Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie -- a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords -- moved to New York in the hopes of forging a successful music career. Unfortunately, despite their status as "New Zealand’s 4th Most Popular Folk Parody Duo," fame and notoriety continue to elude them. Watch as Bret and Jemaine contend with unrequited love, inept criminals, prostitution, and epileptic dogs, breaking into song as they clumsily try to break into the New York scene.
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First Season- Unlike most HBO series, Flight of the Conchords does not want to set the world on fire. It is droll and deadpan to beat the band. If you like Tenacious D, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman, Leningrad Cowboys Go America, and silly Pythonian wordplay, then its off-center charms will definitely strike a resonant chord. The Conchords are comprised of funky, funny folk duo Bret McKenzie and mutton-chopped Jemaine Clement, transplanted New Zealanders trying to make it in New York. Bret, their incompetent manager, Murray (Rhys Darby) notes, has "the right attitude," while Jemaine has "what I like to call, 'the wrong attitude.'" (Murray, who works out of the New Zealand consulate, makes the clueless agent in Extras look like Ari Gold.) Stardom eludes the band. They have one fan, Mel (Kristin Schaal), whose seething husband chaperones her while she stalks them (by season's end, even she will desert them). Financially strapped, they live in squalor and are forced to film a music video with a cell-phone camera. The dense Jemaine is a damper on Bret's love life (he derisively calls Coco, Bret's new girlfriend, "Yoko"). But from their mundane lives springs their inspired music, and it is during each episode's musical numbers that Conchords really takes flight. Sample lyrics: "You're so beautiful / You could be a hostess in the '60s"; and "I'm not crying / It's just been raining / On my face." Another mad highlight is "Bowie to Bowie" in the episode in which Bret is visited by visions of Bowie in his various career incarnations (portrayed by a dead-on Jemaine). But the dialogue, too, sings with an inspired, surreal lunacy. One exchange between Bret and Murray degenerates into a chicken-egg discussion over a job vs. a gig. HBO has renewed Flight of the Conchords for a second season. Bravo! As a greeting-card executive (The Daily Show's John Hodgman), who wants to license one of their tracks, tells the duo, "I believe in potential. I can see it in you guys." --Donald Liebenson
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Second Season-
In its second season, HBO's Flight of the Conchords soars to new heights even as Bret (McKenzie) and Jemaine (Clement), the down, but never quite out New Zealand digi-folk duo living beyond the fringe in New York City, reach new lows. In one episode, Bret's purchase of "A New Cup," puts them in dire financial straits and leads Jemaine into prostitution, albeit part time. In "New Zealand Town," the boys play a gig in which the majority of the audience is shopping bags. Each episode follows a week in their "rags to rags story," and each episode brings them back to square one. The only thing less promising than their musical career is their love lives. In "Unnatural Love," Jermaine accidentally sleeps with--horrors--an Australian. In "Prime Minister," he becomes involved with a woman who's got a thing for Art Garfunkel impersonators, only to lose her to the real thing (here's to you, Mr. Garfunkel, who cameos). Of course, there's always Mel (the wonderful Kristen Schaal), the group's No. 1 (and only) fan. Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Second Season- This series dances to its own deadpan drummer. You've got to love the loopiness of a line like, "So we look like some Simon and Garfunkel look-alikes who don't look like Simon and Garfunkel." The boys used up their tried and true "A" musical material in the first season, but while the songs this season are not as inspired, there are some offbeat candidates for a greatest-hits collection, including "Carol Brown," something of an homage to Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," and the should-be-forbidden dance "Sugalumps." Fans of Andy Samberg's Lonely Island digital shorts will especially enjoy the balmy duet "We're Both in Love with a Sexy Lady" in the episode "Love is the Weapon of Choice." That sexy lady, by the way, is Emmy-nominee and SNL MVP Kristen Wiig, as a woman with an epileptic dog and who unwittingly plays havoc with Bret and Jemaine's friendship. Other nifty bits of casting that add to Flight of the Conchords' cool cachet are Mary Lynn Rajskub as the "garfunkeling" groupie, Patton Oswalt as an Elton John impersonator, and Lucy Loveless as the aide and unrequited crush of the New Zealand prime minister. The season does not end on a promising note for Bret and Jemaine (it's really back to square one in the cliffhanger), but as their hapless manager, Murray (the Emmy-worthy Rhys Darby) remarks at one point, hopefully, this is just the beginning of their story. --Donald Liebenson