“I love the attention to detail with your stage characters,” says a marginal onlooker in a first-season episode of Flight of the Conchords. “I mean, the idea of a pair of naive idiots from New Zealand—it’s so simple, it’s genius.” The boys are less than flattered.
It’s tempting to write off Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as two clueless, crooning Kiwis hoping to strike musical gold (or at least a paying gig) in New York. Yet there’s so much more to these postmillennial hipster Chaplins. A comedy act long before it was a cable series (from 2007 to 2009), the Conchords crafted a quirkily sincere program about fame, friendship and racist dragons—not to mention some catchy tunes along the way.
Our two troubadours, their compatriot manager (foppish straight man Rhys Darby) and sole obsessed fan (the gleefully unhinged Kristen Schaal) are surrounded by a starry cameo list that includes John Turturro, Art Garfunkel and Lucy Lawless. There’s a constant interplay of the mundane and the sublime not unfamiliar to creatives living in Gotham. Spontaneous musical numbers position the show as The Monkees for East Village Gen-Xers.
HBO’s multidisc box set is definitive when it comes to the duo’s complete works for television. The first season is served straight up, while the following year includes all the requisite bells and whistles (deleted scenes, outtakes, mock commercials). Added, too, is a prefame 2005 concert for HBO’s One Night Stand series, which featured music that would later appear on the show.—Olivia Giovetti
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