I’ll admit that I’ve been a huge fan of Flight of the Conchords since their BBC radio series in 2004, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the duo (along with writer James Bobin) ported their act to a half-hour comedy format; the friction between Brett and Jemaine’s dopy musical fantasy world and the reality of their actual surroundings in a grotty corner somewhere in New York providing the most successful comedy moments.
Series two plays it safe and goes for more of the same; the cliffhanger-of-sorts series one ending, where the duo disbanded and manager Murray went on to bigger things with a band called Crazy Dogggz, is quickly resolved at the beginning of the second season, and the remainder of the ten episode run is played out in vintage Conchords fashion, with more moribund gigs, inept attempts at romance and abysmal songwriting.
If there’s one criticism that has been voiced most regularly about this second run, it’s that the quality of the songs doesn’t match the Conchord’s debut. And while there’s nothing in season two to match the brilliance of Business Time, or my own favourite, If You’re Into It (best line: “Him and you in the buff/Doing stuff with the food”), there are still some genuinely funny ones – episode five’s Carol Brown, an homage to Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, is as catchy as anything Bret and Jemaine ever wrote.
In fact, episode five, directed by Michel Gondry and detailing Jemaine’s torrid affair with a stereotypically crude Australian, is arguably the funniest (best and worst line: “I’m gonna go to the dunny and murder a brown snake.”).
Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement play the fictionalised versions of themselves with the same drippy charisma they’ve always exuded, though their performances are more than matched by Rhys Darby, who is once again brilliant as the band’s ineffectual manager.
Khristen Schaal also returns as the slightly terrifying and entirely hilarious Number One Fan, and while she’s given less to do in this season, she remains one of the series’ funniest and memorable characters (the scene where she presents Jemaine with a hideous portrait of himself in episode three is priceless).
Newcomer Brian Sergent’s turn as the dishevelled New Zealand Prime Minister is also pitch perfect, and his belief that The Matrix is real provides episode seven with its funniest exchange (“Déjà vu… a glitch in the Matrix,” he intones between puffs of his pipe).
Overall, season two is easily as good as the first, with equally sharp writing and little sign that the show has run out of ideas; it cleverly plays with sitcom conventions, juxtaposing the gentleness and almost childlike naivety of its central characters with the harshness of the city around them. Witness, for example, Bret’s attempt to win the affections of a woman by faking a mugging (an idea he ‘saw in a sitcom’) come violently unstuck when Jemaine enlists the help of a violent and foul mouthed New Yorker.
A quite brilliant second series.
Extras There’s a small selection of extras to round out the set, including a half-hour Conchords On Air documentary (which you’ll have probably seen already on BBC4), a selection of outtakes, around half an hour’s worth of deleted scenes, including some amusing exchanges between Murray and his quietly-spoken colleague Greg, and best of all, Dave’s pawn shop commercials, complete with bikini-clad chicks, stilted rapping and a hoover called a Dust Weasel 2000. Superb.
Flight Of The Conchords: Complete Second Season is out now.