71. "Bret Gives Up the Dream," Flight of the Conchords (2007)
Welcome to the “100 Best Sitcom Episodes of All Time,” a countdown for winter 2012. Each episode will get a separate blog post, counting backward toward No. 1. A list of the programs revealed so far is here and an introduction to the project is here.
This may be the least-seen episode on the Top 100 list. Flight of the Conchords aired on HBO for only 22 episodes over two years, ending when stars/creators Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie (who just won an Oscar for writing The Muppets song "Man or Muppet") called it quits. Flight is a musical sitcom, something rarely attempted since The Monkees in the 1960s, and it covers an impressive range of musical styles, in addition to creating a fine set of characters.
Supervisor: What you have to do is hold the sign and make sure the arrow is pointing in the right direction. Is that something you think you can do?
Jemaine: It sounds like something a lamppost can do.
Eddie: (to Bret) You know what, you're sign material. This guy overthinks things.
Bret is a success as a signholder, despite his bad habit of blocking arrows with his head (see above). He starts missing band rehearsals, leading Jemaine and ineffectual band manager Murray to replace him with a pre-recorded cassette tape. (Murray compares the relative strengths of both and gives the tape points for being "cheaper," "more consistent," and "not as hairy.")
The cassette tape, which is kind of a Twonky, is stupidly destroyed, as mandated by the rules of sitcoms, and the duo is eventually reunited.
Flight of the Conchords is a sweet and clever show with a real feel for New York City. It happens to predate another low-budget, genre-bending cable sitcom with a unique voice set in NYC. Maybe that one will show up later!
Bret and Jemaine's adventures are on HBO's streaming video site. Below are a few of their musical numbers, which are on YouTube. The first two are from "Bret Gives Up the Dream."
The boys' more sensitive side, from the pilot episode: