After last week's tedious start, things perk up significantly with "A New Cup"; funnier jokes, better songs, a nicely skewed storyline to follow. Is it just a coincidence that it's not written by the Conchords...?
Here, Bret (Bret McKenzie) buys a new cup so he doesn't have to timeshare the one they own, but the meager expenditure ($2.79) results in unpaid bills and their electricity being cut off. Gigs aren't going too well, either, what with the Conchords often forgetting their instruments and having to play air-guitar, resulting in terrible reviews in the NZ consulate newsletter -- written by their own manager, Murray (Rhys Darby)!
Money gets so tight (despite selling "Super Straws" on the street, or giving Mel non-contact massages) that Jemaine (Jemaine Clement) decides to become a gigolo, having decided it's a viable career after mis-remembering Pretty Woman. Meanwhile, Murray puts financial hope in replying to a Nigerian phising scam, and actually finds his dumb naïvety rewarded.
"A New Cup" was broadly similar to "Bret Gives Up The Dream" last year; another example of how Flight Of The Conchords finds it difficult to think up totally fresh scenarios. But, this was different enough to become a worthwhile echo -- particularly because the songs were much livelier and funnier. "Sugarlumps" was especially good (a kind of faux-macho version of Fergie's infernally-catchy "My Humps"), and the "Roxanne"-like "You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute Jemaine" was decent, too.
Indeed, maybe this episode should act as a wake-up call? It seems to me that if the Conchords focus on the funny songs, and leave the comedy writing to someone else (Duncan Sarkies*, here), then it's a mutually-beneficial arrangement. The story moved smoother, the situation was more involving than usual, there were plenty of good jokes (Murray's wall-timeline, the Nigerian man's presence) and none of the musical interludes disappointed.
Overall, FoTC remains inconsistent and curiously inert at times, but episodes like this are like a brief oasis. I just wish I had faith this quality will be sustained, or even improved upon. So, drink up, because I wouldn't be surprised if the desert mirages of greatness return next week.
25 January 2009
Writer: Duncan Sarkies
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Jemaine Clement (Jemaine), Bret (Bret McKenzie), Kristen Schaal (Mel), Arj Barker (Dave) & Eugene Mirman (Eugene)
* Sarkies also wrote "New Fans", a highlight of season 1 for me.