Writers: Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie & James BobinDirector: James Bobin
Cast: Arj Barker (Dave), Rhys Darby (Murray), Jemaine Clement (Jemaine), Kristen Schaal (Mel), Bret McKenzie (Bret), Eugene Mirman (Eugene), Kelly Taffe (Police Officer), Luther Creek (Mickey), Lenny Venito (John), Diana Bologna (John's Date), Marilyn Torres (Jemaine's Date) & Richard Thorne (Reuben)
After Bret and Jemaine are robbed in broad daylight, Bret runs away and Jemaine loses trust in his friend...
"Why are we still paying so much for sneakers, when you got them made my little slave kids? What are your overheads?"
-- Jemaine (Jemaine Clement)
I enjoyed this episode more than the previous two, perhaps because the characters are beginning to establish themselves, or perhaps because Rhys Darby's manager Murray features more prominently, but Mugged still has a few disappointing elements to it...
Yet again, the point of the episode is a break-up between Jemaine and Bret -- which seems to happen weekly and, frankly, is becoming tiresome. The show would do much better if we had some indication that their musical careers were progressing (however slowly and painfully), because at the moment Flight Of The Conchords is riffing on one idea.
The musical interludes are becoming more palatable, mainly because I'm now treating them as knowingly naff, weird winks to camera. My heart still sinks whenever one begins, because comedy songs just aren't that funny and they interrupt the flow, but they're at least kept short. Unfortunately, this episode's ditties ("Hip-hopopotamus vs The Rhymenocerous" and "Think About It") are two of the show's weakest.
Story-wise, the mugging idea gives rise to some fun moments, as the two New York muggers themselves become integral to the plot. In a faint echo of Sally's dinner date, this episode again finds the Conchords eating with totally inappropriate people, when they invite one of the muggers along for a meal! It's amusing, but disappointing this show seems to be settling into formula already.
Really, it's the little moments that really work on Conchords -- from Bret and Murray reminiscing about how Jemaine said "What?", bizarre statements ("I killed a monkey once") and visual oddness (Jemaine's "camera-phone" being, literally, a phone glued to a camera.) There's even time for a nod to Crocodile Dundee...
So, while the bigger picture remains frustratingly blurred, and the plots themselves don't ever amount to much, there's enough charm and witty banter to pull you through. If they could just begin to develop the overarching storyline, take time to flesh out the storylines, lose some of the repetitive aspects, and perhaps perform some hilarious songs... Conchords could become the show it's aiming to be.
At the moment, Flight Of The Conchords is an enjoyable, laid-back, charming, wryly amusing series. Mugged is easily the best episode yet, but much of that is down to increased familiarity with the character's personalities.
I like these guys now; I just wish they'd be given better direction...
9 October 2007
BBC Four, 9.30 pm