"Murray Takes It To The Next Level" S2 / E4
- B+ Community Grade
I hope that was enough questions and that we’re all friends now. Thanks to Jim Gaffigan for demonstrating that the secret to making friends is asking an endless string of closed-end questions. Well, it’s the secret to making friends with Murray anyway. Gaffigan guest-starred tonight as Murray’s best friend Jim, as established by his position on the Y-axis of Murray’s friendship chart. Most of this episode revolved around Bret and Jemaine ascending said friendship chart—after being prodded to do so by Murray—then rapidly descending back to the level of “strangers” after calling Jim a dick and installing a table tennis net on Murray’s desk. And thus died Murray’s dreams of having his own Friends-like crew. Not even bringing Mel in as a Phoebe could save it.
Then there was the B story concerning Bret’s inappropriate actions in Mel’s dreams. (She has no such problem with Dream Jemaine, even though Real Jemaine seems to find his actions just as disgusting as whatever it is Dream Bret did.) Although this storyline paid off with the first full Mel musical number and an excellent fantasy sequence, it felt a little flimsy, especially the non-resolution of Mel apparently beating Bret up at Tae Kwon Do practice. In fact, the entire episode ended a little abruptly, with the second musical number, “Friends.” Perhaps it’s just because it’s rare for a FOTC episode to end on a musical number, but I found myself waiting for another scene—perhaps over the closing credits, which were missing the little bumper we’ve been getting there all season—either showing Mel forgiving Bret in some creepy-cute manner or the boys’ first band meeting post-friendship. Considering there was no opening pre-credits sequence either, the whole episode felt a little clipped, like a good chunk was left on the cutting-room floor.
But “Friends” was a very good number, a fun little a capella ditty with guest vocals from Gaffigan. It also highlighted, once again, the fact that Bret and Jemaine are really becoming part of an ensemble this season, rather than the main characters. Previously “supporting” characters like Mel and Murray, and even Dave, are being brought into the musical element of the show a lot more than they were last season, and Murray’s been doing a lot of heavy lifting, plot-wise, so far (especially tonight’s episode and the season premiere). This isn’t especially detrimental, but I find myself wanting a little more Bret-Jemaine interaction, without the third-party buffers. I love Murray and Mel, and Dave is quickly rising in my esteem too, but I worry the Conchords might be getting upstaged in their own show.
Then again, maybe they were just giving Gaffigan the spotlight tonight, which is usually a good move. His subdued shtick fits in really well in the Conchordiverse, and he hit on a great blend of creepy and aggressively normal that one would imagine Murray’s best friend would possess. (“When did you get my message?” “What did you think about my message?”) Really, he’s a much better match for Murray than Bret or Jemaine, whose idea of friendship activities—taking a bath, having a sleep—don’t really mesh with their manager’s crazy, fort-building lifestyle.
• So how many people have you met?
• Oh good, Bret’s still using his hair helmet.
• Nice to see another semi-animated musical fantasy sequence. The singing face cookies may have been my favorite gag of the night.
• “Bret, I feel like you’re my brother. And Jemaine, you’re our dad!”
• I loved the slowed-down version of “Rock The Party” to close their elevator gig.
• Murray displaying his “friendship” graph on an overhead projector was a perfect little detail. As were the clocks on the wall.