Welcome back to Friday. On this very first weekend in October, you may be planning to take a note from Mr. Autumn Man’s playbook by leaf-peeping in a grey sweater and plaid collared shirt while holding a pumpkin spice latte and breathing in the crisp fall air. Or, you could hunker down in your home with with plenty of delicious things to eatand drink, and a bunch of exciting shows to watch in your queue. If you’re leaning toward the latter option, here are notes on three TV series to check out this weekend, as well as a roundup of the week’s food-related entertainment news.
Revisiting a ‘Flight’ of fancy
This Saturday, nearly nine years after their HBO series went off the air, New Zealand-born comedic duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie will return to the cable network for a new special called Flight of the Conchords: Live in London. If you didn’t watch their HBO show the first time around — or if you just want to catch up for the new special — I highly recommend checking out three episodes of this short-lived series, in particular.
Although it was only filmed a decade ago, Flight of the Conchordscaptures a scrappier version of downtown Manhattan that feels pleasantly retro. Jemaine and Bret play broke, more aloof versions of themselves struggling to stay afloat in the big city, while also pursuing their gonzo musical vision and hopefully finding love along the way.
Unfortunately, some of the bawdier humor of the show has not aged well, especially because it often feels at odds with its otherwise sweet, silly nature. But everything else holds up, especially the pleasantly shabby aesthetic, the riffing among the ensemble cast, and the terrific music videos. Here are three episodes worth watching:
“Bret Gives Up the Dream”: At the start of the episode, the guys are so down on their luck that they eat actual garbage for dinner. But then Bret takes a job holding a sign advertising hot dogs, which proves to be good for his finances and overall confidence, but bad for the band. This episode includes the Pet Shop Boys parody “Inner City Pressure,” where Jemaine croons about “counting coins on the counter of the 7-Eleven from a half-past six to a quarter to seven” to try to buy some Muesli.
“New Fans”: This episode, directed by future Hollywood heavyweight Taika Waititi (of Thor: Ragnarok fame), finds the guys getting involved with two new fans who eventually coax them into dropping acid for the first time. The Donovan riff “Prince of Parties,” is 90 seconds of inspired psychedelic nonsense, but the best scene is the awkward dinner in which the two new fans break bread with the Conchords and stalker-ish megafan Mel.
“The Tough Brets”: To seem more tough, Bret starts a gang with random people in the neighborhood. But the real highlight of this episode is “Hurt Feelings,” a number in which Jemaine raps about how his friends don’t compliment his casseroles and profiteroles. “Not one of them thinks about the way I feel,” he sings. “Nobody compliments the meal.” Another choice moment is when Bret’s ragtag gang ambushes Jemaine in the kitchen when he comes back from the grocery store.
Streaming recommendations du jour
Bob’s Burgers, “Just one of the Boyz 4 Now”
The gist: If Flight of the Conchords doesn’t scratch your itch for funny songs, consider taking the Season 9 premiere of Fox’s burger joint-themed animated series for a spin. The main plot focuses on daughter Tina infiltrating a boy band audition, where she keeps imagining herself in hilarious music videos with the potential bandmates. As it turns out, boy band humor, like the musical genre itself, never really gets old. The B-plot of “Just one of the Boyz 4 Now” is an equally amusing scenario, wherein Bob and the rest of the family must hide a pet rat from the health inspector.
The Late Late Show, “Take a Break: Catch LA”
Watch it on: YouTube
The gist: James Corden is at his best when he’s being playful and charming, off-script. I think that’s why this sketch, wherein the late night host takes over various jobs at clubstaurant Catch LA, works so well. It’s clear that Corden has no idea how to operate the restaurant’s POS system, phone lines, or martini shakers, but it’s fun to watch him pretend like he knows what he’s doing, as the rest of the staff laughs along with him. The best bit is near the end of this 11-minute sketch, when he teaches the staff how to perform the “Happy Birthday” song.
In other entertainment news…
- Netflix dropped trailers for two hotly-anticipated fall TV shows this week: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. Both series will make their debuts at the end of next week.
- Nicholls State University in Louisiana is offering an English courseabout the books that influenced late author/TV legend Anthony Bourdain.
- And speaking of Anthony Bourdain, his show Parts Unknown just disappeared from Netflix, but thankfully, every episode of every season is available to stream on the CNNgo app (which requires a cable subscription).
- And in yet more Bourdain news, the new Asturias episode of Parts Unknown is the first to air without a complete narration recorded by the star. The episode feels… noticeably quiet.
- Shaquille O’Neal’s new restaurant reality show Big Chicken Shaqpremieres on Facebook Watch this Saturday, October 6.
- Adam Driver and Cecily Strong were hilarious in an SNL sketch about a coffee-switch prank, but Kanye’s Perrier bottle costume was the most memorable part of the season premiere.
- And finally, if you’re searching for info about all the people and places featured on Chef’s Table, look no further than Eater’s complete guide to all five seasons, plus the France-themed mini-season. My personal top five list: Cristina Martinez, Gaggan Anand, Nancy Silverton, Albert Adrià, and Adeline Grattard.
Have a great weekend everyone. And if you’re looking for something ambitious to cook, take a look at Anthony Bourdain’s recipe for duck with red cabbage from the late author/TV host’s comic book collaboration with Joel Rose, Hungry Ghosts.