In 10 Words or Less
Hopefully not the last Flight for these funny Kiwis
Loves: Comedy, "Tenacious D," Mel
Likes: "Flight of the Conchords"
The Story So Far...
Based on Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie's musical stand-up act, Flight of the Conchords tells the story of the New Zealand duo's struggles to make it in New York City as folk musicians. Their money problems and social misadventures, including an oddly-obsessed fan named Mel, make up the bulk of each episode, which are punctuated by creatively-visualized and hilarious musical numbers. The first season of the HBO series was released on DVD in November of 2007, and DVDTalk has a review.
Picking up from the first-season finale that saw Murray's new band, The Crazy Doggz, achieve massive success, not much has changed for the Flight crew, except they feel a bit ignored by their manager, and take matters into their own hands. It's just the first in a 10-episode run of misfortune, which includes an ill-advised foray into the world of hair gel, a stint as a Simon and Garfunkel tribute band and a poorly-motivated attempt at using their music for charity. Like last season though, their biggest failures come in their relationships, which see the guys entangled with a forbidden Aussie, a crazy music fan (worse than Mel) and, in the oddest of couples, Jim Gaffigan.
As funny as the ridiculous storylines are in Flight of the Conchords, the show is equally as brilliant and creative, thanks to the writing, the talent of the cast and an eye for inventive visuals that gives the series an edge over most other half-hour comedies. It's no surprise that talent like Michel Gondry and Taika Waititi (Two Cars, One Night) was part of the team of dreamers that directed the show.
But none of the tricks or artistry works if not for the Kiwis at the center of it all and, in them, the show has a pair of fantastic comedians, who are masters of understated delivery. Laconic and low-key, they mostly just exist when not playing their guitars, as they are subject to the whims and machinations of those around them, mostly those of Murray, their awful band manager. The guys' lives, defined by their lack of income and attempts to solve that problem, are on the verge of sad-sackdom, but when they recognize and clearly identify an issue, without any real means of fixing it, it's frequently hilarious.
Of course, the songs are what you'll take away from each episode, humming for days after, though they certainly work best with the video from the series. There are a number of outstanding songs in this season's episodes, many of which are easily identifiable by their names, including "You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute," "Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor," and "We're Both in Love with a Sexy Lady." It feels like the music is strongest when it's directly tied into the story, like "We're Both in Love..." where they sing about a girl they just met, or when they tackle a specific genre, usually tied to a kind of video look, like '80s pop in "Fashion is Danger" and the Meatloaf-like "Love is the Weapon of Choice," but even the ultra-bizarre (even for FOTC) "Petrov, Yelyena and Me" worked. Sure, there are a few clunkers in the bunch (the fourth and seventh episodes being missteps song-wise, outside of the humor of Mel's "Dreams") but overall, the two to three songs you get per episode are tremendous fun.
Also hugely enjoyable are the guest stars this season, with a line-up bursting with names that will impress comedy fans, including Patton Oswalt (as an Elton John tribute act), Kristen Wiig, Greg Proops, Jim Gaffigan, Mary Lynn Rajskub and the underrated Lucy Lawless, while a cameo by Art Garfunkel as Art Garfunkel just rounds out the collection. They all do a great job fitting into the world of the Conchords, especially Gaffigan, as Murray's best friend, but it's Wiig who's just perfect as Brahbrah, a woman with a lost epileptic dog dating both guys. Her low-energy style is a great match for the Conchords, and she helps raise the level of odd even higher.
Like last time, the two-disc set is packed in a clear standard-width keepcase, though this time it's dual-hubbed (instead of a tray.) Again, the key art of the guys is on a clear plastic slipcover, while the background is on the two-sided cover, which has episode lists on the inside. The discs feature animated anamorphic widescreen menus, which offer a choice to watch the show, select languages and check out the extras (if available.) Audio options include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, while subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish, along with closed captioning.
This season, the show was shot in high-definition, and the anamorphic-widescreen transfers look a touch improved over last time (and they were pretty good then.) Colors are vivid and strong (reds are perhaps a touch hot), and the level of detail is rather high, while there's no noticeable issues with dirt or damage, nor are there any obvious artifacts.
The one issue with the audio last time has been dealt with here, as there's a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which utilizes the surrounds to enhance the musical numbers, and offers up a touch of atmospheric sound (like crowds.) The majority of the show's audio is strictly dialogue though, and the tracks do a solid job in delivering them.
"Flight of the Conchords: On Air" is a 25-minute documentary about the making of the series, built around Clement and McKenzie's radio promotion tour before the series hit the airwaves. Why it wasn't on the first-season DVDs, since they are promoting the first season of the show, isn't clear, but at least we got to check it out, as the footage of them doing interviews in radio studios is mixed with behind-the-scenes clips and interviews with cast and crew, making it a solidly entertaining bit of insight into the series.
The magic number must be 25 here, as that's how many minutes of deleted scenes you get from the second season. These must have only been cut for time, as they are as good as much of what made it into the episodes. The only thing about them that's annoying is the fact that their existence points to the possibility that there are season-one deleted scenes we didn't get. There are also outtakes included, seven minutes in all, of the actors basically screwing around and sometimes screwing up. Clement's laughter, which is frequently present, is particularly infectious.
The remaining extras, Dave's Pawn Ship Commercials (three minutes) and New Zealand Consulate Meetings with Murray & Greg (3:34), are clips that look to have been created for online use. The Dave commercials, with Arj Barker on the mic spitting awkward rhymes in cable access-quality ads, are a lot of fun, while the Murray segments are a touch less entertaining, even if they give Murray's assistant Greg more spotlight than usual.
The Bottom Line
If this the end of the Flight, it is disappointing, however, like many of the British short-run series, with just 22 episodes there was never a dip in quality and the show went out on top, providing an actual ending to the story. The DVDs look and sound as good as they can, and, unlike the previous collection, there are some bonus features to check out. With the real possibility that there will be no more episodes, having this DVD to enjoy is something any Conchords fan, especially Mel, will want.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.