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Evicted: Bret and Jemaine Sing, Herd Sheep on the Series Finale of "Flight of the Conchords"

Was anyone else let down by the series finale of HBO's Flight of the Conchords?

Last night's episode of Flight of the Conchords ("Evicted") marked what is likely to be the series' last installment as Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have publicly indicated that it's unlikely that they'll return for a third season.

In the episode, Bret and Jemaine discovered that, unless they were able to raise roughly $7000 (in US currency, that is) within a month, they would be evicted from their apartment. Unable to do so, they end up moving in with Mel and Doug and launching a bid at Broadway stardom by putting on a play written by Murray about their lives (with a little Star Wars thrown in). Inevitably, however, the play's themes about illegal immigrants attract the attention of the INS and the duo are deported to New Zealand, where they return to their previous lives as shepherds.

I wasn't terribly impressed with this installment and it felt almost haphazardly thrown together, as though the writers didn't quite know how to wrap up the series or had completely run out of steam at this point. I loved the percussion opening and Mel and Doug... and that was about it.

Full disclosure time: I was one of the Conchords' early adopters. I heard them live in Los Angeles in 2006 and was a fan of their BBC Radio series and I was completely captivated with the series' first season when it aired in 2007. The second season, which wrapped last night, seemed to lack the sort of spark and verve that was completely felt in every single installment of Season One. Perhaps it was the fact that, unlike in the first season, the scripts were written first and then the music tailored to the episodes rather than vice-versa.

Which isn't to say that Season Two of Flight of the Conchords didn't have some memorable moments, because it did: Jemaine becoming a prostitute, Bret forming a gang and embarking on a West Side Story-influenced dance-off, the gorgeous Michel Gondry-directed installment, the fantastic 1980s synth pop of "Fashion is Danger" and the hilarious "Sugalumps." There were some stand-out episodes among Season Two's ten-episode run, but sadly the season finale wasn't one of them.

Which is a shame as "Evicted" seems perfectly set up to be a truly memorable episode. The subplot that had Bret and Jemaine move in with Mel and Doug only to have the couple separate and divide up the band, with one of the boys staying with one of them should have been a bigger part of the episode rather than just a five-minute aside. Instead, the focus was mainly on the meta-theatrical play-within-the-show about Bret and Jemaine's life... which really wasn't all that funny and went on for way too long.

Adding to this head-scratcher of an episode was the fact that the last full-length song the guys perform on screen was the surreal and bizarre "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me," which recounts Bret's dream of being stuck in a liferaft with Russian versions of Mel and Doug as they chop off his body parts and feast on them before he doses himself with arsenic and kills his attackers. Not exactly reaching the same sort of memorable replay value as say "Sugalumps" or "Fashion is Danger"... or any of the first season songs.

Ultimately, "Evicted" lacked the off-kilter humor, hook-filled musical numbers, and character-based banter that have defined Flight of the Conchords since the beginning. And it left me feeling more than a little nostalgic for those early days when the episodes were overflowing with laugh-out-loud moments and clever repartee than about meta-theatrical plays and deportation. Personally, I think I want to remember Flight of the Conchords in that context rather than continue to think about last night's subpar series finale.

But I am curious to know: what did you think of last night's episode? Was it a fitting send-off for the guys and the series? Or did it leave you disappointed? Discuss.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Jace, I totally agree. This season had some great moments but was not as solid (or funny) as season one. The songs felt more forced and less "organic" (yes, I just used that word). Of course, most of the songs from the first season had been part of their comedy act so it makes sense that they'd be stronger.

The "Petrove, Yelyena, and Me" song was brilliant but felt totally out of place for the series finale. Especially as Jemaine wasn't even in it! Kind of weird that the final episode wouldn't even have a song (aside from the fun percussion bits) with the two guys.
Anonymous said…
"Petrov, Yelyena, and Me" has been kicking around their comedy acts for years. It joins a couple of other songs that never seemed to fit into an episode this season ("Angels" being the other one that always comes to mind) that I think were just being used up because they were low on inspiration.

Although the final episode wasn't brilliant, I loved the actual ending. The boys are happy wherever they may be, as long as they can find a rhythm.

I'll miss them, but after this season I'm not too heartbroken that the show is over- shows have finite lifespans and I think that's something US TV ignores too much...
Anonymous said…
I'd have to say I disagree. I don't disagree with the fact that the episode definitely felt "off", and definitely not in tune with the other episodes in the series.

My main disagreement with the blog here is that the episode being "off" or lackluster was a bad thing.

While I have to say that I like seeing episodes that rock the socks off, in this case I feel that something dulled down could have been the intention.

Ending it this way does two things. 1. It leaves open the option for some "return" down the line.
2. Most importantly, it shows the directors vision of the failed attempt at the American Dream. I'm not saying that they were shooting for that dream, or making a statement about the dream. Rather I feel this ending showed the irony of the notion of the American Dream in general. Two dreamers coming to make it a reality failed because of the small bureaucratic hangups that face a lot of others in the same pursuit.

.....this is looking way deep into a comedy show....but they're pretty deep guys so whateva.

Not all endings are a bad thing. Enjoy the fun while it lasted, I sure did.
Anonymous said…
I feel the show was going downhill for the most part in season 2, but still, am I the only one who was all the while hoping that they would eventually find some success? Maybe because I'm a musician myself I focus on that aspect of the plot more, but they played shows to practically no one for two years and never gained any notoriety (save for the crazy dawgs ep). I'm disapointed that we weren't able to watch them in hilarious celebrity/fame scenarios.
Anonymous said…
Toby:

I don't think that would have ever worked. One of the biggest thing about the Conchords is that they were failures at almost everything they tried (though in a good way?!). I, for one, would have hated to have seen the show end with them achieving world-wide fame.

They even seemed to hint at it slightly when talking about the Broadway show- "So, it's about two guys who have nothing, get nothing, and end up with nothing?". That's the Conchords.
par3182 said…
mel and doug parenting the boys and the subsequent separation could have easily been an episode itself

there were two truly great episodes this season ('new cup' and 'unnatural love') but everything else was pretty disappointing

that being said, i'll miss this show big time
Anonymous said…
I thought Season 2 started off wonderfully, but the last few episodes were flat and uninspired. They just ran out of steam, creatively, I think. Brett and Jermaine are so low-energy and affectless, you need high-energy wackiness around them to sustain the show, and it just hasn't been there in the last few episodes.
Anonymous said…
Interestingly, they're already talking about a film:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5jEn4yGnbfW3gxrAFkSgMt321CDKQ

I mean, these things get mentioned every time a show ends, but if they could get their creative juices flowing a film could be great.

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