Like all foreign entertainment if you’re willing to keep a wide open mind and are willing to be open to something completely new and off the wall, then “Flight of the Conchords” is the series for you. Admittedly, the New Zealand sitcom about two folk singers slowly working their way to music fame in the New York landscape is an acquired taste, and one that I had a bit of a time adjusting to, especially considering the series will screech to a halt to switch to musical numbers sung by either of the two gentlemen here.
HBO Home Entertainment has released a 5-Disc boxed set of the entire “Flight of the Conchords” hit television series along with a thirty minute live concert and for anyone looking to see what the hubbub is about, they’d be wise to crack open this new release to see what this has in store for them beyond the typical sitcom doldrums. While in the first episode I was admittedly hesitant to give this series a chance, considering the boys are just finding their footing, the series really hits its stride on its second episode grasping its concept fully with a show presenting themes about foreigners trying to hit their fame as we saw with “Extras” and “Da Ali G Show.” Jermaine and Bret are hilarious as the singing duo whose aspirations don’t exactly push them in to total fame and world domination but just survival and that’s thanks to their inept agent Murray who is not above coming up with the most idiotic diatribes to convince the two to stick with him and follow his rules.
Rhys Darby constantly holds his own against Bret and Jermaine providing a sense of insanity for two men who know what they want but have no idea how to get it. While the show does tend to border on the grim at times with looks in to their poverty that drives Bret to taking food left on the street, cue a hysterical reaction from Jermaine, but the show never loses its focus on showing the unabashed delusions of grandeur of these men who will come up with just about musical number they can even if it means drawing awkward expressions from the folks they’re encountering. In the pilot Jermaine responds to a break-up with a ballad, Bret becomes “The Boom King” when meeting a hot girl while holding up a sign, and the Rhyme-nocerous makes an appearance when Bret and Jermaine are robbed by two Italian thugs.
One of the funniest and most subtle gags involves the running joke of people confusing their nationality for other wild ones and upon learning they’re from New Zealand immediately boast about “Lord of the Rings.” There’s also the gags involving the misunderstanding of terms and phrases because of their heavy accents including Murray’s pronunciation of the world “Dead.” The adorable Krysten Schaal is also a scene stealer as the creepy Mel, a neighbor of Jermaine and Brent who stalks them relentlessly and will wait as long as it takes just to have only five minutes of awkward conversation between the two. “Flight of the Conchords” is something of a brilliant anomaly, a very unassuming and unpretentious little gem that doesn’t really try to change the world, but only strives to display much of its very subtle and easily memorable humor revolving around the various personalities that clash among the New York landscape.
Jermaine and Bret are two really fascinating characters both of whom possess a unique bond that keeps them at odds more often than not, and watching them argue over jobs, and relationships and their own quirks makes for some of the best material of the series. The musical numbers are off-putting at first, but once you adjust, it becomes a seamless and very fluid element of the show that adds much more flavor to the plots and inspires a raucous laugh or two. Paired with the show’s two seasons is a half hour live concert for HBO, and a slew of extras like deleted scenes, and outtakes, and commercials for the show’s infamous pawn shop that are quite hilarious. For anyone willing to explore Bret and Jermaine, or are interested in re-visiting their favorite New Zealand two man band, “Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Collection” is a crown jewel for anyone to own. Or you could just stick to your laugh track mediocrity on network television. Your choice.