Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Murray Hewitt

Over Christmas I have been watching the first and second season of the comedy series 'Flight of the Conchords.' As our first module 'Fundamental Skills for Digital Films, Games and Animation' considered a lot of character development and archetypes, I thought I would write about one of my favorite characters from the series 'Murray Hewitt,' played by comedian Rhys Darby.

To give a bit of background on the series, the Flight of the Conchords are a folk parody duo from New Zealand. In their HBO television series, they move to New York to try and find success with their band but, under the poor management of Murray, find it hard to get 'gigs' (paid shows) and make ends meet. Murray works at the New Zealand consulate in New York, and manages the band along side his actual job. In fact, Murray is not a great manager and doesn't really have much experience working with musicians.

In my opinion, Murray fits the Child archetype. He is very gullible when it comes to opportunities for the band, probably one of the worst qualities a band manager could have. He has the duo playing in Libraries, where people trying to read sush the band, and also in elevators, where the crowd are only concerned about getting off on their floor. He also likes to create a more formal and organised atmosphere with his 'band meetings,' when in reality they usually have very little to discuss, and some of Murray's suggestions are pointless and ridiculous. He will always do a 'role call' where he takes a register, even though there are only three people in his office. Here is an example:

In this clip we can also see Murray making one of his pointless suggestions, as he points out to Greg that his New Zealand poster could use an extra exclamation mark. On one episode, he suggests that band members have a strand of hay coming from the corner of their mouths to improve the duo's image. It's suggestions like these that show Murray as a square character with very little clue about the music industry and popular culture in general. Her even refers to Jermain's Bass guitar as the 'Dad Guitar', because of its deep tone.

Murray's Child-like persona is further emphasized when he is bullied by workers from the Australian Consulate. There is an on-going rivalry throughout the series between New Zealand and Australia, and Murray becomes the victim of this. It is a school playground situation. The first three minutes of the video link bellow show this:

Although Murray in my view fits the child archetype, he does often take on a father-like role towards the Duo. One of my favorite episodes is 'What Goes on Tour', where Murray organizes a warm up tour for the Conchords 'Central Park' gig. Once again however, the venues a poor and in the end the band are not scheduled to play 'the' Central Park in New York, but 'a' Central Park in Newark. Here we can see Murray playing a responsible role, perhaps still enforcing his child-like nature as he makes a large deal out of something as small as a can of mixed nuts to enforce his important job as the band manager:

So in conclusion, what I really love about Rhys Darby's character Murray, is his devotion to the band. He is so child-like in the sense that he takes days and sometimes even weeks off of work at the consulate to manage a band who play in elevators and libraries. In some ways I can liken him to 'Michael Scott' from the American 'Office', who is more interested in gaining the friendship of his employees than maintaining his actual paid job. Murray is passionate about the Duo and he lives with the fantasy that they will eventually become signed and famous. Although music and management are not his forte at all, he still genuinely believes he can guide the band to success. It is the fact that he cannot see his Job is much more important yet he puts the Flight of the Conchords first in his list of priorities, that shows him as a man who has child-like ambitions. The way he jots down notes in his meetings and produces fictional business graphs, almost reflect a child trying to play the role of an organized and responsible adult.

In the context of our course, it is useful to be able to understand and break down a character. We will no doubt be considering a lot of characters and the environments that surround them. It is easy to simply favour a character, but to understand exactly how they engage you is an interesting idea to consider.

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