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TV THIS WEEK | THE BIG THING

Two Kiwis in `Flight'

June 17, 2007|Robert Lloyd

THE art of the deadpan has been tuned to an exquisitely fine degree in HBO's new and consistently funny "The Flight of the Conchords." The 12-part series, which begins tonight, follows -- if "follows" is the right word to describe lives so static -- "New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-parody duo" as they attempt to find stardom, or even a second gig, in New York City.

Reminiscent of but drier in tone than HBO's earlier "Tenacious D" shorts, "Conchords" is the one current HBO series that seems actually "young." Heroes Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement inhabit a world slightly askew from our own, in which, for all their lack of success and their fundamental dumbness -- Bret makes Jemaine a camera phone by taping together a camera and a phone -- they still manage to imagine themselves as heroes. (Their "rap names": Rhymenoceros and Hiphopapotamus.)

Most of the episodes I've seen seem to revolve around hurt feelings and jealousy, just like in real pop groups.

Jemaine: "You abandoned me to die."

Bret: "Well, I wouldn't have done it if I knew you were going to hassle me about it."

The pair have already been featured in an HBO "One Night Stand" special and a BBC radio series and are on a short tour that will bring them to L.A.'s El Rey Theatre in July. And they have 18,264 MySpace friends -- possibly more by the time you read this and certainly more by Monday morning.

(HBO, today, 10:30 p.m.)

-- Robert Lloyd

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