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Flight Of The Conchords: "Wingmen"

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Another week, another failed romantic attempt on Flight Of The Conchords. Of course, “failed” only refers to Bret and Jemaine’s continual lack of success in their dating endeavors; of all the go-to FOTC plots, “dating” is probably the most consistently successful (with the possible exception of the less-frequent “Bret and Jemaine need money”). Which is probably why, like last season, approximately half of this season’s episodes have been devoted to that theme. And while there’s an argument to be made for not messing with success, it’s a little frustrating that, with only one episode left this season (and probably forever), FOTC doesn’t seem to be making any efforts to mix things up a bit.

Here’s the problem: No matter how amusing it was to see Bret try to impress the Petland lady by wearing a kilt, buying 64 goldfish, going though her trash, and arranging a not-so-fake mugging, we all saw where this was going approximately five minutes in, right? The thing about the “dating” episodes is that, with a few minor exceptions (namely, the reappearance of Coco and Sally last season), the boys’ love lives always reset at the end of each episode. There’s never a question of if they’ll screw it up; the entertainment is derived from discovering how they’re going to screw it up. And tonight’s “how” was just a little too obvious.

Fortunately, the lean plotline left a lot of room for supporting-cast wackiness, sight gags, and a so-so B story that found Murray trying to apologize to Greg after throwing him under the bus with their consulate boss. To be honest, outside of Murray’s attempted peace offering of chocolates from his desk, not much about the Greg-Murray conflict hit home for me; though I know many of you commenters are big fans of Greg’s bland fury, so maybe there were some hidden gems there that just didn’t register. What did register was the excellent sight gag of Bret’s goldfish scattered about the apartment throughout the episode, a nicely executed detail that became more delightful each time it happened.

Also delightful: the revelation of a wallpaper-painted Savannah and honey-moneyed Bret following the “I Told You I Was Freaky” musical number. The transition between the musical numbers and dialogue on FOTC is always an interesting moment, a weird, winking acknowledgement that’s meta in its purposeful awkwardness. This was a particularly excellent example of that technique, especially Bret waving it off as “just the first date.” It both heightened the absurdity of the preceding musical number (and the accompanying visuals, which ran along the lines of “let’s play dress-up”) and resulted in a couple of nice throwaway lines (“I owe you 14 dollars”).

Maybe it’s because almost all of this season’s songs have been accompanied by increasingly high-concept and big-budget (well, comparatively speaking) visuals that the first song of the night—a sweet, folky love ballad—didn’t even register as a separate number for the first few seconds. Not helping matters was Jemaine’s spoken responses, though those became quite funny as the song went on (“She was like a Parisian river” “What, dirty?”). The lack of that fantastical element that usually accompanies the songs on FOTC was a little jarring, but it helped place the focus on the lyrics of the song, which were some of the best I think we’ve heard so far this season. (“She said your beard is woven of heartache.”) It was the exact opposite of “I Told You I Was Freaky,” which succeeded based on a catchy chorus and WTF visuals rather than its rhyming-dictionary-mining lyrics.

You know what always succeeds on this show, though? Dave. “You do exist, don’t you?” “Women like three things: Men in kilts, Southern Comfort, and Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game.’” “Ask her what’s up with her face.” I can’t even pick a favorite Dave moment from tonight’s episode. Mel’s Dumpster-diving lesson and Eugene’s surprise appearance in the guys’ shower were both great, but Dave was the clear standout of the supporting cast tonight. With the possible exception of Doug. Who doesn’t love Doug?

Grade: B+

Stray Observations

• How excellent was the reveal that Bret’s flirting instructions from Jemaine and Dave were actually coming via a walkie-talkie strapped to his kilt?

• “When you love someone you need all the ammunition you can get to take them down.” Amen, Mel.

• I really would have liked to see how Bret planned to serve peanut-butter and jelly sushi.

• Only one episode left, probably ever. Thoughts?