the reality of it. If you want to get nitpickety about it, I guess the whole reveal in the last scene that they DID go through with the threesome (although, in classic Conchords fashion, not quite at the same time, and mainly with their eyes closed) was the act that stretched credulity.

Anyway, who cares? Last night's episode was probably the funniest half hour of comedy I've seen since the original OFFICE series.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Anyway, who cares?

Like I said, I'm not getting all that worked up by it, especially after an episode this good. It's just something I hope they'll pay attention to when they're writing next season.

Edward Copeland said...

Sniff. I'm really sad that I have only one Conchords left to go while the rest of the world has two (and another season down the road).

Tom said...

"At the same time, though, Bret's eagerness to get to business time with a lady he just met flies in the face of his sexual skittishness back in the wingman episode."

Skittish? A guy who'd paint lightning bolts on his johnson and waggle it in John Hodgman's face?

Anyway, as you point out, Bret was Jemaine's wingman in the episode in question. Wingmen don't show up their buddies -- and they certainly don't want to end up as tools of heartbreakers who just want to love 'em and dump 'em.

Bret had no skittishness with Coco or Sally. And he has no skittishness when he and Jemaine get the chance to party like rock stars -- either with their fan club or with the Northern New Jersey University's Woman's Water Polo Team.

Another gem this week. So glad they got renewed.

Anonymous said...


You should be able to see the remaining episode here, unless HBO decides to make a fuss.


But surely it was Bret's demeanor in the wingman episode that was the outlier, not his behavior in this episode. Think about his relationships with Sally (dated her, reconnected with her, ditched Coco for her) and Coco (he offered to have a threesome with her in the lyrics to "If you're into it" -- a "man-man-lady" threesome, if I recall correctly). Bret's behavior in the wingman episode was just a way to work in "A Kiss is not a Contract".

Since, as you've already noted, next season they won't have the songs written in advance, the plots won't have to be "adjusted" to match the FotC catalogue. I actually wonder if this might not be to the detriment of the surreal humor of the show.


Anonymous said...

This was the first episode since the pilot I've liked, and mainly because of the use of Mel. It's heartbreaking seeing Doug in the bottom of the basement, but the description she gave that "love will overcome" was creepy but hilarious.

Thing that bugged me was the polar opposite of Bret compared to the episode two weeks ago. That episode itself was a bit off anyway (him pretending to be frigid).

But what got me the most was the blouse on Jermaine.

Anonymous said...

"Casual Prince."

Anonymous said...

A little delayed, but I was just searching out to see if others shared my views...

I thought Bret's behaviour in the "wingman" episode was representative of a comedic role-reversal. The aggressive female comes up with these excuses, while Bret takes on the role usually attributed to the female: that is, fighting off the advances.

The girl's excuses resemble excuses young men might try to use to convince young, inexperienced women to give in: "it's kind of an unspoken rule", "I'm shipping out tomorrow" (which is a "To His Coy Mistress"-style carpe diem excuse if I ever heard one... :P)

Let me emphasize I don't think it was trying to "say" anything, just that the roles were reversed for a comedic purpose in this single episode, with no reference to any other scene where Bret is sexual.