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HBO presents

Flight of The Conchords: The Complete First Season (2007)

"You're so beautiful
you could be a part time model..."- Jemaine (Jemaine Clement)

Stars: Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie
Other Stars: Rhys Darby, Kristen Schaal, Rachel Blanchard, Arj Barker, Frank Wood, Sutton Foster, Eugene Mirman, David Constabile, Kate Pierson, Todd Barry, Demitri Martin, Will Forte, Daryl Hall
Director: James Bobin, Taika Waititi, Troy Miller, Michael Patrick Jann

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language)
Run Time: 06h:00m:00s
Release Date: 2007-10-02
Genre: television

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB D-

 

DVD Review

No, this isn't a show about airplanes.

Instead, here's the season one set of an HBO comedy series about two musicians from New Zealand (Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement) who come to New York City to try and make it big, only to discover that fame and fortune don't come easy (to paraphrase Ringo Starr). And if struggling with trying to achieve musical fame weren't enough, they're saddled with a borderline stalker/fan (Kristen Schaal) and an incompetent manager (Rhys Darby) who does double duty as a drone with New Zealand consulate. They also have to deal with day-to-day foibles like women, discrimination, and artistic differences.

McKenzie and Clement's trials and tribulations are meted out in half-hour episodes concerned with a loose main topic (Bret's self-image in Bowie, Jemaine's problematic romance in Sally, their attempted dalliance with a water polo team in What Goes on Tour). But the formula gets skewed because McKenzie and Clement will periodically launch into a song few times each episode—sometimes under the guise of a music video (albeit one shot on a camera phone) or as part of a narrative connector that moves the plot along. Perhaps like a kinder, gentler Tenacious D, the songs on Flight Of The Conchords move across parody lines, cleverly mocking music video genres with such an accurate hand that if it weren't for the funny lyrics it might be difficult to know they aren't being serious.

Most of the eps are self-contained bits of exceptionally dry and tilted humor, though there's a few sidebar story arcs that get carried forward, with a couple of minor characters, like Jemaine's girlfriend Sally (Rachel Blanchard) or Bret's Yoko-ish Coco (Sutton Foster), getting a little more prominence. And a potential wrinkle for season two rears up in The Third Conchord, when the duo stands to become a trio. And as added art-imitating-life hipness, B-52 Kate Pierson shows up a club manager in What Goes On Tour and even the Hall half of Hall & Oates appears in New Fans.

Helping carry the weight are the two main supporting players, both of whom can deliver the funny when necessary. Kristen Schaal is all shades of comedy creepy as the band's lone fan Mel, an over-the-top obsessive who follows Bret and Jemaine everywhere, popping up suddenly like a crazed mole. Schaal turns Mel into a wonderful mix of enthusiasm and danger, and her appearances (especially when she drags her reluctant husband along) are superb. A bit less dynamic but just as funny is Rhys Darby's manager Murray, a sort of dim-bulb type who is more concerned with proper meeting protocols than actually getting anything done. The Murray character plays nicely off of McKenzie and Clement, forming a third dry edge for conversations to loop around on themselves.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: All twelve episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are very robust, and edge details are generally sharply defined. A bit of grain periodically, but the transfers are devoid of any blemishes or dirt.

Nice.

Image Transfer Grade: B
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in a pair of 2.0 tracks, in either original English or a Spanish dub. For a show so intricately built around music, the presentation leaves a little to be desired, though voice quality is exceptionally clear for the dialogue portions. No real complaints with the sound for the music (lyrics are generally discernible, minus a few accent issues) but since it's the tunes that carry the main themes of each episode, a larger, more spatial mix would be nice.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 96 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring HBO, Entourage: Season 3, Part 2
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There's a nearly clear plastic slipcover with this one (it has Clement and McKenzie on the front, random doodlings on the back). That's about the only measurable extra to be found, aside from a pair of HBO trailers.

Each half-hour episode is cut into a generous eight chapters, and an optional preview is available for each.

Extras Grade: D-
 

Final Comments

I know this is one of those shows that isn't going to appeal to everyone, but I enjoy it so much I sometimes tend to forget that. It's about two struggling New Zealanders trying to get their music career going in New York City. The humor is cleverly dry, and the musical performances tackle the dangerous ground of comedy-and-narrative-exposition with a mimicry of genres that is outstanding all on its own.

The complete lack of extras is problematic, but the twelve episodes are all killer.

Highly recommended.

Rich Rosell 2007-12-14