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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Flight Of The Conchords: "Prime Minister"

Illustration for article titled Flight Of The Conchords: "Prime Minister"
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Poor Jemaine. The guy’s never been lucky in love, but he’s landed two certifiable nutjobs in three weeks (two and a half if you count his half-date with Kristen Wiig last week). But all the better for us viewers, because Jemaine’s recent romantic trials—first with the aggressively Australian Keitha and tonight with Mary Lynn Rajskub’s rabid Garfunkelite—have paid off big-time in terms of laughs. Granted, this is the third week in a row where FOTC has gone back to the crazy-love-interest well; but why shouldn’t they, when it’s produced three of the better episodes of the season so far? The inherent awkwardness of new “love” meshes so well with the guys’ low-key naiveté, and provides an easy jumping-off point for songs.

After being pitted against each other in last week’s romantic rivalry, Bret and Jemaine were split into very distinct A and B stories tonight. Thanks to another one of Murray’s so-called “gigs,” this time filling in for a Simon and Garfunkel tribute act, the guys find themselves drawn into the shady underworld of look-alikes, which is seemingly populated almost entirely by celebrity guest stars. But more on that later. Jemaine (or, more precisely, Jemaine’s Garfunkel wig) soon finds himself the apple of Rajskub’s crazy, crazy eyes.  While the Garfunkel fetish gag itself was a little expected, it formed the basis for the episode’s best moments: the song “Demon Woman,” Mel’s appalled indignation at the nature of their relationship, and of course, the kicker, the real Art Gurfunkel showing up at Rajskub’s door seeking to rekindle their one-time relationship (which had absolutely nothing to do with her and Jemaine’s relationship, nothing at all).

Meanwhile, Bret stayed mostly in the background as a part of Murray’s quest to introduce Prime Minster Brian of New Zealand to the president. (Can't tell if the constant use of the vague "president" was intentional, or a work-around necessitated because the episode was written before the election.) Bret’s main job tonight was to hang around with his hand (erm, gun) in his jacket while Murray and Brian Sergent traded naïve New Zealander gags back and forth. In a nice bit of synchronicity, Murray ends up fooling P.M. Brian with a Barack Obama look-alike, therefore keeping anyone from looking like a turkey. A lot of the Prime Minster stuff flirted with overdoing the whole “dumb New Zealander” angle  (“I’m feeling that feeling where you go grrrr” is certainly funny and quotable, but come on, just because he talks with an accent doesn’t mean he’s retarded), but Rhys Darby and Sergent did a really good job of selling it. (“How’s the environment doing? Can we clean it up a bit?”)

Bret got his turn in the spotlight with the night’s second song, a Korean karaoke number that was totally unexpected and weird, but that worked by virtue of being so damn unexpected and weird. (Or, as Dave might put it, “It’s really weird. But it’s also the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life.”) Sure, it’s not exactly singable, but Engrish never fails to bring the funny, so using the translated karaoke lyrics gimmick to incorporate delightful absurdities like “sometimes love is sweet as kalbi (beef delicacy)” was a pretty inspired bit of comedy. And Bret in a turtleneck was a nice touch.

But “Demon Woman” was easily the winner, song-wise tonight. It also made me feel a little guilty for knocking the guys’ singing chops last week, as they essentially revisited the same dynamic here (growly Jemaine, falsetto-y Bret) to much greater effect. It helped that the song was mixed in a way that we could actually, you know, understand the lyrics this time. And that Jemaine took off his shirt. (Sorry, the spirit of Mel took over the keyboard for a second there.)

And oh yeah, Patton Oswalt! Hi Patton! What a fun, unexpected little cameo you were tonight, along with Rajskub and Garfunkel. FOTC has had almost as many guest stars as 30 Rock this season, but so far they’ve all been incorporated very naturally, adapting their individual comedic shticks to the Conchords’ milieu. It helps that the show obviously attracts some of the quirkier actor/comedians out there. Well, and Garfunkel. But hey, good to see he’s still getting work. Good on ya, Garfunkel.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations

• Tonight’s episode could have been a half-hour of Jemaine just standing around in that Garfunkel wig and I think I still would have given it at least a B.

• “I like your height” is my new favorite pick-up line.

• “What day is it? Yesterday?”

• Man, way to spoil the ending of Cars for me, guys.

• My spell check keeps trying to replace “Garfunkel” with “Carbuncle,” which amuses me to no end for some reason.

• Now that we're getting to the end of the season, I want to start polling: Which songs, if any, this season have y'all deemed download-worthy?