Review: Flight of the Conchords 2×1

Forward motion

Flight of the Conchords

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, HBO
In the UK: BBC4 at some point within the next two months

Well, you can’t say I didn’t try. You begged, pleaded and even demanded that I try to watch and enjoy Flight of the Conchords when it came back. And I really wanted to.

See, I wasn’t much impressed by the first season, featuring those loveable New Zealand folk singers Jermaine and Bret and their inept manager Murray. There wasn’t really much diversity. Okay, the songs were good pastiches, but I’ve never been much of a fan of a spoof song.

My problem (which is mine) was that there was a joke. It was funny the first time. It’s just that every single other joke was the same joke. One of the trio says something, trying to sound bigger, more important or more street than he actually is, then the others spend time cutting him down to size. Oh, wait, there was another joke: it’s that New Zealanders are a bit inoffensive, a bit polite and nice, etc. Which is kind of related to the first one if you think about it.

Funny as that joke and a half was, it didn’t really keep me wanting to watch it again and again over the course of a whole season, so I gave up after a while.

Now it’s back, have they got a new joke?

Flight of the Conchords follows the trials and tribulations of a two man, digi-folk band from New Zealand as they try to make a name for themselves in their adopted home of New York City. The band is made up of Bret McKenzie on guitar and vocals, and Jemaine Clement on guitar and vocals.

Bret and Jemaine have moved to New York in the hope of forging a successful music career. So far they’ve managed to find a manager (whose “other” job is at the New Zealand Consulate), one fan (a married obsessive) and one friend (who owns the local pawn shop) — but not much else.

Is it any good?
Well, I laughed again, but essentially, it’s the same as before. In this first episode, Murray is successful and managing another band to the exclusion of everything else, so Bret and Jermaine decide to strike out alone. It’s not long before they’re offered a chance to write the jingle for a toothpaste advert.

And it’s kind of funny. The joke and a half is back in spades, as you might expect. But it seemed a bit broader this time, with as many as four or even five different kinds of jokes on display. I laughed at those as well. I even found time to admire the surprisingly good direction, which felt quite cinematic at times. I even managed to laugh at Mel, played by the usually unfunny female correspondent on The Daily Show. And at least one of the songs was moderately amusing.

But do I want to stick around for the rest of the season? Sorry, fraid not. I really would like to, but when 30 Rock‘s on screen providing belly laughs, Flight of the Conchords just feels like a bit of a waste of half an hour. Original, a bit different from other shows, but ultimately a bit flaccid.

Anna’s put links to the whole first episode on YouTube so you can try it for yourself. And, as she said, it was as good as I expected…

Sorry, but I did try.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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