I’m sitting here, feeling just ever so slightly empty.
“Flight of the ConchordsThe Complete First Season” arrived last night, pried from the cold, clammy embrace of Amazon.com into my loving grasp due to a pre-order fixation I have when it comes to television offerings I find life-affirming.
“Flight of the Conchords” was easily my sole Must-See TV show of the past twelve months. To those inclined to listen, I describe the HBO series as what would happen if you gave Wes Anderson a sitcom, and told him “by the way…also make it a musical.”
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie have been performing as Flight of the Conchords (“New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk-rock act”) for several years now, but it took the 12-episode series to throw me head over heels in love with the brilliant, dry wit that seems to flow so effortlessly from much of their material. If you’re not familiar with their music, a quick pop over to YouTube will lead you to dozens of clips, both performed live and from the show itself.
Songs like “Beautiful Girl” and “Jenny” (the latter not used on the sitcom) are terrifically well written. The ease with which Bret and Jemaine throw off lines like “Looking ’round the room/I can see that you/Are the most beautiful girl in the…” (pause) “…room…” (pause again) “…In the whole wide…room” with impeccable timing is really quite remarkable. But these aren’t throwaway tunes: the music itself is crafted with sure pop precision. Give them some sappy lyrics instead of their hilariously deadpan ones, and the licks and hooks of either song would surely make them hits for some faceless rockster who took life far more seriously than the Conchords ever could.
What really defined the show, though, was the surreality with which the songs were slipped into the episodes. New and inventive, many segues were great to watch simply for their own sake. The addictive faux-French pop of “Foux De Fa Fa,” for example, begins when Jemaine simply asks for a croissant at a New York Ciy bakery, and dissolves into a dayglo world of 60s/70s Paris the moment he repeats the order. Fabulous.
The Conchords’ “naifs in New York” schtick works well for them, and isn’t a huge stretch from the calculated cluelessness of their on-stage personas. The opening dialog of the first episode neatly set the tone for nearly everything that was to follow:
Jemaine: Man, back in New Zealand I was getting it on with lots of chicks.
Jemaine: Well, ah, Sarah Fitzpatrick…Michelle Fitzpatrick…Claire Fitzpatrick… the list goes on.
Bret: That was all of them.
Jemaine: Well, triple figures.
Bret: No that’s not triple figures. That’s three.
Supported by equally off-kilter secondary characters (Mel, who makes up their entire “fan-base”; Murray, their manager; Dave, their best friend), the Conchords created a series that was innovative, quirky and hilarious. In short, I almost yelped with glee when I found out the series was renewed for a second season.
Sure, a few notes fell flat every now and then. But ten of the twelve episodes remained on my Tivo long after they crammed my Tivo’s memory to the bursting point (Yes, I was cheap when I first got into Tivo, and unwisely bought their least expensive model. Steam-powered, I believe, my machine has the hard drive capacity of shiny new penny).
Hence, picking up the First Season DVDs meant I could empty my Tivo and finally record, say, something more substantial than the occasional Long John Silver’s commercial.
It was with no small amount of geeky glee that I feverishly ripped open the package yesterday, wanting to pop it right into the player to surprise the Lovely and Talented Judith when she got home. (We also finally installed the ice-maker in the freezer, but I thought the Conchords should take top billing for the day’s achievements.)
Yet, minutes after looking quickly through it…and playing it just to make sure…the collection left me gutted, if only in a teeny, tiny disappointed whiny fanboy kind of way. The way you really never want to get because of a mere DVD.
To the point: there’s not a single extra on either CD.
Let me repeat that: not…one…single…extra.
No commentaries. Not interviews. Not even a single song from the “One Night Stand” special the duo did for HBO, which, goodness knows, they should have had the rights to toss in there. Even Mel’s video blog, updated regularly on the web site, could have been chucked in there as a bone. C’mon, guys…we’re dying for new material here!
Of course, the situation was actually worse with another DVD I’d recently been anticipating: “Anthony Bourdain No Reservations,” which not only contains nary a single extra, but on its four (!) discs offers a scant eight episodes – not even a full season’s worth! Now, if there’s anyone’s commentary I’d love to hear, it would be Bourdain’s behind-the-scenes takes. In the immortal (and somewhat appropriate) words of Bluebottle, however, there’s not a sausage.
Do entertainment companies owe us extras? Have we become so spoiled by the likes of “The Lord of the Rings” that we unrealistically expect more, more MORE from each and every new release? Does our Supersize Culture extend to expectations that our DVDs, likewise, should be bloated with bonus footage?
Lord knows, there have been releases where I could have done without the “deleted scenes.” I mean, let’s face it: for the most part, they were deleted for a reason.
Still, I’d have appreciated even a modicum more thought behind the DVD of a show as fresh and original as “Flight of the Conchords.”
So here I sit, enjoying every second of what’s on the discs, yet wishing there was more. Loving the duo that created such classic bits as “Business Time” and “Boom King,” yet also — as has been already stated — feeling ever so slightly heartbroken.
And wondering what it is we should realistically expect from entertainers we give our hearts and/or minds — if even only occasionally, at any rate — to.