Screen savors: Not your father's sitcom

In reality, Flight of the Conchords is a fairly successful folk/comedy band from New Zealand. In the show, Flight of the Conchords is a not so successful folk/comedy band from New Zealand.

flight of conchords 88 (photo credit: )
flight of conchords 88
(photo credit: )
Awkward pauses, dry humor, punchline-less jokes and, best of all, absurd, semi-plot related music videos make up one of last years best new American shows, Flight of the Conchords. In reality, Flight of the Conchords is a fairly successful folk/comedy band from New Zealand. In the show, Flight of the Conchords is a not so successful folk/comedy band from New Zealand. The two real-life band members, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, play characterized versions of themselves on the show, as they navigate life in New York City in hopes of making a name for their band. But, as we learn through the 12-episode first season, there are many hiccups along the road to superstardom. The supporting cast is a generally responsible for a lot of them, with their moronic manager/New Zealand consulate employee Murray (scene stealer Rhys Darby) leading the charge. The bands one and only fan Mel (Kristin Schaal), and their mutual friend, Dave (Arj Barker) also factor into the equation. But between the three of them and the Conchords' own mistakes, this is a road that will remain untouched. And that's what makes the show work so well. These hiccups, screw-ups from the band, are not played out like the final act of a sitcom where the main characters latest get rich quick scheme is foiled by their own incompetence. There is no 'big reveal' or 'bad moment,' rather, very silly little things happen along the way and the obliviousness, general malaise and societal unawareness of the characters take over. For example, one episode revolves around a street vendor's refusal to sell fruit to the Conchords because they're from New Zealand (don't worry, it's not a serious look at discrimination). Another, in what is perhaps the shows signature moment, deals with Brett having body image issues and subsequently dreaming about Jermaine dressing up as David Bowie during various points of his career in order to make him feel better. See, it's that kind of show. It's what I like to call, "smart, stupid humor." Basically it's something you have to actually pay attention to and think about to get, but at the same time, it's still something that's so incredibly ridiculous, simple and inane. In addition, twice an episode, often at random points, we are given two Conchords music videos that are written into the story and within the context of the show. In short, a scene is carrying on when, all of a sudden, music starts up and the duo begins singing about "Business Time" or explaining why "A Kiss is not a Contract." Then it cuts to the next scene. The episodes are often written around the music by incorporating the songs, most of which already comprised the Conchords' stage-act before the idea for a TV show was conceived. And, while this premise may seem downright stupid or over-the-top when reading it on paper, believe me when I say this: it's the best part of the show. Don't get me wrong; everything besides the music is still stellar stuff. The show has even improved under the tutelage of creators Clement, McKenzie and James Bobin (one of the guys behind Da Ali G Show) along with consulting by Paul Simms, the Newsradio mastermind. With his help, the scripts became tighter and the jokes crisper, more fluid and downright funnier as the first season played out. Without which, there would just be a show relying too heavily on outlandish gimmicks (like the Bowie dream sequence) that doesn't offer much besides two musical interludes per episode. Thank God this was not the case with Flight of the Conchords. Their terrific, near-flawless first season earned them a second campaign due out in the U.S. in January and a finalist spot for a Best Comedy award at the Emmys. While it may not be for everyone (it's aimed at the 18-34 year old crowd), the bottom line is it's one of the freshest, most innovative and highly original comedies to come along in years. But, no matter whether you're young or old or somewhere in between, you will find something to laugh at in Flight of the Conchords - the surest way to find out if you like to rock the party. Airs on Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on XTRA Hot