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FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: SEASON TWO (HBO)
(Sundays at 10:00/9:00c beginning January 18)
The network's description (January 18, "A Good Opportunity"): "After rejecting Murray for spending too much time with another band, Bret and Jemaine have success managing themselves and land a deal to record an ad jungle. Dave shares his "double-down" deal strategy."
The network's description (January 25, "The New Cup"): "Bret and Jemaine's fortunes unravel after Bret buys a new tea cup. With emergency band funds unavailable, Jemaine takes desperate measures in hopes of supplementing their income."
The network's description (February 1, "The Tough Brets"): No official description was released.
What did they leave out? Look out for such amusing tunes as "Sugar Lumps," "You Don't Have to Be a Prostitute" and Bret and Jemaine's first foray into rap, "I've Got Hurt Feelings."
The plot in a nutshell: With Murray (Rhys Darby) consumed by his new client Crazy Dogggz, Bret (Bret McKenzie) and Jemaine (Jemaine Clement) decide to strike out on their own and manage themselves. "We thought it would be easy," Jemaine explains. "Turns out to be easier." Such is the case when an executive (Greg Proops) happens to see one of their gigs and offers them a job writing the jungle for a new female only toothpaste. But fate brings the gang back together when Murray discovers that a Polish cover band recorded Crazy Dogggz's smash hit... 13 years ago; and Jemaine and Bret learn they don't have a green card and hence can't get paid. The following week, Bret's selfish purchase of a second cup for $2.79 turns their world upside down as they must sell their instruments in order to pay for the various bounced checks as a result of messing with their budget. And when that doesn't prove to be enough, Jemaine decides to enter the lucrative world of male prostitution. Luckily for him, Murray's just received an "internet letter" from a Nigerian prince that could solve all their problems. Finally, rounding out the episodes provided for review, Bret decides to start a gang to protect himself after the guys dabble in rap music. Meanwhile, Jemaine deals with some embarrassing fan art by Mel (Kristen Schaal) and Murray draws the unwelcome attention from some bullies at the rival Australian consulate.
What works: All the "Conchords" staples thankfully are back in full force, from Bret's animal print sweaters and T-shirts to Murray's attendance taking before each meeting. The real draw however continues to be its truly absurd plotlines as only on a show like "Conchords" will you see Aussies and Kiwis face off in a "West Side Story" dance routine. That - coupled with random silliness like Murray thinking "stuff you" is the ultimate insult, getting Alan Dale to point out he thought Dolly the Sheep won the last New Zealand beauty pageant and Seymour Cassel interviewing to join Bret's gang, "The Tough Brets" - and you have a universe that is distinctly its own.
What doesn't: I can't help but feel the new season is a little less inspired than the first. The aforementioned songs are fun but don't quite have the bizarre catchiness of season one efforts like "Robot Song (The Humans Are Dead)" or "Bowie in Space." It also doesn't help that there's the sense that we've seen these three episodes before - whether it be instead of Bret and Jemaine breaking up it's Murray and the guys or instead of a food vendor discriminating against Bret and Jemaine it's the Australian consulate having their way with Murray and Jemaine. That's not say there aren't some delightfully funny moments or memorable scenes (the "West Side Story" rumble definitely sticks out)...
The bottom line: ...it's just not quite the Christmas present you were expecting.