By Mike Szymanski
“Flight of the Conchords” follows the goofy tale of two real guys who are shepherds in New Zealand, who decide they want to take their music on the road, so they head out to the Big Apple. The quirky TV series from the land of the Kiwis features the real-life singers playing fictional versions of themselves (and hopefully exaggerated), but it does translate to American audiences.
Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are the singers who decided to capitalize on the fame of being named New Zealand’s “Fourth Most Popular Folk Parody Duo,” but they’re not received very well in New York. They do fall into the bohemian life of Manhattan pretty easily, and they have a group of wacky neighbors, friends, and a landlord that all lend to the comedy of the HBO series.
In fact, in Season 2, the landlord decides to kick out the freeloaders and they have to figure out how to play for their rent and earn enough money to stay. They’re still looking for the elusive paying gig, but they do manage to make their rent.
The two-disc DVD of Season 2 has a revealing and hysterical “Flight of the Conchords on Air Documentary” feature, and there’s a series of commercials from “Dave’s Pawn Shop.” There’s a bunch of deleted scenes and goofy outtakes and another feature called “New Zealand’s Consulate Meetings with Murray and Greg.” The DVD also contains a bunch of Easter Eggs, if you’re clever and click at the right time, and the guys pop in to offer more insights into their work, and their lives on the road, and on the show.
The show was a big critical hit on HBO and got four Emmy nominations the first year, including Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. On the show, the guys are looking for romance as well as money, and one of them even dates an Aussie, which is a no-no in New Zealand (who knew?).
The pair has traveled around the world singing, too, most recently coming through Los Angeles to packed gigs. They’re as funny in real life (so my friends say), than they are on the show. They’ve performed together since 1998 as “Moustache” and “Vested Interest” and finally “Flight of the Conchords” which came to McKenzie in a dream about flying on the Concorde supersonic jet.
Their real life success is far better than in the show, and they won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for “The Distant Future” last year. There’s definitely much more flight left in these two.
Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
Stars: Jermaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Arj Barker, Kristen Schaal
Release Date: 8/4/09
Official Site: http://www.hbo.com/conchords
Photos courtesy HBO.
[Mike Szymanski is a Hollywood-based freelance writer and author who has written for Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and many websites.]