10:35 AM GMT 25/04/2013
NO-ONE SHOULD FEEL too bad about missing the Flight Of The Conchords.
Despite being produced by the reliable stable of intelligent US TV that is HBO (The Sopranos, The Wire, Entourage, Deadwood etc.) the BBC have squirreled this comedy gem away in one of their exclusive boutique slots (9.30pm, Tuesdays, BBC4) that still invoke fevered memories of vacant am-dram comedy car-crash, Two Pints of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps.
Even when finally alighting on the show it’s entirely possible that you might not immediately choose to stay. While the BBC’s other current comedy duos – Armstrong And Miller and The Mighty Boosh - have had time to bed in with their respective British bents of incongruous class clashes and brash post-club surrealism, Flight Of The Conchords is a younger, gentler alien beast. A disarmingly dreamy confection crafted by two New Zealanders – the supernally adrift Bret McKenzie and troubled, taurine Jermaine Clements – it exudes an air of remote inconsequentiality and bemused, wide-eyed innocence that takes a while to, you know, hit. It’s no Little Britain. Thank Christ.
The series follows the attempts of Bret and Jermaine - as the eponymous Conchords, “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-folk duo" – to make it big in an uncaring, cut-throat Manhattan. It’s a plasterboard plot conceit that the team elevate to the level of high art by pitting the cartoon rudeness of the New York characters against a delicate New Zealand mind-set of near narcoleptic naivety.
Managed by the cowed, clueless Murray (Rhys Darby) - whose slight duties are compromised by his day job as Deputy Cultural Attaché at the New Zealand consulate - Bret and Jermaine progress through each episode with an almost balletic nervousness, forever erring on the calm side of rock’n’roll rebellion; when Jermaine opts to dress like Prince for one gig, he adds that it should be “Prince if he was just going to the zoo,” and when Bret cautiously suggest that they might increase audience numbers by handing out “free pencils” he is slapped down by Murray saying “You’re not in New Zealand now!”
However, it’s Flight Of The Conchords’ songs that brings it into the realm of genius. Each episode features two musical interludes in which McKenzie and Clements emote and, in the process expertly lampoon the faux sincerity of all those white guys-with-soul from Jack Johnson’s softacousticrock to boy band hip-hop and Jamiroquaifunk. Closer to The Singing Detective than Spinal Tap (although Ewan McGregor’s greenhorn gurning in Lipstick On Your Collar might be a fairer comparison) these intervals serve as glimpses into the duo’s fantasy life, delusional soliloquies on pop stardom and real-men feelings that they’ll never be able to communicate in the harsh, real world. It’s quite sad really, and very, very funny.
Or go here to see what graveyard slot it’s been pushed into next...
Flight Of The Conchords: The Complete HBO First Season is available now on DVD (HBO Video)
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 11:57 AM GMT 04/12/2007