Monday, March 23, 2009

Flight of the Conchords, "Evicted": Is that all there is?

Spoilers for the season -- and maybe series -- finale of "Flight of the Conchords" coming up just as soon as I use my calculator watch...
"Is it a hit?" -Jemaine
"It depends how you define 'hit.'" -Murray
"Do people like it?" -Bret
"No, I don't think it was that sort of it. But you enjoyed yourselves, right? That's what it's really about." -Murray
I spent a whole lot of "Evicted" trying to parse it for clues about which way the Conchords were leaning about continuing with the show. And when we got to that extremely meta exchange, followed by the guys deported back to a New Zealand sheep ranch (and Murray either deported as well, or simply joining them because he has to keep managing the band), I assumed that this was their farewell.

Then I thought back to season one, which ended with the band more or less disintegrating in the wake of the Crazy Dogggz becoming an international phenomenon. That also could have worked as a series finale, but the show came back.

Now, HBO keeps saying no decision has been made, and the guys and James Bobin have been pretty mum on the subject. And the way HBO works with other shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," we may not know there's going to be another season until it's announced, maybe months or even years from now.

And I'm ambivalent about whether I want the show to continue.

In some ways, season two has been even better than season one. I think they've had a better handle on what they want the show to be, comedy-wise, they've made more and better use of the supporting players. And even when the songs weren't that memorable, the quality of the videos was significantly higher.

On the other hand, the songs were, for the most part, less memorable. And now that they've dipped even deeper into what's left of the back catalog -- they finally found a way to work in "Petrov, Yelyena and Me" by making it a nautical nightmare of Bret's -- I wonder what the songs would be like for a hypothetical third season.

I love this show. I'm very happy I got to watch it for two seasons. I'd probably be very happy to watch it for two or three more. But there's certainly something to be said for the idea of walking away before the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

Some specific thoughts on "Evicted":

• I loved every little detail of Murray's musical about the band, from his brief attempt to turn Bret's life into Luke Skywalker's (complete with Greg building a model Landspeeder) to the incredibly literal lyrics that lacked any of the charm or wit of actual Conchords songs.

• A great episode for Mel -- and and for Doug, for that matter -- as the problems in their marriage finally came to a head, then got solved when Mel got to glimpse Doug performing on stage with her beloved band. My favorite part of the break-up montage: Doug reverting to his hard-partying ways once he and Jemaine had moved into the RV. (Mel, of course, gets to keep the house, even though I'm sure it was Doug's.)

• If this is, indeed, farewell, Dave also got a few nice moments, once again trying to make his living situation seem vastly cooler than it is, then turning up as the Statue of Liberty and more or less getting the lyrics right.

So, three questions for discussion:

1. Do you want the show to continue?

2. If it doesn't, do you feel this was a fitting ending?

3. Favorite moments/songs/jokes/whatever from the two seasons so far?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

gave up on the 2nd season early on. I just couldnt take that kind of humor any more.

I've stuck with HBO's two other shows though. Big Love was fantastic this season and Eastbound and Down was definately the funniest thing on tv.

David Coleman said...

This definitely felt like a swan song from the guys. The musical was definitely funny, esp. the chorus line of Murrays.

While the musical numbers where the guys used stuff around them to make a beat, that joke felt like it was done in last season's Leggy Blonde.

I was disappointed with the music videos in this (though the nautical one had moments) and thought this would be disappointing end to the series.

I can't decide whether my favorite part of this season (Too Many [Males] On the Dancefloor) was better than the Rhymnocerus, but they're neck and neck.

Anonymous said...

EB&D was decidedly not the funniest thing on TV, but anyway, I'm here for FOTC.

I thought it was a solid episode, and a good way to go out. The show always has the same problem: either the song isn't funny, or the comedy isn't. It doesn't often enough get both right in the same episode, but I'd say last night's was an example when both were well done. Riding off into the sunset on a tractor ... I'm good. As far as favorite gags/songs/etc., I was always a fan of anything Murray related. I can't really pick one moment (maybe "gingerballs"?), so I'd just cite this clip of Murray Hewitt's best moments.

Anonymous said...

Now that the season is over, I really would like to sit down and watch all the episodes again. It wasn't until a second viewing that I appreciated (or even enjoyed) most of the episodes from the second half of season 1. While my initial impression on a first viewing of most of this season was that the episodes were weak, I want to see how they come across now that I know what the expect.

With regards to "Evicted," I thought it was rather lackluster, although I did like the instrumental sequences that bookmarked the episode using items in the apartment and ranch. The musical did not work for me, I think largely because I was comparing it to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which did a much funnier job with the same premise in the finale of the most recent season.

I am undecided on whether or not I'd like to see the show to return. While I think Conchords would work as an enjoyable comedy even without any songs, the music has always been the shows heart and soul, and that's what's made me re-watch episodes a dozen times. I don't know if Conchords works the same way with no songs or mediocre songs, like we had for much of this season.

As for memorable moments this season, "Unnatural Love" was easily the standout. I actually think it's the best overall episode of the show. Not only were both songs great, but the production quality was superior to anything from the first season. It really showed how high the ceiling can be for the crew when they're on spot.

Anonymous said...

I would definitely watch if there's another season, but I really don't think there's a chance for that. Loved the hair gel story, the frodo song, inner city pressure, I could go on and on...

The Engineer said...

The Humans are dead.

I touched one. It was dead.

Funniest lines of the show.

Anonymous said...

I'd watch a 3rd season but I don't think they should have to sign on now or worry about it for a while. Give them a nice long break and come back to it when they feel refreshed with better songs. The comedy was better this year and I doubt they'll lose that tone anytime soon.

I loved the goofy faces and dance moves during the 2 instramentals. If it is the end, it ended where it was suppose to, with them on the bottom...after starting on the bottom. The world wouldn't be ready for the Conchords to blow up.

Anonymous said...

I think this would make a fitting last episode of the series (everyone at least looked happy in New Zealand). But I am going to miss the show if it doesn't come back. No other show puts me in such a good mood while watching it. There's been a lot of complaining about this season, but I think they've still had a pretty high success rate with the songs. My favorites (in no particular order)

Hurt Feelings
Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor
Carol Brown
You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute
Petrov, Yelenya and Me

I think 7 really good songs on an album (or season) is a pretty good success rate. Anyway, regardless if they come back or not, the last two seasons of this show have made me happier than anything else I've seen on TV. And the girlfriend and I have got tickets to see them at the Greek out here in LA!

Anonymous said...

I was unimpressed with this as a series finale, but I suppose it makes sense. I was happy that they managed to work in "Petrov..."

If there is a 3rd season, I'd like to see them do the full version of "Bus Driver's Song," or try and do something with "Jenny," just because it's so long. You'd think "Jenny" would be a gimme, but it hasn't come up yet.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm not sure how you work "Jenny" into the context of the show unless you have a woman play Jenny, and half of what makes the song brilliant is that it's being sung between the two guys.

Myles said...

Agreed on the ambivalence, Alan - it's not that this was a bad episode, it was just that it focused so hard on the meta-commentary that it had less time to really tap into the show's comic potential, which gives you that sense that this is the end more than a potential beginning. I think my review comes across as two-headed because while I loved the musical as a whole, I wanted a few more callbacks to season one.

As for your questions:

1) Yes, but I feel they have two options if they want to return: either move to another location (which would mean perhaps leaving Dave behind, but I'm sure Mel would follow them and Murray could get a job at another embassy), or (as one of my Twitter followers suggested) doing a Christmas Special to tie everything together.

2) I wanted better music, not ironically lame music, but otherwise I felt that the bookending "they make music out of everyday life" parts gave it a strong finale vibe combined with the meta-conversations.

3) The entirety of "Unnatural Love" gets my vote - even though I just watched Season One last summer, I never wrote about it, so I feel as if I forget more of it than I should.

Texany said...

As usual, it is hard for me to absorb all the comedic bits the first time through. I've watched this episode twice, and am really amazed at all the little things they crammed into it.

I loved the stage reenactment of Bret stuck in the chair. We only heard about that second hand (in the Mugged episode where the guys reminisced about Jemaine maybe being did (dead), so that was a nice touch, I thought.

A youtube search turned up the Petrov song done by the guys in 2000, one of their first, probably. So that may be their way of reversing things. Going out the way they came in.

Regarding the show continuing, I adored the 1st season. I have it on DVD and watch it every week or so (yes, I'm hooked). I haven't enjoyed this season nearly as much, but would probably watch these two doing pretty much anything.

I'd like to see what other venues they come up with. I'm certain they will be around, whether the tv show continues in its present form, or not.

My All-Time Favorite TV Scene occurred in Season 1, Episode 12:

Jemaine fighting with Todd while Bret eats a sandwich, then firing Bret... followed by Bret's spectacular "angry dance".

It just doesn't get any better than that.

Anonymous said...

I think that like any musical artists, they need time to recharge their batteries and write a bunch of great new songs before even thinking about bringing the show back.

But if they do, why not? At its best, the show is very entertaining, and I imagine it sure beats them spending the rest of their lives as what's basically a high-quality novelty act. (If Jack Black and Kyle Gass were told they had to spend the rest of their lives touring as Tenacious D, I imagine they'd be horrified. Well, Jack Black, anyway.)

Anonymous said...

Aw. I'm getting all sweaty in my eyes now. Though, that might have everything to do with me still feeling the tremors of the BSG finale.

I thought the finale was a good end to the show, though if it is indeed a series finale, I'm a little disappointed that the funniest bits I found had little to do with the boys, and more to do with the supporting cast - Mel, Doug, Greg, the pigeons!, Dave, Murray, etc. Which is great, but also a little sad.

1. Yes. As long as they have time to make a third season, I definitely wouldn't mind waiting longer for it. I really love and enjoyed the show, and I'm not quite sure if any other show could ever be quite like this one.

2. Yes. More or less. I mean, they're back in NZ, and back to being shepard musicians. It is bittersweet and yet fitting.

3. I can't narrow down the jokes that I really loved, but here are my-

Favourite songs of the season:-
Carol Brown
Bret's Day
You don't have to be a Prostitute
Bus Driver Song (if only they actually DID the song on air. :D)

Favourite episodes:-
Probably Unnatural Love, New Cup, New Zealand Town and Murray takes it to the Next Level.

Anonymous said...

Well, as soon as I saw the boys back in NZ, I thought that's the end of the series. Somehow they didn't seem as into it this season, once the novelty of the whole thing sunk in or wore off, or something.

The only truly outstanding episode for me this year was "The Tough Brets" and that was classic Conchords. And Murray with the Prime Minister was funny as all get out. But the rest of the season, meh. For me anyway. I'm just glad HBO took a chance on these guys. The first season is a classic gem of perfection. The second, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Though I've generally enjoyed this series -- the first season more than the second -- I wouldn't miss it if it doesn't come back.

Too bad every episode wasn't up to the quality of last night's, my favorite ep of the year.

Anonymous said...

i thougth it was a good episode,and a good end to the series.i don't think it should continue,they should quit it while their ahead.but if there is a third season i would watch it for sure.and i agree with myles about doing a christman special,that could work,maybe.
favorite songs:too many dicks on the dancefloor,frodo,leggy blonde,bret you've got it going on,and lots more.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was an average episode of FOTC, but an average FOTC is still ten times better than just about anything else with the exception of Curb.

I realised watching this season that, for me, it's a show that's all about the small moments. Sure, some of the songs are great and some aren't, and some of the plots are great and some aren't (and I think that was a problem with Season 1 as well), but every episode this season has had countless small moments - like Murray turning a consoling 'Ah Bret' into a roll call, or Jemaine with the sheep tied to his leg - that made me laugh a lot.

So much the better when the plot's a good one and the songs are hilarious, which they frequently are.

So, yeah, I'm really hoping it comes back.

Zach said...

I'm not sure how you work "Jenny" into the context of the show unless you have a woman play Jenny, and half of what makes the song brilliant is that it's being sung between the two guys.

Also, the joke itself wouldn't really work. We've followed the Conchords for so long that we'd pretty much know that Jemaine had never had this encounter with Jenny. Also, the punchline is "I'm Brian" (substitute "Jemain" if it was on the actual show) which is really only funny if you don't already know that his name isn't John.

Not to say that they couldn't do it somehow, but the situation couldn't happen in the reality of these characters.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was pretty great.

And just the joy on their faces back home on the farm, I'll remember. Some wonderful imagery.

Farewell, my friends! I love forward to seeing you on tour and in movies over the years!

bobby joe said...

I really want the show to continue. I think season 1 was a little bit better, but season 2 was still funny as it could possibly be. I just think that season 2 dealt with their relationships with women too much and not about the band and getting gigs and all of that.

I know that they say writing songs for the episodes take a long time, but they really don't need 2 songs per episode. They still haven't used Bus Drivers Song (they had it set up for the episode NewZealandTown, but didn't use it, but now that they're back in New Zealand they could easily use it now), or Hotties, or Nuthins' Wrong, or my personal favorite Jenny.

I'd give the final episode an 8/10, but for the final episode ever of FotC I'd expect something a little more. Also like it was said in the article, it seems like this could be end based on their situation, but so did the end of season 1. I'm hoping that it is just that they are gonna take another 2+ years to start a season 3 so they can write a few more songs and the plots of the episodes and that they'll be back when they're ready to come back.

I'm really hoping that inbetween seasons though they'd do a tour which would run through North Carolina!!

Anonymous said...

Based on some interviews and the Bret/Jemaine On Air documentary, I got a sinking feeling from their responses that this season was the last. For all the reasons stated above, last night's episode confirmed it.

While I am sad, I am still grateful that the show existed at all and the last episode left them in happy spirits in NZ.

My favorite moment will always be the first time I saw FOTC. It was a late summer night, studying for the CA Bar. I wanted to bang my head against the wall, but instead, I decided to turn on the TV. And at that exact moment, I came upon this:

"Oh my God. She's so hot. She's so flippin' hot. She's like a curry.
I want to tell her how hot she is, but she'll think I'm being sexist.
She's so hot she's making me sexist. . . b&^@h . . . "

That was it for me! In that moment was completely sold on the show! They had me at Boom...they had me at Boom.

Joshua Levine said...

I hope it's not the end - was my least favorite episode of both seasons.

That said, they set the bar very high very early. The first scene of the first episode was "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room". Not much room to go anywhere but down after that.

Roger said...

I loved the episode. It was bookended with the two of them making music together, happily. It didn't matter which side of the globe they were located in, and it didn't matter if they were a "hit".

Anonymous said...

why do all critics want shows to heir creative best? we should all hope for more shows from this team

Anonymous said...

1) I'd like to see the show continue only if they feel like they can do it. I like the idea that there can be a fairly long break. I mean, it's on HBO, not a network, it has a small but dedicated audience that would return, their musical careers will still be going on...why can't they do it? If not, though, I'm definitely satisfied with what we got.

2) This was an appropriate ending. Not quite as funny as the season one finale, but this works better as a finale because we all knew the Crazy Dogggz would not work out, and the happy New Zealand beats were nice. Not to spoil the BSG finale...but it was a pretty funny parallel. The Off Broadway parody has been done before, but I loved the Jemaine/Doug and Bret/Mel montages, and Doug playing the harp.

3) There are the obvious things like "Bret, this is David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust album...", the Hip-Hopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros rap, the Robots 2000 song, etc., but the show had so many brilliant smaller moments as well. For some reason, the other day I remembered Murray's advice on avoiding getting mugged in New York City - "stay away from crowds, they're very dangerous...move around in the alleys...and use maps so people know you aren't lost..."

As someone who was introduced to them through the TV show, I feel lucky that I can still check out their albums/concerts/other musical stylings. They had a great run and I'm glad I saw it.

Anonymous said...

The guy at the hotel was Quincy Jones' brother, right?

Anonymous said...

The guy at the hotel was Quincy Jones' brother, right?

Tom said...

Biggest smile from the episode:

Landlord: "You have 30 days to pay your rent!"

Cut to title card: "30 Days Later"

Cut to: Jemaine and Bret sitting in Murray's office wearing rucksacks.

Any other show could have made a season's worth of episodes out of what happened during those 30 days. Not FOTC. No, they give us a jolly musical number about cannibalistic Russian sailors.

If this is indeed the end, they will be missed. Although I think their show, more than any other, would lend itself to one-offs and Very Special Episodes.

Anonymous said...

I think the Conchords first season, especially the first half, is classic comedy. The music and tone just hit all the marks. It is very similar to Always Sunny in Philly where the first season was Idiot Savant Genius but ever since they have been trying to get the magic back.
I could watch another season but I would not mine it ending either.

Unknown said...

Kevin said...
The guy at the hotel was Quincy Jones' brother, right?

11:19 AM, MARCH 24, 2009

Yes, it was the same actor. I didn't realize it until my husband asked me if he was supposed to be playing the same character.

No one on the show said anything, unless I missed it, but why not? He runs a hotel and sells stuff out of his car trunk...

Probably a FOTC inside joke.

Anonymous said...

Please do not include spoilers about other shows. I have not seen the BSG finale at all (been overseas a long time and my friend recently introduced me to the show). Even with that small comment, I feel tainted now.

Helene H. said...

Favorite song this season:
Carol Brown
Favorite song, overall:
The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room
Favorite line, overall:
"Two minutes in heaven is better than one minute in heaven."
I would like to see this show return, but that doesn't seem very likely. Although season 2 lacked the brilliance of season 1, it still cheered me more than any other show.

Mike F said...

just caught up on season 2...enjoyed watching it, but not enough to make me care much if it comes back

will remember the show fondly...but enjoyed the 1st season more...the songs were much better and the concept was much more surprising