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HBO Soars with "Flight of the Conchords"

I'll keep this short and sweet, rather like HBO's Flight of the Conchords itself.

If you've never seen New Zealand folk parody band Flight of the Conchords in action, you're in for a real treat. I've seen the duo--comprised of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (as "
New Zealand's fourth most popular digi-folk parodists")--several times, most notably at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and right here in Los Angeles at a little place called Largo. They always manage to make me roar with laughter, with their understated comedic stylings and their hilarious pop/folk/parody songs.

So imagine my surprise when I learned last year that the duo would be shooting a 12-episode series for HBO entitled (quelle surprise!) Flight of the Conchords. Conchords the series kicks off on Sunday night with a brilliant pilot episode that I've rewatched about a dozen times since I first saw it in early January. (Can't wait for Sunday to watch it? You can download it on iTunes or catch the premiere episode on the show's HBO site.)

So what exactly is Flight of the Conchords about? The band, natch. Bret and Jemaine play two adorably goofy versions of themselves, a struggling New Zealand folk parody band who moves to Manhattan in an effort to find international super-stardom, but they find themselves sharing a tiny one-bedroom apartment (they sleep in matching twin beds) and fighting over the same girl (Peep Show's Rachel Blanchard). That is, when they're not making hilarious music videos directed by their lousy band manager Murray (Rhys Darby), who doubles as a New Zealand consul, for such memorable songs as "The Humans Are Dead" (in which they play futuristic robots from the year 2000; see below), "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room," or--my personal favorite--"I'm Not Crying," which has such memorable lyrics as "I'm not crying/it's just raining... on my face" and features rollicking/gorgeous black and white imagery of Bret and Jemaine, you know, not crying.

The effect is rather like HBO's own Curb Your Enthusiasm: understated comedy from comedians not afraid to look more than a little ridiculous. Bret and Jemaine, like Scrubs' J.D. and Turk before them, are two heterosexual male life partners, perfect for one another except for that one, unchangeable thing. When they're not working on Bret's hair helmet (a bike helmet that looks exactly like--and is made from--his own hair), they're pursued by Mel (Kristen Schaal), a relentlessly obsessive fan (their only one) who stalks them even at their cancelled shows. Such as the pilot's aquarium gig, which was really a misunderstanding when Murray misinterpreted a flyer's request for sand as an open invitation for, well, a band.

It's an off-kilter world that Flight of the Conchords' Bret and Jemaine live in and I'm dying with anticipation to see just what happens to them next. If you're a fan of subtle, surreal humor (whether British, American, or Kiwi), prepare to clutch your stomach after laughing too hard.

"Flight of the Conchords" launches Sunday, June 17th, at 10:30 pm on HBO.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Creature Comforts/Creature Comforts (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Hidden Palms (CW); The Next Best Thing: Who is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator? (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS);
Last Comic Standing (NBC; 9-11 pm); One Tree Hill (CW); American Inventor (ABC);

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS);
Traveler (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Hidden Palms.

On the third episode of this eight-episode teen thriller/relationship drama ("Party Hardy"), Greta is steadfastly silent on the matter of Eddie's death, while Bob and Karen spend a less than enchanting evening at the club with Tess and boytoy Travis.

10 pm:
Top Chef on Bravo.

It's the third season premiere of
Top Chef ("First Impressions"), in which fifteen new contestants gear up for the culinary challenge of their lives as they compete for restaurant seed money and the dubious title of Top Chef in Miami. Bring it on!

10 pm:

On tonight's episode ("The Out"), Tyler and Jay head to Maine to search for Will Traveler in his alleged hometown while the FBI discover some new evidence in the Manhattan bombing.


Anonymous said…
These guys are hilarious! I've seen them live and am happy to say that the show is every bit as funny as seeing them in person. I've already watched the pilot several times and can't wait for the next episode!
Anonymous said…
I just watched it! I love them.

-You get a love triangle, Fleetwood Mac situation, although there was four of them, so more of a love square. Mind you, they did make some of the best music back then.
-No, that's all true.
Anonymous said…
Don't hate me, but...

I think I need to either A) watch the ep again or B) just wait and give it another chance next week. I am a big fan of this type of humor, but I didn't laugh out loud once. I enjoyed it, but didn't find it to be as brilliant as I thought it would be. Or as you think it is. :)

Elisabeth quoted the lines that got the biggest smile from me. Not quite a laugh, but pretty funny.

I also fell asleep halfway through. Not a good sign in a half hour show. Maybe I should have watched it before I watched John from Cincinnati and Meadowlands. :)

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