“Flight of the Conchords” was an HBO original series about two New Zealand musicians trying to find success in New York City. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement’s band Flight of the Conchords, managed by Murray (Rhys Darby), an imbecilic employee of the New Zealand Consulate in NYC, routinely played loser gigs such as libraries, elevators or, in one instance, “a central park.” Over the course of two seasons, audiences were witness to some of the most random and awkward comedy ever assembled as Bret and Jemaine fell in and out of love with various women, dodged their only fan, Mel (Kristen Schaal), and hung out with Dave (Arj Barker), the manager of their local pawnshop. Unique to the series, entertaining musical numbers were used to explain or explore Bret and Jemaine’s inner thoughts and emotions. The songs were catchy and, outside of the show, actually popular, though the “real” onscreen band never seemed to play anything at their gigs remotely resembling the elaborate music in their heads.
Unfortunately for fans of the show, such as myself, the series only lasted two seasons. Since the show’s end, the series has been available on DVD in different releases, from the individual seasons to a previous Season One and Two collection to the current box set that I’m reviewing here, “Flight of the Conchords: The Complete Collection.” While, for me, the true joy and meat of any TV box set should be the episodes themselves, and there’s the full two seasons included here, this collection also includes a couple other fun extras.
First off, there’s the DVD of the original HBO special that introduced HBO audiences to the Flight of the Conchords, the 2005, 30-minute “Flight of the Conchords: One Night Stand.” This is fun in that, for fans of the show, you get to see from where many of the songs and humor, that eventually became full-fledged TV episodes, came. There’s also a documentary about the show, “Flight of the Conchords: On Air,” that actually explains, while praising the show, how it could have come to an end so soon. Simply, when you have two guys who have never made a TV show before and they aren’t necessarily the most ambitious humans (Jemaine admits to being outright lazy), you can’t expect them to last long writing all the songs, acting in the show and also co-writing episodes. It appears to be a case of straight burnout but, like “Spaced,” perhaps it’s better that the show end leaving the audience wanting more than continue in a more compromised fashion.
The box set also includes deleted scenes (which are actually hilarious, unlike most deleted scenes on DVDs), outtakes (which should’ve been called “Jemaine’s laughter ruins takes”) and a few original extras such as Dave’s Pawn Shop Commercials and some New Zealand Consulate Meetings with Murray and Greg (Frank Wood).
My biggest criticism of this box set is a lack of any sort of individual episode commentary with either Bret and Jemaine or any of the other creative forces behind the TV show. “Spaced: The Complete Series” that came out a couple years ago, and the many “Simpsons” season releases, no doubt spoiled me to believe that any major collection of a show would include such an extra feature, and in this case, maybe my sadness at the lack of commentary has more to do with wanting more Flight of the Conchords material period. I absolutely loved the show, even if the second season began to show wear-and-tear on the creative team. I guess I just miss Bret and Jemaine…