Save the Conchords

Don’t let Bret and Jemaine fly the coop

By Jere Hester
|  Thursday, Nov 5, 2009  |  Updated 1:16 AM EDT
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It's not easy making "Flight of the Conchords" so weird.

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Hapless band manager Murray Hewitt might not be able to mark Bret and Jemaine "present" at the next meeting of “Flight of the Conchords."

Jemaine Clement said this week that he and partner Bret McKenzie “very likely might” end their hit HBO show, which would be a devastating blow to their only fan/stalker Mel – as well as the rest of us who have become addicted to the deadpan duo's off-kilter comedy and genre-mixing music.

"We've got to write the series, but we've also got to write the songs, and just dividing your time into those two writing tasks is really tricky," Clement told Reuters.

The show, two years and 22 episodes old, is no doubt labor intensive. “Conchords” might be thin on plots – shows have centered on Bret's new coffee cup and Jemaine dating (horrors!) an Australian – but it’s heavy on Seinfeldian-via-New-Zealand dialogue. Each episode also features one or two elaborate music videos, like their “Frodo” and “Bowie’s in Space” epics.

If that all sounds weird, the show about two loser musicians trying to make it in New York has always been an acquired taste – and a hard one to shake. “Conchords” is a hipster, surreal, latter-day Monkees, with an appeal to the absurdist that lurks in many – at least 3 million viewers, according to the ratings. Now it looks like the show could be ending just months after a surprise Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series marked a major step toward taking “Conchords” beyond a cult following.

Last we saw them, Jemaine and Bret were evicted from their apartment (they'd been paying the rent in New Zealand dollars) and wound up deported back home where they were making music while herding sheep.

Clement said a decision on the show’s future would be made in a month, and he floated a shorter season or a special as possibilities. Hopefully, HBO can herd them back for a full third season – otherwise, maybe it’s time to get Mel to hunt them down...

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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