Doodad Kind of Town


My Last Days of HBO; "Saving Grace" Update
August 3, 2007, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Holly Hunter

I recently decided to downgrade my cable package and get rid of HBO. Ever since “The Sopranos” faded away behind that all-black screen (the biggest cop-out in TV history, IMHO), I’ve had little reason to watch. I’ve never warmed up to “Big Love” or “Entourage.” I made it through only the first episode-and-a-half of “Rome.” Any good original movies or comedy specials they come up with will make it to DVD in mere weeks, so why bother paying the $14.99 a month to see them right away?

One summer show, however, almost made me reverse my decision. “Flight of the Conchords” is HBO’s delightfully daffy series about Brett and Jermaine, a folk-singing duo from New Zealand trying to hit it big in the Big Apple. Their only fan is a wide-eyed housewife with a head full of Shirley Temple curls who stalks them in a station wagon driven by her long-suffering husband. Their manager has a day job at the New Zealand Consulate (in an office that resembles a 70s rec room, with wood-paneled walls and cheesy New Zealand tourism posters tacked on the walls.) They play gigs at aquariums and tourism fairs, support themselves with odd jobs such as holding signs on the street to point passers-by to hot dog stands or men’s suit sales. And they have trouble with girls.

What makes the show is the music. There are at least a couple of songs in each episode, and they’re musically adept and absolutely hilarious at the same time. (I am a WAY unhip forty-something whose in-depth knowledge of pop music ends at about 1989, so I don’t know who to compare their sound to. Please forgive me. ) Take these lyrics from “She’s So Hot, BOOM!” : “She’s so flippin’ hot/She’s like a curry/I want to tell her how hot she is/But she’ll think I’m being sexist”

Or from another love song: “You’re so beautiful/You could be a part-time model/but you’d still probably have to keep your normal job”

Is it any wonder they have trouble with girls?

Meanwhile, the news from “Saving Grace”: it’s not getting any better. In the second episode, the show still fails to find its footing. The problem with “Saving Grace” appears to be its schizophrenic ambitions: it’s two-two-TWO shows in one. It’s like “Oklahoma City C.S.I.” and “Touched by a Redneck Angel” all wrapped into one weekly package. The detective story is the better, more interesting part of that package; the spiritual half of the show is pretty half-baked. It’s beginning to remind me of this crappy paperback someone gave me many years ago called “God on a Harley” in which a lovelorn 30-something is visited by God in the form of a burly biker who says things like “Hey, I’m not perfect. When I wrote the Ten Commandments, I made some mistakes. I’ve learned a lot since then!” As I recall, there was even a “brand new. kinder and gentler” version of the commandments in the back of the book which, when followed by the lovelorn 30-something, led her to stop bleaching her hair and find true love with a jazz musician.

“Saving Grace” is on about the same track, with the good ole boy angel popping in to scramble some eggs for Grace while spouting wisdom like “Go to a church, go to temple, go to mosque. Hell, go sit in a tree if it brings you closer to God.” One has to wonder why Grace feels so threatened and disturbed to be sought out by God. It’s not as if she’s being asked to repent or relinquish all her worldly goods; all that seems to be required is that she listen to a paunchy old redneck dispense some Hallmark Card-style wisdom. Meanwhile, the writers keep loading her up with outrageous, good ole girl behaviors – deer huntin’ with the boys! Takin’ on a second lover! Wrasslin’ with that cussed Earl the angel! – that beat us over the head with the message “This little gal may be the town pump, but she’s full of piss and vinegar! ” There’s everything but a neon light over her head flashing the message “Unlikely Candidate for Salvation.” We get it already!!!

“Flight of the Conchords” photo from hbo.com

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1 Comment so far
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Really nice reviews!While HBO may be holding less interest on the series side, its movies are still pretty kickass most of the time.I never watched “Saving Grace,” despite my enormous respect for Holly Hunter. I think the day of the God’s helper shows is over. I know it is for me.

Comment by Marilyn




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