ALEXANDER BISLEY recaps the best in comedy television on DVD. In this installment: Flight on the Conchords: Season Two, Extras: The Complete Collection, The Simpsons: Season Twelve.

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Flight of the Conchords: Season Two (Warners, $19.95). Don’t believe the diss: Flight of the Conchords are still the best Kiwi comics since John Clarke and Billy T James. Season Two kicks off hilariously with the Duncan Sarkies penned ‘The New Cup’. Jemaine opens with his classic deadpan stare: “What’s that?” “A cup”. Bret disregard of the cup roster and $2.99 spending spree results in comic bliss. Bret pawns his guitar and performs air-guitar. Mel is back at the gig, same as she ever was, after the Crazy Dogs are busted for plagiarising Polish music. She offers money for massage. Murray scribes a scathing review for the consulate newsletter and can’t help with the emergency band fund, having lent it to a Nigerian emailer Nigel Soladu. He reacts with magnificent consternation to Jemaine’s suggestion that he has been scammed. “Why would anyone want to scam me, Jemaine?” “And on the internet service. One of the trusted things in today’s society.”
The second best episode is ‘Unnatural Love’, directed by Michel Gondry. Jemaine dates Ozzie chick Keitha, to the disgust of Bret and Murray. “What about your kids? They’ll be aberrations,” Murray warns. Conchords satire of MFAT and TourismNZ is still incisive and amusing. I found the whole enterprise tighter and funnier second time round. ‘Inner City Pressure’ is still my favourite song, but ‘Sugarlumps’ (ridiculing Fergie) and ‘Jemaine, You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute’ (lampooning Sting’s ‘Roxanne’) and the dog epilepsy remix are terrific.
“What came first?” “Unemployment,” Jemaine riffs in Hannah Clarke’s Flight of the Conchords On Air documentaryette. Brit co-creator James Bobin and HBO producer Stu Smiley speak engagingly. “You don’t need to be a genius to notice,” Smiley recalls seeing their genius for the first time. Well quite, but yet again TVNZ missed the boat! The deleted scenes, more than 24 minutes of scenes such as Murray writing to Nigel Soladu, are better than usual. The best TV today is HBO: Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos, The Wire and Conchords. On the strength of this mint series, Bret and Jemaine have at least one more season in them.

Extras: The Complete Collection (Roadshow, $99.95): You can’t make it up. In Extras Ricky Gervais got Kate Winslet to josh about how if she played a Nazi she’d win an Oscar. Sure enough, she was so awarded for the wildly overrated The Reader. I often find Gervais’s extras and commentary aboulia-addled, dippy and detracting; it’s his work that makes him hilarious. Extras: The Complete Collection charts the vaguely sympathetic extra Andy Millman’s rise from nobody to shitcom — When the Whistle Blows — celebrity. Fame rises, self-loathing rises (even Geri Haliwell gets lunch with Pinter!), and it’s gnawing at his soul. Gervais’s trademark blend of hilarious/painful rewards rewatching. The many highlights include Ben Stiller’s set meltdown, David Bowie’s mocking song, Darren and Barry selling cellphones and Andy’s mad-as-hell moment on Celebrity Big Brother. The only inept agent more amusing than Conchords’ Murray is Steve Merchant’s Darren.

The Simpsons: Season Twelve (Roadshow, $59.95): Does The Simpsons jump the shark in Season Twelve? Probably. There are definitely some outstanding episodes though. In ‘Homer Vs Dignity’, financial probs lead Homer to be Mr Burns’ prank monkey, throwing pudding at Lenny eye and so forth. ‘A Tale of Two Springfield’s’ boasts the Springfield Wall and ‘Simpsons’ Safari’ Africa. In ‘The Computer Wore Menace Shoes’ Homer becomes a scurrilous blogger. Chief Wiggum is accused of employing the electric chair to cook chicken. The best is ‘I’m Goin’ To Praiseland’. Ned Flanders builds a religious themepark, Praiseland, to honour Maude Flanders and God. Springfielders memorably putdown the joint. The last line belongs to the awesome Carl Carlson: “And this candy is sub-par. Any religion that embraces carob is not for Carl Carlson.” Lorryloads of unpreviewed extras for the obsessives.