What if, in hindsight, Flight of the Conchords sucked? Let's go back and check.

When we re-examine the things we thought were good 10 years ago in the harsh light of the current day, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of it won't hold up. Indeed, when I look back now on my main cultural touchstones of 2007 - Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne, Lip Gloss by Lil Mama and the Lil Mama remix of Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne - it can be hard to see what genius I once saw in them.

The first episode of Flight of the Conchords premiered on HBO precisely 10 years and four days ago, on June 17, 2007. The same week, Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's debuted on the New Zealand Top 40, plaintively asking the question: "What's it like in New York City?"

Like most New Zealanders who only started paying attention to the Wellington comedy-folk duo once they had a major network American TV show, I thought FOTC was pretty funny.

But what if, with the hindsight of 10 years, it actually totally sucked? I rewatched the first episode with a critical 2017 eye just in case.

The series begins with Jemaine (Clement) telling Bret (McKenzie) about all the girls he'd got it on with back in New Zealand - "Sarah Fitzpatrick, Michelle Fitzpatrick, Claire Fitzpatrick..." - while walking to their friend Dave's party in NYC. I didn't remember this deadpan classic Kiwi surname joke from 10 years ago but it's good, and there's heaps more little bits like it.

Three minutes into the episode the pair start singing. Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room) would go on to be one of two Conchords songs nominated for an Emmy in 2008. It is a song most experts would probably agree is an all-time top five FOTC song, sung in a Prince-like falsetto and built around the almost believable Prince lyric "you're so beautiful you could be a part-time model". It remains an absolute tune.

The potential part-time model is a woman called Sally, played by Rachel Blanchard, who was also Jez's sham wife Nancy on British comedy Peep Show. Elsewhere in this episode there are cameos from Judah Friedlander (Frank, the hat guy from 30 Rock) and Eugene Mirman (the voice of Gene on Bob's Burgers); later in the series Aziz Ansari guests as a xenophobic fruit vendor. Flight of the Conchords seems more star-studded with the benefit of 10 years' hindsight.

Then there's the ubiquitous Rhys Darby, before he was quite so ubiquitous, as Murray. The consul/band manager is still one of the great New Zealand comic characters, but the subsequent 10 years of slight variations on the same character has diminished Murray's appeal a little. All the same, his Fleetwood Mac (dad-)joke is one of the best bits in the episode.

After the first of many meetings, Murray films the video for the episode's second musical number Robots on a 2007-era flip phone; later Jemaine's failed relationship with Sally produces the third, the heartfelt ballad Not Crying. As standalone tracks neither is a patch on Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room), but both at least serve the narrative and provide a platform for some good visual jokes.


Maybe the most remarkable thing about watching the show today is how low-budget it looks - some parts almost look like they could be a 48Hours film. That doesn't diminish its quality at all - to be honest, Bret's hair helmet probably wouldn't be quite the same in full HD - but it goes to show how slick everything has got in the last decade.

It's an open-and-shut case: 10 years on, Flight of the Conchords resoundingly does not suck. It's still good, it's still funny and now it's completely justifiable to describe it as a classic. One worth revisiting if you can find something to play the retro 2007-era DVD on.

- The Spinoff